Wow! This was a behemoth of a read. But some mountains were made to be climbed, and Schreiner gives us one of these mountains in his compendium of Pauline theology, newly and freshly updated after 14 years. This second edition is timely considering the recent studies of Paul and his letters. On top of this, Paul and his writings cover so much ground concerning the Christian life and its foundation of truth that it can be difficult to grasp them in an orderly fashion, not to mention the numerous varying interpretations that have come from reading and studying these letters. What are we to do about this?
Well, Schreiner has a way of collecting Paul, his theology and practice, and laying it all out in a simple and accessible way. He asks what is central in Pauline theology, and argues that “God in Christ is the foundation…” As he walks through the different themes in Paul’s writings, its clear that these truths are expressed by a missionary in a specific context with a passion for God’s glory in Christ.
“What made Paul such an effective missionary is that he wrote his letters out of deeply held and thoroughly thought-through convictions. These convictions anchored him and his churches as they passed through storms in which false teaching and immoral behavior threatened the churches’ survival. Paul made a lasting impact precisely because he addressed the specific circumstances in the churches from a worldview that was powerfully coherent.” (p. 29)
This coherent worldview is fleshed out in this book by looking at what Paul wrote about in his letters, including his mission, the purpose of suffering in a Christian worldview, sin, the person of Christ, righteousness, grace, sanctification, the Spirit, the Church as a body and its social world, and the Christian’s future hope. The focus is Christ and His work as the expression of God’s glory.
What is most beneficial about this work, in my opinion, is that it brings all of the many facets of Pauline thought into one volume and hits the highlights. Each chapter could be a massive book on its own, but Schreiner focuses on what is most crucial for a broad understanding of each area of study. It is a great reference for students, pastors, or anyone looking to dive in deeper to Paul and his theology.
I would love to have seen Schreiner wrestle more with other theological viewpoints. With Paul, there has always been a wide range of views on major doctrines, and Schreiner has his view and often states it as fact. Convictions are crucial and necessary, but it would be very helpful to have a larger conversation with other interpretations of these Pauline passages.
Overall, I think this is a major and crucial resource for anyone interested in the apostle Paul. His vision for the glory of God in Christ is clear through the truths of Scripture and Schreiner casts this vision for us to see and to savor as we approach the letters of Paul as God’s Word to us.
**This book was graciously provided by IVPress in exchange for an honest review.**
Read & Repeat