Everyone pays lip service to humility with the standard self deprecating comments about IQ, but try this just once: agree with their personal assessment. Affirm that yes, they are right; they really are stupid and watch how fast the façade falls away. People are content to not be Stephen Hawking, but truly challenge their intellectual faculties and they will shortly be listing their academic and rational vita like they are applying for a spot at MIT. The only people that accept the title “simpleminded” are those who keep licking windows. If you challenge anyone else’s intellectual abilities or the strength of their self-appointed bible study, they are insulted that someone would dare utter the words. Even though they can’t spell the words Hermeneutics and Exegetics, even though they don’t own a concordance, they are very, very sure they are original thinkers, fully informed of their own intellectual self-appointment. They will call it spiritual. They will call it revelation from God. But it all boils down to the reality that they fully believe their understanding is THE defining measure of Bible knowledge. Challenge their understanding as faulty and the simple good ol boy vanishes. Point out that ignorance is not a virtue but a leadership liability, and the wailing and gnashing of teeth never stops.
So make no mistake, the “simple and pure” designation cannot be applied to the Bible. Bible literature spans thousands of years written to cultures that have no modern parallel. Bible doctrines are profoundly complex, being shaped by cultural forces that the modern mind must work intensively to understand. And these considerations haven’t come within miles of how to apply this understanding to modern life. So there is no such thing as the “simple” and “pure” Holy Word of God. This smoke screen is applied to human understanding in an effort to consecrate intellectual passivity.
With this in mind, here are a few considerations that impact my thinking when addressing Paul’s specific discussion and the broader Religio-political issue I’ve been addressing on Spiritual Tyranny.
1. In context, Paul is addressing a rationale for a moral standard. Paul is responding to a doctrinal problem of his own making. Paul was one of the first to dare answer the question: How can you have an eternal law, with eternal promises that are enforced by en eternal covenant, that are in fact superseded by the ratification of a new covenant?
His contemporaries (Jewish) found the source of moral responsibility in the giving of Torah. But Paul’s ‘logic’ said that Jesus, and the Anointing, effectively superseded Torah. It was this ‘separation’ from Torah that gave Paul the intellectual justification to abandon circumcision plus a hodgepodge of observances with which Paul disagreed. This led to the implicit conundrum: If one can abandon circumcision (THE means to accessing the Covenants of Promise, which is the heart of the gospel preached to Abraham), what else can Christians abandon? So the question that most of the early first century Jewish Christians struggled with was which parts of Torah can Christians choose to ignore. The logical conclusion of Paul’s doctrine led many to assume that man no longer had ANY moral responsibility. The “Grace of God” absolved man of all ethical conduct.
Paul tries to answer the utter disaster of that conclusion by transferring moral responsibility from commitment to Torah to a down payment against a divine ransom.
2. The broader context of ransom. Ransomed from what to what? There is no evidence that God’s ransom is in exchange for collective slavery, which is pretty much what the SGM giants do to the people who climb their beanstalk.
3. Paul’s repeated use of the term Bond Slave. This is a deliberate allusion to volitional indenture rooted in Torah. A full understanding of this concept is essential in grasping the type and nature of God/Man Slave/servant concept within the Paul’s thought.