Tuesday, January 09, 2018

A Reading of the Apostle Paul

Pre-Damascus Paul: “I have everything figured out. There is an answer to any question under the sun within my rigorous version of the Jewish tradition—it is all found in the Law of God. This certainty is worth defending, even with torture, violence, and murder. 
For example, these so called “Followers of the Way” believe Jesus to be the Messiah, the blessed one of God. That can’t be true, for it is written in Deuteronomy 21:23: “All who die upon a tree are cursed.” (Deut. 21:23) So Jesus can’t be God’s Blessed One, for he died accursed. The Way must be destroyed by all means necessary!”

Post-Damascus Paul: “The risen Jesus revealed himself to me… he is the Blessed One of God! I misread the Law… I got it wrong… What if the Law itself got it wrong? In light of Jesus, can the Law be a meaningful category, does it have any power? 
My God… this is a whole new world—none of the categories work… this Jesus stuff is God’s invasion of the world… a new age… the start of God making all things new… what does this mean?”

Paul after reflecting upon all these things for a while: “It seems that the old world that is dying away was filled with duality and division. All categories and powers both Jewish and Pagan (wait… those two categories even no longer work! Holy Cow!) are being pulled apart and put together again in a new way! Free/Slave, Jew/Greek, Man/Woman, Flesh/Body… even my beloved Lawful/Unlawful those are old and passing away! 
All the categories were infected with the parasite Sin and Death… even my beloved Law was infected—a good thing used to a bad end… all people signed themselves over to Sin as slaves. 
But now Sin and Death are defeated by Christ. The slave contract is only valid with living people, but people died with Christ, and are resurrected into a new contract—adoption papers into God’s household. 
As for all the powers and categories of the world—they are being filled with Spirit instead of Sin… The Spirit of God replaces and scrambles all those other categories; Spirit of Christ/Spirit of the Old Age is really the only question we have to ask. Jew/Greek, who cares, the question is Spirit of Christ/Spirit of the Old Age? I have to spread this news by all means necessary! We’ll form communities to live reconciled lives together in the Spirit and that will help reform the Powers of the old age for when God brings about the Age of Christ. It is here and it is coming soon!

Paul having to deal with people: 
“Jewish Christians are insisting male Gentile Christians need to cut off the tip of their penises? Those who say that might as well cut the whole thing off.” (Galatians 5)
“Gentile Christians think a new age means they no longer need to honor the marriages they had in the Old Age and are marrying their mothers? That’s not what I meant at all!” (1 Corinthians 5)
“At communion rich Christians are eating fine food while the poor eat a little wafer and go hungry? How does that reflect the Spirit of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 11)
              “A Free Christian owns a slave who converted to Christianity… I’ll use Greek Rhetoric to shame him into freeing him… there is no way later Christians could misinterpret what I’m saying and justify slavery... I mean the New Age of Christ will be here any minute.” (Philemon)
              “Everyone is getting so caught up in Spirit that you are interrupting one another and women are speaking… this is disgraceful.” (1 Corinthians 14)