Answering The Atheist
December 7, 2003 / Volume 3, Issue 49
THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
Is circumcision required? Absolutely, according to some verses (Genesis 17:7, 10, 13, 19), but not at all according to others (Galatians 5:2). Is there a contradiction?
Circumcision was a covenant made with Abraham which also became part of the law of Moses (Leviticus 12:3). Thus, circumcision was necessary for Abraham, and for his descendants who followed in the nation Israel. However, when the Christ came, Moses' law would be removed (Colossians 2:14; Hebrews 8:6-13) and a new covenant established through Christ.
Notice the context of Paul's statement, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed, I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace." (Galatians 5:1-4)
In Paul's day, there were Christians who had converted from Judaism teaching that the Gentiles must be circumcised according to the law of Moses (Acts 15:1-5). The apostle rightly opposed this, as these men were attempting to bind a law which the Christian is not subject to (Acts 15:10-11).
Circumcision at one time was absolutely necessary to be in a covenant relationship with God, however, with the coming of Christ, it's necessity has passed away.
There is no contradiction.
This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible