Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Galatians 3.1-5 - Life in the Spirit

Experience is the oft neglected aspect of Paul's theological appeals and argumentation. In some of his most polemical contexts (i.e., Galatians and Corinthians), Paul can appeal to a common experience as the basis for shared beliefs and behaviours. Jimmy Dunn in BFJ, which I am STILL reading, writes this about Gal. 3.1-5:

"This repeated emphasis on experience has important theological corollaries. Paul's understanding of the gospel was rooted in experience, his own and that of others. Here are clear instances of the creative and transforming power of a lively spiritual experience. It did not conform to or allow itself readily to be pigeonholed into the language and categories of their already existing traditions. Rather, as the molten lava of a volcanic eruption breaks open old surfaces and carves out new channels, so the power of molten experience forced language and life patterns into new forms and expressions. Paul's gospel was not primarily and not only a sequence of theological affirmations deduced form Israel's history or Scriptures, or even from his knowledge of Jesus; rather, primarily for him, the gospel was rooted in an experience of the living God revealing himself through Jesus the Christ and his will to humankind in a personal and transforming way."

5 comments:

Tony Siew said...

Hi Mike, I can only say Amen to that. Thanks for your blogposts over the year. I am sure the weather in Brisbane beats that of Scotland. Happy New Year.

Rachel said...

Am I missing something or is Dunn here conflating the work of the Spirit and the experience of those worked on?! Assuming that the two things are distinct, what IS "experience"? I think I know what Jimmy is getting at here, but then again maybe I don't....

BTW, every blessing on your new sabbath in the south Mike.

Andrew M said...

1Thess1:5 - another example of the value Paul places on spiritual experience, contrasting with the gospel coming only in word.

Tim said...

Amen...I love the lava example...Hebrews 12:29...

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