Karl Hand, "Identifying with the Stigma: Christian Authenticity and the Affirming Church Movement"

Conference paper presented at Urban Life Together: Inhabiting Our Neighbourhoods, October 17-18, 2014, Urban Seed. Published online November 12, 2015.



The affirming church movement began in the late '60s when Troy Perry began Metropolitan Community Church and started to advocate for the inclusion of LGBT people in the Christian church.  As LGBT stigma decreases in the western world, and many mainstream churches are now open to LGBT people, there is increasingly less need for “gay churches” to exist. At the same time, many conservative churches are becoming defensive and defining their identity by their opposition to LGBT acceptance.  Drawing on sociological models of stigma, and New Testament theology of mission, this paper proposes that the way forward is for all Christians to look to Christ for their authenticity and identity, rather than identifying with the stigma.


“Among [their] own, the stigmatized individual can use [their] disadvantage as a basis for organizing life, but [they] must resign [themselves] to a half-world in order to do so.”[1]

Most of what has been written about ministry in the LGBT[2] community in these controversial times has been written to argue a side of the debate, but my goal here is to write about mission, not morality.[3] I start with the assumption, which I hope is not controversial, that when Jesus said he was sent to the poor, the broken-hearted, the captive and the blind (Luke 4:16–21; cf. Isa 61:1–2), when he sent his disciples to make disciples by baptism and teaching (Matt 28:16–20), and bearing witness in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the Earth (Acts 1:8), and when he called for himself a people from every people, tongue, tribe and nation (Rev 5:9; 7:9), that mission includes the LGBT community. This has implications for the way that we implement the church’s mission in Australia today.

I am not writing this as an expert in the area of missiology, but as a current practitioner with eight years’ experience ministering in Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) to a community whose majority are gay men, bisexuals and lesbians in two different local churches, one of which was a new church plant in 2008 called Crave.[4] I also write as one deeply concerned with the effects of stigma not only on the people I minister to, but on the body of Christ as a whole.

My own area of scholarly expertise is New Testament studies, and my ongoing fascination and passion is with the Jesus tradition. This has led me to consider deeply the way that the sociology of stigma brings meaning to the missional practices of Jesus, who directed his own ministry towards the stigmatised.[5] But it’s impossible to read these texts as scripture from my perspective as an MCC pastor without seeing modern kinds of stigma reflected in the text, and to ask questions about how this missional bias towards stigmatised groups should be reflected in the church’s mission.

My claim is that ministry in the LGBT community is problematized by the tendency of stigmatised people to define their own identity in terms of their stigma, which stands in tension with the gospel’s demand to define one’s life in terms of the cross. I will start with a personal account of my observations about how this happens in practice, and then use the theoretical model of stigma proposed by Erving Goffman to define what I think is really happening. I will then propose a different approach based on the ways that Jesus and Paul dealt with stigma in their ministries and teaching.

At the time Crave was founded, we were aware of the fact that MCC was often called a “gay” church.[6] This is not to say that MCC called itself a gay church. For many years, the denomination MCC self-identified in its mission statement as “a Christian Church founded in and reaching beyond the Gay and Lesbian communities.”[7] Our most recent mission statement, however, which starts with the words “transforming ourselves as we transform the world,” has removed any mention of sexual orientation.[8]

But theory does not always match practice, and within my own experience, many practices I have observed within the denomination do in fact make us look like a “gay church.” Between the time I joined MCC in 2001 and the founding of Crave in 2008, every MCC I went to displayed a rainbow flag somewhere in the church, and used rainbow altar cloths and rainbow stoles as liturgical garments. Many people who came to the church would reflect that these symbols helped them to understand that they were welcome in this church, an experience that they might never have had in any other church, but a secondary effect was to make it publicly visible that it was a church “for” gay people.

MCC Sydney, where I was interim pastor between 2007 and 2008, holds an annual “gay and lesbian” carols services on Christmas Eve. A highlight of their annual program is a Mardi Gras float. It is clear to any observer that the LGBT community is their community, their mission field.

At other times in our history, the “gay church” label has been more explicitly affirmed from within the movement, such as in this 1985 interview with Rev. Jim Dykes, then the pastor of MCC Sydney, in which he uses “coming out of the closet” interchangeably with salvation.

Jim Dykes: We’re about a profound repentance, a metamorphosis, a change. We’re about coming out of the closet. That’s what we’re about.

