Blessed Are the Peacemakers: Beyond Prohibition or Justfication

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Language matters, and in fact the vocabulary we use can shape a conversation, defining what we talk about. I see this happening among those of my fellow evangelicals who advocate for nonviolence, both in how we understand faithfulness to the way of Jesus and the character and way of God revealed in Christ. While I share this commitment to nonviolence as an essential part of Christian discipleship, I would like to propose that the term “nonviolence” itself is restricting the pursuit of this goal and causing us to get stuck. I want to propose instead that we need to learn to speak of peacemaking.

For many evangelicals, when they speak of their commitment to nonviolence as well as their understanding of God’s nonviolence, this is understood primarily in terms of something you abstain from; it is a commitment to not do something; it is a prohibition. Some examples of this would be Greg Boyd, Preston Sprinkle, and perhaps to a lesser extent my buddy Brian Zahnd.

This is a position that has a lot of weight behind it. The early followers of Jesus (for the first few centuries, pre-Constantine) were in fact known for refusing to defend their lives with violence, and associated this with faithfulness to Jesus. That’s the whole idea of being a martyr for Jesus.

Now, does that mean that we as Christians today should not defend ourselves when our lives are in danger? Some would say yes. They would understand Jesus’ teachings as forbidding the use of violence. Nonviolence here is primarily about what you are not permitted to do, similar perhaps to saying “no sex outside of marriage.”

Let me be clear that I do not disagree with this commitment, and in fact share this commitment to abstaining from violence personally. I also fully appreciate the merits of the position, both in terms of the New Testament witness and the witness of the martyrs. In fact, my intent is not to critique or disagree with this position, but rather my aim is to help it. I observe that this particular approach -- which is a position which I have often found myself seeking to defend -- has unwittingly resulted in getting us stuck, and I’d like to propose a way to get us unstuck. To do that, I’d like to change the conversation from a focus on saying what we will not do, and move towards saying what we will do. If we say that we will not use violence as a means to bring about justice, then how do we propose that justice should be brought about? If we will not use violence as a means to bring about peace and safety, then how do we propose to do that?

Simply focusing on what we abstain from does not address these important questions. So I want to propose that instead of speaking about non-violence (in terms of a non action, a prohibition, a thing we don’t do) we instead speak of peace-making which implies concrete action, making peace.

To state this differently, the question we should be asking is not “is violence justified?” but “how can we reduce violence?” Think about all the what-if scenarios those who endorse non-violence always find themselves needing to justify: What if you were police during a mass shooting? Would violence be justified then? Those who take the stance of a total commitment to non-violence find themselves presented with these very emotional hypothetical scenarios, with the implication being that “of course surely then you would see violence as justified, wouldn’t you?!”

A corollary to this are the endless biblical debates as to whether or not Jesus and/or the New Testament ever endorses violence. What about those two swords? What about that one thing Jesus said? Notice again that the focus is again on whether violence is ever justified.

The dynamic I see happening here is that there is a concern that if a person committed to non-violence admits that in these extreme cases violence would be justified, or admits that Jesus just might endorse violence in some cases, this will lead to a slippery slope where more and more violence is justified, until eventually just about any violence is justified. Unfortunately, I think this concern is well founded. There is a strong narrative, particularly in the USA, that lethal violence is not a last resort but more and more it is the first and only resort. We not only see violence being justified, both in movies as well as from conservative preachers, we see it being glorified by them. Violence is portrayed as holy, noble, patriotic, heroic... to the point that it is beyond question.

The slippery slope fear is real. So in reaction people will double-down in a teetotalling sort of way, insisting that violence is never justified. Often here an authoritarian appeal is made to Scripture. Jesus clearly forbids it, it is argued, so it doesn’t matter whether nonviolence is an effective means of bringing about good or not, violence is just forbidden, period.

So we have this dynamic where each side gets more and more extreme. I think the way to get out of it is to change the question. Instead of asking “is violence ever justified?” we should instead ask “what can we do here to reduce violence?” Consider that if I myself refuse to commit violence, that does not in itself do anything to reduce violence in my community or world. So if I want to have less domestic violence, less mass shootings, less terrorism, and so on, what can we do to move towards that? That’s the question we need to be asking.

