In an earlier post I mentioned that our church was hosting a gathering of the “Network of Spiritual Progressives” this past weekend. As part of that event, Rabbi Michael Lerner–one of the chief movers of the network and the publisher of Tikkun magazine–preached at our church this Sunday.
Ironically, perhaps, this passage from Galatians was one of the lectionary readings:
We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is justifiednot by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law. But if, in our effort to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have been found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! But if I build up again the very things that I once tore down, then I demonstrate that I am a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing. (Gal. 2:15-21)
The good rabbi didn’t comment directly on the reading, but instead gave a stirring talk on the need for believers in the Bible/Gospel (by which he meant, I take it, both Jews and Christians) to commit to a vision of caring for the world that isn’t hemmed in by the supposed “realism” of the political status quo. It would’ve been interesting to hear his take on the Galatians passage, though.