Interviewer: You say that almost as if it’s the sort of renewal experience that Christians talk of in meeting Christ.

Jim Dykes: It does, for many of us, for myself … when I came back and met Jesus Christ again, with all my flaws and all my sins, but knowing that just by the very act of accepting me I found salvation, it was a renewal, it was a change, I’m a different man.[9]

As successful as this strategy was for MCC in the final decades of the twentieth century and the apex of the LGBT civil rights movement, in the twentieth-first century’s milieu of increasing social acceptance for LGBT people, this model does not seem to be working, and MCC is moving from steady to rapid decline.

A survey of affirming churches conducted in 2013 by GayChurch.org (which is admittedly self-published and based entirely on an analysis of church websites) lists 7,457 gay affirming churches in forty-seven different countries. Seventy percent of these belong to five mainstream denominations.[10] Only 3%, or 187 of these, are MCC churches, which is a 14% decline since the 2012 survey. The denominations with the largest number of affirming churches were the United Church of Christ which had increased by 16% to 1,415 affirming churches, and the Episcopal Church which increased 9% to 1408 affirming churches. The survey concludes,

There are many possible reasons for this. First, gays and lesbians have many more church choices now than they did twenty years ago. Second, many of the early participants in these churches have aged. With the younger generations going elsewhere, these churches are slowly declining in numbers. Finally, many favor churches that are broad in focus, and whose congregants are gay and straight alike.[11]

The team who planted Crave MCC responded to these issues in a number of ways. Removing the gay pride imagery was easy enough, because our website, branding and worship space design were all started from scratch—a design which reflected our spirituality and our community and was in no way specific to sexual orientation. The focus of our preaching was Christ, the gospel, spiritual and social transformation, and living in personal integrity. We did not get involved in Mardi Gras and the gay and lesbian Christmas Eve service, focusing instead on a program providing food relief, free lunches and BBQs in the housing estates of Waterloo where a few of our members lived, as well as holding camps, dinners and a small annual conference.

But the issue of our identity formation was deeper than these superficial changes, a realisation which took a few years to sink in. By far, the predominant reason that new people came to our church was because they were looking for a church that accepted gay men, lesbians or bisexuals, and the questions they were asking theologically were about sexual ethics and the Bible and homosexuality. People’s testimonies and their spiritual insights clustered around these questions. We needed to develop resources on these issues, and preach on them.

My own public image as a pastor was to be predominantly in the LGBT community and the Marriage Equality campaign, because this is the only context in which I was regularly asked to speak outside of church. The gay press would ring me for comment on social issues, while generally the mainstream media had no reason to contact us. In other words, the gay church identity was asserting itself against our best intentions. It was at this point that I realised that the “gay church” identity ran deeper in our DNA that it was possible to address by a new name or PR strategy.

One surprising observation that this insight has led me to make is that the problem of identity which MCC has always faced is no longer an issue for gay affirming churches only. The views of Evangelical and Catholic Churches on sexuality are now also a stigma, and many Christian leaders such as Albert Mohler seem to be turning this into an identity issue, calling on people to publicly take a side against acceptance of same sex relationships.[12] This has resulted in, among other things, businesses insisting on refusing service to same sex couples, even if it results in their businesses being sued for discrimination, such as the recent cause célèbre of Melissa and Aaron Klein whose business Sweet Cakes closed after a case in which Melissa refused to bake a wedding cake for lesbians. Aaron Klein made the comment, “I’d rather have my kids see their dad stand up for what he believes in than to see him bow down because one person complained.”[13]

In the worlds of Mohler, Christians like the Kleins are presented with a “moment of decision” over same-sex marriages. However, Mohler does not understand that this moment of decision is the same which MCC has always encountered: it is whether they will find their identity in the stigma or in Christ.

Gay churches and straight churches are largely not deliberately identifying with our own stigmas instead of Christ. Rather, as we attempt to identify with Christ, the sociological force of stigmatisation emerges to muddy the waters. This matches Erving Goffman’s theory of stigma, which highlights the way that socially abnormal people identify with attributes that highlight their abnormality, and the way that such attributes may even become legitimating features required for membership or leadership in alternative communities.

He defines stigma as known or visible signs which spoil people’s social identity. Both societies and the stigmatised people within them have a series of expectations when they meet strangers, depending on that person’s gender and social class, which Goffman describes as the virtual social identity. A person’s actual social identity may diverge from these expectations in a number of ways, which discredit people in the eyes of others. A person so discredited is defined as a stigmatised person, while a person not discredited is referred to as a “Normal.”

