Paul in One Sentence – Michael Gorman

9781556351952

I’m reading a bunch of stuff on Paul and love at the moment. This is from Michael Gorman, one of the most astute and insightful interpreters of Paul around today.

From his book Reading Paul

It’s well worth reading over several times and then mulling over some more ..

It’s all there – can you see anything missing?

That’s some story.

If it doesn’t make you sit up and take notice then maybe you’ve become innoculated to how outlandishly unlikely the Christian faith is.

This isn’t a clever philosophy or an ethic to live a virtuous life. It’s a story of God and his loving action in the world. A story that calls for a response of faith, thanks and complete commitment to a radically different way of life.

How do you think the lives of individual Christians and local churches would be transformed if this one sentence was understood, believed and acted on?

Paul preached, and then explained in various pastoral, community-forming letters, a narrative, apocalyptic, theopolitical gospel (1) in continuity with the story of Israel and (2) in distinction to the imperial gospel of Rome (and analogous powers) that was centered on God’s crucified and exalted Messiah Jesus, whose incarnation, life, and death by crucifixion were validated and vindicated by God in his resurrection and exaltation as Lord, which inaugurated the new age or new creation in which all members of this diverse but consistently covenantally dysfunctional human race who respond in self-abandoning and self-committing faith thereby participate in Christ’s death and resurrection and are (1) justified, or restored to right covenant relations with God and with others; (2) incorporated into a particular manifestation of Christ the Lord’s body on earth, the church, which is an alternative community to the status-quo human communities committed to and governed by Caesar (and analogous rulers) and by values contrary to the gospel; and (3) infused both individually and corporately by the Spirit of God’s Son so that they may lead “bifocal” lives, focused both back on Christ’s first coming and ahead to his second, consisting of Christlike, cruciform (cross-shaped) (1) faith and (2) hope toward God and (3) love toward both neighbors and enemies (a love marked by peaceableness and inclusion), in joyful anticipation of (1) the return of Christ, (2) the resurrection of the dead to eternal life, and (3) the renewal of the entire creation.

2 thoughts on “Paul in One Sentence – Michael Gorman

  1. Patrick, that’s a remarkable piece of writing. I’ll certainly be keeping it to hand for reflection and more – thank you!

  2. Greetings Tim. Yes, while it’s complex and not exactly memorable like a creed, it is, I think, so much richer than many bullet point statements of faith that just list a number of systematic theological claims, but divorce them almost completely from the ethos, narrative and ‘drama’ of Scripture.

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