In regards to the question of whether violence is ever justified, I will take the middle ground and say yes, it is in some cases. I think for instance that the police officer who shoots an active shooter on a rampage is doing the best thing in that situation. In fact, I’m frankly glad they do it, and I do not feel any moral conflict for saying so. Saying that however does not in any way stop me from wanting to find ways to reduce violence in my country and world, including working to reform the systemic problems that lead to police shooting unarmed people of color. I’m glad we have police to protect us in situations like mass shootings, but those police officers are just fallible humans like me, and are just as susceptible to bias as any of us are. They therefore need to be educated in tools of conflict resolution and trained how to deescalate dangerous situations. They need to work to develop positive relationships of mutual trust and respect with the communities they serve. Because of this lack of training we not only have people not wanting to call 911 for a domestic dispute for fear that their spouse will be shot, we also have police officers in more danger because they only know how to escalate, rather than deescalate dangerous situations. So I want to get away from this hero bravado and recognize that these are just humans with a difficult job, which I am grateful for. They need to be provided with the training and tools to do that job the best way possible.

Notice that the position I am advocating is messy and imperfect. That's hard to take for those of us who come from the evangelical focus on being "100% sold out for Jesus" and who yearn for perfection and purity in our lives. It is not the story of "before I was bad, but now I've seen the light and am completely healed and free!" I'm sure the idealistic teen version of myself would not have liked this. I would have seen it as compromising, selling out. I love my teen self, but I'd hope that he would learn as he grows and matures that if we insist on perfection or nothing, we usually end up getting nothing. That does not mean as an adult that I have given up on the goal, but it does mean that I recognize that it takes lots of little imperfect steps to get closer to that goal. So I hope I can act to make a world that is a little less violent today than it was yesterday, and continue working to make it even less violent tomorrow. It's a slow march towards justice and love.

I think we can find a useful parallel to the issue of violence in looking at divorce. One could easily take Jesus’ words to say that divorce is categorically forbidden. On a low moral level we ask questions of permission and prohibition. So the question here becomes, “Am I allowed to get a divorce or not?” But the deeper and more important question to ask is “What do we need to do to have a good and healthy marriage?” and more specifically “How can we break out of our patterns of hurt and conflict, and restore trust, and the joy, surprise, and closeness in our relationship again?” After all, I think we can also all agree that no one likes divorce. It’s a painful and tragic experience. So the goal is to see if it is possible to help marriages to be restored. This is an approach that is not naive or idealistic, but very aware that our human experience is one of imperfection and struggle. It begins right in the middle of that and seeks to move us towards love.

I know a thing or two about this specific issue because my wife is a licensed psychotherapist specializing in marriage counseling. As a couples counselor she would agree that in some situations divorce is the best option. However, part of her job is to help people to heal their marriages, getting past wounds and hurts, in order to avoid divorce whenever possible. That doesn’t mean staying in an unhealthy marriage, it means working to make the marriage healthy and loving. Similarly with violence, if the question is “can it ever be justified” I will answer: Yes, it can. So can divorce. So we can stop with all those hypothetical what-if scenarios, and we can stop with all the unproductive biblical arguments about Jesus and swords. Let’s move beyond that, and instead all agree that even if divorce and violence can both be justified, we’d all nevertheless like to live in a world with less divorce and with less violence. Not only that, we’d all like to live in a world with happy loving marriages, and with people living in security and freedom. In order to get to that, the kinds of questions we need to be asking are therefore: How can we work to mend broken relationships? How can we work to resolve conflict? How can we work to bring about social justice? How can we promote safety? How can we reduce harm? How can we become ministers of reconciliation and peacemakers in the world?

I think changing the question from “is violence ever justified?” to “how can we reduce harm and work for good?” offers us a way to break out of these spirals of biblical debates and hypothetical scenarios, as well as to avoid painting ourselves into a corner of an extreme position of teetotalling nonviolence backed by authoritarian appeals to Scripture. Instead of going in circles or getting stuck we can move towards working for peace and justice and love—working to reduce harm by promoting the way of Jesus and the four “R”s of the gospel: reconciliation, redemption, reform, restoration.

