Paul and the Kingdom of God

It has become somewhat fashionable again to claim that Paul ruined the Gospel of Jesus by making it all bloody and such, for getting that Christ came proclaiming the Kingdom of God, not some atonement theory (yes, I’m referring to the Brian McLaren’s new book).

Well, this afternoon I came across this and thought it worth of spreading around.  It is from Albert Schweitzer‘s “The Mysticism of St. Paul.”

The inner character [of Paul’s thought] is determined by the fact that Paul has thought out his concpetion of redemption through Christ within the sphere of belief in the Kingdom of God.  In Paul’s mysticism the death of Jesus has its significance for the believers, not in itself, but as the event in which the realisation of the Kingdom of God begins. For him, believers are redeemed by entering already, thorugh the union with Christ, by means of a mystical dying and rising again with Him…, this state being that which they are to possess in the Kingdom of God. (p. 380)

Is the alternative “Jesus or Paul” a real alternative, or should the phrase run, for us, “Jesus and Paul”?

Paul Preaches the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and of Jesus as the Coming messiah in the form which it must necessarily take in consequence of hte death of Jesus having already occurred, and of the assigning to this death of the significance of the initial event of the Coming of the Kingdom.  In the mystical redemption-doctrine of Paul the Primiteive-Christian faith discharges the task it had been set of bringing the belief in the expected kingdom, and the redemption which goes with the Kingdom, into logical connection with the belief that Jesus who had died was the Coming Messiah. (p. 390)

Schweitzer connects the death of Christ with the eschatological atonement through which the Kingdom of God comes.  Anyway, it just seemed like coming from a non-evangelical, German scholar, that at least we should be a little more thoughtful about how Paul and Jesus relate to each other, not assume a corruption or disjunction too quickly between the two.

Well, back to studying…

5 Replies to “Paul and the Kingdom of God”

  1. Hey mike,

    no I don't think I have blogged on the atonement. for the most part I'm with McKnight in his "Community called Atonement" I guess (for now).

    Thanks for the heads up re: ANKC, I'm still working through it (along with prep. for my comps which take priority). the Schweitzer quote came out of my prep. so I just plopped it down…


  2. Hey Geoff,

    This sounds a lot like the point Brian’s made in his book. At one point he makes it quite clear that he struggles (I’m paraphrasing) “Is it Jesus VS. Paul, like some of my friends say? Or is it Jesus AND Paul?” And then he goes on, through a rather detailed exposition, saying that Jesus & Paul have one message after all.

    BTW, have you blogged your take on the atonement? I’d like to see how you process it…please, point me to the relevant posts good sir. 🙂

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