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Tears in God's Wineskin: A Theology of Hospitality

Part 3: Hospitality, the Handmaiden of Grace


A Biblical Overview of Hospitality

Hospitality is the divine enablement to share with others our home, our lives, our personal space and resources without communicating a need for performance or the expectation of reciprocity. In the case of gay men and lesbians, inhospitality might be evidenced as a demand for heterosexuality or celibacy as a condition of acceptance. Such traditions contrast the behaviour of Abraham, honouring the strangers that approach him, and that of the Sodomites, who demand the same strangers be turned over to them to be abused in the extreme. Abraham rushes from his tent to meet the three visitors and prostrates himself before them, insisting they rest, allow him to wash their feet and prepare a feast for them. As far as Abraham knows, these are simply journeying men to be cared for, although according to the scriptures they are angels bringing news that his wife Sarah would bear him a son. Abraham’s nephew Lot similarly rises up to greet the visitors, urging them to stay at his home. When the men of Sodom riot outside his house, demanding that the strangers be delivered into their hands, Lot opposes them, offering his daughters in exchange for his guests’ protection. Contrary to popular myth, the rioters are not a group of homosexual men, but rather angry, xenophobic men looking to harass, humiliate and violate the foreigners who have dared to venture into their community. Abraham meets God’s grace and mercy with hospitality and friendship, receiving in return covenant with God. The Sodomites meet God’s grace and mercy with inhospitable abuse and violence, resulting in their destruction.

The New Testament provides ample emphasis for encouraging hospitality as expressed through the story of The Good Samaritan (Mt.25:35-40), in Peter’s comment, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms” (2 Pet.4:9), and in the Letter to the Hebrews, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Heb.13:2). For the developing Christian community, the fundamental importance of hospitality is consistently noted, particularly towards travelling Christian missionaries needing food, shelter and on occasion protection from persecution. Considering themselves a community of strangers in the world, they are unified through the ‘good news’ they carry, and are consequently more open than other communities to people in need. Christine Pohl notes, “Writings from the first five centuries demonstrate the importance of hospitality in defining the church as a universal community, in denying the significance of the status boundaries and distinctions of the larger society, in recognizing the value of every person, and in providing practical care for the poor, stranger, and sick.” [1] Hospitality, during the early Christian period, primarily concerns universality and the recognition of the image of God in each person. Importantly, early Christian understanding of hospitality emphasizes equality without judgement.

Monastic traditions today, as they have since their inception, continue to practise hospitality as central to Christian faith and a means of expressing Christ’s compassion. Benedictine monasteries in particular practise hospitality as a natural expression of their commitment to communal living. “I like to think of Benedictine monasteries past and present as ‘islands of tolerance’ in a sea of intolerance. Our Holy Father Benedict in his rule for monasteries shows us how to go beyond mere tolerance of human difference to the active welcoming of hospitality. If we could come to think of all people as our guests, our world would be a very different place.”[2] Brother Aaron is clear that welcoming all and understanding difference is in accord with God’s will and a tool for developing discipleship, as he says, “Embracing difference is a challenge for us to grow, a challenge to our discernment of the subtle ways of detecting this movement of the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ in and through difference,” [3]

Over the centuries, Benedictine monasteries have been called ‘powerhouses of prayer’ and while the commitment to and discipline of a life of prayer is evident, they are havens of hospitality to the stranger, traveller and visitor. Their doors never close to the pilgrim seeking refuge on a physical or spiritual journey, and traditionally they are places where weary souls have found welcome, rest and refreshment. In short, the aim of Benedictine monasteries, beyond the monastic life, is to call people to embrace difference in a loving spirit of reverence, even in a discordant and troubled world; they point towards a radical future when these differences will be celebrated and embraced in Christ’s Kingdom where God’s light of love and mercy will be all in all. [4]

