Praise for Irrevocable:
ROMANS 9-11. For those who dare to crack their New Testaments beyond the Gospels and Acts, Romans stands like a sentinel, daring the reader to move forward. And it’s a formidable sentinel indeed: A long letter written by the travelling apostle Paul to a spiritual community in transition, one that he had not yet even visited – a travelogue fact that many commentators believe lends to its particular breadth and depth.
After all, if you were writing a letter to a potential suitor who has not yet met you, you might be like so many people on contemporary dating profiles: feeling inspired to give as thorough an account as possible as to your appearance, your passions, your likes and dislikes. This is Paul’s ‘love letter’ to a new-but-influential body of believers at the heart of an empire that held the power of life and death over the symbols and identity-markers that he, in a past life as a fervent Jewish believer, held dear.
Romans is a sprawling missive, at times densely-argued like a legal courtroom drama, illustrating the epic of God’s redemption of the entire cosmos – including, but transcending, the trappings of earnest religious effort that once meant everything to him. In Romans, we get to see Paul working out his own salvation with fear and trembling (to borrow a phrase of his from Philippians 2:12).
But if this first Epistle (the standard term for letters in the Bible) stands guard over the unfolding themes of this New Covenant Scripture, then chapters 9-11 stand as an extra road-block in the middle of this Romans Road. The history of interpreting what Paul meant in these three chapters has proven to be highly problematic – "a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma," to borrow Winston Churchill’s storied phrase.
The book you’re holding – two decades in the making – points to a solution based on the historical context in which Paul wrote, unveiling the root cause of these perceived problems.
Specifically, eschatology – the revealing and understanding of ‘last things’ or the ends of eras –has stood for centuries as the lock underneath the roadblock behind the sentinel, making religion more exclusionary and indeed violent than it might otherwise be. Eschatology has been the subject of previous works by this author, Max King, most notably The Spirit of Prophecy and The Cross and The Parousia, which sought to reframe biblical eschatology as a first-century phenomenon with first-century interpretations, crafting a completed story instead of a massive ‘To Be Continued’ that leaves lives in the balance of its endlessly-differed hope.
This volume you’re holding bookends nearly 50 years of scholarship.
Max King's examination of Romans 9-11 does for soteriology – the study and inquiry of redemption, liberation, or salvation – what King’s previous pair of books did for revolutionizing the study of eschatology.
This in-depth study of what are arguably the 'Apostle to the Gentiles' most confusing and hotly-contested words offer us fresh insights based on the foundation of those previous two books, with regard to Paul’s specific and unique place in history.
And it’s about time. These words, misunderstood, lead to fear, feelings of superiority, and division. But rightly understood, they lead to peace, realization of interconnectedness, and the sense of membership in one indivisible human family participating with all creation in God’s good work, without discrimination.
Which story would you rather inhabit?
Whether you agree with all of King’s conclusions or not, you just might find yourself – as I have – taking an important next step in the renewing of your mind…and discovering the renewal of all things.
—Mike Morrell, collaborating author with Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance