A Double Take on Faithfulness
Following up on my "glimpse", I was lured into doing a double take. Technically not at the same verse but at a vastly important verse to the discussion of "faithfulness" and the controversies that stem from Lordship Salvation and the teaching of Norman Shepherd. Though these teachings aren't synonymous they are both guilty of pressing the importance of works further and harder than their surrounding theological climate would prefer. The question presented to all is have they pushed too far?
The Guilty Galatians
Everyone knows that Paul is dealing with some serious stuff in the book of Galatians. He's defending the doctrine of justification. There might be some modern variance in what is meant by "justification" but I think we can all agree on the general point that Paul was concerned about a proper definition of justification. It is never by works of the law (Gal 2:16). It is by faith. This whole discussion comes up in the realm of circumcision.
Fast forward to Galatians 5:6. Faith again is the only thing that counts! And all the Evangelicals shouted "amen"....but "faith working through love". What? Surely we're not talking about justification anymore. That's the way around this "contradiction". One Baptist adherent of New Covenant Theology attempted to persuade me of this point. He is getting a Graduate degree from a popular SBC entity. His posts have since been deleted so I can't quote him. But effectually he was arguing against the law's usefulness after salvation (against the Reformed 3rd use of the law & theonomy). He was wrong and I politely showed him. This text is dealing with the law in its use for justification (Gal 5:3-4).
But that's part of the new problem isn't it? This "faith working through" is referring to justification. In case anyone thinks I'm exaggerating, note the similarities between this text and Galatians 6:15 and its use of "new creation". This text is referring to justification. The circumcision debate is solved by faith. But a faith that works.
This was the kernel of controversy in the teaching of Norman Shepherd who pushed the envelope of works past where the evangelical Lordship Salvation controversy went. This verse in Galatians provides reason for a double take.