Reclaiming Paul Conference – Panel Discussion – Post 5 #evpaul08

Disclaimer:  I’m editing this at O’hare Terminal.   While I should be doing my work for my seminary class tomorrow, I realized that I packed the book (The Historical Books, Nelson) I needed in my suitcase which is checked in.  So, I’m trying to edit some of the notes I took.  If you attended the conference and your memory/notes differ to mine, please feel free to comment/email/whatever. 


If you are a critical soul and are looking for ammunition to use against “whatever it is that you are against”, here are a couple things I’d like to mention:

1. Welcome.  I invite you to travel along with me.  I always enjoy sojourning with those who love Christ and love others.  However, since I mentioned the critical soul part, let us imitate our Savior in His humility and love.  I think you know what I mean.

2. Please remember that these are just notes that I took while talking to my friends, checking out the book table, and setting up my fantasy football team (my spiritual gift is multi-tasking.  It’s true, I took the spiritual gift inventory test and on the 78 page read out, it said that was one of my top three.  Right next to sarcasm and irreverence.)  Where was I?  Oh yes.  These are just notes; they are not meant to be a historical account of what took place because this is a blog and I edited this in 15 minutes sitting at an airport terminal.


Following Steve Fowler’s presentation, a panel discussion and talk-back followed.

Kathy GriebAgreed that Paul can be easily misunderstood if you

          don’t understand where he is coming from

– Follow me as I follow Christ

Tim Keel – This is something we hesitate to urge our congregations  because we are afraid of the problems of us stumbling through. 

– Paul says he is the chief sinner but asks do you see anything wrong with how Paul says follow me as I stumble through


Ross Wagner – agrees and points out the pressing on part.

                he will boast bc of God’s strength  – must be active! 


Steve – Paul has an enormous confidence in the gospel.

 said that Paul said that this work is God’s providence.

 – This enables Paul’s boldness. 

Mike Gorman – the difference between this age and the first century. 

Discussion of similarities and differences of first century and our own time.  Great discussion.  Find the audio if you are really interested. 

Tony Jones – suspect of all the talk of this as well.

– Perhaps Paul may not have recognized his own teaching at work with the some traditional mentalities.

– Some are not really living with a focused telos

Tony appreciated what Steve said regarding the apprenticeship versus student.  Another big discussion here.  Probably the part that interested me the most.

Narratives are shaped by practices that form it. 

practice as opposed to identity.

we categorize people more by content …

Steve – said that he asks his students who taught them how to read (parents, teachers) then asks who taught you to watch tv?  (no one)

– discussion that led to Christianity requires discipline. 

– later during the talk-back, a young man mentioned that in a sense, we do teach our children how to watch tv.  He may have been taking the illustration further then Steve intended but nevertheless, it was worth considering.

Kathy – reflected on the current economic status

where people thought they had retirements and savings, and wealth built up but now have discovered they don’t.

Paul says this on a spiritual aspect.  Thinking he had what was saved up and realized he didn’t.

Tony – recalls a student Daniel that went to fight in Afghanistan.  (this is in New Christians).

       wrote a long letter about his struggle with his faith.

       Tony felt that he and his parents didn’t adequately teach him how to grow in his faith.

       Perhaps he was being too hard on himself but it brought into question how we as a church, student ministries, etc, train our children.

– It’s not just about piety but communal spiritual disciplines.

– so we don’t come together to pray but to learn how to pray.

– Forming a communal narrative




– We do teach our kids how to watch tv in a way. Like how, etc. 

Don Heatley – explains that his church is largely un-churched.  Where do they find masters for apprentices?

If we are truly creating new disciples (and not just recycling people from other churches), what wisdom do we have in creating these models of masters and apprenticeships?

Tony  – there is a ubiquitous availability of great Christian writing. 

used the example of Trucker Frank  (TF – self-trained).

primarily bc of the availability of so much resources

perhaps some kind of  local church – monastic theological   training.


Question didn’t really get answered (which is ok at our gatherings but gave us something to think about and talk about throughout our time during breaks, dinners, etc.).

Daniel Kirk – (not sure if Daniel said this but I like this line and liked Daniel so …)

– If there were no resurrection – this story would not interest me.

I would not have believed this.  Neither would have Paul

he would have felt that it was a scandal at present scholars, 

   who refute the historicity of the resurrection.


Reclaiming Paul Conference – Post 4

As I am learning in seminary, sometimes the best (or a better) way to tell a narrative is to not necessarily use a the actual chronology.   So I am skipping a couple things but at least I’m biblical.  

It was tough to choose between the workshops but this afternoon’s second series of workshops found me at John Franke and Daniel Kirk’s presentation of “Jesus I’ve Loved, Paul I’ve Hated?”.

