Saturday, June 14, 2014

More from Paul and the Faithfulness of God

St Paul Vatican Statue (thanks Wikimedia)
Continuing to profit greatly from Tom Wright's excellent Paul and the Faithfulness of God, though I'm only on page 1360. Let me share a few more gems:
  • "God is making his appeal through us" [2 Cor 5.20]...cannot mean only 'through what we say out loud'. It means, 'through our suffering and perplexing apostolic life'.
  • Properly speaking, 'justification' is not 'how someone becomes a Christian' but 'how someone who becomes a Christian...can be sure they will receive the verdict "righteous" on the last day'... The faith because of which the One God declares those in the Messiah to be 'in the right' is itself the work of the spirit through the proclamation of the gospel.
  • If the spirit of the living God dwells within his people, constituting them as the renewed tabernacle .. then the work of this transforming spirit can and must be spoke of in terms, ultimately, of thewsis, 'divinization'.
  • ..initial justification is so important...not just because of the need for 'assurance'...[but] because of the need to be clear that all such believers belong to Abraham's single family.
  • Mark introduces John the Baptist with two verses...both...speaking, not of the arrival of a 'Messiah'...but of the arrival of YHWH himself...Mark, Matthew and Luke have just as 'high' a christology as John.
  • For Paul, the Messiah has come, and has been crucified and raised from the dead; and with that a previously unimagined door has opened...Theologically this is like an eighteenth-century artist walking into a room full of Picassos.
  • Why [didn't God] act all at once, to produce the long-awaited perfection? Paul's answer was deeply humanizing: the one God did it this way in order to enable the humans who would share in the running of his new creation to develop the character they would need for that ultimate task.
  • Paul's whole written work...could be seen as an extended application of Romans 12.1-2. Here is the true God who is worthy of worship with our whole selves, body and all. Learn to think straight, as members of the Age to Come which has already been launched. Discover in this way, in thought and practice, what a genuine and God-pleasing human life looks like. And in particular, work out what God's will is. That working out, dokimazein, lies at the heart of Paul's vision of Christian freedom: it is not only about freedom from the deadly constraints of sin and death, but also freedom for the multiple and varied styles of service to which one may be called.
  • To those who comment, 'But you're a bishop, so presumably you take a "Christian" view, I reply: Yes; but the 'Christian' view I take, in my tradition at least, is to let the text be the text, rather than make it say what we want...It if turns out that Paul says things I do not want to hear, I shall live with it. If it turns out that I say things which Paul doesn't want to hear, perhaps he will one day put me straight.
I must get on now (I'm only up to p 1156 in this gem collection). Let us also pray for the visit of Archbishop Justin to Pope Francis. Many wonderful things could develop from it.

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