Michael J. Gorman’s book, Cruciformity: Paul’s Narrative Spirituality of the Cross, was one of the few books that I read whilst working on my doctoral thesis that both made me understand Paul better and made me want to follow the Crucified Lord in a whole new way. I thought I would take some time to highlight some of the things I found really useful in this book.
The introduction of this book does a good job of laying out what exactly the author is trying to accomplish in this book focusing both on the early Christians experience and on what the modern interpreter can gain from focusing on the cruciformity. It is obvious that what can be found by both groups is that in the crucified messiah there is a model of humility, self sacrifice, and suffering worthy of imitation.
In the rest of the introduction Gorman lays out a series of definitions essentially exegeting the title of the book so the reader can have a clear idea of the terms involved in such a study, a couple of import include:
Gorman describes this as the lived experience of Christian belief, or the experience of God’s love and grace in daily life. An experience that includes both receiving love and responding in love.
The purpose of Paul’s letters:
Gorman sees the various kinds of narratives within the letters of Paul, not as theology per se but rather as a means to mold behavior. The purpose of his letters, in other words, is pastoral or spiritual before it is theological.
Gorman defines cruciformity as conformity to the crucified Christ. He elaborates further stating, that this conformity is the dynamic correspondence in daily life to the strange story of Christ crucified as the primary way of experiencing the love and grace of God. Cruciformity is, in other words, Paul’s oddly inviting, even compelling, narrative spirituality.
Gorman closes that introduction stating, ‘For Paul, “to know nothing except Jesus Christ – that is, Jesus Christ crucified?’ is to narrate, in life and words, the story of God’s self-revelation in Christ. We attempt in this book, then, to understand Paul’s experience of God, mediated by the cross of Christ, as one of cruciform faith, love, power, and hope, and to do so with an eye on how that experience may challenge us today.’