In a couple of weeks I am giving the Peter Barcham Lecture at Gisborne Uniting Church: Monday 6th September at 7.30 pm. It is one of the joys of being involved in the Uniting Church that a number of local churches have these annual lectureships, often endowed in memory of significant past church members. Here is my title and abstract:
A Third 'Race'?: Paul and the Creation of Christian Identity
Some of the earliest Christian believers came to understand and describe Christians as a ‘new’ or a ‘third race' (the other two being Jews and Gentiles). In this lecture I take a look at whether the evidence from Paul’s letters can be used in support of this quest for a distinctive Christian identity. Understanding Paul’s complex and often confusing statements about the relationship between his new faith in Jesus Christ and his ancestral religion, takes us into the heart of his theology and helps us to see what forms Christian identity might assume in the modern world.