Friday, September 17, 2004
Just for the record, I'm with Jesus.
Manner of Worship: Jesus and Paul left contradictory legacies as to the manner in which worship should be conducted. Jesus preached as an itinerant wanderer, informally to locals he encountered in his travels. Usually these were small groups, though he did encounter the occasional large crowd. Jesus always prayed privately, and taught his followers to do the same. In fact, he specifically prohibited public prayer and public displays of worship (Matt. 6:1-18). The fact that he belabored this point so thoroughly in his Sermon on the Mount, his first and greatest public teaching, almost suggest a premonition that others would follow to undermine and contradict him. Jesus did not organize any great church. He led a small, itinerant band of traveling wanderers from town to town. The closest he came to establishing any kind of authority was in Matt. 16:18, when he designated an itinerant fisherman named Simon to become "Peter" the "rock" upon which his church would be founded. Paul, in contrast, organized a great system of churches. The story of Acts is the story of Paul traveling throughout the known world, establishing great churches. His epistles, which comprise the greatest single portion of the New Testament, about a third of it, were written to maintain administrative control of this great ecclesiastical network and to standardize its doctrines, not based on the teachings of Jesus, but on his own contradictory theology.
As with so many other issues, today's modern evangelical Christians fight for their right to expropriate public facilities for their worship and offer great churches with elaborate public worship rituals, once again coming down on the side of Paul and repudiating the simple teachings of the founder they accept, once again, in name only.
Dealing with sinners: Jesus ministered to the sinners, with no reluctance to engage adulterers, whores, publicans, tax collectors, lepers, or any other "unclean" person (the whole need not a physician; a church is a hospital for sinners rather than a showcase for saints). (This, of course, completely devastates the argument that god cannot be in the presence of sin, unless you do not believe in the notion of Jesus being god.) Paul, contradicts Jesus: 1Cor 5:11 "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat."
Feeding the poor: Jesus taught in Matt 25:31-46 that our final salvation and judgment would be based in large part on our willingness to feed the poor. Paul contradicts this: 2Thess 3:10 "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat." Does this mean that if poor people are unemployed, we should turn them away from any charity?
Slavery: When the Southerners in our country sought to defend slavery, they called upon Paul to back them up, citing Ephesians 6:5 and Titus 2:9-10, where he exhorts slaves to obey their masters, and the fact that slavery was widely practiced, but Paul never condemned it once.
Equality for Women: Paul was very anti-woman. He ordered that they not be allowed to speak in the churches (I Cor 14:34-45) and that they stay home and take care of the kids (1Timothy 5:14), and that wives should be submissive to the mastery of their husbands (Ephesians 5:22-24 and Colossians 3:18-19).
Homosexuals: The ONLY passages in the New Testament that are offered as evidence against equal rights for homosexuals are those taught by Paul (various passages have been construed to oppose homosexuality, but the most direct reference is in Romans 1:26-27). Jesus himself never uttered a single word against homosexuals and, given his affinity for sinners, lepers, tax collectors, and other outcasts, it is likely that in our modern times it would be Jesus who would be embracing the homosexuals rejected by those who claim to be his followers. Just as it was Paul's words that were held up in the mid-1800's to justify slavery, so Paul's words today are still used to persecute others.Ironically, Paul is the one who asserts that the Law of Moses is no longer operational, yet he echoes the Law on homosexuality (see Leviticus 18:22). Ironically, many of the same Christians who eat pork, shrimp or rabbit (forbidden in Leviticus 11) because the Law no longer applies, still also cite Leviticus 18 when they want to oppose homosexuality -- trying to have it both ways.
Paul vs. James
Re: Faith or Works
Paul teaches that the gift of salvation through grace occurs APART FROM any behavioral requirement:
Romans 3:28 : "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith WITHOUT THE DEEDS OF THE LAW."
Paul reiterates this position in: Romans 4:6; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; II Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5 -- yet no other Bible writer ever makes this point of stating that salvation occurs apart from or separate from works or deeds, which Paul not only states, but reiterates so emphatically.
Paul is specifically rebutted by the later writing of James (brother of Jesus) who offers one of the most striking and dramatic direct contradictions in James 2:24. Here he chooses language and syntactical structures which specifically contradicts Paul's wording in Romans 3:28 in both content and construction:
Here are the two passages, shown in various translations:
Romans 3:28 (Paul)
KJV: a man is JUSTIFIED by FAITH apart from WORKS of the law.
RSV: a man is JUSTIFIED by FAITH without the DEEDS of the law.
Today's English Version: a person is PUT RIGHT WITH GOD only through FAITH, and not by DOING what the Law commands.
NIV: a man is JUSTIFIED by FAITH apart from OBSERVING THE LAW.
James 2:24 (James' rebuttal)
KJV: by WORKS a man is JUSTIFIED, and not by FAITH only.
RSV: a man is JUSTIFIED by WORKS and not by FAITH alone.
Today's English Version: it is by his ACTIONS that a person is PUT RIGHT WITH GOD, and not by his FAITH alone.
NIV: a person is JUSTIFIED by what he DOES and not by FAITH alone.
Clearly, James seems to be saying exactly the opposite of what Paul says. The key words here, in both passages, are JUSTIFIED (or, in Today's English, "put right with God"), WORKS/DEEDS/ACTIONS (or, in NIV, "observing the law"), and FAITH (same in all versions of both passages). Not only does James echo the same words, in the same parallel structure, but he even cites exactly the same example! The passage from Paul comes near the end of the third chapter of Romans; immediately after that, opening up the fourth chapter, Paul cites the example of Abraham and says it was his faith, not his works, that justified him (Romans 4:1-3). In James 2:21-24 (the same passage noted above), Paul's very example is used against him, but with the opposite (and contradictory) conclusion, that Abraham was justified by the combination of faith with works. Not only does James use exactly the same example, but to remove any doubt that they are referring to Abraham in exactly the same context, both Paul (Romans 4:3) and James (James 2:23) refer to exactly the same scriptural reference to Abraham, in which the Old Testament scriptures say that Abraham's belief was counted to him for righteousness (see Genesis 15:6). James' use of the same examples (right down to the identical scriptural reference), same words, and parallel structure clearly suggest that this was an intentional reply/rebuttal to Paul.
All of the above is taken from http://www.wordwiz72.com/paul.html
If you would like to read up on some other similar material, I encourage you to check out the following sites:
And of course, if ever you find the Scriptures quoted on any of the above sites to be wrong or misleading, please go to Bible.com to see for yourself.
I know this is a bit off of what I usually post, but I've been in several discussions lately on this topic. Enjoy