One of the most talked about, preached about, regularly-studied texts in the New Testament is the book of Romans, a letter written by the Apostle Paul to a community of Jesus’ followers roughly three decades after Jesus. It’s been especially prominent in Protestant and Evangelical spaces. But what if the way it’s usually talked about misses the point?
The early church was an impossible community. People somehow found a radical capacity for belonging with one another across every imaginable line of difference. And the letter Paul wrote to this early church shows his own wrestling with how the experience of Christ makes this impossible community possible. What if this text that’s been centered in so many religious spaces is talking about not just our own personal reconciliation with God, but also the ways that we can belong to each other? Between now and next spring, we’ll take a path through Romans that might be unfamiliar for those who have walked the “Romans road”, but with a desire to recover the radical message of this powerful text.
This week, as we considered our approach to the letter, Jason also proposed a handful of principles for us to keep in mind as we proceed:
Paul isn’t a systematic theologian. He’s a practical theologian.
It’s hard to know what it means if you don’t know what it meant.
Knowing what it says doesn’t matter if you don’t what you don’t know what it did.
Just because an interpretation is the only one you’ve heard, that doesn’t mean it’s the most well-founded, historically corroborated, widely held Christian view.
We’re looking for God, love, belonging, community, and possibility.
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