Why Paul Wasn't a Theologian


“Through practical exploitation of new ideas, social entrepreneurs establish new ventures to deliver goods and services not currently supplied by existing markets…They are innovative, resourceful, practical, and opportunistic.”– from The Power of Unreasonable People

“Though St. John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw no creature so wild as one of his own commentators” – G. K. Chesterton

Screenwriter Randall Wallace writes that history was written by those who have hanged heroes.  I would add that heroes are often times studied most by those who live least heroically.  This has never been more true than in contemporary religion.

When people think about St. Paul, they think about a great theologian.  A great religious thinker.  His letter to the Romans is a theological masterpiece; his letter to people in Ephesus a intellectual marvel.  We take theology courses to learn more about what Paul, Peter and John wrote in their letters.  We take theology courses to better understand David’s psalms.

But Paul wasn’t trying to write a textbook.  He was trying to write a letter to people he loved.

David wasn’t trying to give us a theological treatise, he was trying to capture something beautiful and put it in song.

There are two ways to learn about the heart of a lion.  One way is to dissect and chop their hearts into little exegetical pieces, verse by verse like a student would a cadaver in med school.

The other is to put the heart back into the lion, let it run free,

and then get out of the way or try to keep up.

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The Apostle Paul had more in common with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Richard Branson than our contemporary theologians.  Paul would not understand why someone would rather study the past rather than create the future, and I can’t help but wonder how people who would rather study the past than create the future could really understand Paul.

What if our entire paradigm of the scriptures has been tainted by the vacuum of scholarship?

How would we view the scriptures differently if we read them through the lens of leadership, which was the lens in which they were originally written?

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