First-century Corinth and its challenges were not so different from our own. Upwardly mobile Christians facing radically diverse ethnic, religious, economic and social conditions. The church divided over issues of leadership and authority, sexual morality, gender and worship, marriage and divorce. Sound familiar? Yet as Alan Johnson highlights in this excellent commentary, in the midst of this detailed, practical letter to a church in crisis Paul has penned one of the greatest paeans to love ever written.
Despite his special pastoral relationship with the church in Corinth, Paul confronted numerous local and cultural problems needing to be addressed. Utilizing a range of ancient sources, Craig Keener explains these problems and how Paul's arguments would have been communicated to a first-century audience.
For the first time in modern history, God is placing women in strategic positions of influence and leadership within the church, public, corporate, charity, and voluntary sectors, in unprecedented numbers. Women are called to flourish in these arenas. However, there are significant external and internal issues that hinder women in leadership in unique ways.
Throughout the book, Widder asserts that today's church is broken when it comes to singleness. But she holds both singles and the church responsible for not treating each other with respect and dignity.
Alan Johnson's work on 1 Corinthians is particularly engaging. His reference notes and bibliography provide an entry into further study if desired, all while maintaining an appealing readable style. He deftly bridges the two horizons of the Greco-Roman culture and American culture.
Anatomy of a Schism is unlike any other book about a church split. Most narratives of a split revolve around a theological or moral interpretation that becomes so difficult to walk together in that the only logical conclusion is to walk apart. What’s often lost in these narratives is the individual stories of people who experienced and dialoged about the schism as it was happening. In many instances, we can watch a news segment about a church split which may give an overview of what happened and inform the viewer that the once unified congregation will now be meeting in part at the park district and in part at the library. Rarely, do you hear the news anchor inform their audience about how the schism affected nine year-old Susan or ten year-old Jack.
Craig Keener's 1-2 Corinthians is a wonderfully engaging and easily read commentary on Paul's letters to the Corinthians. It is tightly packed with documented information from ancient sources on the historical/social/cultural setting of Corinth in Paul's time. This information enables the reader to understand more clearly the intentions behind Paul's letters to the Corinthians, underlining how the cultural emphasis on rhetoric in Paul's time shaped his writings.
In Breaking the Marriage Idol, Kutter Calloway describes how the modern church has become distracted by pagan norms for sexual expression and marriage, and why this contributes to our idealization of marriage and the marginalization of unmarried persons. Arguing that the church has bought in to the Hollywood notion that marriage is the antidote to sexual promiscuity, Callaway calls the church to provide new stories to refute this superficial formula. He offers vision for how the church can become a place where love for the other is the pinnacle, and both unmarried and married persons lead and follow side by side, representing the best expression of God's intent for his people.
Kutter Callaway considers why marriage, which is a blessing from God, shouldn't be expected or required of all Christians. Through an examination of Scripture, cultural analysis, and personal accounts, he reflects on how our narratives have limited our understanding of marriage and obscured our view of the life-giving and kingdom-serving roles of single people in the church.