Saturday, November 09, 2013

Leadership insights from Galatians 2

I know I've written repeatedly on this passage and Acts 15, but I went through Galatians 2 with a class in Indy this morning again. Here were my main leadership observations:

1. Paul and Barnabas take Titus, an uncircumcised person, with them to Jerusalem when they are inquiring about whether Gentiles need to be circumcised to be saved.  Brilliant!  It's much easier to give easy, dismissive answers about a group that is far off somewhere than when they are right in front of you and you can see the real consequences of your ideas.

2. P and B go privately before the issue goes very live and very public.  Brilliant!  Groups can get in a frenzy. It's much easier to get something passed if you've already got the stakeholders on your side ahead of time.

3. Jerusalem wants something--"ok, just remember the poor."  One thing a seasoned bureaucrat learns is that most committees feel like they need to change something. So the cynical might even put something obvious to fix in a proposal. That way the annoying person (you know who it is) gets to feel powerful and the proposal can move on.

4. James, Peter, and John probably still thought it was optimal for Titus to get circumcised, but they don't force him. Later on, James sends people up to Antioch to make sure the "give an inch, they'll take a mile" principle isn't in play, the slippery slope. James wants to make sure that, even though Gentiles can be saved, the Jews are still following the rules.

This is smart strategy on his part, although he turns out to be wrong on the issue...

5. ... which leads us to the realization that hindsight is 20/20.  It would not have been clear at all who was right at the time.  It's only because Paul's side of the story ended up in Scripture that we know he was in the right. At the time, most people probably thought he was wrong.

6. Even though Paul was in the right, he may not have gone about it the right way. He confronts Peter in front of everyone, calls him a hypocrite.  Probably bad form. Barnabas' approach may have been better--submit now, move for change in the long term (one step back, two steps forward).

7. God uses the rift. Paul probably loses the argument (he would have told us if he had won). He and Barnabas agree to disagree and Paul ends up going to Greece. Win-win.


Angie Van De Merwe said...

What vision a leader sets should not be re-organizing the whole life of another person, unless that person consents. Paul understood this. Yet, apart from circumcision, the Circumcision will not hear and those circumcised knew that, as they had a hard time accepting the uncircumcised. Barnabus understood this.

I think that using "God" and "saved" is a power play for Church officials, as well as those that consider themselves "saved" or "circumcised".

Since the Protestant Reformation people disagree over such matters. The individual must determine whether he wants to be a part of the 'in" group or the "out" group. Everyone has their standards, boundaries, and opinions about "God" and "saved".

Susan Moore said...

I looked at Wesley Center online and found Wesley's Notes on Galatians 2 interesting:
They were almost the same as the notes from a Catholic homily at:
It is refreshing to know you are not obligated to share Wesley's beliefs, but how does that support the Seminary? Now do you understand what I mean regarding my response to your previous blog; about my not finding any restrictions around what a non-Catholic can define as truth?

Angie Van De Merwe said...

The modern rendition of these principles would be "the consent of the governed" and "limited Government" and "diversity/free speech/religious liberty", etc. I think this is what the Founders understood as a unity in diversity stance.

Now the question is whether the boundaries of the Nation State will be respected, as to the Constitution. Or will immigrants be allowed to become citizens without naturalization? I believe that assimilation is the best policy for all involved, because it doesn't stretch the immigrant or the culture too far for comfort!

Ken Schenck said...

Susan, I wasn't quite sure if you saw contradiction? For interpretation of the original meaning, I try to use standard exegetical method. Theology can affect our appropriation of texts, but it can't change what a text originally meant.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Susan (pardon me if I am responding when you had not addressed me),
You are addressing "tradition" as to the Catholic Church. I was addressing "reason" as to the personalities of Paul and Barnabus and the development of Church History, and our Nation-State.

Susan Moore said...

Thanks for the clarification, Angie!
Dr. Schenck, yes, it seems the two Wesleyan accounts are quite contradictory to one another. I left the links there hoping you would look at it to see if I am right or wrong, I might be misunderstanding the language differences (even though the Catholic and Wesleyan accounts do not contradict each other, which could actually add to one's confusion), and also I know my brain is fried from studying all day. Thanks for understanding and checking.

Ken Schenck said...

I wouldn't say there is a specifically Wesleyan understanding of this passage. I looked through Wesley's thoughts briefly but didn't see much of a drastic difference. In any case, as you said, we don't have to agree with all Wesley's interpretations. I don't think Catholics have to agree on all biblical interpretations either, although clearly some are standard.

Susan Moore said...

Ok, thanks for checking.
Actually, there is much less variance among Catholic teaching due to the Magisterium of the church having the final authority about what is taught regarding any particular verse or verses. A priest can come up with his own way of teaching it, his choosing of the cultural context and method of teaching, but the message is consistent among priests throughout the international church. That being said, please be aware that some churches have removed themselves from under the authority of the Magisterium, and yet retain 'Catholic' in their name, for now.
So, it would be a great surprise for the uninitiated Catholic to read a teaching that is at variance with that faith tradition's founder's teaching, and to furthermore learn that that variance is acceptable! (I'm initiated, but still learning.)