How could you go wrong really with those two and a title like that?  Part of the reason I wanted to attend this one is that I must confess, that I am not sure I see such a problem.  Sure, I see Paul as being tough, maybe harsh, and every now and then, the thought of, “I probably wouldn’t have written it that way” goes through my head but that’s a little arrogant of me.  I also understand the seeming contradictions between him, Jesus and the spirit of the Gospel but I have never not appreciated him.  So I went to find out more.

I appreciated John beginning the time by going around the room and listening to people’s frustrations about Paul. Though it sounds a little harsh to my ears, I needed to hear it articulated.

Here are some of my notes below:

JF – Working through the story also reveals the identity of God. 

DK – What is this God supposed to do?

       Take these people who are exiled and flawed and bring them    back to Himself. 

   This is one of the questions that Paul is wrestling with.

JF – The church resisted the move to put all 4 Gospels into 1.

            The gospel cannot be reduced into one singular account.

            But we tend to do that with harmonizing Jesus, the Gospels and Paul.

DK – must consider who they are ministering to

            Jesus is ministering to jews in jewish context as a jew

It’s not a simple come as you are.                       

There is a transformational in the embrace (like the lepers)

Paul, angry like in Galatians, arguing with the Jewish powerbrokers  – you need to let them as they are bc Christ as let them in.  He’s saying you can follow Jesus without becoming Jewish. 

But he also urges the gentiles (which he is frustrated by).

Perhaps some have trouble with Paul because of the propositional packaging that he comes in.  (over against Paul as a pastor).

            Perhaps some of the propositional theology needs to be neutralized.

Are some of us more like Paul then like Christ?

            * I should spend some thinking about this.

DK – 2 cor. is helpful bc Paul is interpreting his life in light of the resurrection of Jesus.


JF – Eph. 4 – call for unity.  While sometimes Jesus splits family.

            Titus 3 – put some out bc of their sin to preserve the unity of the Church.  Sounds exclusionary but Jesus did this too. 


Reclaiming Paul – Post 3

From Phil 3.

– Paul of what he can boast

– People can be grabbed by Christ and dedicated their lives in reaching back and grabbing at Christ.

– After encountering Christ, he still sees his life as participating in the ongoing drama of God’s salvation.

–    The World is God’s creation

         – not something that his pagan contemporaries would have agreed with.

–    The world is/was God’s shalom. 

                  – it didn’t last too long

                  – in some ways, creation is damaged

                  – but God is committed to redeeming it

         – So he calls Abraham and establishing an everlasting covenant. 

         – Paul connects Abraham to Jesus.  He asserts that Jesus is Lord.

What this means for the Philippians (and Paul’s audience in general)  learning to find and inhabit one’s place in the drama of redemption.  Then to live accordingly.

Thus, one needs to understand Christ and see what He has done.

You cannot do this (understand/live the way of Christ) by yourself – it requires community to travel with you.

To inhabit this narrative together.

If there is one sensitive on Paul on Philippians 1:27 – order your common life in a manner worthy of the gospel.

   This again requires community.

 – This requires you to be more of an apprentice then a student imitate others (like Paul) in your own particular way.

      ** – A lot of attention was paid here by Steve and then in the talk back which was very interesting to listen too.  Here is where the notes fail you as a reader but when audio comes out, this was a highlight for me that I look forward to listening to again and mediating on.


Reclaiming Paul Conference – Post 2

Day 1 – Partial premise of our gathering.

I’d like to think that I am going to come back and fix these notes but given my track record, I probably won’t. So these posts will be rough, and serve the purpose of reporting to the handful of my friends who wished they were here.

This was said in the opening of Mike Grossman’s presentation. Like most, I appreciate the context.
Why Reclaim Paul?
1. The Proof-texting that has gone with Paul
2. Privatization of Paul
    – those that have turned Paul into only being concerned with the individual/personal salvation only.
3. The primarization of Paul – what it means to be Protestant, Christian and not Catholic
    – The need for a more ecumenical Paul
4. De-privatization of Paul, De-Protestantation of Paul
    – Number of post-liberal, post-conservatives who feel they own Paul.
5. Paradigm shift – a number of scholars have shown interest in Paul. (He is in vogue)

He went on to say that there are a number of similarities of between Paul and us. He and others would continue also to emphasize the number of differences as well. Both were important discussions.
1. Pagan idolatry
2. Multicultural world with competing ideologies
3. living in a time of great ethnic conflict
4. Competing soteriology
5. The offer of Imperial Reality
     In what sense do we living in an imperial context and how does that affect our reading of Paul?

For more check out Jake’s Bouma first post, Erik’s day 1 post, Daniel Kirk’s, and of course, Steve Knight’s post on the Emergent Village blog.