Monday, August 29, 2016

Paul and the Faithfulness of God Chapter 16

Paul AFOGChapter 16 concludes the book we have been reading through this year, Paul and the Faithfulness of God, vol. 4, Christian Origins and the Question of God, by N. T. Wright. Chapter 16 provides a summary of Wright’s main points and some concluding words. Again, this is a very brief summary of this very important book. I welcome comments and discussion on my Facebook page. I am using the Logos version of the book.

In this final chapter of the book Wright attempts to sum up Paul's worldview, theology, religion and practice into a coherent whole. He wants us to understand Paul in his 1st century historical context, not through reformation or 20-21st century theology that divides Paul's actions and mission from his theology and thinking. Paul was a pastor and everything he thought and did was focused toward the building of God's kingdom. Every word he wrote had a cultural and practical context in a particular church. As Wright says,

I want in this chapter to argue that Paul’s practical aim was the creation and maintenance of particular kinds of communities; that the means to their creation and maintenance was the key notion of reconciliation; and that these communities, which he regarded as the spirit-inhabited Messiah-people, constituted at least in his mind and perhaps also in historical truth a new kind of reality, embodying a new kind of philosophy, of religion and of politics, and a new kind of combination of those. 1476

The big difference between Paul and the apocalypticists of the 1st century, and those of the 20th and 21st century like the Nazis and communists, is that Paul based his hope, thoughts and actions on an action in the past that fulfilled hopes and expectations  - the resurrection of Christ, while these others were still looking for that decisive action in the future and so were disappointed. This is why it is so important to read Paul in his historical Jewish context, in terms of the biblical covenant and within his mission and work. Paul cannot be understood with just the head. The reader must be willing to change his heart and to be actively employed to change the world.

The ancient Jewish vision, in which the Messiah and the redemption of history have played such an important role, has to do not simply with ‘spirituality’ or ‘religion’, not with an escapist salvation in which the rest of the world ceases to matter, but with the challenge to action in the world itself. 1474

(Paul) was a man of action, of performative fulfilment. He was both thinker and doer, regarding his thinking as itself a form of worship, and his doing, too, as a sacrificial offering through which to implement the already-accomplished achievement of the Messiah. He was an integrated whole: razor-sharp mind and passionate heart working together. 1475–1476

Just as the principal and ultimate goal of all historical work on J. S. Bach ought to be a more sensitive and intelligent performance of his music, so the principal and ultimate goal of all historical work on the New Testament ought to be a more sensitive and intelligent practice of Christian mission and discipleship. 1483–1484

In the next section Wright searches for a concept that will sum up Paul's worldview and mission. He finds it in the 2 Corinthians 5.13-6.2 discussion of the concept of reconciliation. He is not talking about just reconciliation in a "spiritual" sense here, but the reconciliation of all creation that begins with human reconciliation to God and to each other, and ends with the new heaven and new earth joining together. In this age the church community functions as the tabernacle, a microcosm of the coming age, the way things are supposed to be. The difference is that we take the shekinah out into the world as we live. Thus, the church should function much as a rabbinic or philosophical school did in the 1st century, teaching people a new way of life with a new way of thinking and acting so that they find "the transformed mind and heart through which the creator’s intention would at last be realized."

This focus on an essentially Platonic ‘spiritual heaven’, discontinuous with this world and only related to it by the tangential mechanism of soul-saving and soul-making, has for a millennium radically distorted the western Christian hold on resurrection itself, the central claim and belief of the early Christians. 1485

Paul could only write like that if he really did believe that his apostolic work was an advance project for the ultimate new creation itself. He was in the business, not of rescuing souls from corrupting bodies and a doomed world, but of transforming humans as wholes, to be both signs of that larger new creation and workers in its cause. 1489

Paul’s apostolic task was, so to speak, tabernacle-construction, temple-building. That is clear already in 1 Corinthians 3. In other words, he saw his vocation in terms of bringing into being ‘places’—humans, one by one and collectively—in which heaven and earth would come together and be, yes, reconciled. 1493

This theme of reconciliation of all creation fits well with Paul's missionary strategy. Paul went with a Jewish message "to the Jew first" and then to the Gentiles so that the church would become the signpost, through its unity and love, of the new creation, in which all the universe was reconciled. He went to the centers of Roman power to announce that "Jesus is LORD" "in the places where another Kyrios, another world ruler, another basileus, was being named and was being worshipped as the one and only sovereign." (1503) Thus, reconciliation, producing love and unity are the key evidences of the Spirit's work.

