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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Are We Too Pauline In Our Christianity?

This is a question that I have been asking myself. It is a question worth asking, I believe, because there is much to substantiate this reasoning. Let me explain. What percentage of verses memorized are found in Paul's gospels? How many sermons in the past year have you heard your pastor preach from the Old Testament? How much of the Old Testament has impacted or influenced your theology or understanding of the New Testament (especially law, sin, atonement, etc.)? You get the point? Now I understand the importance of understanding the idea of "progressive revelation" that was consummated in Jesus Christ. Yet it appears to me that the revelation given before Christ has been marginalized, the Old Testament trivialized, and the Old Testament characters glamorized by character studies while not seeing them in the light Scripture paints them. It seems that the only benefit the Old Testament is comfort from casual reading in the Psalms, wisdom from Proverbs, and random verses that we name and claim. Now I am no Old Testament or even Bible scholar, but I can say that my eyes have been opened to see how Pauline I have become not only in my hermeneutic, but also in my upbringing in the church. Another symptom is using Pauline lens to interpret the Old Testament. We should understand the New Testament in light of the Old Testament, but it seems that the opposite is the norm. What I am trying to say is that I don't want to just be a "New Testament" Christian but a "Biblical" Christian. I don't want to only read what Paul said, but also read and understand the Bible Jesus read (Old Testament). After all, he is the fulfillment of all that was written and prophesied, "the mystery hidden for ages and generations but revealed in the Son". Now that he has been revealed, what he has fulfilled should not be obsolete but all the more emphasized, given that Jesus was not placed without roots, history, and culture (that is why Matthew 1-4 was written and the introduction to the NT). If you would like to read an excellent book that draws attention to this idea, please read Christopher J.H. Wright's Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament. I believe it will help us have a better balance and greater understanding to be not just Pauline, but thoroughly biblical in our understanding of Christianity and Jesus our Lord. For a long time I had worn out a small portion of Scripture and God's revelation (though important as it is) and abandoned over 2/3 of His Living Word. As a result, I had contempt towards anything that wasn't gospel or Pauline. Thankfully, that has changed, and I hope to continue to fall in love with the God of the Bible and see him for who he is fully and completely in Christ.

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