Can Christianity work without Paul? (Index)

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This is an index for the various posts (mostly not written yet) answering the question of Christianity’s viability without Paul.  What I mean by that is that whenever anyone suggests that Paul is a false apostle or that he can or should be rejected by Christians, the “orthodox” get up in arms suggesting various things about Christianity that will fall apart without the uber-apostle Paul.  The posts in this series show that these are just strawman arguments that orthodox Paulinism makes against Jesus himself.

  1. Would we know about “grace” without Paul?
  2. Would we know Gentiles don’t need to be circumcised to be saved without Paul?
  3. Without Paul would we know how to run a church? aka: Jesus’ “you have one master, even Christ, and you are all brethren” vs Paul’s “obey your rulers/leaders” and “submit” type rhetoric

If you have a challenge, “without Paul we wouldn’t know…” let me know, and I’ll make an article on it. For now, I think the two I have cover basically everything other than church governance, but most Protestant churches already ignore Paul’s rules for that in the Pastorals, and the Catholic church certainly does!

Without Paul would we know how to run a church?

The original title to this post was going to be:

Jesus’ “you have one master, even Christ, and you are all brethren” vs Paul’s “obey your rulers/leaders” and “submit” type rhetoric

But that doesn’t work very well as a URL, so you now have the title above.

When I started to write an article on this subject, I did a google search, and I found a book on google books called Religious equality, a sermon preached at Bridport, December 23, 1838 — By Philip Harwood.  I figured I could save myself some time just quoting it and making a comment at the end. I’m going to reproduce some of it here (ending the quote before he becomes hypocritical, since being a partial Paulinist himself, that’s inevitable):


BEGIN QUOTE


Matthew xxiii. 8—10. Be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, who is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.

Such is Christ’s charter of his Church’s liberties. Such is Christ’s constitution for his kingdom of heaven upon earth :—Freedom, Equality, Brotherhood: the equal brotherhood of a common spiritual nature, common rights, common duties, common hopes, common relations to one Father, even God, and one Master, even Christ; a brotherhood that admits, indeed, of distinctions—distinctions of elder and younger, teacher and taught, giver and receiver—but not of any such distinction as imports command on the one side and obedience on the other. In Christ’s kingdom, all are brethren; fellow-heirs and fellow-servants: and no man can judge his fellow-servant—he may help him, advise him, teach him, but not command, not judge him—for the very reason that he is a fellow-servant, and has his own master to whom he standeth or falleth.

None may claim lordship over a brother’s faith and conscience, none may submit to such lordship, if claimed. The spiritual arrogance of the few, and the spiritual abjectness of the many—each is a violation of Christ’s law of liberty, and each has its own separate and solemn rebuke, in this, the last sermon of the Christian’s Lord. “Be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren: and call no man your father upon the earth; for one is your Father, who is in heaven: neither be ye called masters; for one is your Master, even Christ.”

One is almost tempted to exclaim—as did a good man of former times, on reading those commandments with promise which so beautifully introduce the Sermon on the Mount— “Blessed Jesus! either these are not thy words, or we are not Christians.”—Where is this Gospel preached? or, if preached, where is it understood and practised? Where shall we find this liberty? this abstinence from assumption and encroachment? What Christian church practically grants it, even to its own members? even to its own ministers? to say nothing of the yet harder and rarer virtue of granting it to other churches. Where and when have the teachers of Christianity rebuked the superstitious folly that would bow down and worship them, and taken pains to enlighten the ignorance that caused the folly, and declined the perilous investiture with immunities, titles and prerogatives that make distinctions where Christ made none, and repelled the ascription of an ex-officio sanctity, and lived with the taught as brothers with brothers? And where and when have the taught looked upon their teachers, simply as brethren?—better skilled, perhaps, than themselves, by education and study, in the learning illustrative of the records of the faith common to all, (or of course they would not be fit to teach,)—better qualified to set forth that faith in an attractive and convincing form,—elder brethren, perhaps,—but still brethren, men of like parts and passions with themselves, men who have no royal or priestly road to truth, men who have nothing to give their hearers but instruction and moral impulse, who can remit no sins, impart no holy ghost, administer no sacraments which any other Christian might not administer as well, whose instructions have no authority or value apart from their reasonableness, and no likelihood of being reasonable, except according to the care and diligence expended upon them. Where and when have Christian teachers been contented to be simply teachers, freely speaking what they have freely thought,—and hearers to be simply hearers, neither receiving blindly what is old, nor rejecting blindly what is new, but proving all things that they may hold fast that which is good?