At the same time, it allows those on the edge to be able to take steps towards this way without feeling that they need to forsake their love of family and desire to protect them from harm. It may be for many of us that we can only get to asking how we can work to resolve conflict and reduce violence after we first allow ourselves to say that violence in the case of things like self defense is a justifiable and understandable response. In regards to self-defense, I totally understand why a person would want to defend themselves or their loved ones. So would I. You will get no condemnation from me there. But what I do want us to try to do is think together about what we might be able to do to promote peace and resolve conflict. How can we work towards that, while of course caring for the safety and well-being of everyone involved? So perhaps we need to say to each other, “I can’t condemn you for resorting to violence in self-defense. I might do the same if I were in that situation. But let’s work together to see if we can find a better way. Let’s find out how we can actively work to lessen violence, resolve conflict, and restore relationships. Let’s learn how to work for justice and peace.”

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Wealthcare: Attacking the Weakest Among Us

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Our faith matters most in how it affects the way we treat others, especially the least. Jesus stressed this over an over. Blessed are the poor. Blessed are the children. In other words, we need to care for the weakest among us, the vulnerable.

Alyssa Mastromonaco, former Deputy Chief of Staff for Obama, speaking on Pod Save America last Thursday (June 22, 2017), lays out who will be hurt by the Senate health care bill:
49% of all births
64% of all nursing home residents
30% of all adults with disabilities
40% of all poor adults
39% of children
76% of all poor children
60% of all children with disabilities 
She sums this up by saying "Way to go Republicans, literally attacking the weakest among us. If you want to find a purpose for government it should be protecting the weakest among us."

I think Jesus would agree, and I hope you do, too. But it's not just about caring for the weak among us. The fact is, there are things in this bill that will likely hurt you, including not covering for your preexisting conditions (or only at prohibitive cost), and caps on maximum spending for your medical expenses.

I'm sure that many Republican Senators are good people at heart who did not go into government to take away health care from children. But there is a lot of pressure on them right now to vote "yes" on this bill, and so they need to know that the people who voted for them don't want this, and that they will support them in having the moral courage to care for the weak, and to do what is right.

So if you live in a State with a Republican Senator, please call them this week and urge them to vote no. The Senate will likely vote on this bill this Thursday, so time is of the essence. You can call the the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and a switchboard operator will connect you directly with the Senate office you request. If you don't live in a State with a Republican Senator, please urge your friends or family who do to call their Republican Senator.

I realize that many of you may want to avoid talking politics with your extended family in these polarized times. I know also that it can feel like a neverending stream of one horrible position after another, which can be almost numbing. But this bill tops it all. It would have far graver impact, harming more people, than anything else that has happened so far in this administration. So if there's one thing that is worth entering this awkward conversation with relatives for, this is it. This goes way beyond any particular political position, and comes down to our most basic humanity and morality.



Judge for Yourself

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Last time I discussed how to interpret Scripture like Jesus did, and concluded that unlike the way many of us learned to interpret Scripture in seminary (something called “exegesis,” consisting of discerning what the intended meaning or message of the passage is) the task of interpretation cannot stop there. Reading the Bible like Jesus requires going further, asking with Jesus whether a passage fulfills the intended telos of love.

Let’s consider the paradigm of exegetical interpretation. Here the paradigm is that of the objective scientist. The biblical scholar seeks to approach the biblical text the way an archeologist approaches a dig. Their aim is to uncover the meaning by examining the evidence. They do not offer any sort of evaluation of this, they simply reconstruct and report. In a sense it can be seen as a form of translating.

In other words, exegesis by definition does not involve making any evaluation at all about whether the content of a text is good or not, and instead simply focuses on what it says. Consequently, while biblical scholarship has helped us to understand how to read texts in their proper context, it has for the most part ignored— and in many ways, actively resisted— dealing with the ethical issues raised by these texts, doing so on academic grounds. To the extent that this is true (and there does seem to be some movement towards correcting this) it means that seminaries neglect one of their core missions, which is to equip future pastors to guide people in how to interpret and apply Scripture as a moral guide in their lives.