This model of stigma portrays the identities of such people as deeply conflicted. Stigma is evidence of a discrepancy between expectation and reality, which stigmatised people must manage throughout their lives. However, because stigmatised people usually maintain that they are the same as everyone else at the core of their being, the management of stigma is not only necessary in public social interactions, but also in their intimate relationships and even in their ego formation, or concept of themselves.

Even looking in the mirror, a visibly stigmatised person is confronted with this discrepancy between their own expectations of themselves and the visible reality, and will often respond with feelings of shame and self-hatred,[14] or less commonly may come to understand their stigma as a unique blessing, or as an excuse to avoid personal responsibility.[15]

Stigmatised social identity is managed within special social groups which view the stigmatised person sympathetically. Goffman calls such communities the Own and the Wise. The Own are those who share the same stigma, and provide stigmatised individual with instruction in the “tricks of the trade,” and “a circle of lament.” The Wise are non-stigmatised persons around whom stigmatised persons need feel no shame, and exercise no self-restraint.[16] These communities provide a context in which the stigmatised can identify as the normal human being which they know themselves to be at the deepest level, but only at the cost of resigning themselves to what Goffman calls a “half-world,” a life that only fully exists within the protective circle.

Goffman further distinguished between social identity as described above, personal identity (or the image and history which others know and recognize of a person), and ego identity, or one’s own subjective response to their situation.[17]

It is this concept of ego identity which is important for us in our consideration of Christian authenticity. Stigmatised people face pressures from every angle in the way that they construct an ego-identity. The Own expect them to represent the group effectively without “minstrelising” (showing their stigma in an exaggerated or comical way), and at the same time without assimilating or concealing their identity.

Similarly, Normals expect to be set at ease about the differences between them and a stigmatised person. In social settings, stigmatised people must “break the ice” of the social awkwardness they create by reassuring Normals that they are the same as everyone else, and that the burden of the stigma is not heavy. Paradoxically, most Normals are not completely at ease until they have been reassured that stigmatised people do in fact struggle and need their help to fit in properly.

There are therefore four competing demands on a stigmatised person’s ego identity. Politically, they must represent the Own while not behaving in a stereotyped manner, and psychologically, they must bravely assert their similarity with everybody else while graciously accepting that they are not the same. Goffman concludes that for a stigmatised person, “Joke becomes their fate and destiny.”[18] In other words, they must reconcile all these competing demands on their ego identity by making a joke out of who they are. A dwarf might set people at ease by taking on the role of a court-jester in public, a gay man might do it by exaggerated effeminate behaviour. In the gay community, men can be ridiculed for being “stereotypical queens,” or for being “straight-acting.” There is, however, no clearly defined middle ground.

It is at this point that it becomes clear just how inconsistent stigmatised identity is with Christian identity. To identify as a clown is in irreconcilable tension with the seriousness of being part of a holy people with a prophetic calling to bear witness to the death and resurrection of Jesus. This tension, I propose, is responsible for much of the uneasiness concerning the LGBT question in the church.

Scriptural images of Christian identity similarly stand in tension with any ego-identity that is based on personal stigma. Christ’s call to follow in the synoptic traditions require a decisive break with patriarchal village life in Galilee,[19] and an orientation towards itinerant ministry, to Jerusalem and to the cross (Luke 9:51).[20] This identity is certainly a stigmatised one, but the stigma is that of Christ and the cross. In the ministries of Jesus and Paul, I will now show, stigma is not resolved through the creation of a community of the Own and the Wise, but through the calling of the church.

Within the early Jesus movement, stigmatised people entered into a mutual discipleship by following Jesus. This included all kinds of stigmatised identities, such as little children (cf. Mark 10:13–16; cf. 19:13–15; Luke 18:15–17),[21] “sinful” women (Luke 7:36–39), tax-collectors (Mark 2:13–17; cf. Matt 9:9–13; Luke 5:27–32), the unclean (Mark 7:1–5; cf. 15:1–2), the ‘am-ha-arets (the rabbinic term for Jews uneducated in the law, which is sometimes reflected in the term “sinners” in the gospels, see Mark 2:15 and parallels; cf. Luke 5:8).

