Monday, June 11, 2007

Paul 3.4

My heart began to quicken as we approached the eastern city gates of Tarsus. It was now several years since I had been home. My father was long dead, but my mother was alive. My elder brother now was the father of the family and she continued to live in what was now his household.

He of course did not approve of my messianic beliefs, but as family he would allow us to stay at his home. My father had not been particularly pious for most of his life. We were Roman citizens. My grandfather had made tents for Julius Caesar's army as he pursued Mark Antony across the world. In return he and his family was granted Roman citizenship.

We were also citizens of Tarsus, and as a boy I attended the gymnasium for some time. I learned Homer and the basics of rhetoric. Meanwhile I learned Hebrew letters on the Sabbath. We were one of the weathier Jewish families in the city at that time.

Then one year my father announced that we were going to go to Jerusalem for Passover. He had never been to the city and wanted to visit it before he died. The experience would change our family forever. My father returned from Jerusalem determined that we would follow the customs of our ancestors. He betrothed my sister to the son of a distant cousin in Jerusalem, and he sent me to learn the teachings of the Pharisees, since they were the most respected of all the Jewish sects in the city.

7 comments:

Paul Errickson said...

Dear Professor Schenck,
Having grown up in the wesleyan tradition I'm now 59 years young and have had a theological question you've not dealt with..as it is of a sensitive nature do you give church sanctioned answers to questions from your readers?
Paul

Ken Schenck said...

I always try to be faithful to the spirit of our church. Obviously I have done my best to dance with my tradition as I think through issues myself. A blog is a nebulous zone between private and public. Points of major church critique wouldn't really be appropriate for a public setting, unless I were lobbying for change. I don't know what issue you have in mind...

Angie Van De Merwe said...

The Scriptures say that a son is nothing different from a slave until the time appointed by the Father (paraphrased, I think)..A "full son" is a co-heir of Christ. Those who are "slave sons" are "under law" (or tradition) until a time when their development has arrived to a "true state of freedom". That does not mean that tradition ceases to be of import, but the function of tradition differs...for a "slave son" it is a means of grace to develop....for a "full son", it is a means of grace to express "sonship" (contextualization). The Logos (the Word of God) was expressed in the flesh by Jesus, this was the "incarnation", but all of us should be representative of God in the flesh in our sphere of influence. It is character that is representative of the Father's heart. And it is the Father's heart that makes the difference in us. It is only when the Father's heart is mis-represented that brings reproach, for we have been made for Him. We know so little of what "love looks like". That is why we need one another.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Is it possible that the 13th chapter of Corinthians was talking about "putting away childish things" (being identified by Apollos or Paul, human disciplers) as "full maturity" or growth in love (understanding)...that our understanding itself is but a "part", no matter what tradition. That the "heart of the matter" is humanity and creation. That is God's business, therefore, ours. And our part is to understand where we "fit"(personal convictions and giftings) and illustration of God's inclusive heart (ethics)...

Ken Schenck said...

Angie, my perception is that Scripture creates deep and very personal resonances in your spirit. It evokes broad Christian themes and personal experiences in your soul. Dare I say that these are things God speaks to you through these words?

In terms of the concrete meaning of 1 Corinthians 13, it is sandwiched in the middle of a train of thought meant to get the Corinthians not to think of themselves as spiritually superior simply because they might have a gift like tongues. They were at that time very unloving in their body life. Paul encourages prophecy over tongues because tongues as it was practiced was being used selfishly, only to build up the spirit of the person speaking in tongues, not to edify the body. These are the concrete overtones of 1 Corinthians 13.

The knowing in part addresses the Corinthians' claims to knowledge and wisdom. As in the early chapters, Paul emphasizes that true knowledge is a matter of how God thinks rather than the worldly and carnal way of thinking they exemplified...

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I don't think that the Scriptures are the only "wisdom". Yes, they resonate with me for that is my "tradition" and how I have "understood myself" and my "world". But, I don't think for a moment that they are to be set in opposition to other areas of "wisdom", i.e. psychology, sociology, anthropology, or any other "science" or other "wisdom literature".

Does God truly "speak" or is it our own consciences? And how do we discern if our conscience is appropriate, since it is culturally conditioned? I have understood God's love as unconditional, because that was what I "needed" to "know". I needed to be loved unconditionally, so that I could "develop". The Church unfortunately, has not affirmed that message to me and it has been hard for me to believe it as objectivly true...only an emotional need that resonated with the text, which has brought about the self-doubt that I grew up with...I have concluded that it is all about our innate nature (universal and particular) and how that has been "watered" or hindered. Parenting, therefore, is the most important job anyone can ever have.
And I believe that innate gifts are to be recieved by others as they are given and not ever taken (stolen).

Scott Hendricks said...

Disregarding my priorities, I just read your Evangelical Novel of Paul thus far. I hope you can sell it, but I definitely hope you keep writing it! I enjoyed reading your 'evangelical' unfolding of Paul's apostleship. One gets a better sense of the life and issues of the early church. Please keep writing! It's fun.

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