If the paradigm of exegetical interpretation is that of the lab scientist, I’d like to propose that we can understand the way Jesus and Paul interpret Scripture in the context of how our judiciary interprets the laws of our country. In our legal system, the role of the courts is to interpret the laws. On a very basic level this involves establishing guilt or innocence. But it does not stop here. The higher courts also evaluate the laws themselves, for example finding that a particular law is unconstitutional. In other words, the Constitution is seen as the telos or aim of the law, and thus laws can change and even be overturned if they are found to conflict with that aim.

Here the concept of interpreting the law is not simply a matter of rigidly applying what it says to do, but of evaluating it to see whether that law serves the purpose for which it is intended, and further to see whether it upholds the deeper intent of the Constitution. In the case of Jesus and Paul, the parallel to the Constitution is not the written Torah or even the ten commandments; their “Constitution” is love.

Paul proposes that there is a higher law than the written Torah, and that is the law of love. He uses various ways to describe this, saying “you are not under the law, but under grace” (Ro 6:15), and “Christ is the culmination of the law” (Rom 10:4), and “Whoever loves others has fulfilled the law… Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom 13:8-10), and “If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Gal 5:18). This all points to a common denominator of Spirit-led Christlike love and grace as Paul’s “Constitution” by which he then interprets the law. We might sum this all up by saying that the goal of love is the core of how Paul interprets and applies Scripture, “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Gal 5:14). The same can be said for Jesus, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Mat 22:37-40).

You may recall that Brian McLaren has said that the Bible is “not a constitution but a library.” I agree that the Hebrew Scriptures are like a library in that they contain many conflicting visions of the good, rather than one guiding theme. We get it wrong therefore when we try to read the Old Testament as a way of interpreting Jesus, because it is simply not possible to synthesize these conflicting moral visions into one. However I would add to this that while the Hebrew Scriptures are not a “Constitution” for Jesus, love does function as his Constitution. That is, love is the guiding principle that drives how Jesus (and Paul) interprets and applies the law. Only to the extent that we apply Scripture in a way that leads to love can we claim to fulfill it.

That means that when Jesus overturns the way of an eye for an eye, repudiating that command along with the principle of retaliation behind it, replacing it with the way of reconciliation and redemption, he is in fact fulfilling the aim of Torah. In other words, he frequently seems to break commands (not following an eye for an eye, healing on the Sabbath, touching the unclean, not stoning the adulterous woman as the law commands) in order to fulfill the aim of Torah. It was for this reason that it was necessary for him to say “do not think that I have come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it,” because looking at how he broke the commands of the law (and yes, he did technically break them), one can see how those with a different understanding of what it means to apply the law could have gotten the wrong impression. Indeed, the Gospels tell us that Jesus was frequently accused by the “keepers of the law” of being a lawbreaker and blasphemer. Seen in the context of Jesus interpreting Scripture as our higher courts do, perhaps we should not say that Jesus “breaks” laws when he overturns them, just as we would not say that the Supreme Court breaks laws when it overturns them. Basically, the “keepers of the law” see Jesus as a criminal who either keeps or breaks the law, when the Gospel writers present Jesus instead as a judge who interprets the law, which includes the authority to overturn or repudiate. Doing so is what it means to fulfill it. Just as we are all called to be priests in Christ, we are also all called to be judges.

It may surprise and even threaten some readers that I say above that Jesus overturns commands. You may have been taught that Jesus perfectly kept the law and was thus sinless. However, the Gospels tell us that the way that Jesus in fact fulfilled the law was sinless, and demonstrated that God’s love involved “breaking” commands. Again, understood in our framework of higher courts interpreting laws, and at times overturning them, Jesus is showing us how to judge what is good. As Paul writes,

“The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor 2:15-16)

I want you to fully appreciate what Paul says above. Paul imagines an interlocutor’s objection who quotes from the Bible, thus challenging Paul “who are you to question God’s Word?!” Paul counters this objection by insisting that those of us who have the “mind of Christ” are qualified to make such judgments. That is, those of us who have learned to think like Jesus are the ones who are able to make these judgments about what is good.

This type of legal interpretation, just as is the case with our higher courts, involves an evaluation of the law itself in relation to its intended purpose of leading us to loving action. Just as a court may declare a law to be unconstitutional, we are in Christ likewise enabled to judge whether a law itself, or an interpretation of the law (i.e. how it is applied in our lives) is Christlike or not. Some may balk at our being empowered by Christ to act as judges over the written law, but I remind you of Paul’s words regarding believers involved in legal disputes,

“Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! (1 Cor 6:3)

That is of course a lot of responsibility, and is not something to be taken lightly. It is something we should do together in relationship and community, taking special care to listen to the voices of the least as we do, and it is something that calls for much wisdom, maturity, and perhaps especially humility. It is the task of developing an adult faith, the task of taking moral responsibility for our lives, including taking responsibility for how we interpret Scripture.

We should not kid ourselves in thinking that we will be able to do this perfectly. We will make mistakes and get things wrong, even with the best of intentions, even with the aim of love. That is why the process of interpretation as ethical evaluation is an ongoing task.

Here I think it is instructive to understand how Jewish interpretation has developed. While Christians look to the New Testament as the guide to how to understand the Hebrew Scriptures, Jews look to the Talmud. A big part of the Talmud consists of records of rabbis debating how to interpret various parts of the Torah. There is a saying “ask two Jews a question and you will get three answers” and this reflects the nature of how these debates are presented in the Talmud. Each argument is placed side by side, and the reader needs to evaluate them all. Meaning that while the Talmud has the role of interpreting the Torah, it does not do so by giving a definitive answer, so much as it invites the readers into the process of thinking through these issues.

We have as Christians, to a large extent, been taught not to think, told that it is wrong to think for ourselves, and that we instead must simply submit ourselves to God’s written word (often meaning to submit to what our morally underdeveloped authoritarian pastor says the Bible says). Jesus and Paul, along with the prophets, and later the rabbinical debates recorded in the Talmud, all invite us instead to learn how to think morally. That is hard work, but it is the work of a mature, responsible, adult faith.

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How to Read the Bible like Jesus and Paul (Your Seminary Prof Wont Like It)

Monday, May 29, 2017

In seminary one learns to interpret Scripture in order to best arrive at the authorial intent. This is known as exegesis. So we look at all the evidence, including cultural background, understanding the original languages, and so on, to arrive at what Isaiah or Moses or Paul meant. We are taught to avoid what is called "eisegesis" which is where you read your own values and agendas into the text.

As Richard Hays and many other scholars have noted however, this is not what Paul or Jesus are doing when they interpret the Hebrew Scriptures. This conclusion is frankly inescapable. Both Jesus and Paul frequently interpret Scripture in ways that so obviously override the clear intent of the original author that it is impossible to imagine this is accidental.

The question then is, what is driving their interpretation? How would we evaluate whether it is a "good" or "right" interpretation if they are not trying to follow authorial intent? If we wanted to read the same way they do, how would we similarly evaluate whether we are arriving at a good or right interpretation?

This is the kind of question that gets scholars like Richard Longenecker confused. He recognizes that Paul is doing this, but suggests that we cannot do it ourselves. In part, his argument is that Paul has a sort of apostolic "free pass" to do whatever he wants when he reads the Bible, but we do not. A second part is that Longenecker sees that this type of reading was regarded as compelling at the time, but he claims it would not be compelling to people in our time. 

I'd like to propose that the problem is that scholars like Longenecker don't really get what Jesus and Paul are doing, and so the interpretive methods of Jesus and Paul just seem -- to use the term famously employed by E.P. Sanders -- "weird." It appears to be a sort of random just-make-it-up-as-you-go-along kind of approach. Understandably, he does not want us to read like that. Nor do I. But again I think the problem is not that what Jesus and Paul are doing is actually random, but that it looks that way to Longenecker.

Richard Hays argues against Longenecker that we should adopt this "creative" reading of Paul and Jesus. The problem is that Hays does not really ever identify what they are doing, other than that it is "imaginative" and "creative," which sounds great, but does not provide us with the means to follow them in this. Even if we are thinking of this as a form of art (as the terms "imaginative" and "creative" imply), as any practicing artist can tell you, art is not random. You need to understand what you are trying to accomplish, and how you will use your medium to achieve that.

