The second speaker at Talking Points yesterday was Dr. Timothy Gombis, a professor GRTS (Associate Prof of NT).  He presented his paper “The Body of Christ: The Political Identity & Mission of the Church.” (Which you can read on his blog HERE)  The main body focused on a brief synopsis of Israel’s history as the people of God and what that meant for Paul pre-Damascus Road and post-Damascus Road.  He reviewed some terms such as:

Politics: having to do with rulership/social ordering

Polis (city): the city state and people therein

Body Politic: a gathered people regarded as a political unit under some sort of rule

All this was to say that Paul pre-Damascus Road saw Israel as a ‘body politic’ living in diaspora among the nations, or foreign ‘body politics.’  If the people of Israel could be a faithful people among the nations, perhaps God would act and restore national Israel over and above the nations and shalom would be restored.  This was Paul the Pharisee’s mode of thought. (New Perspective of Paul anyone?)

Dr. Gombis presented that Paul’s views of Israel as a Pharisee were not abandoned after the Damascus Road.  Christians were not the nation of Israel to Paul, but they were a people– a ‘body politic’– that was living among the nations and Christians had inherited much of God’s intended purpose for Israel. Major difference between Israel and the Church?  The Christian ‘body politic’ did not have the same national expectations as Israel, that of dominion and violent revolt.

Christians were participating in Christ’s resurrection, which Dr. Gombis defined as ‘God’s holistic work of making all things new.’  In the cross of Christ, under which all Christians place themselves, power, dominion, and honor are earned by serving, grace, and sacrifice.  Thus the mode of thought and function for the ‘body politic’ of Christians was that of ‘cruciform life’ among the nations.

Some practical applications Dr. Gombis shared:

-violence/coercion are negative influence

-consider who/what shapes our view of the world (is it cruciform?)

-get involved as a community of Shalom

-West Michigan specifically: get to know an immigrant in this area and help them as a community

Some powerful quotes:

“Voting is only one of an endless number of political actions.”

“What if we are the ones in danger of preaching ‘another gospel?’” (looking at inward motivations instead of judging others)

“We have to re-ignite a hope in the Resurrection in order to inform our political action.”

“We (Christians) are not a voting bloc!”

“Are making laws a good way of abolishing certain immoral actions?”

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