“Does Paul’s theology have a “center”?

     Despite the reservations of some, it seems difficult to deny that he does, particularly if that notion is not maintained rigidly or too narrowly, as if there is a single key concept, like election or salvation or even God, from which everything can be shown to be deduced. That is not the case. At the same time, however, the ad hoc, occasional character of his letters clearly does not provide us with a proverbial wax nose, so that we can make of them whatever we will.

     By the metaphor of a “center” I mean that in Paul’s letters an overall set of concerns is identifiable, in which some matters are plainly more important for him than others. Certainly, Paul may be approached from a variety of perspectives and it is valuable to do so, but each of his various concerns is not equally important or controlling. This points to a circle of interests, in which each is more or less central, with room for debate in some instances as to relative centrality. Assuming then, in this sense, that Pauls theology has a center, what is it? What is the locus of his centering concerns, and more importantly, how do we go about identifying it properly?

     While there is perhaps more than one way to answer this question, it seems that we do so best, most safely and usefully, if we proceed by identifying those passages in Paul that, more or less clearly, have a summarizing or synoptic function, whether in his words or where he may be utilizing an already existing formulation. Our interest, in other words, is statements that express, more or less clearly, his core concerns.” (Richard B. Gaffin By Faith, Not By Sight, pg. 21 )

How do Gaffin’s descriptions of ‘center’ help you understand the concept – overall set of concerns, some matters are more plainly important, a controlling concent, circle of interests and relative centrality – and what are some questions you may sill have?