17th October 2022

In a novel I have been reading one of the characters is invited to give a reading from one of St. Paul’s Epistles at a friend’s funeral. She declines, with this explanation:

Somehow I can’t take St. Paul. Seems to me he was a bit of a troublemaker. There were those little groups of Christians all minding their own business and getting along all right, by and large. No one’s perfect. And then St. Paul arrives unexpectedly and starts bossing and criticizing. Or he’d send them one of those fierce letters. Not the kind of letter I’d care to receive.

Somehow, reading this I was reminded of Tyndale’s first minister, Richard Glover! Of course, he didn’t dismiss St. Paul like that (in fact he did lecture to students on some of the Epistles), but he did think the emphasis should be on the Gospels rather than the Epistles, especially for children and younger Christians. They provided a simpler form of truth.

We must be grateful to St. Paul and for the generations of biblical scholars down the centuries who have sought to draw out the teaching of the Gospels. But it does no harm, from time to time, to return to the basics.

David T Roberts