This week, Steve begins a new conversation – a serious conversation that he invites us all to participate in; a conversation about the apostle Paul.
Aside from Jesus, Paul is the dominant figure in the New Testament. His words have had immeasurable influence – but he also shoulders the blame for some of the church’s worst mistakes such as slavery, misogyny and homophobia.
“Jesus – it’s generally agreed – was a nice guy; he did nice things, and he made inspiring statements, like ‘love one another the way you love yourself’ – only for Paul to mess it all up,” says Steve in this week’s Chalke Talk. “But here’s the thing. I believe that Paul has been misunderstood. Badly misunderstood. I believe that all too often, his words have been ‘borrowed’; lifted out of context, twisted, sometimes stood on their heads and then drummed into the service of ideas and policies, doctrines and behaviours which not only would he never have owned, but he would have hated.”
Rather than forcing our preconceived cultural assumptions back onto this extraordinary first-century pioneer, our task is to try to listen as hard as we can to the meaning of his words in terms of their original context and culture. When we do this, we discover that far from being the great excluder, he is in fact the great include.
The episode ends with a question: “What do you think about Paul and his writing? Was he the great excluder or the great includer?”
*Chalke Talk will continue to explore this topic in forthcoming episodes
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