Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Roman Road: There and Back Again


After Sixteen weeks,
Hundreds of Hours,
116 pages,
49, 164 words,
38 sources,
and 1 1/12 ink cartridges,
It is finished...

Though working my way through this project was intense and perhaps overwhelming at times, I would not have traded it for anything. Romans is a majestic letter, skillfully and masterfully composed. The theological argument that Paul makes from 1:18-15:13 is somewhat paradoxical; at once exceedingly intricate and complex, yet containing a gospel message so pure and clear. I am compelled to agree with Peter regarding Paul: He is a beloved brother who has written with wisdom about the things of God and salvation, though "some things [are] hard to understand" (2 Pet 3:15-16).

I feel that I understand the book of Romans much better now than 16 weeks ago, but the thing I've learned most forcefully is that what I didn't know before was how much there really was to know. I've found that there is much more to find, and learned there is much more to learn. What continually stuns me about the nature of Scripture is its simultaneous depth and clarity. One can read the book of Romans in one sitting and understand the story of redemption and salvation clearly. One can also pore over this epistle for a lifetime and still never plumb the depths of insight and revelation found within its pages.

What a theologian the apostle Paul was! Little wonder that Luther lauded this letter as "the purest expression of the gospel." What an undeserved blessing that we are able to cherish these words as much as the churches in Rome must have.

Would I say that I am done with Romans for a while? Would I say that I have dealt with all the interpretive issues and mastered all the theological concepts? I would no sooner say this than someone who has once ascended to the top of Mt. Everest would say that he has walked every path, seen every patch of landscape, and experienced every sight there is to see on the way to the summit. The naive and inexperienced climber might suppose that he's conquered Mt. Everest, but the experienced veteran climber knows intrinsically that you can never master a mountain. He still knows in his heart that he has "miles to go before he sleeps."

A life devoted to the study of Scripture, especially Romans, is a life of indescribable adventure. Through reading Romans you can know God and glorify him. For Paul, Doctrine always leads to Doxology. It is difficult to read any large stretch of Paul's prose and not see him erupt into praise.

This semester walking alongside Paul has involuntarily led me to an inescapable conclusion:

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are his judgments and unfathomable his Ways!
For Who has known the Mind of the Lord,
or who became his counselor?

Or who has first given to him that it might be paid back to him again?
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.
To Him be the glory forever.
Amen.

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I also occasionally post annotations that I make as I read Cormac McCarthy at "Reading Cormac McCarthy."

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2006-17

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