By the 18th century, with the rise of commerce and business, the demise of hospitality in general is noticeable and it’s meaning very different. Based upon the recognition of an individual’s value, caring for an individual’s needs shifts to economic reciprocity, becoming primarily the provision of a welcoming place solely for travellers who can pay for what is offered. Samuel Johnson notes the change in his journals and even Immanuel Kant in his work on Perpetual Peace emphasises hospitality as being vital for peace, not in the sense of providing a haven for those who have no home but as free economic exchange. [5] For many years, hospitality has been connected far more with industry and business than with spirituality. The 2014 Lodging Industry Profile records that for the United States of America:

  • Resident and international travellers in the United States spend an average of $2.4 Billion a day, $101.4 Million an hour, $1.7 Million a minute, and $28,154 Thousand per second.
  • Tourism sales generate $887.9 Billion (excluding spending by international travellers on U.S. airlines).
  • The tourism industry pays $134 billion in federal, state, and local taxes.

Today’s hospitality industry creates enormous business globally. [6] It contrasts starkly with hospitality offered as originating from God’s handmaiden of grace.  

Genuine hospitality begins with the welcome of our own selves into this world, understanding that we are inherently worthy and can make a difference, while at the same time radiating an acceptance and love to those we know and those that we do not know - the stranger and the ‘other,’ Isaiah’s foreigner and eunuch. Practicing hospitality entails making space for the stranger and the ‘other’ in our hearts and lives. It is not a new spiritual practice bought up to assuage our consumer passions, but a historical and spiritual imperative presented by the Hebrew and Christian scriptures over the past two millennia. It is the challenge to break down barriers and build bridges, tear down walls and not rebuild them, to truly relate to those met in daily life and reach out in Christian love without expecting anything in return. Quite perceptively, David Buschart researches and distinguishes the context, methodology and characteristic beliefs of the eight major Protestant traditions: Lutheran, Anabaptist, Reformed, Anglican, Baptist, Wesleyan, Dispensational and Pentecostal. [7] With balance and clarity, he presents not only their distinctive themes but also strongly argues for their commonalities, revealing a basis of similarities upon which a reliable theological hospitality might be possible between them, without weakening their respective and distinct approaches. Buschart’s work is a useful tool for appreciating the varieties of Protestant theology in any serious consideration of hospitality.

Theologically, the purpose of hospitality is to prepare a welcoming space for encounters with God and to provide a setting for true transformation in the lives of groups and individuals. Faith communities are, without question, rediscovering a theology of hospitality, even if they have no language for it, and at a time when fear of the stranger is stressed via most newscasts, it takes courage to reclaim a wisdom that is as old as Abraham and proclaim, as a seasoned St Benedict emphasized, “Let all guests who arrive be received as Christ, because they will say, ‘I was a stranger, and you took me in.’ (Mt 25:35).” [8]

In the ancient world hospitality focused on the stranger or foreigner in need. Travellers frequently faced the dilemma of not belonging to a tribe, city-state, or nation and as foreigners they frequently needed immediate food and shelter as a matter of life or death. Widows, orphans, the poor, or sojourners from other lands fell short of familial or communal status that provided landed inheritance. They had no means to make a living and had no protection. The practice of hospitality therefore meant graciously receiving an alienated person into one’s lands, community or home and providing directly for their needs. For kinsmen and non-foreign strangers hospitality tended to be practiced as an integral part of societal living.

Old Testament stories of hospitality demonstrate the belief that the stranger is a messenger from God and welcoming the stranger is tantamount to welcoming God. Certain elements in the stories portray the human-divine relation as reciprocal: Abraham welcomes the strangers and the covenant is fulfilled; Lot protects the strangers in his home and he and his family are saved from destruction. Such stories do occasionally contain a darker side that refers to power, domination, and destruction. With the birth of Isaac, Ishmael and Hagar are turned out into the desert to die, although they ultimately give rise to Islam and thus the existence of Jewish-Islamic and Christian-Islamic tensions. Lot’s virgin daughters are offered to the menacing townsmen in exchange for the safety of Lot’s guests; the parallel account in Judges 19 is far more chilling with the guest’s concubine offered to the mob, falling dead on the threshold of the host’s home the following morning and her body being cut it into twelve pieces by the master and sent across Israel as a warning. This sense of domination and power overshadow Old Testament hospitality stories, bringing violence and strife in their wake, but ultimately hospitality remains, as does the recognition of the presence of the divine in the stranger, consistently reminding Israel, “You shall not oppress a stranger; you know the heart of a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Exod. 23:9).

