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Plain and Simple for Sept. 19, 2013 / September 17, 2013
Oh, Paul! Paul of the bible seems to fall out of favor more often than Miley Cyrus. He has been accused of almost everything. Some claim that he was a misogynistic old man who baptized the Christian church in its bias against women. Others have argued that Jesus gave his life to start a crazy new church and Paul then managed to reverse everything Jesus did. The plain fact is that when people try to reclaim the roots of the Christian church, they always run to the gospels and never to the letters of Paul.

I admit that Paul can be a prickly figure. He was not the most cuddly person. If you did not want to know what he really thought, then it was best not to ask him. Paul did not have the good grace to frame his responses in sweet parables. Most often, he came at his opponents with words that stung.

Still, no one did more than Paul, except Jesus of course, to advance the cause of the Christian church. He was tireless in his missionary work and did not know fear. If you want to talk about the relevance of his writings, you would do well to remember that his works were put to paper before the gospels! Many of the more liberal scholars are tireless in their criticism of the weak Christology in the gospels.

They claim that it proves that early Christians did not see Jesus as the Risen Lord who had conquered death. What they conveniently ignore is that Paul’s letters come first and they have a very advanced Christology. You cannot read Paul without knowing that Paul serves a Risen Lord!

I love Paul for many reasons. He can be difficult at times. There has never been a sentence that Paul did not think he could make more obtuse. But, boy, could he tackle some deep subjects. Who has never felt as Paul describes in Romans 7:15ff where he basically says that we often do exactly what we don’t want to do and don’t do what we want to do. When it comes to the power and subtleness of sin, no one has ever described it better than Paul.

But Paul was not totally a downer. He can lift you up with passages such as the exquisite I Corinthians 13: the Hymn of Love.

And the way he shouts to us that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord in Romans 8 is comforting indeed.

So I will stick with Paul no matter how the winds change. He reminds me of myself in so many ways. We make lots of mistakes but we keep trying. If you stick with us, we just might have something to offer.

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