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date: 25 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article shows how Christianity approaches the puzzle of difference without discontinuity, a puzzle all the more difficult and pressing because the Christian vision of redemption endorses a radical difference for each and every human person. St. Paul reiterates the theme of change and continuity in countless ways. Romans 6 speaks of the transition from death to sin undergirded by the crucified and risen Jesus. 2 Corinthians 4 tells of the travails of discipleship, again, sustained by the continuity of Jesus' identity: ‘We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be visible in our bodies’ (2 Cor. 4: 8–10). This, then, is the promise of the Christian ethics of redemption for which Paul is the great meta-ethicist. We can seek something beyond ourselves — fellowship with God! — and we can accept the disciplinary structures of a Christian ethic directed toward that end, without destroying our bodies or renouncing our individualities. In order to explain this promise, the problem of change and continuity can be divided into two distinct issues. The first has to do with a leading Pauline and postmodern preoccupation — ‘the body’. The second issue concerns freedom, another great Pauline concern. The central issue at stake in St Paul's use of freedom is the question of personal participation in a new life in Christ. The article considers these two separate aspects of the Christian vision of redemptive change under separate heads: first, the fate of the body, and second, the role of individuality.

Keywords: Christianity, difference, continuity, redemptive change, body, individuality

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