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The Messages Of Paul And Graham Greene; Observed In The Texts Of Romans And The Power And The Glory

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THE MESSAGES OF PAUL AND GRAHAM GREENE; OBSERVED IN THE TEXTS OF ROMANS AND THE POWER AND THE GLORY

by

Leta M Goldberg

A paper submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for NE518

Fuller Seminary

2008

While there are complex themes in both Romans and The Power and the Glory, a broad conceptualization from these two powerful texts is necessary. Graham Greene creates for his readers a fictitious state in which the government has outlawed religion. All of the clergy has been executed save for one priest who manages to escape, fleeing from military imposition which threatens his life. The “whiskey priest”, as he is called because he is an alcoholic, gives voice to the greater message Greene seeks to impart to his readers; the message that the consequence of man’s will over God’s will is iniquitous. In the text of Romans, Paul also vigorously opposes the imposition of rules, the artificial and arbitrary accordance with law in Romans. The thematic comparison then between Paul’s intent in Roman’s and Greene’s objective in The Power and the Glory, then, is redemption apart from rules.

Greene does not make his book about the absence of God. On the contrary, the book is about the consequences of a life lived in a world where God exists but is ignored. By the very oppression of Christianity, the state which Greene describes is desperate, depressed and chaotic. At the risk of allegorical temptation, the state of existence in Mexico is comparable to the life of the early Israelites; a people stripped of their ritual paraphernalia, persecuted by first by the Egyptians and then the Romans and left in a state of desperation. What is most important and key in this correlation between Greene and Paul is that both are concerned with humankind’s relationship to God, not necessarily their zeal for God. The world Greene describes is a fallen one, consistent with the fall of man or the aftermath of the Adamic event. The book is rife with suffering from the execution of clergy to the desperate act of the whisky priest who resorts to taking food from a dog. Sin abounds in the narrative. It is unavoidable as it is in the realities one faced in first century Palestine. Paul spoke to the suffering souls of Jews whose works did not save them and to the Gentiles who felt they had no place in the world of faith. One might say that where Paul and Greene meet in terms of a hopeful message is at the end of book. A clever literary device, Greene inserts a narrative within a narrative as he has a mother read a story to her son; the story being a hopeful message about martyrdom and salvation. Juan, the protagonist of the story, who dies with the love of Christ in his heart, dies with a smile because he dies with Christ as his savior and the knowledge that he is moving into an eternal life. Paul inserts into his epistle the powerful significance of God saving men in Christ. The parallel between Paul’s letter with its message of hope in Christ and the story inserted into the novel is difficult to overlook. The little boy finds hope in the story which is read to him by his mother. The people find hope in the epistle of Paul.

вЂ?…for all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The consequence of sin affects all; there are no differences amongst a population, culturally, racially, religiously. The “Glory of God” is what God had intended for his children before the “fall”. Sin is inclusive and does not discriminate. Everyone in The Power and the Glory is a sinner. The military

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