Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Paul asks Philemon to "illegally" welcome Onesimus

In two places, Shane Claiborne suggests  Paul asks Philemon to engage in civil disobedience by "illegally" welcoming Onesimus:

 "...we find that Paul offered a biting critique of power and a creative path of revolutionary love. We might remember Paul urging his friend Philemon to illegally welcome back home a fugitive slave, Onesimus, as a brother, instead of killing him for running away. This is a scandalous subversion of Roman hierarchy. Paul was just as radical as Jesus. Remember that the Paul who "be subject to the authorities" is the same Paul who was stoned, exiled, jailed, and beaten for subverting the authorities... Is it possible to submit and to subvert? Paul's life gives a clear yes, as does Jesus' crucifixion" (Jesus For President, 161).

Paul's letter to Philemon was written to urge a former slave owner to illegally welcome back a fugitive slave (Onesimus)—a crime punishable by death—not as a slave but as a brother-Follow Me to Freedom, p. 134 (hear Ken and I interview Shane about this book here)

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