But we fail to capture the whole picture if we interpret this “kingdom of nobodies”[22] in the early Jesus movement as a kind of a counter-cultural or sub-cultural community of the Own and the Wise for stigmatised groups in Galilee. Such a reading fails to account for the way that Jesus also included “Normals” (upright Jews) at the table with the outcasts. The controversy in Mark 2:13–17 is only possible because “the scribes of the Pharisees” encounter Jesus eating at this table of the stigmatised. The “sinful” woman in Luke 7:36–39 follows Jesus into the house of a Pharisee. In Luke 14:1, Jesus begins his great parable discourse of Luke 14–16 by going into the house of a Pharisee to share a Sabbath meal. His whole discussion of religious attitudes towards sinners, exemplified most famously in the Parable of the Lost Son (Luke 15:11–32), takes place sitting at this very table.

The mutual discipleship which Jesus shared with the stigmatised would therefore have been incomplete were it not for the non-stigmatised and even socially elite people who also followed Jesus, including Pharisees and even Zealots (see the list of disciples in Luke 6:13–16). Discipleship cannot have belonged to a community of the Own and the Wise, but to a community in which all stigma was resolved in the call to take up the cross and follow Jesus. As Christopher Hays claims,

Discipleship is the ultimate commitment, relative to which all other values are reassessed. Specifically, discipleship to Jesus confronts commitment to family and the security of stable employment, subordinating both to the greater good of following the messiah. [23]

Rudolf Bultmann’s claim that the New Testament is an unfolding of the message of Jesus, which is a presupposition of the New Testament writings,[24] seems to apply here. As the idea of the church emerges in New Testament thought, Jesus’ practices of seeking out the rejected ones and binging reconciliation are reflected in the construction of the institutions of the New Testament church. There is only space in this paper to look into the way that Paul’s practices and theology reflect and “unfold” those of Jesus, but this could also be done for various bodies of literature in the New Testament.

Jesus’ concept of identity seems to flow into the thought and the life of Paul, who similarly rejected the patriarchal family as the basis of community life,[25] and who took Jesus’ radical practices and used them to establish urban Jesus-communities around the Mediterranean world. For Paul, the church is a community (or a body, see 1 Cor 12:12–27; Rom 12:3–7; Eph 4:4–16) of those who are identified with Christ (or “in Christ,” for instance, Rom 6:11; 8:1; 1 Cor 15:18; 2 Cor 15:17; Gal 3:26; Eph 1:4; Phil 2:1; Col 1:28; 1 Thess 4:16), and through whom the kingdom of God (the resurrection, or age to come, see Acts 17:18; 1 Cor 15, esp. vv. 50–57; Phil 3:10–11; Eph 1:21) is manifested in the world.

As George Eldon Ladd points out, the church is never identified by Paul as a body per se, but it is only a body in the sense that each member is identified with Christ.[26] This new identity is more than a personal experience of salvation, but becoming part of this new, eschatological community.[27] In his youth, Paul had found his identity as a Jew of impeccable lineage—by the time of his writing, he has come to find it in Christ (Phil 3:3–6).[28]

Margaret Y. MacDonald, whose work highlights the way that Pauline churches became institutionalised, has shown that the early Pauline letters were focused on community building, the middle (or deutero-) Paulines were about stabilising the community, and the late Paulines (or pastorals) were about defending it.[29] Paul never wrote a systematic theology of the church, but his work in building and maintaining the body of Christ in this age is an embodied demonstration of this theology, and this can be seen in the way he deals with concrete situations in his letters.

For instance, identification with the way of the cross underlies Paul’s claim in Galatians to bear in his body the marks (Greek: stigmata) of Jesus (Gal 6:17). This is the conclusio, or final reiteration with emotional force, of a larger rhetorical argument against introducing the practice of circumcision into the community he had established there.[30] The “stigma of Jesus” may or may not refer to literal physical marks here, but Paul’s use of bastazo (to bear) seems to be an allusion to the carrying of the cross.[31]

This stigma of crucifixion is presented by Paul as an either/or alternative to identifying with the stigma of circumcision, and as Bernard O. Ukwuegbu, argues, Paul is deeply concerned that the Galatians do not form their social identity on the basis of circumcision or uncircumcision, but with Christ in a new community of faith.[32] That Paul says in Gal 3:28 that there is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, woman or man is in no way merely an uplifting sentiment or pragmatic approach to specific problems in Galatia. It is Paul’s whole theological world and mission that is at stake here: if we are not one body in Christ, if we are still Jews and Gentiles, then the whole work has been in vain for him, and those who identify as such may as well be accursed and cut off (Gal 1:8; 5:12).

