John Barclay on the social practice of the Christ-community in Galatians

The following quotes are from the concluding remarks of an article written by John Barclay, “Grace and the Countercultural Reckoning of Worth,” in Galatians and Christian Theology, edited by Mark W. Elliott, Scott J. Hafemann, N. T. Wright, and John Frederick (Grand Rapids: baker, 2014), 306–17. It is about the social practice of the Christ-community according to Galatians.

The gift of God in Christ is articulated as an unconditioned gift in the creation of a community that neither mirrors nor endorses the regnant systems of value . . . By its strategic indifference to preconstituted evaluations of worth—ethnic, social, sexual, or other—the community declares and enacts its freedom. By its “crucifixion of the flesh” (5:24)—it demonstrates an alternative allegiance derived from an alternative source of “life.” In resisting the tendencies to intracommunal rivalry, it affirms its special identity as a community beholden to “the law of Christ” (6:2). (Page 316; emphasis added)

In theological terms, the new creation presses toward the formation and flourishing of a community in which the truth of God’s self-giving in Christ is expressed in love, strongly resistant to the normal contest for honor . . . it is the Christ-event that gives meaning and shape to communal practice, while it is in social practice that the nature of the Christ-event is realized, or is not realized. (Page 317; emphasis added)

Here is the best part, I think.

The truth of Paul’s gospel must be both recognized and enacted—in fact, recognized in its enactment. It is only as communities are remolded in exclusive allegiance to “the law of Christ” that they may be said to affirm the baptismal confession “Jesus is Lord” (Rom. 10:9). Social practice is not, for Paul, and addition to belief, a sequel to a status realizable in other terms: It is the expression of belief in Christ, the enactment of a “life” that otherwise can make no claim to be “alive.” (Page 317; emphasis added)

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