Published online by Cambridge University Press: 19 June 2020
When Paul gave consideration to the issue of what was wrong within God’s good creation, he saw a consistently repeating pattern all around him. No matter where he looked, Paul observed relationships distorted by the on-going and ever-present quest for self-preservation, together with the consequent abuse of power that all too often characterizes that quest. Paul saw this same pattern of distorted relationality repeated in every area of life. This essay teases out the character of the relational distortion that Paul found lying at the heart of the problem that required God’s salvific intervention. Profitable advances into understanding Paul’s view of “the problem” can be achieved if we place our focus on a single motif: power. But that motif includes within itself at least two separate but interrelated phenomena that, for Paul, lie at the heart of all that had gone wrong within God’s good creation. Those two phenomena are: (1) the abusive application of power within patterns of dysfunctional relationship, and (2) human inability (or the lack of power) to offset those abusive applications of power.
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