This summer I am doing a series of seven sermons on the authentic letters of Paul. I presented a powerpoint today during the adult forum to introduce Paul and preached on I Thessalonians. I am going to use powerpoint for the remaining six sermons in worship.
Paul has been accused of being...
misogynist, homophobic, a suck up to Empire, a prude, an oppressor (slaves obey masters), a braggart, anti-Jewish, and focused on death and resurrection mythology rather than the teachings of Jesus. Who was Paul and what was he really about?
My working thesis is that Paul was very much like the historical Jesus. He held the same basic values as Jesus did: equality (ie. egalitarian table meals, women as full apostles, abolishment of slavery and oppression), anti-domination (Empire), and that while he didn't quote Jesus very often his ethics were linked closely to those of Jesus (ie. love of enemy, don't return evil for evil, peace, and a profound hope in the renewal of humanity and the creation itself).
Paul, like Jesus, was a product of his time and world-view, but he also transcended it and invites us to do the same as we participate in the new way of being and living.
Quiz: In Acts, we are told of Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus. Was Paul on foot or did he fall of his horse?
Answer: Protestants think of Paul on foot. Catholics think of Paul falling off his horse. This depends upon whether one has learned the story through the text or artwork.
The Conversion of St. Paul by Parmigianino
Quiz: What did Paul look like?
El Greco, 1606
Answer: "And he went by the king's highway that leadeth unto Lystra and stood expecting him, and looked upon them that came, according to tbe description of Titus. And he saw Paul coming, a man little of stature, thin-haired upon the head, crooked in the legs, of good state of body, with eyebrows joining, and nose somewhat hooked, full of grace: for sometimes he appeared like a man, and sometimes he had the face of an angel." Acts of Paul and Thekla