Jesus Have I Loved, But Paul?

When I went to Bible College I was a brand-new baby Christian. I didn’t know hardly anything about Christianity, cialis other than Jesus had rocked my world at the age of 16 and I was forever changed. But off I went to Bible College, purchase excited and ready to learn. One of the first classes I had included a spirited discussion about the end of evangelicalism’s fascination with Paul. We had matured past Paul and it was time to ignore him and focus on the Gospels. (oh those poor catholic epistles and Revelation, look will they ever be cool?) It was interesting to hear some of the hate towards Paul coming from the students. Jesus preached freedom for the captives, but Paul endorsed slavery. Jesus gathered women around him, but Paul said women can’t teach. I didn’t get the anti-Paul hate. In fact I really liked and continue to like Paul. Sure, I may struggle with Paul’s teaching on women, but that doesn’t mean I hate him or see him as being antithetical to Jesus’ proclamation of Good News.

Confession time: if given a choice between reading the Synoptics and reading the Pauline Epistles, I’ll chose the Paul (note: The Gospel of John is better than all of them combined. That is my Jesus Gospel).

Now, here I am, years later in seminary, and I was so excited when I heard that Dr. Kirk was writing a book on the tension and struggle that evangelicals have in reading and reconciling the words (and deeds) of Jesus and those of Paul. Not only that, but he was taking a narrative approach to the discussion and I love narrative!

But, I struggle with how to interact with this book. Should I do a straight review? I could. I think what is more helpful is to incorporate elements of this book in the narrative here at Cheese-Wearing Theology. So for example, I’ll have a post up this weekend interacting with Dr. Kirk’s strong emphasis on the resurrection, as I tell my favourite story about one church’s Easter Sunday service and how kids are smarter than adults.

That being said, there do need to be a few ‘review’ type comments made about this book.

1) Who would benefit from reading this book?

Pastors who are working on trying to find ways to preach the “grand story” of the Gospel.
Christians who grew up in rugged individualistic North American evangelical churches.
A bible study with a group of mature Christians. There can be a lot of good discussion and questions come out from each of the chapters. (An example of this discussion can be seen in the recent blog tour of the book, where different bloggers were asked to interact with a specific chapter of the book.)
This book might also be a good secondary source for a graduate-level intro to NT class.

2) You may want to read William Webb’s Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals prior to reading this book. The narrative approach that Dr. Kirk presents incorporates the redemptive (trajectory) hermeneutic of Dr. Webb.

3)You don’t have to agree with everything in this book to appreciate it. I’m probably more theologically conservative than Dr. Kirk but that doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate (while disagreeing with) his conclusions about hot-button issues.

4) A few minor nitpicks:
a)ENDNOTES. Publishers, please stop doing this. Especially in a book with only a handful of citations per chapter. Footnotes are better. I probably won’t ever win that fight with publishers, but I can dream.
b) While I appreciate the minimal number of citations in this book, there are a few places where the added citations would have been helpful. Example: pg. 42, Dr. Kirk writes, “In Romans 1:3-4 Paul says something so surprising that most of our Bible translations refuse to print it.” Refuse to print it? What does that mean? And have translation committees specifically said, “We won’t print this?” A citation to bring context to this comment would have been helpful.

5) You should absolutely check out Dr. Kirk’s blog.
There are some very good conversations going on over there, and most importantly, he writes about Barth on a weekly basis!

(I am grateful to the fine folks at Baker Academic for this review copy.)