By the time Mr. Cahill gets to the Apostle Paul, I am convinced that the author does not believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. By that I mean that he seems to think that the words found on the paper are merely a human invention instead of being directly breathed by God, but I have not stopped reading yet. And I am glad I did not.
On page 120-121, he brings to the readers mind the notion, and rightly so, that the Apostle Paul was in the right man for the right time and job. He says,
Had he (Paul) appeared a little earlier – say, soon after the “raising” of Jesus and the descent of the Spirit – his intellectual ardor would probably have been too much for an inchoate community of simply educated disciples who were just beginning to get their minds around those inexplicable events. Once they had got their bearings again, come to understand what had happened as a coherent story, and begun to give voice to their unique experiences, they were – whether they knew it or not – ready to hear from someone more intellectually incisive than they, someone who could give a more precise formulation to there experiences, someone who was part of them but also part of the larger world of which they had only limited knowledge.
He goes on, saying,
Had Paul arrived on the scene much later than he did (when the movement, settling down as an elaborated organization with defined structures, had become the Church it would become,) his emotional edginess – his intolerance for muddleheadedness, his knowing when he was right and you were wrong, his essential abstraction from the details of ordinary life – would have made him a poor candidate to be an organization man; he would soon have been isolated and eventually cast aside.
What first threw me against the wall was Mr. Cahill’s accurate description of, well, me, especially when he describes “his (Paul’s) intolerance for muddleheadedness, his knowing when he was right and you were wrong, his essential abstraction from the details of ordinary life”. But, we are not here to talk about me, just yet.
Mr. Cahill is making a fine point on the timing of God without actually pointing towards God. (For him, God seems to be a distant relative to the events that unfold in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas after Christ.) A good many times, we sit and wonder why God has not moved or has moved now. Humanity has a nasty habit of never being satisfied. We can know from Scripture that God sent forth His son in the fullness of time.
But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
(Gal 4:4 KJVA)
That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
(Eph 1:10 KJVA)
‘The fulness of time’ is not some date on a calender, but the cumulation of events that lead to an earth shaking moment in history where Heaven’s hopes cross with humanity’s path and bring about something that was foreseen and prepared for.
It was not until a certain time which God had ordained before that He chose to send forth from Himself His Logos and to be clothed in the flesh of mortal man so that God could shed His own blood for the salvation of man. It was not until He had accomplished those things on earth that the prophets had foreseen (not had they not been fulfilled, they would have been false prophets), that He walked up Calvary’s hill for the final act of humiliation, that of the cross. But, all these things were not by choice, or in a random coincidence, but in God’s time.
The same is said for the Apostle Paul who lamented that he had been ‘born out of due time.’ (1st Co 15.8) He arrived at an opportune moment in Christian, and world, history, when the Church had needed someone to flesh out the doctrine and to preach to the Gentiles. Note, he did not ‘develop’ doctrine, as Peter’s sermon was enough to relate the Gospel, but he spent many hours with ink and parchment in some darkened room writing the very words that God gave him (not a committee or council) to further strengthen the congregations individually and the Church primitive and modern. Had he arrived with Peter, then Peter’s mission might have been disturbed. And who would have been zealous enough to persecute fellow Jews and thus force the gospel to spread, and when he had been enlightened, become able to be a strong testimony to the power of God?
Had he arrived later, then would congregations have fallen or slipped into dangerous heresies? Of course, I have to wonder what Paul would have said at the ‘Ecumenical Councils’. Had Paul been converted after the destruction of the Temple, what effectiveness would he have had? Would he have perished in the destruction of Jerusalem? One has to wonder what would have happened to Paul, and the Church of Jesus Christ, has the Lord God not struck him down that day on his way to Damascus.
In walking in God’s will, we have to be willing to accept that God has a ‘fulness of time’ yet to be fulfilled. From the Last Day to His will for our life. We may never be Paul or Peter, but we have to remember that it was Andrew, scarcely mentioned in the Gospels and never again, that kept bringing people to Christ. Not only do we have to let God direct our paths, but we have to be willing to wait patiently until He does. We cannot run ahead of God nor drag Him down. Truly, everything in God’s time.
For the dispensation of yielding fruit waits on the fulness of time – Hilary of Poitiers
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