Rev Len Cliff – grace and discipleship

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  1. Paul is ok, indeed magnificient, in his total philosophy of social and personal identity – considering when he wrote and the circumstances he wrote in. Everything makes sense, either intellectually, emotionally and in context. Borg’s comment on the government passage later in the book (p.117??) is quite good, actually explains most of the few difficult passages in Paul. The main aim of the passage is to stop perilous civic resistance and non payment of taxes in the name of christ. There are better things o fight for, or die for, than the non payment of taxes, that is the gist. This is a main source of his apparent conservatism – to stop being being unncessarily martyred. Remember he spent a lot of time in jail. Overall he is actually an inspired and fundamentally important thinker, in universalising teachings about personal ethics and social formation, beyond the Palestinian kingdom. He writes often in traditional language that needs and deserved to be updated today – and it is possible to conclude that he did not, or could not, complete the project he started. He needs to be read well. Literalism does not work. I have another book of Paul and Derrida if anyone is interested – I have brought it to chapel on more than one occasion, and given a previous talk on the subject. Geoffrey

  2. I read the first chapter of the Paul book in the spa last night. Did you notice how the author referred to the Third Reich p10, reminding us how German Christians justified their obedience to the Third Reich based on Romans 13:1-7. These verses state ‘… whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.’ Honestly, sometimes I wonder about the biblical text. I often think the texts have been used to oppress people, creation and animals more than to free them. Didn’t Marx say ‘religion is the opiate of the masses?’ Exceptions like Bonhoffer and others tried to use the biblical texts to bring freedom to people. As you know, I’m currently interested in the spaces between two opposing systems of thought or interpretation.

    On another note – those flowers look graceful, if I don’t say so myself!!!

  3. Just spoke with friend about grace idea. It was something much liked by Coleridge apparently. She thought it was a vague term, because it is unconditional. A surplus. A gift. Not earned, and not the result of anything. I conclude, it is neither cheap nor sacrificial – it is not easily evaluated by other terms. The Nazis could make grace costly and take it away. But true grace cannot be depleted or priced. Thus graciousness in everyday life is a bonus or supplement, not tied to manners or obligations or reward or debts. On the other hand, discipleship can be costly, especially under a totalitarian regime. Standing up for values of freedom, personal authenticity, peace – this can be a costly thing when oppose directly by the state. Thank goodness we are no compelled by such a choice today in Australian\. Geoffrey

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