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1 Corinthians 15:1-11

You can read the text here.

Paul now tackles the core theological problem the Corinthians are facing head on. They need reminding (precisely why will have to wait for a later post) on the core gospel truth that Paul taught them and forms the basis for their Christian walk, the story of Jesus victory in his resurrection. That is of course, if they've taken this whole thing seriously.[1]

The single most important truths they had been taught were that Jesus died for their sins, he was buried (i.e., he really did die), and rose from the dead on the third day. None of this was a surprise to God, but it was all part of his plan (or at least retrospectively it is to those who have eyes to see). And it was publicly witnessed, by Peter, the rest of the apostles, by a large group, by James, and even last and least by Paul himself. Paul is the least because of his status as former persecutor of the church. But God does not care about status, he gives grace freely without regard of prior stat…
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Book Review: Christian Theologies of Salvation

Christian Theologies of Salvation: A Comparative Introduction, edited by Justin Holcomb, is comprised of a collection covering the theories of salvation of significant theologians in church history. As stated by Holcomb in the introduction, the role of soteriology is to show how and why Jesus was and continues to be significant. Throughout Christian history there have been a variety of viewpoints and debates. This book will provide one with insight into those debates. Chapters fall into two categories. The book is arranged (mostly) chronologically, and as you reach each era of Christian history a brief treatment of that era is presented. Then you get a series of essays on major figures of that time period. Each of these essays contain some basic historical background on the subject to provide context for the summary of various key themes in their views regarding salvation. The individual essays are descriptive and contain very little evaluation of the viewpoints of the subject (with t…

1 Corinthians 14:26-40

You can read the text here.

Paul wraps up his discussion of spiritual gifts and the building of the body in worship in this section. God gives different members gifts which they may use to build the body during corporate worship.[1] Tongues are not a mandatory part of a service, but if they occur it should be at most two or three and always accompanied by interpretation.[2] Prophecy seems to be more core to the service and should also be limited to two or three speakers at most, and those assembled should evaluate its content for fidelity. All speech must be orderly and people must take turns that way there is no chaos and the body can actually be built up.

Paul wants women to be guarded in their interactions, especially married women. In Greco-Roman culture it was considered scandalous for a married woman to converse with a man who was not her husband. Paul wants to adhere to cultural norms and requires women to refrain from asking questions of others and ask their own husbands. If w…

The When of Justification and Election

I was reading James Gordon's chapter on Schleiermacher in Christian Theologies of Salvation and came across an interesting line that has me thinking. He stated that for Schleiermacher, '...there is no particular change in God with reference to justification, "since God is gracious to the human race in His Son," justification does include a change of consciousness of the individuals relation to God...' (p. 297).

This quote was deeply thought provoking. It seems to me that most Christologies and theologies of salvation don't explore the question of salvation, God's action, and time. How does the traditional assumption of God being outside of time impact salvation? Is there any sense in which God has a timeline? How does the incarnation play into these discussions? Of course along with these questions also belong questions concerning the nature of time itself and causation.

That's all I have in this post are some questions. If anyone has good references …

1 Corinthians 14:1-25

You can read the text here.

Apparently intent on making his point, Paul now applies his point from chapter 13 to the issues raised in chapter 12. He sees it as a both/and situation. The Corinthians shouldn't be choosing between the spiritual gifts and love, they should want both, especially gifts that build up the body like prophecy. Tongues are fine, but they build up the individual only since only God understands what is uttered.[1]

Failure to speak intelligibly prevents you from being understood and serving any true purpose. In its essence turns everyone into a foreigner or an outsider. This comes back to the main theme of the whole letter since it undermines the unity of the body. Paul's wants them to seek gifts that build the body and not destroy its unity through misuse of other, more personal gifts.

Thus for those who pray in tongues, Paul wants them to also pray for the gift of interpretation. Even for just their own sake this is good since it can involve the whole per…

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

You can read the text here.

Here Paul defines 'the better way,' the way of love. For Paul, love is the enactment of a disposition or inward orientation, an orientation focused outward towards others and their benefit. Whatever one does whether speaking in tongues, great deeds of faith, giving away one's money, no matter how hyperbolic,[1] if it isn't rooted in love, in other regard, it's worthless. It does not make one pleasing God, especially if its done to draw attention to oneself.

Paul then explicates what is at the heart of love. Here I will cite Thiselton's translation of the paragraph as it captures it so well:
Love waits patiently; love shows kindness. Love does not burn with envy; does not brag - is not inflated with its own importance. It does not behave with ill-mannered impropriety; it is not preoccupied with the interests of the self; does not become exasperated into pique; does not keep a reckoning up with evil. Love does not take pleasure in wron…

1 Corinthians 12:12-31

You can read the text here.

In this section Paul continues to hammer home the need for unity and for valuing every member of the church using a well known philosophical trope, that of a community forming a body. However, Paul turns the usual analogy, aimed at reinforcing the current social hierarchy, on its head.[1] Whether they like it or not, they are one body. All who have been baptized into Christ, are, by his Spirit, joined into one body.

The one body is made up of a variety of individuals with a variety of gifts. Just because one feels that that don't have any special role to play in the church's mission doesn't make them extraneous. Nor should they obsess over their "lack" of gifts. Every part has a role to play and every member is essential. If everyone had the same gifts the body would be a monstrosity, only through unified diversity can the body be healthy and whole. In fact, God has given those whose stature in the body may be small special honor. When…