Baptized into Christ
Posted by: Carol Schmidt
Baptized into Christ
But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life.” Romans 6:22
With an emphasis on justification, Lutherans have not been known for well-developed thoughts on sanctification, the state of being made holy and the outflow (result) of justification. Perhaps this helps to explain why the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod seems to be falling ever deeper into a legalistic third use of the law and why some people in the LCMS deny any applicability in this life to our new reality in Christ as explicated in Galatians 3:23-29.
“Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed.” (Gal.3:23) As disobedient “slaves of sin” (Rom. 6:16) we were held under the law for our protection. After justification by faith “we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal.3:25-28)
Despite the present tense of these verses indicating that this is the reality in which we now live as people “baptized into Christ,” some in the Missouri Synod want to isolate Galatians 3:28 and throw it into a solely not yet realized state which maintains a sinful view of humanity divided inequitably by race (Jew or Greek), class (slave or free), and gender (male and female). This sin goes largely unrecognized as the LCMS attempts to separate racism from sexism even though they are clearly linked here.
In the 1994 CTCR document “Racism and the Church” the LCMS declared that racism is now unacceptable. We also tend to say that the slavery of one person to another is wrong although classism itself is rarely addressed. But sexism based on the premise of spiritual inequality continues to be both taught and boasted of by the LCMS. Scripture states that “we are one in Christ” but in practice the Missouri Synod bases our “life together,” our “koinonia,” on an unspoken idea that we are not one but two in Christ.
With a faulty use of 1 Corinthians 11:3 that eternally subordinates the Son to the Father in a God–>Christ–>man–>woman ladder to heaven, the isolation of Gal. 3:28 and the relegating of it to some distant future leaves us inadvertently calling God a liar in Gal. 3:27. “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” becomes men are clothed with Christ and women are clothed with men.
To say that Gal. 3:28 is not relevant to our life together now but only for eternal salvation is to ignore and revile justification and the new life we have through baptism into Christ. It throws the grace of sanctification under the rule of man-made laws which attempt to operate under the label “third use of the law.” However, sanctification begins with justification and flows out of the love of God (Romans 5:1-5). In this new life, we are both children and slaves of God, no longer slaves of sin. We are each given particular spiritual gifts that are not divvied up according to race, class, or gender, and are intended to be used (not suppressed) for the building up of the body and the spilling of the love of God into the world.