(un)common ground

a commonplace book

Radical Social Reconceptualization in the Writing of Paul

Paul’s letters make very stark demands about social relationships; Paul’s readers/hearers are instructed ‘to liberate themselves from habits of servility and ethnic prejudice by creating an alternative community characterized by equality.’ They need to be freed from ‘solipsistic introversion,’ false spiritualism and elitism, insensitivity to the poverty or suffering of others. In a nutshell, they are being told that they must show the world around them a model of belonging together in which no one either suffers alone or succeeds alone: well-being is always, uncompromisingly, a mutual and corporate affair.

Rowan Williams (quoting Karen Armstrong), “Patriarchal Villains? It’s Time to Re-Think St. Paul and St. Augustine,” New Statesman, Nov. 10, 2015

While perhaps contestable in nuance on the basis of a broader exegetical reading of the Bible as a whole, I find the passage a compelling summary of Paul’s arguments concerning the collapsing of society under the new covenant, in which there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free–all becoming spiritual equals and spiritually interdependent. Unfortunately, such a radical reconceptualization of society is impeded within church circles by entrenched forces of ideology or nationalism–much as it was, I suppose, in the first century.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on February 2, 2016 by and tagged , , .
%d bloggers like this: