Sunday School: Power, Authority, and Freedom in Christ

What does it mean to be members of God’s household, whose freedom is in Christ, and also citizens of the United States of America where Christian nationalism has justified the enslavement of black and brown bodies, by also citing the Bible?

First, some helpful ideas from modern biblical scholarship

Every act of reading the Bible is an act of interpretation.

Critical Theory – Understands social history in terms of oppression and power; privileges the experience of oppressed people to understand the suffering nature of Christ.

Hegemonic Power- Institutions perpetuate their own power by making their priorities and privileges normative.

What does it mean to have freedom in Christ?

Galatians 5:1-6, 13-15 (NRSV)

1 For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

2 Listen! I, Paul, am telling you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 Once again I testify to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obliged to obey the entire law. 4 You who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love.

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters;[c] only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence,[d] but through love become slaves to one another. 14 For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

Romans 6:20-23 (NRSV)

20 When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Power and Authority

  • Authority of scripture, tradition, and reason – We read the Bible as a source of authority alongside other sources of authority
  • Power – We all have some power. How should Christians use their power? Do we divest ourselves of some of that power in order to liberate others, or do we try to gain power so that we can liberate ourselves?

What does it mean to be members of God’s household, whose freedom is in Christ, and also citizens of the United States of America where Christian nationalism has justified the enslavement of black and brown bodies, by also citing the Bible?

 

 

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