Baptismal Oneness


From Brigitte Kahl’s Commentary on Galatians in The Fortress Comentary on the Bible: “How might Paul’s baptismal oneness of Gal. 3:28 translate into today’s society that is no longer split into “Jew” or “Greek/gentile,” but into black and white, poor and rich, aliens and citizens, inmates and free people? Around eight million people in the United States are presently incarcerated, on probation, or on parole. Compared to the overall population, this is not only by far the largest number in any country of the world but also includes a disproportionally high number of poor people, African Americans, and immigrants. …From Paul’s perspective, this status quo might look like another version of the dehumanizing and therefore godless imperial model of “divide and rule” he was confronted with in his own day. The waters of baptism for him have “drowned” this entire system, washing away the distinction markers that give “us” (the nonimprisoned) a sense of self-righteousness and legitimate superiority, which is derived from the existence of unrighteous others: This is how for Bob Ekblad the Pauline theology of justification by faith rather than through works of the law starts to develop its transformative power. Ekblad reads Paul, including Galatians 3, with people in jail, in particular with undocumented immigrants at the US-Mexican border who know all too well the “curse of the law” (Gal. 3:10) that perpetually condemns them as illegal. For him, Jesus is the “Good Coyote” who crosses people over the border into the kingdom of God, against the law, despite the law. “In the waters of baptism into Jesus’ death and resurrection the borders are brought down, and there are no longer distinctions between the law-abiding and criminal, US citizens and foreigners, legals and illegals, brown and white, chemically dependent and clean and sober, poor and rich, male and female—all are one in Christ.… We’re all wetbacks, and must even count ourselves as fellow ‘criminal aliens’ ”



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