Paul’s vision of the church as a universal body of Christ, which he (or a Pauline disciple) would later articulate in the letter to the Ephesians, grows out of this understanding, and it is here that the message and practices of Jesus are unfolded by Paul in their fullness. Unlike the earlier Paulines, where Paul focuses on individual congregations as the manifestation of Christ’s body in the present age, Ephesians presents the body of Christ as universal and global in scope.[33] As MacDonald has highlighted, Ephesians is written in the context of Jewish identity being brought into question by anti-Jewish propaganda.[34] The tables are now fully turned from the situation in Jesus’ day so that observant Jews are the stigmatised ones, not the “Normals,” but according to God’s purposes this does not matter at all. The answer will never be the creation of a stigmatised community of “out and proud” Jews, but to seek the unity of the body of Christ. Ephesians 2:14–16 asserts that dividing wall of hostility between Jew and Gentile has been broken by Christ’s death in order to offer the possibility of the church as a new alternative society, a “third race,”[35] in which race no longer divides.

What becomes of our mission, given everything I have said about MCC, Goffman’s concept of stigma and the vision of identity and community held by Jesus and unfolded by Paul, is that the gay church and the straight church are both living in a half-world. This situation is not merely inadequate to the mission of the church to unify humanity in one body, and it is not merely inadequate for the task of forming disciples who find their identity in the way of the cross. It also calls into question God’s whole reconciling mission for the world: to bring all things together into the body of his Son (Col 1:19–20; Eph 1:8b–10). If we are to live up to our calling as the church, we have to get past this.

Given the level of resistance that both sides of this argument are likely (or even certain) to feel about surrendering their stigmatised identities, it seems that the task ahead of us will involve a small group of people who like yeast in the lump are able to “be the bigger person” and look above the shibboleths of this divisive issue, being aware of what is really important in the situation.

Letting go of our small worlds and embracing God’s big world is God’s will not just for us personally but for the universe, and it brings glory to Christ when we do so, because it bring all the pieces of humanity into harmony within one body in which he is the head. A church like this would be a space in which the half-worlds of this age begin to dissolve into the full world, the life of the age to come.

There is boundless room for the intentional, missional work of creating spaces where the LGBT community and “Normals” are able to come before God through Christ together, without regard for the stigma, and without needing to make the stigma into a badge of honour. While we wait, and while we may be tempted to view the LGBT issue as a distraction from our mission and calling, we bear witness to the reality of God’s reconciling work in the world through the church—and sometimes even to those parts of the church which are not yet fully given to the task.


[1] Erving Goffman, Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity (London: Penguin, 1963), 32.

[2] An acronym for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people. I deliberately fluctuate between using “LGBT people,” “gay people” or “lesbians and gay men” in this paper, in order to be accurate about which set of identities I am referring to. I seek to use LGBT in contexts where the transgender community are actually included, and “lesbians” only in contexts that actually include lesbian women.

[3] In saying this, I do not want to make any claims about whether this mission includes a call to change of orientation, to celibacy or to monogamy. While we must start with the assumption that the gospel’s call to holiness includes a call to exemplary sexual ethics, and recognize that this call will affect LGBT people in unique ways, but the specific details of that call is a separate question, which has received ample attention in both theological literature and popular sources. The claims I make in this paper are relevant to practitioners of mission on either side of that theo-ethical spectrum. For an exceptionally wise book on discerning this issue which does not “take a side,” see Ken Wilson, A Letter to My Congregation: An Evangelical Pastor’s Path to Embracing People who are Gay, Lesbian and Transgender in the Company of Jesus (Canton, MI: David Crumm Media, 2014); for a book upholding celibacy as the best option, see Sam Allberry, Is God Anti-Gay? And Other Questions about Homosexuality, the Bible, and Same-Sex Attraction (Purcellville, VA: The Good Book Company, 2013); for a book which defends monogamy as a valid choice for Christians, see Matthew Vines, God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships (New York: Convergent Books, 2014).

[4] For our website, see Crave Metropolitan Community Church, http://www.cravemcc.com/.

[5] On the role of stigma in the Jesus Tradition, see Carlos J. Gil Arbiol, “Overvaluing the Stigma: An Example of Self-Stigmatisation in the Jesus-Movement (Q 14:26–27; 17:33),” Biblical Theology Bulletin 34, no.4 (2004): 161–66; Rick F. Talbott, “Nazareth’s Rebellious Son: Deviance and Downward Mobility in the Galilean Jesus Movement,” Biblical Theology Bulletin 38, no.3 (2008): 99–113.