The answer to these questions is, unhappily, near at hand, and such as ought to grieve and humble every disciple of Jesus, who loves and honours the Gospel as the charter of the world’s liberties. Christianity is not so understood; is not so practised; is not so preached :—not, with scarcely an exception, by any sect or church of Christians; that is, not consistently, not thoroughly, not by the ruling majority of any sect or church; only partially, occasionally, and by individuals. Christianity has done great things for the world, it has put down many crying evils and mitigated many more, it has produced a noble army of martyrs for truth and righteousness, it has wrought mightily in many a holy life and many a peaceful death,—but it has not answered Christ’s design; to a great extent, and in some most important respects, it has hitherto proved a failure; its grand triumphs are yet to come; it has not purged out that leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy and spiritual assumption, it has not made men brethren, it has not set the world free. There is as much tyranny over thought and the utterance of thought,—there is as much coarseness and worldliness in the agencies by which a dominant sect seeks to perpetuate and fasten its ascendency,—there is as much confounding of the merest trivialities of opinion and ceremony, the very anise and cummin of theology, with the weightiest matters of the law,—there is as much of the spirit that loves to be called Rabbi, and Master, and Father, in this nineteenth century of Christianity and this land of Protestant Orthodoxy, as there was in the first century, in the mother-country of Pharisees and Pharisaism. Our teachers of religion still call themselves priests, and claim a priestly lordship over faith and conscience,—and our people accord the claim in the gross, with here and there a rebellious protest, in the detail, against some of its more odious manifestations,—and our government enforces it by the terrors of law,—and ourselves enforce it by the alternate terrors and blandishments of opinion. In this Protestant and Christian land, this land blessed with a law of which Christianity is part and parcel,—in this age of tolerance and enlightenment, of repeal of penal statutes and desuetude of blasphemy prosecutions,—Christians are not free, Christianity is not a religion of free and equal brotherhood.


END QUOTE


So why isn’t it????  Simple. Paul vs Jesus.  Paul says “Obey your masters.”  Jesus says “You only have one master, even Christ, and you are all brethren.”  Checkmate Paulinists.  The “church” is a chaos of gurus because Paul’s “authority” trip doesn’t produce anything but bad, foul, fruit.

I should also note, in one of the instances in the quoted text, “master” is didaskalos (teacher) and in another kathegetes (authority, leader).  Jesus is both our only teacher and only authority, and only leader.   Anyone teaching anything about “the gospel” that isn’t directly based on his words is out of line.

See the NASB of Matthew 23:8-10 with the Greek words in brackets:

But do not be called Rabbi [ραββι]; for One is your Teacher [καθηγητης or διδασκαλος depending on manuscript], and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 Do not be called leaders [καθηγηται]; for One is your Leader [καθηγητης], that is, Christ.

Yet the Paulinists are always having “leadership” conferences to learn to be better “leaders.”  Jesus is the shepherd. Any other “pastor” (i.e. shepherd) is climbing over the door of the sheep fold and is a thief or robber.  Jesus said so. See John 10.

 

Would we know Gentiles don’t need to be circumcised to be saved without Paul?

Whenever anyone suggests the possibility of rejecting Paul, instantly the “orthodox” will defend him with an assertion something like:

Without Paul we’d believe that Gentiles have to be circumcised to be saved.

Now, that’s an absurd claim considering that it is Paul’s doctrine that undoubtedly resulted in anyone believing that circumcision was necessary for the Gentiles to be saved, as I will now show.

If we had no Paul, if we only had the gospels, nobody would dare imagine that circumcision is necessary for Gentiles to be saved.  What does Jesus himself say?

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [or, all the Gentiles], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20)

Jesus gave a command to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them.  Not circumcising them. And as I point out in brackets above, the phrase “all the nations” could also be translated “all the Gentiles.”  Nobody would get the idea that Gentiles have to be circumcised to be saved from this.

Again, Mark’s version, in Mark 16:15-16:

And He said to them: Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

Every “creature” emphasizes that the Gentiles are included, not just the Jews.  And what does he say?  He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.  He mentions nothing about circumcising them.  So, again, nobody would get the idea that Gentiles must be circumcised to be saved from this.