From the Old Testament period to that of the New Testament, a decline in hospitality is noticeable since it seems to be omitted from later Greco-Roman lists of virtues and only in Israel’s literature do we find the foreign sojourner included as well as the widow, the orphan, and the poor as those who are to receive care. Although the narratives of the patriarchal period advocate receiving the foreigner/stranger, even if only on a temporary basis (Gen. 18-19), land-established Israel is nevertheless ambivalent toward foreign strangers and distinguishes between the sojourner who is loyal to the Israelite community of faith and the foreigner who may threaten cultic purity. For the early church, however, hospitality is a significant outward expression of compassion, reflecting the teaching of Jesus (Mt.25:31-46; Lk.10:30-37; 14:16-24; 16:19-31).

Hospitality takes different forms depending on the conditions and includes the reception of travellers into one’s home for food, shelter and protection (Gen.18:2-8; 19:1-8; Job 31:16-23, 31-32), permitting the alienated person to harvest the corners of one’s fields (Lev.19:9-10; Deut.24:19-22; Ruth 2:2-17), clothing the naked (Isa.58:7; Ezek.18:7, 16), tithing food for the poor and hungry (Deut.14:28-29; 26:1-11) and inviting the stranger to join in with religious celebrations (Exod.12:18-49; Deut.16:10-14). Sharing the communal meal possesses enormous symbolic significance, since to share food in the ancient world is to share life and such an intimate gesture to the stranger creates a bond of fellowship, which is precisely what is communicated by the meal shared between God and the elders of Israel (Exod.24:1-11), Jesus’ meals with tax collectors and sinners (Lk.11:37; 15:1; 19:5-6), the Lord’s Supper (Mk.14:17-26), Jesus’ post-resurrection meals (Lk.24:30-31; 24:30-31; 24:40-43; Jn.21:12-13; cf. Acts 1:4; 10:41), Peter's meal with Gentiles (Acts 10:48-11:3) and the common meal of the early Christians (Acts 2:42-47).

The Israelites are the guests of God, identified as an exiled people dependent on God’s hospitality (psalm 39:12; Heb.11:13), with Yahweh graciously and lovingly receiving the Israelites, redeeming them from Egypt, feeding and clothing them in the wilderness (Exod.16; Deut.8:2-5) and leading them as sojourners into a new land (Lev.25:23) where they are offered health, long life, peace, and fertility (Deut.11). Intimacy between God and his people is symbolically enacted during meals as part of peace offerings and religious feasts where the sacrifice is offered to God and then eaten by the one sacrificing or by the gathered community (Lev.7:11-18; Psalm 23:5; Prov.9:1-6; Isa.25:6). At the centre of these rites God serves as host to humanity as the one providing food and clothing for all (Gen.1:29-30; 2:9; 3:21; Psalm 104:10-15; 136:25). For the stranger, God is regarded as particularly caring (Exod.22:2-24; Deut.10:17-18; Psalm 145:14-16; 146:9).

God similarly commands the Israelites to be the host, to practice hospitality with humility, regard human life respectfully and treat it with dignity. Hospitality is to be a reflection of the godly behaviour of a people living holy lives; an act of righteousness performed by those belonging to Yahweh. Just as Israel receives Yahweh’s loving care, so Israel is commanded to love and care for the stranger and foreigner (Exod.23:9; Lev.19:33-34; Deut.10:19; Isa.58:6-10). Abraham is noted for his hospitable behaviour unknowingly towards the angels, the same angels God sends to Sodom and Gomorrah in search of a righteous man. They find only Lot and his family and Lot is deemed righteous because he alone offers hospitality, imitating his uncle’s exemplary behaviour (Gen.19:1-8; 18:2-8).

