I recently moved to another church, and the process of moving has been interesting to say the least. What is probably most interesting about it is the people i have comes across in the journey too.
On Sunday i was chatting with a couple who i believed to be quite fundametalist in their faith, not a wish washy evangelical like me, but people who blieve in recieving good teaching etc..etc.. anyway over the course of the conversation they picked up that I had a few frustrations with Church life in general - furstrations that in spirt of theological differences they shared... "How could this be?" I thought, and then it clicked - JESUS. That was the problem..
What i mean by that is that it is the recuring theme in every one i talk with who has an interest in the emerging/missional/church sucks type people. They have spent more time reading about Jesus and less on Paul.
While this may seem simplistic it does stand to reason anyone who has read Paul and not the gospels' would assume that Church is all their is and that our current models of Church are God given and therefore chould not be changed. I know growing up in a church I never heard the gospels preached from - it was always either the OT or Paul's letters.
As a grwon up pastor type person I normaly spend most of my time in the Gospels and little time in the Letters. While I thought this was because i perefer narratives to doctrine - I think it's because I also find a Jesus free from the Church very attractive. While i recognise that is not easy - given that the gospels emerged from the early church. It does give me an indication that there must be a way of honouring the whole of scripture without falling into the traps that we have set ourselves with much of what we now call Church...
I guess though at the end of the day Paul is important, especialy as he tries to bring order to the chaos that was probably so much of early church life.
Over the past few months i have been trying to get my head more round the NT world in the hope that I can re read Paul's letters (and other) without immediatly falling into understanding them in terms of current Church models.
I guess i hope to read them through the eye's of the gospel rather than to read the gosples through the eye's of the epistles