In my previous post I mentioned how in the Restoration Movement (or at least in Churches of Christ) we have often leaned more heavily on Paul than we have on Jesus. Simply put, Jesus is here to take care of our sins so we can get to heaven and Paul is here to make sure we do church right so we can get to heaven. We go to Jesus for salvation and Paul for how to do church and since we tied the second to be essential to the first we have in effect turned to Paul for salvation (at least it appears that way to me at times) as well.
To grossly generalize what you see going on out there we typically think of conservatives going to Paul and progressives going to Jesus. That isn’t entirely accurate but there may be some truth in that. A lot of this boils down to what we believe our purpose is. If our purpose is to be the ONE true church and be correct on all points of doctrine then Jesus is discarded since he didn’t really talk about church very much. If our purpose is something more than that, which I believe it is, then Jesus is ultimately going to be as important to us as He was to Paul.
We do not have to swing the pendulum away from Paul in order to incorporate Jesus into our theology. Honestly, if we are only talking about theology and doctrine then we have missed the mark from the get go. There is so much more to life and what it means to be the body of Christ than theology and doctrine. Transformation and eschatology (end things) should also be a big part of our focus. I have heard some diminish Paul in the process of rightly swinging the focus more to Jesus than we have in the past. I think that is unnecessary. We have trumpeted 2 Tim 3:16 about how “ALL scripture is God breathed and useful…” but then we had spent a huge amount of time out of the gospels and into the epistles (that is not to even mention the Old Testament which is what that verse is actually talking about since when it was penned the New Testament wasn’t even around in the form it is today).
I believe Paul read well will continually point us back to not just to the Gospels but also to Jesus. There is no Gospel with Jesus and there is no Paul, no church, etc without Jesus. Jesus is of ultimate importance and so we turn to Paul not just to nail down what it means to be the right practicing church but to find a richer and more full understanding and relationship with our Savior and Lord.
It is not Jesus or Paul. It always should be Jesus & Paul. When we read the Gospels we find Jesus and when we read Paul we should also find Jesus. If you are finding something else then you may not be doing it right 🙂