Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Paul's Passion (by Carolyn)

Judy told me to read a novel by Walter Wangerin Jr. entitled simply Paul. Last week I had the opportunity. I was stunned to the extent that I am compelled to write about it so you might read it too. It hammers home the immense struggles of the founders of the early church as they hammer out church doctrine and tell the world about Jesus Christ and His saving grace. Paul, Timothy, Titus, Priscilla, Barnabus, Luke, James, Lydia, and many others leap off its pages. Though a novel, if you keep your Bible close at hand you will see the author rarely strays from its pages.

The back cover says, "Sweeping you back through the centuries, Wangerin sets you amid bustling market-places filled with the smell of animals and the cry of merchants...faces, cultures, and traditions as diverse as the varied landscape..." but that isn't the half of it. This is a book that puts you squarely in the middle of the searing emotional battles inside and among the believers of the early church.

Paul is unwavering as he faces down his own Jewish brothers, some of whom want to maintain certain requirements of the law for themselves and new believers. This meant circumsion in order to be in compliance. Paul argues passionately it is unnecessary. Jesus Christ fulfilled the law perfectly for all and conquered death so that all may have life. But tradition, power and the human need be in control of our own destiny and the destiny of others make this hard to accept. Pride and power get in the way.

Then the pendulum swings back the other way from adhering strictly to the law, to flaunting it knowing we are forgiven. Paul writes in Christ's love to the Corinthians who are reveling in what they assume is their new freedom from the law. They engage in all kinds of immoral behavior. An example from his letter, "We are ambassadors for Christ. God is making His appeal through us. We beg you, on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. Please! Corinthians, please: do not accept the grace of God in vain!"

Paul is only human. On his website, Wangerin says, "Paul is our size." He paints that picture so well. Paul overcomes great odds by the Spirit that is in him, and by that same Spirit he is on his knees, tearfully begging Barnabus to forgive him for their quarrel in an unforgettable scene of humility, humanity, divinity, and reconcilliation.

If you want an historically accurate, yet beautifully dramatized scoop into the personal, strenuous, enormous struggle these men and women undertook, you will find it in the pages of this book. Thank you, Judy!


  1. As a reader of my previous blog entry might know, I grew up in the Episcopal Church. During that time, I struggled with Paul. The truth is, I didn't much like him, because I felt he didn't much like me. I though that besides being arrogant and impatient, he was intolerant of women. At that time, I didn't realize that every word in the Bible is there for purpose. This novel helped me work through Paul. The Spirit helped me work through God's Word. I thank God for both!!

  2. Hi,

    My name is Rev Robert Wright, Editor for Christian.com, a social network made specifically for Christians, by Christians. We embarked on this endeavor to offer the entire Christian community an outlet to join together and better spread the good word of Christianity. Christian.com has many great features like Christian TV, prayer requests, finding a church, receiving church updates and advice. We have emailed you to collaborate with you and your blog to help spread the good word of Christianity. I look forward to your response regarding this matter. Thanks!

    Rev. Robert Wright

  3. Thank you, Reverend Wright, for inviting us to participate in this new venture with you and for sharing it with our readers! christian.com sounds like a wonderful place for Christians to communicate and share resources.

    While not ready to participate fully at this time, we'll likely be in touch. In the meantime, may God richly bless your efforts!

    "Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His name together."