I want to preface that I am not against men. It is weird that even comes across to people when I work and have the best relationship with men in the faith. I talk about that more than I do women. They agree with me that women are being pushed out, and are not only supporting me, but lending their privilege to help make us not only equal – but friends too.
I am going to address Paul now that I have studied him so deeply. His undisputed letters that are more friendly to women, and the slavery language isn’t as pronounced as the other letters that are under his name, but probably written by someone else. In his undisputed letters, the term slave could mean going to the lowest position in society, like Christ did, to be lifted up as the highest in the kingdom. Paul refers to himself as a slave vs apostle in Philippians and Romans.
I like Paul. I think he is territorial and not always right, but I see a man with deep faith who used his faith for the good of the whole. I am not seeing this with later church fathers. Augustine, Luther and Calvin’s theology on Paul is not the whole story of Paul. I don’t know how anyone with the big picture of Paul would think he was tortured soul worried about individual sin only. And as I am learning more – they didn’t use the whole life of Paul to come up with their theology. They used Romans 13:13-14, and that was all they needed. Even though being under the bondage of sin meant systemic sin in Paul’s writing Romans 3:9-(The Jews were not under individual sin-they had the Law. The Law was a gift of grace to Abraham who believed and it was credited to him as righteousness) When Paul is talking individual sin he will list the vices. But you can’t stop at a few things he wrote and make that the whole theology of Paul. We aren’t worshipping Paul anyway. He even says that in 1 Corinthians. And is telling us this again today.
He had a strong theology of the importance of baptism as an invitation to participate in the life of Christ. It is a “now and not yet” moment. We are living the new, but the old will fight the new. We haven’t arrived. It wasn’t just saved by grace alone – Luther redacted the Greek Bible which never said alone after saved by Grace (Romans 3:28). In Galatians he is sending a message that faith is working itself out in love. He never imagined a faith that wouldn’t live the truth and produce good fruit (Philippians). In Corinthians he is disturbed that people who think they are free, saved by Grace, can do whatever they want. He sent them a harsh letter, and later apologized, reminding them of their baptism. (A man was sleeping with his father’s wife, the rich were winning all the court cases, they were hogging the Eucharist and getting drunk before the vulnerable got to partake.They weren’t baptized under Paul or Apollos – only Christ. The Eucharist is a table that takes us to the moment with Christ – his story is now our story. Our freedom is for our neighbor.
Paul is weird in how he addresses women. There are moments I don’t understand why he wrote what he did, but in Romans 16 he has several women listed who he worked with, and even names Junia as an apostle! Luther changed her name to Junius- to masculinize her. Imagine that. Phoebe is a deacon. In Philippians he also mentions two women who were toiling with him in the faith. I look at his actions and women were included. I think he said some things that were misogynistic b/c he is a product of his time, but overall I see a man open to the spirit and evolving. But even he says to worship Christ – not him.
Ok – that is my summary for anyone who cares. I write b/c it helps me process and I invite anyone along who wants to explore with me. Next half I am going to have to read parts of the Bible I really don’t want to read – Revelation. But my professor is going to help me through.