A further incentive for practising hospitality is the notion that God, or one of God’s angels, might unexpectedly arrive as a guest. God or the angel of the Lord occasionally appears in the guise of the stranger (Gen.18:1, 10; 19:1; Judges 6:11-24; 13:2-23) requiring care and attention. Jesus symbolically arrives as a stranger, coming into a world that neither recognizes nor receives him according to the author of John’s Gospel (Jn.1:10-14). His itinerant ministry requires his dependency on the hospitality of others (Lk.9:58; 10:38) and as guest, he exhibits solidarity at the table without discrimination, sharing meals and fellowship with tax collectors, ‘sinners,’ the rich and Pharisees without partiality (Mk.2:15; Lk.14:1; 19:1-10). Post-resurrection, Jesus continues to equate himself with the needful stranger (Mt.25:31-46) and offers himself as guest (Lk.24:28-29; Rev.3:20).

Soteriologically, Jesus becomes host, receiving into his care a self-exiled world. The feeding of the 5,000 (Mk.6:30-44) reveals his identity, echoing Yahweh’s caring for Israel in the wilderness. He enacts the role of host over the crowd and is portrayed as one like God, feeding the people in the wilderness (Exod. 16), as the prophesied Davidic shepherd, caring for his flock in the wild (Ezek.34:11-31), and as one like Elisha, feeding a hundred people and having food left over (2 Kings 4:42-44). With the Lord’s Supper, Jesus significantly serves as host, overseeing the meal and washing the disciples’ feet (Jn.13:3-5). Metaphorically, he himself is the bread and wine, spiritually sustaining his followers (Mk.14:12-26; Jn.6:30-40; 1 Cor.10:16-17). As a rabbi, he associates his body with the bread of affliction, broken and offered to the hungry and needy and his blood with the third cup of wine, the cup of redemption, so in ending the meal before the traditional fourth cup of Passover wine, Jesus additionally becomes eschatological host, anticipating drinking again only in celebration of the complete and final establishment of the kingdom of God at the messianic feast (Isa.25:6; Mt.8:11; Lk.14:15; Rev.19:9). Post-resurrection, Jesus appears on the Emmaus road (Lk.24:13-35) and is only fully perceived in his true identity when he breaks bread as host, and again on the shoreline (Jn.21:1-14), where he prepares breakfast for his disciples.

Followers of Christ, those previously alienated from God, are invited to become guests during the celebration of Eucharist, anticipating participation with Christ in the eschatological messianic feast. They are also invited to confess Jesus as Lord and become estranged to the world (Jn.15:18-19; 1 Pet.1:1; 2:11). Peter’s first letter records that Christians appear to suffer social ostracism because of their confession of Christ as Lord (4:12-16), but he also encourages them because of the divine hospitality they receive as members of “God’s household” (1 Pet.4:17; 2:9-10; see also Phil.3:20). Early Christian ministers are frequently outcast and in need of sympathetic hosts for their subsistence and protection (Rom.16:1-2, 23; 1 Cor.16:10-11; Tit.3:13-14; Phile.22; 3 Jn.5-8).  

Just as the expected righteous behaviour of the Israelites is to include the practise of hospitality, so the righteous behaviour of Christ’s followers includes the practise of hospitality. Christians are commanded to act hospitably, expressing love and compassion toward others (Rom.12:9-21; Heb.13:1-3; 1 Pet.4:8-11; 3 Jn.5-8). In essence, they are called to be co-hosts with Christ, serving a world that consists of those who are foreigners to the covenants of the promise” (Eph.2:12) and excluded from citizenship with Israel; the model for this being Jesus himself, the supreme host to an alienated world, the one who extols hospitality in his teaching and the one who is encountered whenever a stranger is received as guest (Mt.10:40; 25:31-46).