Paul sees individual Christians as signs pointing to a larger reality...‘The faithfulness of God’ was not simply to be a main theme of Paul’s teaching. It was to be the hidden inner meaning of his life—and, as befits a follower of the crucified Messiah, particularly of his suffering. The larger reality to which this points, the new creation itself, is to be symbolized by the whole church, united and holy. The new temple is to be the place to which all nations will come to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 1494

Paul’s gospel was a Jewish message for the non-Jewish world—something which classic history-of-religions analyses found difficult to grasp—for the very good reason that he believed the God of Israel to be the God of the whole world, and Israel’s Messiah to be the world’s true lord. 1498

The ‘ministry of reconciliation’ which Paul cites as his central vocation is not simply about reconciling individuals to the One God, or about bringing such individuals together into the single family of the church. These tasks remain vital and central, but they are designed both to point beyond themselves and to be the means of that to which they point, namely, the reconciliation of the whole creation to its creator—which involves, as always, rescuing it from the rule of usurpers. 1504

In the next section Wright aims to integrate Paul's "Jewishly rooted gospel of the Messiah," and "the political engagement between Paul’s gospel and Caesar’s empire." His take is that Paul integrated his Jewish Messianic gospel into what the Jews and Romans would have thought of as religion, politics and philosophy, but redefined everything around the crucified, risen Messiah Jesus. He incorporated the ancient categories of physics, logic and ethics into "an all-embracing vision of reality" that was lived through the worldwide "temple" consisting of the little messianic communities that were living out Jesus' kingdom vision.

Paul aimed to announce Jesus as lord right across Caesar’s principal domains, to make it clear that the Messiah had been vindicated and that at his name every knee would bow—even if at the moment this was more or less bound to lead to persecution, prison and death. 1505

Paul’s aim was to be the temple-builder for the kingdom, planting on non-Jewish soil little communities in which heaven and earth would come together at last, places where the returning glory of Israel’s God would shine out, heralding and anticipating the day when God would be all in all. 1509

We are speaking about the foundation, through the spirit-empowered announcement of Jesus crucified and risen, of a community which from one point of view would be seen as a ‘philosophy’, from another as a koinonia, a partnership, from another as a new if strange kind of ‘religion’, and from yet another as a new polis, a socio-cultural entity giving allegiance to a different Kyrios. All these and more are encompassed in Paul’s (very Jewish) vision of the Messiah’s people. 1510

Wright concludes this section for a call to reintegrate exegesis, history and theology and hopes that the study of Paul could be a catalyst for the reconciliation.

When theology is distorted, or displaced altogether, unity and holiness are compromised, and sometimes are thought not even to matter. But to allow this theology to be detached from history, either in general or, in particular, from the actual historical exegesis of texts written by Paul and the other early Christians, is to alter quite radically the character of that theology itself. 1515–1516

Wright concludes the book by looking at Paul's prayers as the place where his theology, exegesis, personal history and Jewish tradition came together in praise and worship of the crucified and risen Messiah Jesus. They were his "very heart."

If you believe that the One God, the world’s creator, is in fact the faithful covenant God—and that is the whole point of Romans 9–11 and in a measure of everything Paul said and wrote—then the most appropriate way to write about this God is not in abstract discourse but in prayer and praise. 1517

If the crucified and risen Messiah himself was, astonishingly, the place where heaven and earth met, the true temple, the start of the new creation; if those indwelt by the spirit were themselves enabled to keep the Shema, responding to the sovereign and self-giving love of God by loving him from the heart in return, fulfilling the ancient vision of Deuteronomy at the same time as discovering a depth of heaven-and-earth relation at which the most discerning of the pagan philosophers could only guess; if these things were so, then the glad celebration of that love provided the deepest ‘aim’ of all, the central act of worship which for Paul had long ceased to be a matter of choice or decision and had become a matter of mindset, the deepest habit of the heart. 1518

Sunday, August 28, 2016

PIU Victorious in Opening Basketball Game

Basketball 1st Game

The PIU Tide basketball team opened its season in the Wendy's Cold Stone Church Basketball League with a victory on Saturday. The final score was PIU 53-Yigo Baptist 33. We were a bit shorthanded with only 8 players but our guys (and Addie hit a couple 3 pointers) toughed it out and pulled out the victory. We are looking forward to the good fellowship with churches and other ministries on Guam that the church league provides. It was also enjoyable to see old friends from Yigo Baptist. Come out and join the fun next Saturday at 10am at the St. Paul’s gymnasium.

