5) Paul's perspective

2.1.5 The distinctive character of Paul’s perspective

What is distinctive in Paul, among New Testament writers, is “The attribution of ethical conduct to the Spirit…”p.83 as opposed to an emphasis on charismatic phenomena. Paul’s emphasis is less on passages such as Joel 3:1ff and more on “Ez 36:27 as the source of inner dynamism for the whole of the Christian’s life and conduct.”p.83

In the Spirit’s activity Paul sees the absolute novelty of the christian religion: the immediacy and interiority of God’s action in Christ, creating obedience in the hearts of Christians. The immediacy of God’s presence and activity is not, of course, exclusive to Paul’s theology, since it is more or less implicit in all the New Testament writings. But it is distinctive of men of genius that they are capable of grasping the sheer wonder of what others take more or less for granted (and therefore leave more or less implicit), and of grasping it with such intensity that it becomes the dominating and formative principle of their lives and thought. So with Paul. The fact of the immediacy of God’s saving activity in the hearts of believers dominates his thought, and constitutes for him a ‘hermeneutical key’ by which both to penetrate the mystery of Christ and to interpret Old Testament prophecies and their fulfilment in the new People of God.p.84

Updated 2009-09-27 (build:50) by Andrew Fountain