The Readings: Joshua 8:30-35; Romans 14:13-23; Matthew 26:57-68
Nils Dahl, the Norwegian New Testament scholar, remarked that some biblical texts needed warning labels. Today’s Romans text is probably one of them.
“Christians do not drink, smoke, dance, play cards, or go to movies.” In Christian traditions endorsing such lists, the listed conduct is simply wrong. When cracks appear in this argument: the back-up argument: if you do it, a weaker brother or sister will stumble (conflating vv. 13 and 15). The result: vv.1-12 are silenced and the purported weaker brother’s/sister’s conscience is the norm.
Paul has a legitimate concern: “We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor. For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” (15:1-3; the argument in 14:13-23 continues in 15:1-6). But it is hard to believe that he did not have ample opportunity to observe the process described in the previous paragraph playing out in his own context.
Perhaps Paul’s argument goes off the tracks with the decision to label “eat anything” as the argument of the “strong” and “eat vegetables” as the argument of the “weak,” thereby identifying which group is to make concessions.
Admittedly, a bit of a rant. What do you think?