What do these two seemingly unrelated famous men share in common? As Steve puts it, “To attempt to understand the development of the Church worldwide without any reference to the work of the Apostle Paul is a bit like trying to trace the development of pop music without mentioning Elvis, or the Beatles, the Stones, Dylan, Michael Jackson, and U2 all put together.”
Steve argues from the moment Paul, previously Saul, gave his life to following Jesus he was dedicated to a radical message of love and inclusion. But as his words have been translated and passed down from thought-leader, his true message has been lost. As Steve puts it, "For the rest of his life he would give every last ounce of his energy, dedication, and ambition to this new story – the story of God’s love for everyone. ‘Love’, as he later argues to his friends in the city of Corinth, ‘never ends!’
So, to forget or make little of Paul's ambitions, and the challenges he faced, undermines Paul’s message altogether. And, arguably just like Elvis and rock'n'roll, to truly understand the predicament much of Christianity has found itself in requires us to start again with Paul.
So, a question for you. What do you make of the challenge to understand Paul in his original context, rather than imposing our own pre-suppositions, followed by all sorts of negative meanings on his words; meanings which, I believe, not only would he have disowned, but were the very antipathy of the core message he learned from Jesus of love and inclusion?
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