So many questions lately. My NT teacher took a poll in class on this one, and I'm sure she'd be delighted if I came back with more answers. So here's the stumper:
If Paul had had a son, would he have circumcised him?
Then she hands out these questions we're supposed to answer, questions like:
What is a Christian?
What is the gospel?
And other such little issues. Luckily it was not a test, more a poll.
I feel lame because I don't have my own answers anymore. My thinking has been so completely influenced by Dallas Willard. It is really not an exaggeration to say that The Divine Conspiracy changed my entire life. Lately he's been writing more interesting stuff - particularly on the crucifixion, which was one area he'd not really dealt with before. A paper on it can be found at his website, if you are interested. He gives a whole new slant to the event. Fascinating stuff. The cool thing is that he wrote it as a chapter in a new book The Passion and Philosophy (you may be familiar with the "X and Philosophy" series, they've done several TV shows, movies, and even baseball. We own The Simpsons and Buffy, and plan to get The Matrix, Seinfeld, and surely a few others). ANYWAY I was no fan of the Passion, but Willard takes the opportunity to lay out his rather radical sotierology:
So my answer to the gospel is Willard's paraphrase of Jesus' message "Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand": "Rethink your thinking in light of the fact that God's resources are yours for the taking."
Isn't that a much more exciting, pleasant gospel than "repent because you're going to hell"? And the kicker is, it is true. The Christian faith is about a new way of living - as Willard says, "The smartest man who ever lived is giving a master class in living" - and you're invited. He's taking disciples in how to live a meaningful, beautiful life.
So there, I've solved the meaning of life. We can all go about our business now.
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My answer would be that it would depend on when in Paul's life the child was born.
In my lectionary group, we are all feeling that the process of discipleship is what it's all about. Jesus walked his road, and we need to walk ours, seeking to remain aware of what we can learn from his. Seeking to stay awake!
Thanks for the Willard link, I'll look forward to reading more later.
Yes, I do think Paul's son would have been circumcised.
I think he made an effort to fit in with whatever group he was in so that they would feel comfortable with him. That comfort, then, made it more likely that he could help them to grow closer to Christ.
If he was respectful of their customs, I think he would also be respectful of his own.
Would Paul have circumcised his son? For an insightful discussion of Paul's postion see this paper by N T Wright, one of the names associated with "the new perspective on Paul":
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