We are in a sermon from Then Fell the Lord's Fire. Third installment. Please the last several posts for more.
"Paul only starts from the natural revelation to show man's situation and to get the audience to recognize it again. He deepens natural revelation and purifies it. God is already here, we live in Him, and it is from this we get our thought and longing. But Paul does not build on all this when he gets to the essentials. He only makes sure that they do not draw some other conclusions than what can be drawn, namely that coarse idolatry must not be right." (p. 202)
"...But when it comes to the answer, the gospel message, then Paul draws no conclusions from what the audience already knew. Instead, he started from a completely new message. And he did it with boldness and joy. He knew that he had a redemptive word to say." (p. 203)
"If we ask how it comes that men so often believe that folk religion is the same as Christendom, so have we here one of the reasons. The proclamation attempts to make an affiliation but makes it in a false manner. 'To speak in a manner as men understand' can be really dangerous. Sometimes it gets a bit slippery when it comes to the line that lies within their horizon, when it in fact lies outside. Sometimes one crosses the line but speaks so cautiously that the message doesn't reach home. Perhaps afterwards they say what Paul spoke about: 'God has determined a day when He will come to judge the world with righteousness through one man He has appointed.' But one has done it with so many strange words about the eschatological final perspective or the double output, or with so many vague hints about love having the last word and that god will be all in all, that no one would understand that there really was any question that he himself might be reprobate." (p. 204).
The connection to folk religion or superstitious thinking, or manipulating the gods, etc. is only to help the hearer know about what is wrong with his system. The Gospel itself is a completely new, joyful and separate message. "Incommensurate", as someone I know likes to say, with what has come before. As Paul says in other places, I consider it all garbage and leave it behind, so that I might know Christ. The old and the new can't live together in the same wine skin. The old leaven and the new leaven, or a little leaven ruins the whole batch. You can't mix law and gospel, they are a dialectic resolved only in daily trust in Christ and acceptance of his word and dealing with us.
Giertz goes through a number more examples of how the message can be watered, in the following paragraphs, down to no recognition and complete loss of the essence. This is a warning to pastors and very instructive. Just this sermon would seem worth getting the book for.
So much for today.