Theologies of the Law – How to Think About Pluralism


Biblical Text: Galatians 3:23-4:7
Full Sermon Draft

One admission, this probably moved too much from a sermon proclamation into a paper. That is probably a result of the second admission.

Second admission, as the word cloud probably tells you, it might be more about the law than the gospel. For a sermon on Galatians, that is saying something. The Law comes through a lecture; the gospel by proclamation.

Those admissions aside, thinking in Law & Gospel terms about the world around us, the biggest problem in the church today is not in regard to the Gospel side of the theology. The concept of the Gospel is grasped if not always the heart faith. (In my head what you see when that happens is cheap grace.) What is missing or out of kilter is a full appreciation of the law and its purposes.

Following Paul’s argument in the text there is one Gospel. The good news of the God-man Jesus, the Christ, who gave himself for us on the cross. He bore the law so that we could be the sons and heirs. He exchanged places.

There is one perfect law (the revealed law of God through Moses), but there are many “laws” which mimic and discern the elementary principles. The law was given, to all peoples in various forms, as a guardian. Some of those laws are better than others. A law built rigorously around Confucius would be a good one. It is still a law that we can’t keep. One of the things that is was designed to teach, but the law is still good and wise, and Confucius was both.

When pondering or working our way through a pluralistic world, keeping the Gospel pure meaning that it is only by faith through Jesus Christ is the first priority. It is deadly muddled headed thinking to import Buddha or any other figure into the gospel. But, the Christian can admit and admire nobility and wisdom in other cultures as a matter of the law. An alien culture or law might have captured something clearer or better than our own guardians. But they are all guardians. As a baptized Christian who has put on Christ, you are no longer under a guardian. The kingdom is yours. The only question is do you apply the lessons of the law with the grace of the mature heir, or so you squander the inheritance?