Posted July 31, 2014
Book: Saint Paul: Master of the Spiritual Life in Christ
Author: Elliott C. Maloney, O.S.B.
Liturgical Press. Collegeville, MN. 2014. Pp. 217
An Excerpt from the Jacket:
This study of the undisputed letters of St. Paul examines his presentation of the reality and the demands of Christian living. After explaining Paul's understanding of the human condition and God's saving initiative in Israel, the author examines the multiple effects of the self-giving life of Jesus Christ for believers, working through eleven images that Paul uses to convey the reality of that communal life. Then Paul's take on the presence and effects of the Spirit is discussed along with qualities of the resultant life "in Christ." Finally, we are presented with a synthesis of all the commands, prayers, and wishes that Paul makes to his communities in order to contemplate his vision of Christianity, the spiritual life "in Christ."
An Excerpt from the Book:
The Equality of all "in Christ"
Perhaps the most radical tenet of Paul's ecclesiology is the equality before God of all Christians. Paul sees this principle as absolutely necessary for unity "in Christ." Such a belief stands in stark opposition to the importance of status in both the legal system of Judaism and the patronage of the Roman Empire. Paul experienced the mercy of God after his painful realization that he had sinned gravely in opposing God's own movement of salvation. He had persecuted the followers of Jesus Christ, even to the point of participating in the execution of Stephen, a man he must have known to be just. On that long journey to Damascus he experienced total forgiveness of his transgression and was reconciled to a most loving God, who not only accepted him but called him to play a great role in spreading the Gospel he once hated. All of this grace, however, could not erase the haunting memory of his past conduct that he painfully remembers and shares with his churches in his letters (Gal 1: 13-14; 5:11; Phil 3:7-9 and to some extent Rom 7:5:25). If even he could be accepted into God's loving community, then there was no factor that could allow discrimination of any sort, any privileged status or lesser esteem for any member in good standing who was trying to follow Christ. Thus he says, "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:28; see 1 Cor 12:13).
Table of Contents:
Introduction: Some Preliminary Considerations
The methodology of this book
Part One: Humanity before Christ
1. The human condition
2. The beginning of God's plan for salvation
3. The effects of the Christ event Part 1
4. The effects of the Christ event Part 2
5. The identity and experience of "Spirit" in Paul
6. The effects of the Spirit
7. Paul's language of the unity of Christians "in Christ"
8. The nature of unity "in Christ"
9. The praxis of Christian life "in Christ" (The Pauline imperative)
Conclusion: The ideal Pauline community