To get to this, I find the work of James Dunn helpful. Dunn identifies the baseline interpretive approach (i.e. the hermeneutic) of Jesus as interpreting so as to lead us deeper into love. I think it can be argued that this telos (aim) of love is equally the baseline hermeneutic of Paul as well. 

So how does this love-telos work into Jesus and Paul's approach to interpreting Scripture? What we can observe is that they both read Scripture so that the result will be that the way it is interpreted leads us into more compassion, more goodness, more reflection, more mercy. At times this leads them to take an idea in a new direction, and at other times this leads them to take it in the opposite direction of the original author. Sometimes it even seems that they take it in a direction that appears to completely ignore what the original author had in mind. 

To the question of "Is this what was originally intended when this was written?" their answer would be "Who cares?" (that is, this was not something they were focused on at all, contrary to those doing exegesis today, hence their indignant confusion at the question). Instead, they are asking "If we did this, would it result in abundant life? Would doing this lead to goodness and restoration? Will this lead to compassion and justice and wholeness in my life and the lives of others?" If the answer to these questions is "Yes!" then that is what makes the interpretation right. Here right interpretation and right-eousness become synonymous. It is however not exegesis. It requires, as Hays says, creativity and imagination because we need to know how to understand and build upon something, taking it higher. For that we need to know what the aim is (the aim is love) and we need to know how to take things a step further in that direction. 

This is something that needs to be evaluated in conversation, and in lived community. I say here "lived community" because it is not simply theoretical, but practical. The question is, "when we walk this out, can we observe that this leads to love and flourishing? Or does this in fact lead to harm?" We can only observe that by living it out in relationship, not simply as an abstract theory. That goes for how we interpret the words of Jesus and Paul, and it goes for how we evaluate their reading of Scripture as well. 

For example, when Jesus asks, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?" and then a bit more broadly asks "Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath, or evil, to save a life or destroy it?” (Mk 3:4) we can see Jesus applying this approach. The question is not so much "What does the command say?" nor is it "What is the tradition of interpretation here?" In this case the answer would have been that unless this was a life-threatening situation (which it was not) one must wait until after the Sabbath to heal. Jesus argued instead that the way we honor this command is to do all the good we can. That is the right interpretation because it leads us to right-eousness which is another way of saying towards good-ness. You might say the way Jesus and Paul read Scripture is to ask "Does this way of interpreting lead to doing good or evil, does it save life or destroy it?"

So with this example of how Jesus used this love-telos approach to interpret Scripture in mind, let's see how we might apply that love-telos approach with how we interpret the teachings of Jesus. I frequently hear people make the argument that since Jesus got mad and used a whip once, therefore we can just ignore all that stuff about nonviolence and love of enemies he taught. If we evaluate this approach using the criteria of the love-telos approach, we would need to ask: does reading in this way serve to challenge me to go deeper into the way of Jesus, or does it simply serve to let me find a way to side-step the hard teachings of Jesus and feel justified in doing so? I'd say that the latter is the case and that this is an example of what Bonhoeffer might have called "cheap discipleship." It's a reading that gets us off cheap, that does not challenge us, does not change us, does not move us towards love.

To ask the question slightly differently, we might ask whether there is a better way to read Jesus besides this "cheap" way? Is there a way to interpret the words of Jesus that will lead me to a more costly following of Jesus and his way? Is there a way to read this that would do a better job at challenging me to move deeper into the way of compassion and forgiveness, and moving me closer to justice and making things right in the world? If so, then that is the right interpretation, or perhaps I should say, it is the righter interpretation. We evaluate the rightness of an interpretation on the fruit it bears. That is not a static process where we find, once and for all, the one right way of reading. Rather it is something that needs to grow and develop, just like a living thing does. So if in practice I find that I need to modulate that righter interpretation a bit in order to make it more loving, then we arrive at an even righter-er interpretation -- each time developing it further, expanding and growing towards love. That's what I see Jesus and Paul doing as they interpret and apply Scripture, and that's how I plan to read them, too. Jesus says, "Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these." That work, my friends, is the work of love. So let's get to work.

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