Study with Me at Ring Lake Ranch!

Image by Alexey Yushenkov, via Wikimedia Commons, used under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Image by Alexey Yushenkov, via Wikimedia Commons, used under CC BY-SA 3.0.

If you think of yourself as a progressive Christian, you probably hate the apostle Paul…or at least dislike him. It seems like everyone I meet, in progressive congregations and in my work teaching at a progressive school of theology, has something against Paul. He was a homophobe. He was a misogynist. He supported slavery and authoritarian governments. Paul was an anti-Jewish anti-Semite. He was the originator of all those theologies of guilt and sin and unpayable debts to God.

I used to hate Paul for all those same reasons. But now I’m convinced that those of us who have hated Paul for years have gotten him all wrong.

For the past year or so, I’ve been working on a project about Paul. My thesis is simple: that Paul has been misunderstood and misrepresented by centuries of Christian tradition, and that when we read Paul in light of the best of modern biblical scholarship, a different person emerges. Instead of being all those terrible things I mentioned above—a misogynist, a homophobe, a defender of terrible things, an author of oppressive theology—the Paul we meet in modern biblical scholarship emerges as an ally for justice and inclusion. I have a message for progressive Christians: Paul was one of us.

If you’re skeptical, I understand. I used to be too. But I’d like to try to convince you. I have a book about this coming out in the fall of 2019, so watch this space and Chalice Press for news of the book’s launch.

But if you can’t wait that long, and if you like meaningful experiences with amazing people in beautiful spaces, then you should consider attending a seminar I’m leading at Ring Lake Ranch August 11-17. Located in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming, Ring Lake Ranch is renowned as a center for learning, community, and spirituality, and I’m honored to be one of the speakers this summer.

You can read more about the week here, and while you’re on the website you can read more about Ring Lake Ranch and all it has to offer. I hope you can join us, as we think about ways to reclaim Paul as our ally for inclusion and justice.

Eric Smith