New project: @abrahamofur
Abraham — an otherwise fine person — makes for really boring sunday school lesson material, especially for junior high students. A lecture would have been BO-RING!, and I wanted to be Exciting! The thought process was, simply, that junior high students only connect with two things, Instagram and Fortnite. Fortnite would perfectly for the battle scene in chapter 14, and maybe the destruction of Sodom and Gammorah in chapter 19, but nothing else. So I opted to create an Insta account and walk through it with them. Here it is:
Abraham of Ur
~~ I’m all about believing God, having it credited to me as righteousness, and #becomingthefatherofmany ~~ 🤙🏽
After touring Abraham’s life, we talked through some of Romans 4. This is part of Paul’s interpretation of Abraham. (He does more in Galatians). The promises were given to Abraham and his descendants. But we are not ethnically Jewish (i.e. descendants of Abraham) and many ethnic Jews reject the Messiah, and by extension, the one who sent him, God. How did that happen? Did God break his promise to Abraham?
No. Instead, the division between Jew and Gentile is itself divided.
(Agamben talks about this around page 50 of his commentary on Romans, The Time That Remains. I am reading that book for a class right now and strongly recommend it to anyone who wants to go much deeper into Paul.)
Here is the set-up that Agamben gives:
The important thing here is that Abraham, being a man of faith, was given the promises not because of his works, but his faith. In fact, as Paul will point out in Galatians, the official works of the law were not written for another 400 years! In the Romans passage, Paul is concerned not with the law as such, but with circumcision. Abraham “trusted God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” in chapter 15, whereas the sign of circumcision was not given until chapter 17. In this case, as in Galatians, faith precedes works.
Paul says, “So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. And he is then also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.” This is the verse that the diagram. Notably, Paul does not eliminate the main distinction between Jews and Gentiles, as some extreme covenant theologians may say, but also does not base salvation in any way on that distinction, as some extreme dispensationalists may say.
At this point we stopped going further, because some of these students have never heard of Paul before that morning, and many are 11 or 12 years old. So we circled back and kept reexploring these ideas.
One of them asked me if Abraham had really made that Instagram account.