There is great emphasis in the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles and the NT as a whole on inclusiveness. In fact, Philip and Peter should have already gotten the message that God’s salvation was for Gentiles too. We note that Jesus taught that it was not the food one ate that defiled a person, but what came out of one’s heart and he listed a number of evil acts such as fornication, theft, murder, adultery, etc. (Mark 7:14-23 par. Matt. 15:10-20). He healed the daughter of a Gentile woman and the servant of a Roman centurion. He told the good news to a Samaritan woman at a well (John Chap. 4). There is much more such evidence. The importance of including the non-Jews was so crucial that it is dramatically repeated in the stories of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch and Peter and the centurion Cornelius.
What Prof. Duba fails to say in his correct emphasis on inclusiveness is that including others in the good news of the Gospel did not mean approval of all the acts of those Jesus intended to include. Jesus had table fellowship with the despised tax collectors, thus accepting them, but he did not approve of their gouging people of their money. Jesus went to dinner parties with Pharisees (Luke 7:36-50), but he did not approve of their emphasis on the many laws of the oral tradition or their judging of others who could not keep all the ceremonial and ritual laws. There is the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery (John 8). He does not condemn her but tells her to go and sin no more. Hence, inclusiveness does not mean approval of all of a person’ acts. This, however, is what I hear clearly implied in the debate over the fidelity-in-marriage and chastity-in-singleness statement (G-6.0106b). If one makes the ethical decision that certain behavior is contrary to God’s will, behavior that is not repented of, then one is stigmatized as excluding that person.
Those who have long worked for Amendment 10-A and the inclusion of persons who are unrepentant of certain sexual behavior, publicize and almost boast that they hold “the generous, just and inclusive position,” while the other viewpoint that holds to the clear, consistent teaching of the Scriptures, is not as generous, just and inclusive.
In Prof. Duba’s second article, “By Grace Alone,” it is astonishing to read, “I am finding in most who object to 10-A, that there is hardly a hint of the saving gospel. Rather they lean on a doctrine of works, not of grace.” That is not my experience at all. Moreover, here Prof. Duba seems to be judgmental, since we cannot know the heart of another. I did my doctoral work at Basel, as did Prof. Duba. My dissertation under Professors Bo Reicke and Oscar Cullmann was on Jesus’ View of Law and Prophecy in Matthew’s Gospel. One finding was that Jesus affirmed the “moral law” of the OT, and, in fact, made the moral law more demanding not less, as Jesus saw the two love commandments at the center of all the commandments. (cf. Matt. 5:17-29). At the same time, Jesus was critical of the scribes and Pharisees’ understanding and practice of the multitude of laws of the oral tradition.
Grace and works are not at odds with each other in the NT. Jesus defined the authentic disciple as one who hears his words and does them (Matt. 7:24-27). Such build their lives on rock. Along with the many parables centering on grace are those that emphasize doing God’s will (The Good Samaritan, The Sheep and the Goats, The Parable of the Two Sons (Matt. 21:28-31)). Grace and works, and faith and obedience are inseparable in the NT. Dietrich Bonhoeffer rightly said, “Grace without discipleship is cheap grace.”
Richard S. McConnell is an honorably retired minister of word and sacrament residing in Clarence, N.Y.