[6] Gordon Preece, for instance, describes us as “the gay Metropolitan Community Church” in Sexegesis: An Evangelical Response to Five Uneasy Pieces on Homosexuality, edited by Michael F. Bird and Gordon R. Preece (Sydney: New Cranmer Lobby, 2012), 19.

[7] Cited in Mary R. Sawyer, The Church on the Margins: Living Christian Community (Harrisberg, PA: Trinity Press International, 2003), 204.

[8] See “Who We Are,” Metropolitan Community Churches, http://mccchurch.org/overview/ (accessed October 14, 2014).

[9] “Return of the Pink Triangle,” Encounters, ABC (1985), http://youtu.be/DNq7DlgPdbE?t=16m29s (accessed October 11, 2014).

[10] United Church of Christ, Episcopal, Lutheran ELCA, Presbyterian and United Methodist.

[11] “2013 Affirming Church Survey,” GALIP Foundation, http://www.gaychurch.org/affirming-church-survey/2013-survey/ (accessed June 2, 2014).

[12] I think in particular of Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr.’s blogpost of June 2, 2014: “There Is No “Third Way”—Southern Baptists Face a Moment of Decision (And So Will You),” http://www.albertmohler.com/2014/06/02/there-is-no-third-way-southern-baptists-face-a-moment-of-decision-and-so-will-you/ (accessed October 14, 2014).

[13] “Oregon Bakery Owner Aaron Klein Denies Lesbian Couple a Wedding Cake,” Huffington Post, April 2, 2014, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/04/aaron-klein-oregon-bakery-owner-lesbian-wedding-cake_n_2615563.html (accessed October 14, 2014).

[14] Goffman, Stigma, 16–17.

[15] Goffman, Stigma, 21–22.

[16] Goffman, Stigma, 41–43.

[17] Goffman, Stigma, 73–75.

[18] Goffman, Stigma, 150.

[19] John Dominic Crossan, The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant (New York: HarperCollins, 1991), 299–302.

[20] Crossan, The Historical Jesus, 266–82; David H. Gill, “Observations on the Lukan Travel Narrative and Some Related Passages,” Harvard Theological Review 63 (1970): 200; Paul Kariamadam, “The Composition and Meaning of the Lucan Travel Narrative (Lk. 9,51–19,46),” Bible Bhashyam 3 (1987): 195.

[21] I agree with Crossan here, who points out that in its original setting, Jesus’ sayings about little children refer to their low social status, rather than their innocent faith, or the special theological meanings which this image acquires in later gospels such as John 3:1–10 and Gos. Thom. 22:3–4 (Crossan, The Historical Jesus, 266–69).

[22] Crossan, The Historical Jesus, 266.

[23] Christopher M. Hays, “Hating Wealth and Wives? An Examination of the Discipleship Ethic in the Third Gospel,” Tyndale Bulletin 60, no.1 (2009): 47–48.

[24] Rudolf Bultmann, The Theology of the New Testament, vol. 1 (London: SCM Press, 1965), 3.

[25] Bruce J. Malina, The New Testament World: Insights from Cultural Anthropology (Atlanta: SCM Press 1981), 113–16.

[26] George Eldon Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament (Guildford: Lutterworth Press, 1974), 545.

[27] Kevin Giles, What on Earth Is the Church: A Biblical and Theological Inquiry (London: SPCK, 1995), 98–102.

[28] Giles, What on Earth Is the Church, 105–8.

[29] Margaret Y. MacDonald, The Pauline Churches: A Socio-Historical Study of Institutionalization in the Pauline and Deutero-Pauline Writings (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988).

[30] Hans Dieter Betz, Galatians: A Commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Churches in Galatia (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1979), 312–13.

[31] Betz, Galatians, 325.

[32] Bernard O. Ukwuegbu, “Paraenesis, Identity-Defining Norms, or Both? Galatians 5:13–6:10 in the Light of Social Identity Theory,” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 70, no.3 (2008): 551–52.

[33] Giles, What on Earth Is the Church, 125.

[34] Margaret Y. MacDonald, “The Politics of Identity in Ephesians,” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 26, no. 4 (2004): 419–44.

[35] Giles, What on Earth Is the Church, 136–38.


Image: derived from Darrell A, Flickr (Creative Commons)