Faith of a Mustard Seed

Last updated on August 1st, 2014 at 11:23 am

Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction;” (3:21-22). Again, the eleventh occurrence of ‘pistis/faith’ in Paul’s Letter To The Romans. It must be noted that what appears as a single use of ‘pistis/faith’ in this 22nd verse is in fact a double use. Lost in translation is the form ‘pisteuontas’ rendered ‘believe’ not just here (RSV) but also (KJV). We are, then, looking at the eleveth and twelfth occurrence of ‘pistis/faith’ in Paul’s Letter To The Romans.

So many Christian theologians, preachers and the like have written to give meaning to this ‘Faith Statement’ that Paul has left as his ‘Testament’. With such a wide and varied gamut of scholarship being brought to bear on this Letter, it continues to remain ‘as it is written— in the perfect tense’; revealed past; revealed present; yet, revealed future. Paul’s skillful use of Q&A in this Letter is meant, I believe, as a tool for continuous probing into the mind and heart of Christendom. For example, is he really saying, (as Christianity has received) that ‘the law is now void?’ I’m in the Q&A of how Christianity has become THE most ‘lawless’ of the great Religions of the world? As I experience it, it is another of the ‘misrepresentations’, ‘miseducations’ of transmitted Pauline theology.
My commentary comes forth now on a ‘Law’ that has arrived at little to no meaning at all— “THOU SHALL NOT STEAL”! I am hopelessly perplexed in pondering the unspoken, the unseen, the unheard of levels of thievery experienced in and by most every life. When I take a check to the bank and they take $6.00 for cashing it; I feel like I’ve been robbed and can’t leave without acknowledging their ‘Grand Thief’! I know. OK? ‘It take a thief to know a thief’? The small stolen items of my youth; to being able to see and know the massive thievery that has taken place in the national life— the results of which give brand new meaning to DEPRESSION. I did say ‘hopelessly perplexed’; I’m thinking of so many things that are being stolen— our history as a building block of this nation; our minds which used to be a ‘terrible thing to waste’; now— stolen!

I am also looking at the faces imaged in the protests made at the ‘Ground Zero’ NYC World Trade Center site. While the signs read ‘No To Islam’, the faces read the same hatred shown historically against African Americans in the continuous ‘Crusade’ against humanity. Race AND CREED??? Constitution/ Law???

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law…”. But now it’s convenient to use our moniker ‘Christian Nation’??? No LOVE OF GOD, no LOVE OF NEIGHBOR. Again with the righteousness. 66 times in the Romans Letter; none of which carry with it the word ‘self’—(America, this ‘self-righteous’ Christian Nation— all LOVE OF SELF).

Righteousness. It is an indwelling of consciousness; it is eternal (it gets you through the night, and the day); it is principle; it is relationship. It is knowledge that values life over that which is stolen. It is ‘reaping the harvest God promised; it is ‘taking back’ that which has been stolen. ‘Righteousness of God’, found only in Paul— is THE NEW COVENANT.

Victor Furnish in his ‘Theology and Ethics in Paul’ makes this statement: “Implicit in this understanding of the divine righteousness as covenant ‘faithfulness’ and ‘truth’ is the notion of God’s creating, sustaining, and redeeming power. It is to this power of righteousness that Israel had refused to ‘submit’.”

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