N.T. Wright’s Galatians– Part Forty

N.T. Wright’s Galatians– Part Forty August 15, 2021

Q. I was glad to see your emphasis on the fact that the fruit of the Spirit is indeed a package deal, and is part of a community ethic, not a description of some sort of individual moral superman or superwoman. And indeed we must live out intentionally what the Spirit is working in us, every single day. It seems clear to me that the reason some modern individualistic Christians find these ethics onerous or merely aspirational is precisely because they have forgotten it is a community effort, working together to be our best selves, offering no offense to others except the offense of the Gospel. Can you say a bit more about cultivating a community ethic in an individualistic church and world?

A. Well, it’s tough. Families are part of the key to it but the now discredited stress on ‘family values’ (code for ‘right-wing politics in some circles) has made that harder. But the church-as-family is the thing: ‘a great big second family’ as one confirmation candidate described her local church to me. Within a family you quickly learn that some things are expected, other things are certainly NOT expected, but that an atmosphere of love and acceptance and forgiveness enables people to learn what’s what and to make their own contribution . . . the more I study the NT the more I am impressed/depressed by how far we are away from that early vision of the church – not that they were perfect but that Paul could still appeal e.g. for unity in a way he’d struggle to do today (where to start, with thousands of ‘denominations’ seeing no need to engage with one another?).

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