Looking for life : the role of theo-ethical reasoning in Paul's religion
This dissertation challenges the adequacy of three interrelated foci of twentieth- century Protestant Pauline interpretation. Interpreters regularly: (1) distinguish Paul's theology from his ethics, (2) emphasise his preaching as the sole or primary vehicle for gospel proclamation and divine revelation, and (3) deny that Paul engages in reasoned, ethical reflection. This study offers a new proposal for understanding how Paul does theology and ethics as a former Pharisee and first-century pastoral theologian a Christian community-builder with an apocalyptic (i.e. revelatory) perspective. Paul integrates Christian thinking and living, combining what interpreters frequently separate as theology and ethics. This becomes evident in Paul's complex process of theological, moral reasoning for which we have coined the phrase 'theo-ethical reasoning'. This characterisation captures both the divine and human elements of Paul's behavioural reasoning grounded in the revelation of the risen Christ to Paul and in Paul. According to theo-ethical reasoning, Paul associates specific acts of Christ-conforming conduct with the power of God that becomes manifest in community experiences of new life. Since this reasoning often lies beneath the surface of the texts, the study explores the underlying logic of Paul's arguments. This highlights the consistent pattern of reasoning by which Paul analyses and responds to behavioural issues. The study also argues that Paul encourages his churches to practise spiritual discernment by engaging in theo-ethical reasoning a dialogical, comparative process of reasoned reflection on the links between behaviour and experience. In this practice of looking for life, the Spirit leads community members to associate experiences of new life with conduct that conforms to Christ's cruciform pattern of self-giving love for others. This correlation grounds both Paul's proclamation of Jesus Christ by word and deed and believers' faith in the power of God. We conclude that theo-ethical reasoning lies at the centre of Paul's religion.