Registration at PIU

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Registration (4)We have completed Fall registration at PIU. Late registration will go on for another week as the students adjust their class schedules. We don’t have final numbers yet, but we will have them some time early this coming week. It was good to be able to hang out with students again and I am looking forward to another semester. I would appreciate your prayers, especially for the new students, that they would be able to settle in and adjust to the rigor of college academics and college life. Classes start Monday. Here we go!

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Students going through the various stations in the registration line. Nikki (left) makes sure they understand dorm policies and other student issues. In the middle, students fill out necessary forms. On the right, Hartmut does some academic advising.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Reading Through Isaiah #5 (Chapters 40-48)

51wW9fXkBCL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_This week we move into the second major section (40-66) of the book of Isaiah, accompanied by Isaiah, The College Press NIV Commentary, by Terry R. Briley. The 2nd half of the book of Isaiah is mainly directed at the exiles in Babylon to give them hope of restoration and to warn them against the sins that caused the exile in the first place. I am posting quotes from the book on my Facebook page on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (NT is Mon-Wed-Fri) and we can discuss comments and questions about the passage there. As usual, quotes from the commentary are in blue below…

Isaiah 40 begins the second major section of Isaiah. This section is focused on the future throughout and reminds the people that God is still working his plan, that he began with creation, to rebuild the heavens and earth and restore His people. God is real and powerful, unlike the gods of the other nations, and he will send his "servant" who will be the agent of restoration and the fulfillment of the covenant promises. 40.1-11 provides the introduction to the section.

If the worship that is supposed to restore and sustain fellowship with God is itself sinful, how can the barrier of sin between God and his people be removed? The answer lies in God’s commitment to his purpose and in his creative power. The God who created the world will not cease to work until he has defeated sin, turned hearts to him, and established new heavens and a new earth. All that remains is for people to recognize the true nature and work of God and to respond to him in faith. Isaiah 40, 109

Isaiah now turns to comforting those who will be the exiles he has prophesied about to Hezekiah. The point of the exile is to cure Israel from trusting in idols and being self-sufficient. Real strength comes from God. Sometimes God removes His people's resources so they get to experience his real strength, comfort and presence. Even with the exile God is still overseeing His people and guarding his promise to preserve them (41). He will raise up a deliverer (Cyrus and the Persians) who will conquer the Babylonians and return Israel to their land. He will also change Israel's spiritual condition (42) so that they will fulfill his mission to be a light to the Gentiles. The "servant" is introduced in the chapter. This is Israel's role, but ultimately it will be accomplished as Jesus fulfills what Israel was supposed to do.

God’s goal, therefore, in exposing human weakness is to provide true strength and power to his people... Those who cling to God in faith, therefore, remembering his faithfulness, can exchange their limited strength for the limitless resources of God. Isaiah 40.30-31, 123

The heart of the chapter, however, reveals the purpose behind God’s actions on the international scene. No matter how threatening the actions of other nations might appear, God maintains his commitment to his people. He will protect them and cause the movements of history to work for their ultimate benefit. Isaiah 41, 123

The one who gives and sustains life guarantees the servant’s success because God’s plan to give light to the Gentiles in their blindness and freedom to the captives in the prison of darkness hinges on the work of the servant. In a sense God intends to create a new world through the work of the servant because the present order holds little hope of life for the Gentiles. Isaiah 42.5-7, 134

Israel's dire situation is not hopeless because of God's redeeming nature. Just as God redeemed Israel from Egypt, he will redeem them from exile in Babylon. The one who created a dry path in the sea can also create water in and a way through the desert. This 2nd exodus will be even greater because it will lead to a restoration of the entire world. We can believe this because God is the Creator. He is not an idol made by a human being. He is the one who made and understands human beings. He pronounces redemption and then does it, through Cyrus who's name is announced 150 years before the event. God the Creator can be trusted.

