Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Charlemagne and Romans 7 and Barth

Totally all-over-the-place post that is not supposed to be about anything.
Charlemagne and France.  Did you ever consider that most of Europe was converted in the late eighth century by the sword?  The guy massacred around five thousand people at once.  Their crime?  Not converting to Christianity.  Sounds almost like ISIS.

I finally got around to researching why so many people take Romans 7 to be about Israel.  I actually remember asking a Sunday school teacher who presented it that way - I asked him, "Why do people take this to be about Israel?  Are there any exegetical reasons for doing so?"  And he didn't know of any.  Well, the main question is how to interpret verse 9 where it says "I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died." How could this be talking about Paul's own experience.  It seems almost impossible... But it makes plenty of sense if he is seeing himself as "in Adam's experience".  And I think that's what he's doing in the passage.  I've got to be honest though: I still don't know what to do with the end of the passage.  I'm still not quite ready to throw it away as something that doesn't describe the (even mature) Christian life.

Karl Barth is such a mixed bag.  I really don't know what to do with the guy.  You can get the entire Church Dogmatics for only $100 on ChristianBook.  But the guy is a million miles away from the verbal plenary inspiration view of inerrancy... I don't know how much of him I could read without getting tired of that.  But I hear that where he's orthodox, he's really good.  Kind of like Wright?

This is why I need to stick to writing about Romans... 


  1. It seems to me that the alive and dead throughout Romans 7 are almost logical constructs about authority and control vs. Freedom. When I am alive I am free to act, when I am dead I am controlled or bound by something. So in verse 9, before I knew anything about the law I was able (as far as I knew) to do my own thing. But then when I became aware of the laws/ commands the sin that was there - but had nothing to rebel against, sprang into action. I became bound/controlled by the sin, and not free to do the right things....but I am not a theologian and don't play one on TV. Rob

  2. Wait, I'm confused by your comment about Romans 7. Are you saying that you think the latter part of the passage (I'm assuming roughly verses 15-25) does NOT describe the Christian life? Or are you saying that you currently believe it DOES describe the Christian life, thus you're hesitant to accept a point of view that claims that the chapter isn't talking about the Christian life at all?
    And to follow up on what my Dad said, I know that when I was little, I used to ask what my parents wanted me to do SO THAT I could disobey it. So they would start phrasing things in ways that weren't absolute commands, so that I couldn't disobey those commands, so that they wouldn't have to discipline me for quite so many things. (Forgive the run-on sentence.) In this case, the commandment definitely "produced" sin in me, or at least provided opportunity for my already sinful nature to act. In the absence of a commandment, I couldn't act rebelliously, although it was in my nature to do so. Then I got older and became a legalist instead of a rebel, and the law was definitely death to me. I lived the cycle of verses 15-24 ALL the time and beat myself up mercilessly for it. Then God revealed His grace to me and enabled me to accept it, and I started to understand what the words "life," "peace," and "joy" mean.
    And that was a really, really long comment. Sorry 'bout that! =) -Natalie