The debate concerning the apocalyptic Paul has been narrowly focused on the continuity/discontinuity of historical events in his writings, but if this question is to be considered theologically, it must be seen to concern a specific or localised part of God's relationship with creation, as classically understood in terms of ‘providence’. Because it informs all talk of God's involvement with the cosmos, providence establishes necessary linkages between otherwise separate concepts. Relocating the debate within the framework of providence allows the seemingly irreconcilable claims made on each side to be relativised, such that each may be seen as valid when understood to represent distinct areas within a bigger account of the relationship of God and cosmos. At the same time, this recognition necessarily constrains the language with which the claims ought to be made. All of this provides a safeguarded space within which the details of the Pauline texts can be considered without the risk of naïve naturalisation.
- salvation history
- N.T. Wright