“Our Struggle With Sin!”(Rom.7:7-13).
A German colleague lecturer at the Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Kumba was surprised that for the study of Pauline writings, the seminary was using the book, “Paul” by the German theologian, Gunther Bornkamm.
She said Bornkamm is a difficult read, even to German theological students. How much more difficult it can be for African theological students.
One can imagine how irrelevant such studies can be when applied within the African context.
Some forty years ago another great German theologian Prof. Hermann Herzog who had spent many years teaching at the theological college, Nyasoso had this to say about the catechism of PCC, “When I read the catechism of the PCC, which we produced at the time I feel that we did not take the Cameroonian cultural and religious context sufficiently serious…” Prof. Herzog hoped that Cameroonian theologians will review the catechism and “write a new one out of their understanding and experience of the gospel.”
And here is the Crux of the matter: Contextualization is about “our understanding and experience of the gospel.”
The paradigm shift towards a strong belief in miracles and faith healing and the deification of “(wo)man of God is more a transposition of traditional beliefs whose relevance is discovered also in Scriptures.
Way back, right in New Testament times, Peter expressed the worry about Paul’s sometimes hard-to-understand writings. Peter acknowledged that Paul’s “letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do with other Scriptures, to their own destruction”(II Pt.3:16).
Ignorant and unstable people are on the increase over the years, and the distortion continues! Sadly though, this distortion is not only to their own destruction but to the destruction of gullible, well-intentioned but naive followers! Caveat Emptor!
For me, the text of today just proves Peter right.
Law did not begin with the Decalogue. Law began in Eden when God told man not to eat the fruits of a particular tree. Man was expected to obey this law. The punishment for disobeying this law was death.
When God finished creating he saw that “it was very good.” So was the law good? Paul says it was good because it was not sin. The law helped to expose sin. Where there is no law there is no sin. But the moment the law is present, there is that strong urge to act contrary to it so as to see what happens. And the outcome is death.
“Sin used a holy thing(law) for an unholy end(death). By this fact the contemptible nature of sin is revealed.”
We would remain condemned if there wasn’t any alternative to the law.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit” sets us free from the law of sin.”(Rom.8:1-2).
Dear friend, this passage comes to us during this period to alert us that as we prepare to commemorate the birth of the Messiah we should be intentional in our struggle against sin.
Prayer: Holy Spirit work in me and with me in my struggle with sin. Amen!
Have a blessed day! Peace be with you!
Rev Babila Fochang.