When an email came our way announcing a two-day theological training event with teaching by Andrew Wilson, we jumped at the chance. We both serve on the preaching team at New Life Church Milton Keynes, and the prospect of receiving some excellent teaching was too good to miss. However, when the reading list arrived we did wonder if we’d bitten off more than we could chew! Neither of us are theologians and at first glance it all looked rather high-brow.

We needn’t have worried, though. Andrew is such an excellent teacher we found we could follow his arguments without too much brain strain, and when provoked to form an opinion, we found we did, indeed, have opinions. In fact, one of the things we really liked was that people quite often had totally opposing views. This led to some fascinating good-natured discussions and debates.

So what did we study? We worked through the Book of Romans looking at in the light of ‘the new perspective on Paul’. This provided some great insights into the culture of the time as well as some thought-provoking questions about how much our interpretation of Romans is coloured by our own historical background, e.g. the teaching of Martin Luthur.

Along the way we dealt with some ‘tricky’ words Paul uses. What does Paul mean when he refers to ‘the righteousness of God’ or when he uses the word ‘justify’? What is the ‘law’? And what about that difficult to translate phrase in Romans 5:12? There are six options when translating into English, and no obvious right or wrong. A tricky situation indeed!

The two days closed with Andrew paraphrasing the entire letter in one go. I do wish this had been recorded as it was quite something to hear, and really brought the letter to life again. A good reminder that it was written as a letter and, no doubt, read in a single sitting. How often do we read the letters of Paul in that way?

There are plans to run another event next year focusing on Isaiah (details will appear on the Catalyst website). If you get an opportunity to attend, we thoroughly encourage you to do so. It would be particularly great to have some more ladies sign up! We came away with a much deeper understanding of Romans, and a desire to delve into other books of the bible in a similar way.

By Sharon Clark

Sharon Clark

Sharon is based at New Life Church Milton Keynes where she leads their Wolverton Mill Site and oversees church communications and human resources, as well as leading the administration team for Catalyst in the UK. She is married to Frank, and is also passionate about creative writing.