Thomas R. Schreiner. Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology. Second Edition. IVP Academic, 2020. Go here to purchase the book.
Thomas R. Schreiner teaches New Testament interpretation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. This book, approximating 600 pages, discusses key elements of Paul’s theology. Schreiner draws both from the letters that scholars deem authentically Pauline as well as the letters that scholars consider Deutero-Pauline, which Schreiner regards as authentic. Schreiner engages a variety of topics, including, but not limited to, the nature of God’s righteousness in Romans, universalism, divorce and remarriage, predestination, the New Perspective, and whether pistis Christou is the subjective or objective genitive.
Five discussions in particular stand out to me:
—-Schreiner addresses the question of what Paul means when he says that believers are “in Christ.” Schreiner arrives at the solution, based on Romans 5, that Paul means that believers are “in Christ” rather than “in Adam,” subject to death and condemnation.
—-Schreiner addresses the question of how Paul can deny that any person is righteous when the Old Testament mentions people who were righteous. Schreiner’s answer is that Paul is speaking in a big-picture, general sense. That is not a very satisfying answer, but it does illustrate that Schreiner’s book entertains questions that I, and others, might have.
—-Schreiner talks about church discipline and asks if every sin should be subject to it. Schreiner answers in the negative and says that it concerns major sins, such as idolatry and fornication. At the same time, Schreiner states that Paul presumes that the church would be a community in which people continually challenge, encourage, and exhort one another, even about minor sins. Schreiner’s discussion here is helpful.
—-Schreiner disputes the idea that there can be “carnal Christians,” Christians who are saved simply by belief and can rest in the assurance that they will go to heaven after they die, even if their lives lack practical sanctification. For Schreiner, Paul’s belief is that eternal life is something that believers must continually pursue, not something that is a sure thing on the basis of a “decision for Christ” that they made years ago. When Paul exhorts believers to do good works, those works relate, in some sense, to gaining eternal life, not merely to rewards. Those who sow after the Spirit sow after life, whereas those who sow after the flesh reap death. This is not a very comforting message, but, as is often the case, it is difficult to refute Schreiner’s exegesis. If Schreiner is correct, the best I can do is to hope that God is still merciful, even if my life and attitudes fall vastly short of the fruit of the Spirit.
—-Schreiner talks about Paul’s view on divorce and remarriage. Schreiner makes a case that Paul denies to Christians the option to remarry after divorce, then he tags onto the end the statement that Paul would probably have permitted it, since humans need companionship. Ordinarily in the book, Schreiner is adept at summarizing different perspectives then lucidly and effectively evaluating and critiquing them. Here is a slight exception.
This book is meaty, yet lucid, scholarly, yet spiritually-edifying.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My review is honest.