Good Evening Friends,
This week we will join NT Wright in his biographical sketch of Paul by looking at Gal 1:13-17 – Paul’s well known “Damascus Road” experience of the risen Christ. There are as many conversion stories to faith in Christ as there are individuals who have come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah. Some stories are about certain chapters, or seasons, of life where the power and presence of God become undeniable, such that conversion is a slow turning toward God in the midst of life’s many avenues; we might think of CS Lewis, and the story of his long conversion. Other experiences are not unlike Paul on the road to Damascus, or Moses before the burning bush, or Abraham walking in in the night beneath the stars, and suddenly there is a radical transparency of the divine presence. Each of us walk a different path in finding that Christ is in the midst of our lives.
Paul’s experience is so profound because in occurs literally within a few years of Jesus’s death and resurrection, and it carries Paul across the ancient world as the messenger of a message that he had previously been taught to eradicate with zeal.
If you are interested in reading Bishop NT Wright’s biography of Paul, look here: Paul: A Biography, paper: N.T. Wright: 9780061730597 – Christianbook.com
Video clip of Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus: https://youtu.be/EwOScXe-8lw
Video clip of Alister McGrath, a well-known theologian, who converted from atheism to Christianity after having studied the natural sciences in university: https://youtu.be/Hp6SuVaxuJ0
Some may be interested in reading the accounts of other’s “Damascus Road” moments. The following is an excerpt from William James, “Varieties of Religious Experience,” delivered as The Gifford Lectures in Edinburgh at St. Andrews University. I have always found James work fascinating, and these accounts illuminating in trying to understand just how unique each person’s encounter with God might be.
William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience:
Looking forward to seeing you on Sunday in The Garden Room around 9.15. We will begin the class at 9.30.
Blessings and Godspeed,