Sunday, August 08, 2004

my Nikon Coolpix and mask

african mask graphic Posted by Hello

various thoughts about the Apostle Paul

Paul was a rejected, not a popular, leader in early church. He is an image of a rejected teacher who stuck to his conscience, calling, and his vision of Christ. He did this without even fully understanding the mystery of what God had called him to do, but he went out of conviction. Rejection had a huge role in Paul’s theology/thinking, a “theology of rejection” could be drawn from Paul’s letters. This follows in the tradition of Jesus. (Could this indicate something about Paul’s kerygma? )

Paul says “this is my teaching and it does not come from the Lord” regarding a specific issue (the context in which he made the statement) when he did not have a precedent in the sayings of Jesus (or maybe even other Jewish scriptures) to follow.

Just because Paul did not condemn slavery does not mean that he condoned it. He lived in a culture where 1 in 8 were slaves. It was part of his society. Therefore, the discussion did not even exist because the society required slaves in its very structure. Paul’s purpose in the discussion of slavery was focused on Christian character, not on the philosophy of slavery or equality. He did say that for God there is no slave/free/man/woman/Jew/gentile, etc.

Is slavery really incompatible with the teachings of the New Testament? Even with the existence of the New Testament scripture, slavery continued until the 1800s. Did Christianity stop slavery? Maybe, but it took over 1800 years!

Was Paul a feminist? Paul, in the New Testament, regarded women as having “equal” status spiritually and in the church. Some people call this “feminism.” To call this feminism is to read our own modern cultural concepts into Paul, and to look at the passages through our own cultural lenses. Paul’s teachings are not feminist. Any definition of feminism would include the principle of equality of the genders, but Paul was not writing about “equality” but instead, firmly in the tradition of Jesus, Paul taught the opposite equality, which was servant-hood. [We mistake it for feminist “equality” because both genders are to be equally subservient to the other?] Though feminism is a purely Christian phenomenon, even more so than a Judaic or Hellenistic one, neither it, nor our contemporary culture, have any concept of servant-hood (apart from the conception that it arises out of oppression). Feminism is a product of human rights, based in the Christian concept of humans as having value. Paul, following in the tradition of Jesus, went much farther than modern feminism ever did by not just emphasizing human rights but also human duty towards other humans.