If a theology of hospitality is to create a nurturing environment where the word of God might be more easily heard and understood, and the will of God perceived, then as a church we must be attentive to the needs of the stranger and ‘other’ as well as to one another, ensuring that accessibility to the Spirit of God is open to all, including gay men and lesbians, and not offered exclusively to those consciously or unconsciously perceived as acceptable. It is difficult to convince Christians where they are resistant to connections between hospitality and the word of God, not least when considering the welcome of non-heterosexuals into the church. However, practical and sensible hospitality issues are theological issues and a congregation that traditionally welcomes only those seen as ‘appropriate’ or sets the Eucharist meal only for those deemed fit to partake of it are called to reconsider their position in the light of hospitality. Authentic hospitality does not allow people to starve physically or spiritually and genuine welcome is more interested in the needs of the guest than the comfort of the host. It plays no small role in the realm of biblical ethics and both Israelites and early Christians are exhorted to practice the virtue as characterized by Abraham (Gen.18:2-8) and church leaders (1 Tim.3:2; Tit.1:8), and as an attribute of God’s love. Such hospitality is depicted across the entire covenant relationship between God and his people, imaginatively, creatively and practically.


The Inclusive Hospitality of Christ

 Jesus of Nazareth ministers to a diversity of the marginalized and excluded while marginalizing a variety of the religiously, socially and economically included. He is the friend of sinners yet also the face of retribution for the wicked. This complicates any discussion of Jesus as inclusive. He divides the righteous and the unrighteous and envisages, as does Paul, the saved and the unsaved or not-yet-saved. Our challenge is therefore one of recognising that the attraction and simplicity of an inclusive Jesus can only be held to some extent blindly and at an exceptionally high moral price. We are familiar with a liberal Jesus in conflict with the overtly conservative Judaism of his time and speaking compassionate words to the oppressed while expressing vehement sentiment for the oppressor. The Jews are communally close-nit, exclusive in their approach to life and culturally conservative while contrastingly Jesus is universal, inclusive, and welcoming without exception or prejudice. It takes little effort to make Jesus the all-inclusive champion heralding a message of inclusivity against every form of exclusivity.

In recent years our appreciation of Judaism has transformed to where it is viewed less as rigidly legalistic and more as ethnocentric. [9] In antiquity Jews showed great hospitality to their own kind and were known for it, yet outsiders and strangers were always accepted as guests and welcomed at synagogues, to the point where they could become proselytes if they converted and the men were circumcised. Contrastingly, the Romans of the day were xenophobic, driving out groups or individuals from Rome if disliked or mistrusted and dispelling foreign influence if it gained too much popularity. [10] A door for Gentiles into Jewish synagogues was always open and is how early Christian mission took root. Jesus, as Torah observant, upheld Jewish ethics regarding wealth, sexual fidelity, communal care and religious commitment, albeit in light of his eschatological conception of the kingdom of God. Paul, the champion of Gentiles and the downtrodden nevertheless protested against pagan sexuality, railed against Roman temples, and prohibited marriage with outsiders (1 Cor. 7:10; 2 Cor. 6:14-18). Jesus and Paul both heralded an inclusivity never held before, yet promoted an exclusivity that Jews, Romans, and Greeks did not practise.

Perceiving Jesus as inclusive and establishing a brand of inclusivity beneficial to modern culture reflects only a liberalizing and modernizing of Jesus of Nazareth, with undercurrents of an inclusivity that is too broad and too shallow. Hospitality practised in order to include is certainly a gospel call and a biblical imperative, offered to all, open to all, embracing all. However, we cannot avoid that, within the inclusive nature of the Gospel is also an exclusivity taught by Jesus and expounded by Paul. So, while “People will come from east and west and north and south and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 8:11; Lk. 13:29) and “. . . the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God . . .” (Mt 21:31), yet, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven but only the one who does the will of my Father who is heaven.” (Mt 7:21). Inclusivity is free to all, but is not a free for all, it has a cost entailing the living of kingdom ethics and kingdom morality; in short, loving God fully and loving neighbour as self.

