Another verse that I highlighted in Romans 9 in my Sunday school class this past week is Paul’s statement in 9:3:
For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.
There seems to me to be a huge, stark difference between what Paul wrote there and the sort of outlook expressed by groups such as the Westboro Baptist Church, or more recently, the inaccurately-named “Christians for a Moral America” about whom I just learned by way of John Shore’s post about George Michael being hospitalized. Apparently someone named Keith tweeted the following:
I can’t imagine such despicable, hate-filled monsters wishing themselves to be cut off from Christ if it would save anyone that they believe are in danger of judgment.
And so I think that perhaps Romans 9:3 ought to become the new test for Christian identity. Anyone who takes delight in the doom they believe is coming upon others can safely be said to adhere to a different religion than either Jesus or Paul.
(Since mythicism is a non-issue for most people, we didn’t spend much time in my Sunday school class on Romans 9:5, which says that Paul’s kinsmen according to the flesh are also those from whom are the patriarchs and also the Christ, according to the flesh (ἐξ ὧν ὁ χριστὸς τὸ κατὰ σάρκα). Obviously that is a text which mythicists would prefer didn’t exist. Attempts to try to inject heavenly flesh or other such distractions into the discussion will not change Paul’s words in Romans 9:5 into something other than what they are – counter-evidence to mythicist claims regarding what Paul believed).