For the sake of his name (i.e., reputation), God will not allow his people to languish in exile but will return them to a position where they can fulfill his purpose for them. This basis for God’s actions does not invalidate the personal relationship he seeks with his people, but it does bring together his sovereignty (he will accomplish his will in spite of Israel’s sinfulness) and his grace (he extends favor to his people that they do not deserve). Isaiah 43.1-7, 142

God’s offer of pardon in verse 25 is not extended to a generation that has departed from a prevailing standard of faithfulness; it is offered to those who fit Israel’s historic profile. For God to maintain his faithfulness to such a people and to work through them to redeem the nations is truly an act of grace that overarches the entire Old Testament (and continues throughout the church age as well). Isaiah 43.25, 146

God has in fact glorified man in the order and nature of creation (cf. Psalm 8). When man seeks to become God, that glory turns into shame. God created man in his image, but in every form of idolatry man inevitably creates a god in his image. One of the marks of the inspiration of the Bible is the fact that the God it reveals stands apart from what he has made. He is not like a god that man would create. The Bible clearly prohibits worshiping the creation rather than the Creator, but approaching the Creator as if he possesses the limitations of the creation is equally serious. Isaiah 44, 153

Isaiah 45 focuses on the "mystery" of God. God reveals himself to us, but there are things about Him that are unrevealed or beyond us. This is why it is foolish to resist or rebel against him. If he wants to use a pagan like Cyrus to end Israel's exile, He is free to do that. What he has revealed is that He is a life-giver, sustainer and redeemer to those who trust him. That's enough to trust him on the stuff we do not understand.

Just as God created the world so that life will be sustained and revived, so he sustains and revives his people even if he does so through an agent like Cyrus. God’s goal is righteousness, or making things right. Isaiah 45.1-8, 162

The way God will do this is by having Cyrus defeat Babylon and give the order to rebuild Jerusalem and its temple. God announcing this before it happens shows that it is part of his plan and he is setting the stage for the next phase of the plan in which Israel will take the message of salvation to the ends of the earth. Nevertheless both Babylon and Israel are responsible for their responses to God's work in their history. Babylon goes to devastating judgment because they wasted God's calling on enriching themselves. Israel needs to be careful so the same thing does not happen to them.

God will make things right by saving his people, but his people have distanced themselves from him and his work in their rejection of his methods. When God brings salvation to Zion his splendor will be manifest. Israel must take care or she will miss it due to the blindness of stubborn unbelief. Isaiah 46, 169–170

Babylon here is not merely the ancient city of that name, and the poem does not simply look forward to what was to happen to it in 539 when Cyrus conquered it. Like Jerusalem, with which it is contrasted, it is both a concrete historical reality and a symbol.… Babylon represents humankind organized in defiance of God—the kingdom of mere mortals, in contrast to the kingdom of God. In this sense, ‘Babylon’ is still with us, and still stands under the judgment of God. Isaiah 47.12-15, 174

The tragic tone of verses 17–19, against the backdrop of verses 9–11, illustrates the relationship between the unconditional and the conditional elements of the covenant relationship between God and his people. The unconditional element has to do with the accomplishment of God’s redemptive purpose through his people. The fulfillment of this purpose depends on the character of God, and he will do whatever is necessary to bring it about. The conditional element has to do with the degree of blessing the covenant people enjoy in the process of fulfilling God’s purpose. Israel has forfeited a large measure of that blessing, but God’s ongoing faithfulness will redeem his people again and give them a fresh opportunity to be both blessed and a blessing. Isaiah 48, 182–183

Friday, August 26, 2016

New Student Orientation

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The students are back at PIU! They began to stream in from the islands around Guam this past weekend and this week we have seen several more come in from the neighboring islands and from Guam. Monday we began to orient the new students and they spent most of the day learning what it meant to be a new PIU student. Above, Dean of Student Development Nikki Heimbach, begins the orientation process and introduces the staff and administration.

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Left, Mely, the student chapel leader, urges the new students to be involved in chapel ministry. Right, Celia informs students about financial procedures

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The Student government leaders introduce themselves and share their plans for the semester with the new students

Paul and the Faithfulness of God Chapter 15 (Part 2)

Paul AFOGChapter 15 continues Part IV of Paul and the Faithfulness of God, vol. 4, Christian Origins and the Question of God, by N. T. Wright. Chapter 15 looks at how Paul’s theology would have interacted with the world of 1st century Judaism and the Jewish sacred texts. Again, this is a very brief summary of this very important book. I welcome comments and discussion on my Facebook page. I am using the Logos version of the book.