Jesus refuses to allow his teaching of the kingdom of God to be restricted only to a select few. Had he done so, it may have pleased rather than offended those who ultimately opposed him. This is distinctively revealed by the types of people Jesus socialises with and those he heals, particularly in relation to the Sabbath, and the authorities are perplexed, complaining that this spiritual teacher consorts with people who drink to excess and eat with gluttony or are employed in professions considered shameful, such as tax-collecting (Luke 7:34) or prostitution. The disciples are equally astonished when Jesus openly speaks with a Samaritan woman (John 4:7-9) and converses with a Syro-Phoenician woman when other rabbis, indeed most Jewish males, would refuse social contact with women. To address non-Jewish women was especially shocking when Jewish men simply did not initiate public conversation with any woman in the normal course of events, unless a wife or close relative.
In this same context, and pertinent to arguing a case for church inclusion of homosexuals is the healing of the centurion’s pais, or male lover (Mt 8:5-13; see also LK 7:2-10), about which I have spoken at length about in the chapter on biblical text and translation. From this story it seems clear that Jesus does not respond negatively towards homosexuality and includes homosexuals in the kingdom of God. He heals the slave’s physical ailment, not his sexual orientation, and praises the gay Roman for his depth of faith. Jesus plainly expresses that, from the beginning of his ministry, his way would not be restrictive or adorned with separatist religious paraphernalia. He has no intention to form an elitist movement that would deny ordinary people a place in its midst.
He shows exceptional compassion and empathy towards those who suffer, having little or no concern for their background, morals, religious convictions or social status. Prostitutes, Roman soldiers, the wealthy, the desperately poor, the communally accepted or the ‘unclean’ are all the same to him and he refuses to discriminate. He dares to heal on the Sabbath, increasing the religious authorities’ opposition towards him since they understood this to be in contempt of Torah observance. Significantly, he heals those not socially recognised by the religious authorities who would normally eschew any contact with them, further fuelling their hostility towards Jesus and their desire to end his ministry. The Pharisees generally held that the sick deserved to be sick, since it was through misconduct, lack of morals or neglect of religious duty a person’s life became open to illness and disease. Sickness was God’s curse on a godless life and such people should not detain or hinder them or others from stipulated Torah observance, religious duty or separation from what was ‘unclean.’ When Jesus chose to heal the sick, enter the homes of the socially despised and converse with the religiously unacceptable, religious leaders could only regard his behaviour as contemptible.
Jesus reveals no support for Jewish elitism or exclusivity and is scrupulous with his own disciples if they exhibit such conduct. When John tells Jesus that someone had been driving out demons in his name and they stopped him because he was not a disciple, Jesus is precise in his reply: “Do not stop him, for no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.” (Mk. 9:39-41; Lk. 9:49-50). The disciples had no private ownership of Christ or his teaching, or exclusive rights to the kingdom of God. It was open and accessible to anyone who would receive it. This particular pericope actually opposes a hierarchical approach towards church governance and, while it may not dismantle the concept of apostolic succession it certainly challenges it. Had the disciples envisioned a future elitist institution representing Christ to the world, Jesus’ retort reveals purposefully that he had no intention of having things develop that way.

From Jesus’ comment we would expect to see many and varied Christian churches and organisations today, which is precisely what we do find. However, the question we might ask ourselves is how inclusive are our Christian groups within their own cultural diversity and is hospitality practised? Within Christian diversity, is the diversity of the eunuch and the stranger recognised? New Testament biblical text makes plain that some things, heresy for example, are not to be tolerated as recorded in Galatians (and relating to Mt. 7:21-23; 15:9; 1 Jn. 2:18-19), but as long as the Gospel is being authentically preached and lived up to, Christians are not to persecute or exclude anyone but instead show hospitality, following Christ’s own example.


Paul as Inclusive

The Apostle Paul confirms that the approach of the Christian Church is to be multiplicity without spiritual division (1 Cor. 12:12-27). An approach emphasized when he underlines, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph.4:1-16), encouraging unity within an atmosphere of a multiplicity of service. Paul contrasts the gospel of Christ with the Jewish or Judeo-Christian understanding of Torah in order to reveal a new inclusivity offered by God to all humanity in and through Christ. He speaks of grace over law and faith over works, incorporating belief in divine saving action over practising the law. He is not, however, contrasting an emphasis on divine agency with a Jewish emphasis on human agency; such an antithesis between divine action and human agency would only create a hostile caricature of Judaism and a denial that it is a religion of grace, which is not Paul’s intent. Rather, Paul’s antithesis is an ecclesiological statement about the nature of God’s people where ‘faith’ represents an inclusivity incorporating Jews and Gentiles alike as the people of God, while ‘works’ represents an exclusivity where full conversion to Judaism is necessarily a precondition of salvation. What Paul presents is effectively an inclusive, all embracing form of Jewish covenant theology.

