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James Burtchaell

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  • Philemons Problem A Print On Demand Title

    $31.50

    Philemon was a wealthy Christian whose slave Onesimus went off in search of freedom, met and listened to Paul, and joined the church. But instead of being given a new life of his own, Onesimus was sent back by Paul to an aggrieved master with no protection but his mentor’s brief Letter to Philemon. Paul never asked Philemon to free his slave. Instead, he admonished him to take Onesimus back – only now as his brother in Christ. This left both master and bondsman with a problem: how could one man own another and both be brothers in Christ? In this unique work James Tunstead Burtchaell uses the ancient story of Philemon and Onesimus as a compelling entry into modern theological reflection on the unbelievable reach of the grace and forgiveness of the Father whose Son died without disciples, rose to reconcile and transform them, and then scattered them around the world as men and women who were now also able to love those who loved them not – and transform them too. According to Burtchaell, in order for the faith of Philemon and Onesimus to cope with Paul’s imperative, they required an inspired imagination to take in the notion that the Father loves sinners (i.e., all of us), and he neither would nor could do otherwise. For Philemon and Onesimus to undertake such a relentless love themselves would require frighteningly new convictions, new commitments, and new celebrations.

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  • From Synagogue To Church

    $124.00

    This important work engages with a long historical debate: were the earliest Christians under the direction of ordained ministers, or under the influence of inspired laypeople? Who was in charge: bishops, elders and deacons, or apostles, prophets and teachers? Rather than trace Church offices backwards, Burtchaell examines the contemporary Jewish communities and finds evidence that Christians simply continued the offices of the synagogue. Thus, he asserts that from the very first they were presided over by officers. The author then advances the provocative view that in the first century it was not the officers who spoke with the most authority. They presided, but did not lead, and deferred to more charismatic laypeople. Burtchaell sees the evidence in favor of the Catholic/Orthodox/Anglican view that bishops have always presided in the Christian Church. At the same time he argues alongside the Prostestants that in its formative era the Church deferred most to the judgment of those who were inspired, yet never ordained.

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