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Posts Tagged ‘Philippians 1:27-2:16’

Paul was not just an itinerant preacher, but also a pastor. He was, nevertheless, a preacher — a proclaimer of the good news of God’s intervention in human history through Jesus Christ. This good news was not a private message of personal salvation, though it included the salvation of individuals. It was a political announcement, or better a theopolitical announcement (politics involving God), that challenged–and challenges–the very core of how people relate to one another in the real world. (41)

If God’s salvation, including peace and justice, comes through Jesus, then it does not come through Caesar–or any other political or imperial force or figure. This does not mean that Paul’s gospel was political neither than religious; it is just that the two were inseparable. Words like justice (or righteousness), salvation, savior, peace, church (or assembly), gospel and, or course, Christ (Messiah) were–and are–both political and religious because they had to do with how people relate to both God and others in the real world. Paul’s gospel, therefore, is theopolitical. (44)

Because the gospel is about God’s dramatic, cosmic, benevolent intervention, it is not merely a message about personal salvation, as so many perversions of the gospel imply. To be sure, Paul’s gospel calls individuals to a right relationship with God, but it calls them into a community where right relationships with God and with others — both insiders and outsides — are taught, learned, and practiced. Those who believe Paul’s gospel are not fire and foremost invited to eternal life when they die (though that is included: Rom 5:21; 6:22-23), but to a new life in this world under the sway of a new lord and savior in the company of like-minded companions (Phil 1:27-2:16). Hence the adjective “theopolitical” to describe the gospel, meaning a narrative about God that creates a public life together, a corporate narrative, that is an alternative to the status quo in the Roman Empire, the American empire, or any other body politic. (45)

Michael J. Gorman, Reading Paul

the·o·po·lit·i·cal
adj., or or relating to politics involving God; of a narrative about God creating a public life together

Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Effetti del Buon Governo in Città or “Effects of Good Government in the City” (c. 1338-40)

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