He speaks concretely of what God has done through Jesus, his Son, giving him up for the world and raising him to life after being crucified, which is not simply an expansion of the covenant promise to Israel, but rather covenant configured on an entirely new basis. The divine-human relationship is now newly determined for all Jews and all Gentiles together rather than being solely for the Jews and through them, the rest of the world. For Paul, the unconditional divine saving action actualised in Jesus is already present and anticipated in God’s unconditional promise to Abraham, so the promise already incorporating global inclusivity is fulfilled in Jesus. Since the first and last word of biblical text is promise, Paul’s gospel is rightly a gospel of promise and he speaks of Abraham because without the covenant promise there can be no gospel. For Paul, scripture and gospel attest a definitive and divine, unconditional salvific work through Christ that is inclusive in scope and which incorporates Isaiah’s eunuch and foreigner into God’s covenant promise, equating today to the inclusion of gay men and lesbians.



[1] Christine D. Pohl, Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1999), p.33.

[2] Aaron Raverty, OSB “Hospitality in the Benedictine Monastic Tradition” in, Revista Interdisciplinar da Mobilidade Humana [Brasilia] Ano. XX No 38 (Jan/Jun 2012) p.251-52.

[3] Raverty, Hospitality in the Benedictine Tradition, in RIMH XX: 38, p. 253

[4] For additional accounts of monastic hospitality practiced today, see also Pierre-Francois de Bethune, By Faith and Hospitality: The Monastic Tradition as a Model for Interreligious Encounter (Herefordshire: Gracewing Publishing, 2003).

[5] Immanuel Kant, Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch 1795, Ted Humphrey [trans.] (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 2003), p.15.

[6] Lodging Industry Profile Statistics, 2014 (Year End 2013). Available online at: http://www.ahla.com/products_info_center_lip.asp

    [7] David Buschart, Exploring Protestant Traditions: An Invitation to Theological Hospitality (Illinois: IVP Academic, 2006)

[8] Patrick Barry, OSB [trans.] The Reception of Guests, in St. Benedict’s Rule (New Jersey: Hidden Spring, 2004), p.123.

[9] See for example the essays of N.T. Wright, James D.G. Dunn and Terence Donaldson, ‘Saint Paul Against the Lutherans: Wright, Dunn and Donaldson’ in, Stephen Westerholm, Perspectives Old and New on Paul: The “Lutheran” Paul and His Critics (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdman, 2004), pp.178-200; John M.G. Barclay, Paul, Judaism and the Jewish People, In Blackwell Companion to Paul, Stephen Westerholm [ed.] (Oxford: Blackwell-Wiley, 2011), pp.188-201; Timothy G. Gombis, Paul: A Guide for the Perplexed (London & New York: T & T Clark International, 2010)

[10] By 510 B.C. the Etruscan monarchs had been dispelled by Brutus from Rome and no longer had any authority. Much of the rule of the seven kings of Rome (beginning with Romulus in 753 BC and ending with Tarquinius Superbus in 510BC) is built on legend and open to conjecture, although Pliny, Livy and Plutarch all record events concerning the 250 or so years of monarchy. For an overview of the ancient history and legends see James Renshaw, In Search of the Romans (London: Bristol Classic Press, 2012) pp.1-58. Also, Chester C. Starr, The Ancient Romans (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1971) pp.12-14. Tiberius drove out the cult of Isis from Rome; Vespasian favoured Rome being rid of philosophers and ousted them during 75 and 76 C.E.; and the Jews were habitually sent out of Rome, for example by the pretor Hispanus in 139 B.C., by Tiberius in 19 C.E. and by Caligula during 37-41 C.E., Caligula’s dispersal included Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:2).