The Gospel In A Single Paragraph (Turns Out, It’s Not Just About Me!)

If there were one non-devotional book I would give every person I’ve ever helped lead to the Lord, every new Christian, everyone who’s loved Jesus for decades, and, indeed, every non-Christian I know who’s put off by what they see as Paul’s harshness in contrast to Jesus’ gentleness, it would be Fuller Seminary New Testament Professor J.R. Daniel Kirk’s “Jesus Have I Loved, But Paul? — A Narrative Approach to the Problem of Pauline Christianity.” 

I met Dr. Kirk in July at the Christians for Biblical Equality conference.  A friend directed me to his chapter on homosexuality and the Church, and I found it to be the single most important work I’ve ever read on the subject.  Chapter 25 alone is worth the cost of the book — but Kirk’s contention that Paul continues, with the same warmth and inclusivity as Jesus, the Savior’s emphasis on Kingdom living is so profoundly and beautifully stated that the book is priceless.  I’ve bought four copies already; I’d love to have 400, and I’d love to give one to the first person who contacts me at siyocreo@live.com. 

I’ll write more about this book as I wade through it.  It’s already affected me enormously, and if the entire Church read it, I think we’d see a more Christlike realization of the already-not yet Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, one that wouldn’t look Left or Right, not insular in its worship nor dissolved by its competing interests. 

It would just look, I think, like a lot of people who love their Lord and each other and the hurting world around them, recognizing the beauty of obedience to his command that we love not only with our hearts and hands, but with our minds as well.  Seeing Paul and Jesus not as disparate strands we have to struggle to weave together in forming a theology of Kingdom living requires it, and the results are well worth the effort.

Read this book.  You won’t be disappointed.  Kirk sets the stage by decrying the “Four Spiritual Laws”-type approach to evangelism that focuses on getting the sinner saved from her own sins and then building a community of individuals who have in common only that they came to realize their need of a Savior because they were, every one of them, gong to hell without one.  Kirk quotes Scott McKnight:

“The cross addresses not only my problem as sinner but our problem as sinners gathered together in what is best called systemic injustice and evil.  Which means that the cross addresses the problem of evil.  We are not being fair to the Pauline texts on the cross if we narrow them simply and woodenly to resolution of my sin problem.  The cross addresses our sin problem — ‘our’ in the sense of yours and mine and the Western world’s and the Eastern world’s and the Northern and Southern hemispheres’ problems.  It addresses the world’s captivity by evil.”

Scot McKnight, as quoted in Dr. J.R. Daniel Kirk’s “Jesus Have I Loved, But Paul?”  2013 Baker Academic Press

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