Why God's Value System Matters
Why does this relationship perspective on Christianity matter?
It matters because it makes Christianity easier to understand and apply. This perspective is significant much the same way new scientific models are significant.
Many years ago Aristotle's established theory of astronomy put the earth at the center of the universe. As we got better at studying the skies, problems in the theory became apparent. Johannes Kepler somehow managed to reconcile the two, but only by a very complicated set of rules. However, when Copernicus and Galileo introduced a new solar-centric theory, everything made more sense. The model fit what we could see, it was much more simple, and it could be applied to understand new situations.
Paul employs a legal model in Romans to explain parts of Christianity. However, a legal model is insufficient because Christianity is primarily about relationships. This can be seen negatively at the end of Rom 1 in Paul's vice list because all these things are relationship issues. And it can be seen positively from chapter 12 to the end where the discussion is (again) all about relationships, but this time in right living. Legal models do not solve relationship problems in either the secular or spiritual worlds.
A problem is that the thinking of many Christians remains centered on legal models. We recognize the critical importance of love and relationship in Christianity. However, these parts have not become centrally integrated into our common theological models. This is very unfortunate because we use our theological models to give us guidance for how we are to live.
This new perspective on Christianity starts with a model based on value systems and relationship, and God's Value System of love. It then builds up a complete theological perspective. In this new context, many ideas that had previously been theologically complicated now become easy to understand. These principles underlying Christianity intuitively ring true to both Christians and non-Christians alike. Theology which once had been merely academic now becomes directly practical in everyday living. And it guides us into right and loving relationship with God and with all the members of His body.
That is why this relationship view of Christianity matters!