To the Editor of the Wesleyan Christian Advocate
We often forget that Paul referred to people who were pleasing to God independently of religion, namely the "righteous gentile" of Romans 2. In fact it is in this natural, exhibited goodness that the faith in Christ is to lead us, according to our Paul, where we come to actually love doing good. If our spiritual father, Paul, did not see fit to condemn these people, we certainly should not presume to do so. Leave it to God to judge the conscience ["for the Master can make the servant stand."] and let us merely to do our duty, namely loving neighbor as self and fellow Christian more than self. The faith that we have like Abraham, says Paul,having it now in Christ, will result in a nature like that of these righteous gentiles and membership in a community with like kindred people which is eternal, and this is the promise of the resurrection.
Very Wesleyan in its emphasis of being on the road to sanctification, i.e., we are making progress toward a real goal. There is a perfection that we can expect to achieve to some day, quite distant perhaps (and for some perhaps only immediately upon death), but a definite day when we shall become perfect in love and "shall cry with joy unspeakable" along with the angels and the saints. The fact of this perfection has been established here and there and especially in Jesus, and the promise of your inclusion in his brotherhood is given by his death for Barabbas.
Paul is able to point to these righteous gentiles as a beginning proof of goodness, and then he can refer to Jesus, as he introduces him, as the achievement of that perfection in the very flesh. Perhaps evangelists to foreign faiths could use that as a means of introduction. Sort of: we come to reveal to you the source of this goodness that you find in your faith, and how it can be yours too.
Yours in Christ!
Philip McPherson Rudisill