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Paul Behaving Badly . . . and football

Kurt Warner was the backup quarterback who surprised everybody by leading the St. Louis Rams to a Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots in 2000. As he held the trophy high with a smile on his face, he sincerely thanked Jesus Christ in front of millions of viewers. Ten years later, Tim Tebow entered the National Football League. Another quarterback and Christian, he was much more outspoken about his faith than Kurt Warner. There was some talk in Christian communities as to whether Tebow's seeming aggression about his faith would hurt his witness. Kurt Warner then publicly spoke, advising Tebow to tone it down. I was talking about this with some leaders at my church, and someone said, "Could you imagine someone saying that to Paul?"

Except regarding Jesus himself, the highest number of people seem to be asking similar to "What Would Paul Do?" This is good question to regularly ask oneself in ministry leadership, especially, but it's very dependent on one's view of Paul's personality as well as his theology. And many people are getting it wrong.

For example, when the apostle Paul is called "the first missionary," perhaps the image of a post-WWII U.S. missionary is projected onto him. When people discuss non-essential theology from Paul's books, maybe the image of a Reformed megachurch pastor gets imprinted on the Jewish apostle. The first person I knew with the name Paul was the father of a childhood friend, so I imagined Paul for many years to be blonde-haired and clean-shaven. When I heard lots of fellow Christians debate heatedly over his letters, I thought he was a bit of a killjoy and a jerk. But then I read this book.

Paul Behaving Badly: Was the Apostle a Racist, Chauvinist Jerk? (by E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O'Brien) acts as sort of an apologetics book on the apostle's behalf, but it's also a book that helped me get to know him as a person. Many of my Western and blinders and misconceptions were removed as I learned about life in the early Church and how Paul helped lead it through struggles and persecution. The issues discussed in this book are timeless and even skeptics will not be unfamiliar with them (e.g. homophobia, gender roles). I recently led a young adult Sunday school class through this book, after reading it myself, and it was commented to me that it was very impactful.

This book is a part of our Resources page, and you can order it here.

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