Some have suggested that the Book of Romans is the absolute key to comprehending the New Testament scriptures. Paul certainly had a lot to say to Rome, much that is widely quoted in weekly sermons.
One thing that I have noted about Romans is the way Paul expressed a marvelous feeling of euphoria in both Chapter 8 and 11. In both cases his overwhelmingly poetic expression of peace and joy, follows close on the heels of words outlining failures before the law of God. The passion in Chapter 8 contrasts with Paul’s personal agony in Chapter 7, an agony precipitated by a concept of righteousness which required him to measure up to a divine standard. Then in Chapter 10 and 11 Paul chronicles how Israel as a nation was likewise a failure at attempting righteousness by collective compliance to standards.
In both euphoric states Paul seems emotionally and psychologically overcome at what he ultimately concludes about God’s plan in Christ and how it eliminates Paul’s individual and Israel’s collective failures. I suspect few feel such peace and joy based on the standard message of Christian Orthodoxy- the story of a divine plan which fails miserably for most of humanity.
If Paul, with his divine insight, could appear so overjoyed at how it all worked out, I have to conclude that what he understood is no longer understood in the church. The horror story of Hell is never going to inspired euphoria in believers or non-believers. That traditional story may be inspirational in some sense, but it can’t inspire anything approaching what Paul obviously experienced.
I have to wonder why Paul was so overwhelmed, and the average present day believer is so evidently underwhelmed. The faint hope of the church gospel sounds too much like what Paul laments from his own personal experience with rule based, procedural religion. Why do we still grieve and not celebrate unreservedly like Paul? That’s a question begging for an answer.