Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sun. June 9, 2013 (Bruce Hiebert)

Dr. Bruce Hiebert spoke on the two accounts of the conversion of Saul to Paul. Stories such as these present nearly imponderable problems to careful readers, causing some people to give up altogether on Christianity, while others either ignore the discrepancies or hide behind fundamentalism. Bruce assured us that even though scripture offers very difficult problems to some minds (interested in comparing details), it also hints at solutions to those problems. Luke's story (Acts 9) is so typical of the author, being filled with miraculous happenings and crucial conversations with people like Ananias (before going to Jerusalem for further consultations), possibly because he thought they might appeal to his audience in the Roman Empire. By contrast, Paul's own account (Galatians 1) tells of no miracles (even though they might have given his story increased credibility to his readers) but instead portrays his faith journey as being lonely (influenced by nobody--especially nobody in Jerusalem). Instead, Paul seems to tell of the fulness of the truth dawning on him over a period of years as he carefully ponders--in isolation--Hebrew scriptures and the stories he had been hearing about Jesus.The beauty of having these two strongly differing accounts is that now, as in the first century, one of the stories just might speak more convincingly to people today, just as they possibly did centuries ago. Setting the questions of differing details aside, we know for certain that Paul somehow came to understand and believe that the teachings of Jesus were in fact correct, and from that transformation of his thinking, he was then able to further transform the teachings in radical ways, so that the good news could eventually be accepted by a non-Jewish world and begin to transform it. [JEK]

Listen to the sermon audio MP3 recording from Sunday, June 9th, 2013 using your browser's preferred media player.



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