Richard Wrightman Fox reviews Garry Wills’ new book on St. Paul today on Slate. An excerpt:
One wonders how receptive 21st-century liberal Christians will prove when offered a portrait of Paul as the loyal preinstitutional follower of Jesus, preaching charity for the poor and love of God and neighbor. The last two centuries of American Christian history show how concertedly many liberals have clung to images of orthodox archfoes—especially the first-century Paul and the 18th-century Jonathan Edwards—as convenient targets for dismissal. Edwards’ sermon on “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” is read in isolation from his rhapsodic hymns to the love between God and believer, then trotted out to make liberals feel liberated from their pinched, judgmental forebears. The same goes for Paul’s alleged preoccupation with church rules, sin, guilt, celibacy, and the denigration of women.