Next Wright deals with Paul's statement that "to Jews, I became as a Jew." He stays with the traditional view that this was a cross-cultural mission strategy. The persecution of Paul shows clearly that he did not live like a Jew regularly. His identity was in Christ and he identified with all who followed Messiah. Christ had fulfilled the old covenant and Paul no longer lived under it. However, he was willing to give up those rights as an evangelism or discipleship strategy when necessary

Paul does not say, in other words, what some dearly wish he had said, namely that ‘Jews and gentiles should each stick to their respective ways of life.’ Nor does he say, more specifically, that ‘Jews are to remain practising Jews and not live as Gentiles. 1435

Being a ‘Jew’ was no longer Paul’s basic identity. He backs it up: for the sake of his mission ‘to the people who are under the law’, that is, the Jewish people, he became like someone under the law, even though that was not now ‘who he was’ at the deepest level. 1436

Paul does not see Torah simply as a set of commands, a lifestyle. He sees it, as Josephus saw it, as Daniel saw it, as Qumran saw it, as a narrative; a narrative that was straining forward to an explosive dénouement; a narrative that, in Paul’s case, had reached that dénouement in the Messiah. 1439

Paul is asking the Corinthians to be prepared to abandon their ‘rights’ for the sake of the gospel. That is what he does on a regular basis. And ‘becoming a Jew’ means, for him, putting on hold his ‘right’ to live in a new way, not indeed anomos theou but definitely ennomos Christou. 1443

So did he consider Christians to be a "third race?" In a way he did, but to follow Christ had both continuity with Judaism and some discontinuity. So, in many ways they were a "third race" to which unbelieving Jews could be "naturally grafted in" and into which Gentiles could "become new creations."

For Paul anyone who was ‘in the Messiah’ and indwelt by the spirit could be called Ioudaios. Such people were worshipping Israel’s God, and at least some aspects of their behaviour (avoiding idolatry and porneia) were to be ordered accordingly. 1444

Those who belong to the Messiah are defined, are given an ‘identity’ if we must use the term, that is (a) rooted in Israel’s Messiah, and hence in that sense inalienably ‘Jewish’, but (b) redefined around the crucified and risen Messiah and hence in that sense inalienably ‘scandalous’ to Jews.  1446

Wright now turns to how Paul uses the Jewish scriptures. His main point is that Paul is seeing the entire Old Testament as a narrative about God's revelation of Himself and His covenant to and through the Jewish people. The prophets, especially the 12, show this to be an incomplete narrative, still awaiting the fulfillment of Deuteronomy 30's redemption from exile. Paul sees this story fulfilled in his day through Messiah Jesus. God is faithful and the gospel going to the entire world fulfills the Abrahamic promise.

Paul believes that it is a central part of Christian faith to be not only a reader of scripture but one who is changed by that reading. 1456

Paul’s understanding of Israel’s scriptures should have as its basic framework the covenant narrative of Israel...God had made solemn covenantal promises to Abraham; Paul believed they were now fulfilled. God had promised Abraham a single worldwide family, inheriting not just the land but the whole world; that was now being accomplished in the reign of Israel’s Messiah and the spirit-driven mission of his followers. 1453

The scriptures do not so much bear witness, for Paul, to an abstract truth (‘the one God is faithful’). They narrate that faithfulness, and, in doing so, invite the whole world into the faithful family whose source and focus is the crucified and risen Messiah. 1471

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Paul and the Faithfulness of God Chapter 15 (Part 1)

Paul AFOGChapter 15 continues Part IV of Paul and the Faithfulness of God, vol. 4, Christian Origins and the Question of God, by N. T. Wright. Chapter 15 looks at how Paul’s theology would have interacted with the world of 1st century Judaism and the Jewish sacred texts. Again, this is a very brief summary of this very important book. I welcome comments and discussion on my Facebook page. I am using the Logos version of the book.

Chapter 15 is entitled, "TO KNOW THE PLACE FOR THE FIRST TIME: PAUL AND HIS JEWISH CONTEXT," and attempts to place Paul in his 1st century Jewish world. Wright rejects the idea that Paul was trying to "start a new religion" or pit "one religion against another." Paul was the "apostle to the Gentiles," and he brought the Gentile world a Jewish message, with a Jewish Messiah, who had surprisingly been crucified and risen from the dead. Paul's base is 1st century Judaism. His conflict with Judaism was that he believed the Messiah had come and inaugurated the "age to come" while they did not.

