During the twist and turns of the past couple years of thesis research, I have collected lots of quotes that most likely will not make it into the final product. Some of the most fascinating are summaries of Paul’s gospel by different authors, and I thought I would share some of them periodical. Occasionally, I will even ask a question that points toward an area I find to be a weakness in the summary (or larger proposal). Take note, for the most part I like these summaries but also enjoy asking questions.
What role does the past, the time from creation to Christ, play in either of these summaries?
The Pauline gospel announces a definitive, unsurpassable divine incursion into the world…that both establishes the new axis around which the entire world thereafter revolves and discloses the original meaning of the world as determined in the pretemporal counsel of God. So unlimited is the scope of this divine action that it comprehends not only the end but also the very beginnings – although it takes the highly particular form of an individual human life that reaches its goal not only in death but also in resurrection.
Nothing can be the same again. Both Paul and his fellow Christians are living in a new reality that, in a sense, only they can understand. In the light of this new reality they understand that Christ has rescued them from a tortured previous reality within which they were oppressed by evil powers. Christ and his followers are presently at war with that evil dominion, and to a degree the war extends through the middle of each Christian community and each Christian person in the form of an ongoing conflict between the flesh and the Spirit. Nevertheless, Christ has effected the decisive act of deliverance and victory. Christians are saved, and dramatically! They have been set free and must now resist the temptation to lapse back into the old, evil, but strangely comfortable reality from which they have been delivered.
-Douglas Campbell (summarizing J. Louis Martyn’s interpretation)