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11-30-2016 5:28 PM
Romans 2:12-16 deserves undivided attention.
I was in a discussion with Phat in a thread here:
I quoted Romans 2:12-16 (I think I quoted more than just those verses from Romans 2 though).
My issue was that the (genuine Pauline) verses demonstrate that individual pagans doing good works were superior to those individuals with faith (or "grace") who did bad works. In fact works period trump faith in these verses. I think so.
The implications are enormous.
It is no wonder that fundamentalists sometimes attempt to say that the gentiles mentioned in Romans 2:12-16 are simply gentile Christians and NOT pagan gentiles, despite the strong evidence to the contrary.
I put "Romans 2 gentiles" into google and 2 of the top 10 hits were on this issue.
The first hit said this:
Why the Gentiles in Romans 2:12-16 are Christians
August 5, 2011 by Nick Nowalk
Romans 2:6-11 is clear enough. Unfortunately, 2:12-16 is arguably the most disputed passage in all of Romans. Here the trail of Paul’s logic has lost many an interpreter in its dust.
The next relevant hit had this to say:
A law unto themselves: virtuous pagans in Romans 2
December 7, 2012 by Morgan Guyton 0 Comments
I’ve been struggling through the beastliest book about the beastliest book in the Bible: Doug Campbell’s 1000 pager on Romans called The Deliverance of God. Campbell has been pummeling the exegetical claims of the Four Spiritual Laws gospel of Bill Bright (aka “decision for Christ,” “sinner’s prayer,” “getting saved,” etc) that has become such a brilliantly successful commodity in the evangelical salvation industrial complex that most of today’s evangelicals cannot really imagine any other purpose for Christianity. What’s interesting is that to Campbell, Calvin and Luther are not the problem behind the disaster of the evangelical gospel; the problem is the 18th century British empiricist/rationalist lens (Hume, Locke, et all) through which Calvin and Luther are studied and interpreted. I’m only about a third of the way in and only that far because I skipped a hundred or so pages. But one of the hugest potholes in the Romans Road I’ve discovered is the presence of virtuous (perhaps even heaven-bound?) pagans in two places in Romans 2. Let me share the passages and briefly reflect on them.
When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law unto themselves. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all.
So, if those who are uncircumcised keep the requirements of the law, will not their uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then those who are physically uncircumcised but keep the law will condemn you that have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical. Rather, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart — it is spiritual and not literal. Such a person receives praise not from others but from God.
A split decision.
I then grabbed an evangelical study bible (the first I could find - and so far the only one I have found avaliable) to see what it had to say. I shall show all the notes to the important verses from Romans 2. Notice that there is no ellipsis between my quotes.
Life Application Study Bible
New International Version
Copyright ...Tyndale House Publishers
Published by Zondervan
2:12-15 People are condemned not for what they don't know, but for what they do with what they know. Those who know God's written Word and his law will be judged by them. Those who have never seen a Bible still know right from wrong, and they will be judged because they did not keep even those standards that their own consciences dictated. Our modern-day sense of fair play and the rights of the individual often balk at God's judgment. But keep in mind that people violate the very standards they create for themselves.
2:12-15 If you travel around the world, you would find evidence in every society and culture of God's moral law. For example, all cultures prohibit murder, and yet in all societies that law has been broken. We belong to a stubborn race. We know what's right, but we insist on doing what's wrong. It is not enough to know what's right; we must also do it. Admit to yourself and to God that you fit the human pattern and frequently fail to live up to your own standards (much more to God's standards). That's the first step to forgiveness and healing.
2:17ff Paul continues to argue that all stand guilty before God. After describing the fate of the unbelieving, pagan Gentiles, he moves to that of the religiously privileged. Despite their knowledge of God's will, they are guilty because they too have refused to live by their beliefs. Those of us who have grown up in Christian families are the religiously privileged of today. Paul's condemnation applies to us if we do not live up to what we know.
Again, Romans 2 deserves undivided attention.
I showed discussion from 2 of the web hits on google page 1. Page 2 (hits 11-20) have a lot of hits devoted to this topic. The majority!
But, regardless of the research one does, I would like to see discussion that centers around these fundamentally important verses of Paul (naturally, it will lead to lots of other scriptural quotes if one chooses to participate in a discussion of Romans 2:12-16 here - that much is expected, but I just don't want another discussion to ignore Romans 2, so I have started a thread that will cast the bright shadow of Paul's Romans Letter verses since it should be seen as something of a constitutional issue in all of Paul's thoughts and message when it comes to salvation and Judgment Day). I feel that they get to the rub of what Paul felt would ultimately be the important Judgment Day issue. Naturally, he felt that his brand of Christianity was the best road to take if one wanted to build a better world. But religion was just an efficiency to Paul. The great hereafter that he believed in centered around works of INDIVIDUALS and (perhaps) works alone. Not present day religion issues.
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