TAKING PAUL SERIOUSLY

James Metzger

Abstract


 

This article explores what it might mean to take Paul seriously about the ‘revelatory foundations ‘of Christianity.1 I argue that the apostle, unlike most Christian philosophers and theologians today, shows little interest in defending the respectability or reasonableness of Christian belief, whether to insiders or to outsiders. Indeed, Paul concedes that his ‘message about the cross‘ will inevitably seem – and remain – utter ‘foolishness' to the overwhelming majority who learn of it (1 Cor 1:18-25). Moreover, because the gospel cannot be inferred from a common body of knowledge or derived with principles of logic, believers have little choice but to trust that Paul has, in fact, received communication from a sacred realm and relayed the message accurately. In an age when evidence and good reasons are (rightly) sought for our models of reality, conceding that the whole edifice rests on the purported veridicality of the visionary experiences of a handful of ancient witnesses, whose credibility we are not well-positioned to assess, necessarily comes with some epistemic embarrassment. But this is the price any Christian who is honest about the origins of her tradition must pay. Unlike the teachings of, say, Confucius or Buddha, most of which have their basis in trial-and-error and rational inquiry, the Christian gospel does not. Paul is not ashamed to admit this. I suggest that those who see Paul as an authority ought to as well.


Keywords


Paul; Faith; Divine Revelation; Religious Experience

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7833/113-0-915

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ISSN 2305-445X (online); ISSN 0254-1807 (print)

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