Original Research

The theological-ethical implications of Galatians 3:28 for a Christian perspective on equality as a foundational value in the human rights discourse

Jakobus M. Vorster
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 53, No 1 | a2494 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v53i1.2494 | © 2019 Jakobus M. Vorster | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 May 2019 | Published: 23 October 2019

About the author(s)

Jakobus M. Vorster, The Unit for Reformational Theology and the Development of the South African Society, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


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Abstract

This article considers equality as a constitutional value from a Christian perspective. In view of the current questions about equality in the emerging post-secular paradigm, the specific aim of this study is to ascertain the relevance of Galatians 3:28 for the value of equality in the human rights discourse. The research focuses on this biblical passage, because Galatians 3:28 has enjoyed considerable prominence in biblical research over the last 30 years. The passage has often been cited in church debates about slavery and racial discrimination, the ordination of women in ecclesiastical offices, gay and lesbian matters, and as the foundation for the equality of all people. Here, I interpret and apply this passage in view of the classic Reformed hermeneutics, which entails that biblical perspectives should be developed taking into account the recent interpretations of the cultural-historical contexts of the biblical material, the ongoing revelation of God in biblical history, the thematic exposition of biblical theology in the classic text (tota Scriptura), the grammatical exegesis of passages within these broad perspectives, and the implications within the context of the modern reader. Based on this approach, I argue that Galatians 3:28 was a revolutionary statement describing the total destruction of any form of social superiority and the introduction of a new principle in all human relationships. The central-theoretical argument of the study is that Galatians 3:28, seen within the context of tota Scriptura, presents a valuable perspective on the equality of human beings and this perspective can be advantageous to the foundation of the constitutional value of equality in the present post-secular worldview. As part of the interpretation of the passage in light of biblical theology, the subsequent sections deal with the following topics: the formation of the principle of equality according to the doctrine of creation; the deformation of the principle of equality according to the doctrine of sin; and the restoration of the principle of equality according to the doctrine of salvation.

Keywords

Equality; Human Rights; Galatians 3:28; Constitutional Value; Image of God; Creational Gift; Patriarchalism; Racism; Gender; Class.

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