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Jan 03, 2008

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RonMcK

Michael
2 Cor 8:14 is the only passage in the NT that specifically mentions "equality", although the translation you use tones it down to "fair balance". Paul seems to be saying that the goal, at least in the church, is equality. This is not equal opportunity, but equal outcomes through sharing (not forced redistribution). So as more and more of the population come into the church, equality should increase significantly. No one will have too much and not one will have too little. Think about what that means. This passage is far more radical than most Christians realise.

Michael W. Kruse

I confess that I have a lot of ambivalence with this passage. I big part of me wants to go with the idea that this passage is teaching a universal application of “equality” among the churches. It makes sense. I think some measure of this sharing practice came into existence fairly early on. Furthermore, I think it is a sound model for meeting basic needs today.

Yet, the “Devil’s advocate” in me pulls me back a little. First, Macedonia had been laid waste by the Romans. Most of the folks there lived meager lives yet we don’t hear of an offering being taken up for them. Second, we don’t we see any other Biblical example/teaching with regard to this sharing principle except in this case with the church at Jerusalem. Third, this seems like the kind of thing Luke would hone in on yet he makes no mention of such a practice and even the known case of soliciting an offering at the Jerusalem council is not mentioned.

I almost wrote about 8:14 as a transcendent teaching for the church but held back for these reasons. I’m still working on this one.

RonMcK

It is hard to see how you can avoid your first conclusion.

The argument from silence is never very persuasive.

Michael W. Kruse

I'm not sure I'm making an arguement for anything from silence so much as trying to avoid "over-applying" a contextually specific instruction beyond its actually historical application.

If you read Exodus 16 you see that the provision of the manna was test of faithfulness. It was a test they Israelites falied (Ex 16:19-20). I suspect that Paul is drawing on this example precisely because it calls upon the Corinthians, like the Israelites, to trust God for provisions and to share their excess when another church is in need. Kenneth Bailey points out that Paul, like many teacher of the day, would quote a given line from a story with the intent that it bring the whole story to mind.

I'm not arguing against the idea of sharing with other congregations but rather dealing with the narrow question of what the passage is teaching.

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