His call was to be the apostle to the non-Jewish nations. He came with a Jewish message and a Jewish way of life for the non-Jewish world. He did not see himself as founding or establishing a new, non-Jewish movement. He believed that the message and life he proclaimed and inculcated was, in some sense, the fulfilment of all he had believed as a strict Pharisaic Jew. 1408

What mattered, rather, was his belief that Jesus of Nazareth was Israel’s Messiah. More precisely and importantly, that the crucified and risen Jesus of Nazareth was Israel’s Messiah and the world’s true lord...And the clash with those of his fellow Jews who did not believe that Jesus was Israel’s Messiah came precisely on the level not of ‘religion’ but of messianic eschatology: he believed that the Messiah had come, and had inaugurated the long-awaited new age, and they did not. 1409

He was declaring that the God whom the Jews had worshipped all along, the God made known in their scriptures, had done at last what he had promised, and that with that divine action a new world order had come into being. Paul’s theology and mission were rooted in and defined by this christologically inaugurated eschatology. 1410–1411

Wright sees the charges of "supersessionism" or "substitution theology" as anachronistic, because Christianity has always been essentially Jewish. Paul did not see things in terms of Christianity versus Judaism, but in terms of embracing or rejecting what God had done in the Messiah to fulfill God's promises to the nation, which were always intended to bring in the Gentiles. The true Israel followed the Messiah Jesus. This was not so different than other Jewish movements of Paul's day.

But if Jesus really was Israel’s Messiah, then no first-century Jew could have supposed for a minute that following him was an option that one might take up or not. There would be no room for saying, ‘Well, some of us think Jesus is Messiah and some of us don’t, so let’s not worry about it.’ To reject the Davidic king would be to follow Jeroboam the son of Nebat into drastic and dangerous rebellion. 1413

Israel’s God always intended and promised that when he fulfilled his promises to Israel then the rest of the world would be renewed as well, and that this is what was now happening through the Gentile mission. The extension to non-Jews of renewed-covenant membership was itself, Paul insisted, one part of deep-rooted Jewish eschatology. 1417

What happened to Paul on the Damascus Road was not so much (he said) a matter of turning, or being turned, away from one ‘religion’, or indeed from one particular god, and embracing, or being embraced by, another one. It was a matter of a fresh, and admittedly surprising, ‘call’, in the sense of ‘vocation’, from the one God whom Paul continued to worship, and who was now commissioning him to tell the non-Jewish peoples about him. 1420

Wright now takes up the "transformation" made by Paul's "conversion" and "call." His point is that Paul was not converted from one religion (Judaism) to another (Christianity). Paul remained Jewish in his own mind, but his encounter, in the real world, with the risen Christ completely redefined how he went about it. He was like a prophet called to a new vocation, with a new understanding of his faith, that changed everything. Though he still considered himself a Jew, he no longer practiced the requirements of the old ways that would have defined him as a Jew to his contemporaries, unless it furthered their acceptance of Jesus as Messiah.

Paul was not the kind of evangelist who insists that everyone should ‘experience’ things in the same way that he or she has done. He was the kind of teacher who wanted people to work out, to think through and then to live out, what had in fact happened to the Messiah and what therefore had in fact happened to them through baptism into the Messiah. 1424

What happened to Paul on the road to Damascus contained at its core, he insists, a personal meeting involving a real ‘seeing’ of the risen Jesus; a cognitive awareness that the resurrection had declared Jesus to be Israel’s Messiah, and that his death and resurrection were the Israel-redefining and world-claiming events for which Israel had longed; and a personal transformation such as love regularly effects, in which the heart itself was, in biblical language, ‘circumcised’, enabled at last to love the One God with a spirit-given love, and thus to keep the Shema itself. 1426

If the Messiah has come, and if in and through him Israel’s God has acted dramatically to fulfil his promises to Abraham and to do for Israel and the world what they could not do for themselves, then to cling to the old ways of Torah-observance and to something called ‘Jewish identity’ as though it had value in itself quite apart from the purposes and promises of Israel’s God...would be like the bridegroom returning from the wars to find that the bride preferred the careful life of distant engagement to the prospect of actual marriage. 1433