International Anglicanism's Flirtation with Ignorance!

Column by Bishop John Shelby Spong on 8 December 2004 0 Comments
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I have followed your thread from Romans 1:4 the "designation" passage. I had missed its importance until you pointed it out in Michigan. Then I read in Colossians chapter 1 that Paul says Christ Jesus created everything. What led Paul to make this comment in Colossians? At first glance it seems at odds with his statement about designation. If this is a further discovery of an ongoing revelation then would not that displace the weight of the designation statement? Had it been two different writers, this would not bug me so much.


You raise a good question. There are, however, two things that need to be settled before proceeding:

1) Did Paul write Colossians? I would say that among New Testament scholars, the Pauline authorship of Colossians is no better than about 50/50, and is declining rapidly.

2) I do not think that Paul supported the idea of a preexistent Jesus. The Christ concept was preexistent but Jesus only fulfilled that concept. That is a crucial distinction that I do not believe was embraced by the early Christian from the time the New testament was written to the day in the 4th and 5th centuries when creeds were adopted and the doctrinal and dogmatic phases of Christianity were put into place.

This pre-existent theme is present in Philippians, which Paul did write. It is also present in Hebrews and in the 4th Gospel. The subtle distinction between a pre-existent Christ concept, which was used to interpret the Jesus of history in developing creedal theology, and the meaning of the human Jesus has been badly blurred. The best treatment I have ever read on this question is "The Human Face of God" by John A. T. Robinson

I commend that book to you.

-- John Shelby Spong




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