Who is “the Weaker Brother”?

In chapter 8 of his First Epistle to the Corinthians, St. Paul begins a discussion that will go on for several chapters regarding food offered to idols.  The eating of this food was the means by which worshippers participated in the sacrifices offered to those pagan gods.  Through these chapters, St. Paul gives a variety of reasons why all of the members of the Christian community at Corinth must abide by the commandments against such participation as re-affirmed at the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15.  In the opening chapter of this discussion, chapter 8, St. Paul makes a distinction between stronger and weaker brethren.  This distinction understood rather casually, is employed all too frequently in both popular and pastoral…

Psalm 51 and Justification

Any discussion of salvation in general, and that described by St. Paul in particular, will necessarily include the concept of justification.  Exactly how justification works was the central argument of the Protestant Reformation in the West.  Despite a massive disagreement about its functionality between the Roman church and Protestant groups, they shared, for the most part, a common definition of the term.  To be justified was to be made, or declared, to be righteous.  Righteousness was something that was possessed and must be possessed in order to enter into eternal life.  It must be possessed in complete perfection.  Righteousness, therefore, formed a certain bar that needed to be cleared in order to receive eternal life from Christ.  In the Roman…

Why the Law was Given, and by Whom

At the beginning of the story of salvation, God made promises to Abraham.¬† These promises were really a reaffirmation of the purpose for which humanity had been created in the first place before the coming of rebellion, sin, and death.¬† The story of Abraham begins in Genesis 12, following on the three rebellions, the three “falls” of Genesis 1-11.¬† Once mortal life ending in death had achieved its purpose, Christ would defeat it and release humanity from its hold.¬† In the same event, his rising, he would also defeat the evil powers and principalities who had dominated the nations since Babel.¬† Death and the hostile powers stand as opposed to humanity’s destiny in Christ as spoken to Abraham.¬† Those promises,‚Ķ

The Promises to Abraham

The promises made to Abraham form the basis for the entire Biblical understanding of salvation.¬† In addition to his name, Yahweh, God identifies himself throughout as the “God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob.”¬† This is clear even to a very casual reader of the Scriptures.¬† Nonetheless, if asked what the promises to Abraham were, most even educated Christians would speak of the promise that Abraham would have a great many descendants and those descendants would live on a particular piece of land in Palestine.¬† The New Testament in general and St. Paul in particular, however, speak of the promises to Abraham as the beginning of the promise of salvation fulfilled in the gospel of Jesus Christ.¬† The apostle‚Ķ