The Spirituality of Paul by Leslie T. Hardin
Robust and dense argumentation, heavy theological jargon, and weighty social issues, are a few of the things that come to mind when we think of the apostle Paul. Yet, key to his development as a follower of Christ is his life in the Spirit, his spiritual life. Professor Leslie T. Hardin steps in with a book entitled The Spirituality of Paul: Partnering with the Spirit in Everyday Life, a work focused on the prayer, proclamation, and worship of Paul given to Christ.
Leslie explores the context of prayer in the life of Paul by looking at his writings. In the writings of Paul, Leslie finds an enormous freedom in prayer that also looks at the kind of prayer that Paul called others to carry out. He writes, “Paul will not prayer degenerate into simple asking, though, as if God were a spiritual vending machine. The language of “thanksgiving” is the most frequent of all the prayer vocabulary in Paul’s epistles. (47) His prayers of thanks were for varied reasons, for converts, for the grace of God in Christ, and for challenges for his readers. Nevertheless, Paul’s prayers ran the spectrum but were of an intense nature but not all the same. He used exalted language at times while using personal and more informal language for his close friends.
Very concrete to Paul’s mission and preaching is the central idea that “Paul’s descriptions of salvation are more corporate than individualistic,…” (95). Drawing on the rich stories of Abraham and the blessing of all nations through this patriarch, Paul saw Christ’s coming, dying, and rising as incorporating both Jews and Gentiles into one family of God. Where the rubber meets the road for Paul is his insistence that since there is a unity in the people of God, weekly gatherings are to be unified offerings and not replete with economic, social, and personal divisions (97). Although tight divisions remained as in Corinth and still do in our culture, Paul pushes back with a focus on the all unifying good news of Jesus Christ as the breaker of all that destroys unity.
Thanks to Kregel Publications for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.