Orthodox Crossing: Saint Paul’s Theological Autobahn

I like a good paragraph. That sense that a thought or action has been properly rinsed through, even at the expense of being concise. I think that so long as it’s not going over the same ground over and again, go ahead, fill your boots and rinse me. I recall the first time that I read through the Great Council chapter in The Lord of the Rings, and although there were breaks, it appeared to just flow forward with context and detail, filling the stage while laying further planks for the direction ahead. Just an unbroken run of the author’s thought, which cruising well over the speed limit, but well within a comfortable range. Nothing had done it (or undone it) for me with words like that chapter, and no matter how pleasantly fae I might have found Ursula Le Guinn’s prose of Earthsea, Tolkien’s great meditation on the current, the recent past catching up, and the fresh to be included, all staged around that council and within the last homely house of Middle Earth, it just pressed clean away the limits of a considered imagination. Like a deep cut from your favourite album. No one could touch that sustained momentum in my heart until I first encountered St Paul’s Romans, Chapter 8, wherein having laid all foundations he presses into his full twelve cylinders, cruising down the theological Autobahn at a sudden few hundred miles an hour, holding you in the grip of a hand that has taken you this far into his proclamation, covering ground with wild articulation only to then accelerate so hard into the cross, from crucifixion to cosmology that I when read it my brain went beyond its rev band and I assumed the safety position in the footwell of my heart until St Paul eased back, or perhaps pulled into a services. That tank has got to be needing attention, doesn’t it? No, no a bit of it, not for the next 8 chapters; further goes the press of theology, and loftier the cruising speed, but the red line never maxes out until the inner doors and outer rooms of The Gospel are fully declared and in so doing puts to finality the good order of things.

I was doing hedge cutting in some fields when I first encountered Romans. I read it over my lunch break having then very recently become Christian. It was well intense. More so than the two strokes that I was sounding off between lunch. So props to St. Paul for that. Just, next time sir, a moment of warning or gentle coercion before you press that pedal, would be appreciated. To be honest that you go and do it all over again for the second half of Hebrews. That was another moment for me, but I had better remembered to grip that hand by then and just let him fling you off, beyond even the Autobahn; off into the outer hemisphere of your heart’s comprehension.

Saint Paul. He welcomes passengers. Hold on tight.

‘Life in the Spirit
There is now therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the Law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for the sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to flesh but the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but hose who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.’

Romans 8: 1-8

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