QOTD: J. Gresham Machen

With regard to the sense of sin as the goad which forced Paul to accept the Saviour, there is no evidence that before his conversion Paul was under real conviction of sin. It is very doubtful whether Rom. vii. 7-25, with its account of the struggle between the flesh and the higher nature of man, refers to the unregenerate rather than to the regenerate life; and even if the former view is correct, it is doubtful whether the description is taken from the apostle’s own experience. At any rate, the struggle, even if it be a struggle in the unregenerate man, is described from the point of view of the regenerate; it is not implied, therefore, that before the entrance of the Spirit of God a man is fully conscious of his own helplessness and of the desperateness of the struggle. The passage therefore, does not afford any certain information about the pre-Christian life of Paul. Undoubtedly before the conversion the conscience of Paul was aroused; he was conscientious in his devotion to the Law. Probably he was conscious of his failings. But that such consciousness of failure amounted to anything like that genuine conviction of sin which leads a man to accept the Saviour remains very doubtful. Recognized failure to keep the Law perfectly led in the case of Paul merely to greater zeal for the Law, a zeal which was manifested especially in the persecution of a blasphemous sect whose teaching was subversive of the authority of Moses.
The Origin of Paul’s Religion, 65-66.

You would think that you may have been reading Krister Stendahl.

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