Now we come to the first non-proselyte Gentile to be saved.  That is, of course, in Acts 2 many Gentiles were baptized, but these were all Gentiles who had become proselytes to Judaism first.  The first non-proselyte Gentile to be saved was Cornelius, in Acts 10.  He was only a “god-fearer,” that is, one who attended synagogue with the Jews but had not gone through with circumcision.  When it was arranged by an angel and the Spirit that Peter would preach to this man and his household, the Holy Spirit fell on them, and Peter’s response to that event was (Acts 10:47-48):

47 “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

Again, baptism.  But nothing about circumcision!

We also find that those who fled Jerusalem to get away from Paul’s (i.e. Saul’s) persecution went out as far as Antioch, preaching to Jews only.  But once they settled in Antioch, they began to preach to Gentiles as well. (Acts 11:19-20)

These preachers were men trained by the real apostles, yet they don’t require the Gentiles to be circumcised.  Its not until Acts 15 that anyone starts trying to do that, and that’s only after Paul’s arrival.  Does Paul have something to do with the doctrine that circumcision is required?

Yes.

On two counts.  First, it is the result of Paul’s mistaken notion of salvation.  To Paul, being a child of Abraham equals salvation.  So for Gentiles to be saved requires that they be adopted into, or grafted into, Abraham’s family.  Jesus didn’t teach this.  We find none of the real apostles teaching this.  But Paul teaches it in various places, including his olive tree analogy:  The family of Abraham is a cultivated olive tree.  The Gentile world is a wild olive tree.  The unbelieving Jews are cast out of the Abrahamic olive tree, and the believing Gentiles are graft in.  Be careful, because if you stop believing, you can be cast out too.

Now, what’s wrong with the olive tree analogy?  It, together with Paul’s teaching in other places, makes the New Covenant out to be nothing but a rehash of the covenant with Abraham.  Indeed, Paul’s theology creates a dichotomy between the promise (to Abraham) and the law.   His opponents clearly see that in Paul’s mind the law is opposed to the promise.  Paul denies that he believes this, but its obvious that he actually does.  His theology is that the law opposes the promise to Abraham, so Christ took the law out, thus removing an obstacle to the covenant with Abraham, so that we all, both Jew and Gentile, can be part of the Abrahamic Covenant.

Well, what’s wrong with that?  The Abraham Covenant is the circumcision covenant.  When God made that covenant, he said any male who is not circumcised has broken that covenant, and is cut off from his people (i.e. from everyone else in that covenant).

So, if Gentile salvation is all about being graft into the Abrahamic Covenant (and Paul thinks it is) then circumcision is required!

You see then that Paul’s errant theology and strange way of viewing the New Covenant as simply removing the Law to go back to the Abrahamic Covenant, is the root of the belief that circumcision is required for Gentiles!

Now, for the second count.  I think we can go further, and say that Paul originally taught explicitly that Gentiles must be circumcised.  This is because as soon as he was “converted” Paul does not begin to teach Gentiles, but only Jews.  He argues with Jews in Damascus showing that Jesus “is indeed the Christ” and again in Arabia.  Then he comes to Jerusalem and Judea, where something very interesting happens!

After Barnabas vouched for Paul and he was “coming in and going out at Jerusalem” he gets into a big argument with “the Grecians” or “the Hellenists.”  This same phrase can also translated “the Gentiles” (which is how it has to be understood in Acts 11:20, mentioned earlier).

Acts 9:28-30

28 And he was with them [i.e. the churches of Judea] coming in and going out at Jerusalem. 29 And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. 30 Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.

Although Paul has been accepted by the churches in Jerusalem/Judea, thanks to Barnabas, there is one group among them that he just can’t get along with: the Grecians.   The Grecians here can mean a few things (1) Gentiles, (2) Gentile proselytes to Judaism, (3) Hellenistic Jews or Jews who have accepted a lot of Greek culture and are kind of liberal, like Jews who don’t think too highly of circumcision, (4) any of the above who have converted to Christianity.

Now, what type of Grecians are these? Christian Grecians or unbelieving Grecians?  Luke leaves it deliberately vague, I think.

In any case, no matter what kind of Grecians we imagine it to be, the biggest thing they and Saul/Paul the Pharisee can disagree on is CIRCUMCISION.  That is because the Grecians (of any sort) will not value it, while Paul the Pharisee will.  So Paul undoubtedly gets into trouble with the Grecians by pushing circumcision on them in accordance with his Olive Tree Theology.

The result?  They run him out of town!  And his disciples sneak him away to safety and send him for a timeout in his hometown of Tarsus.

A few years later, when the church at Jerusalem hear how the Gentiles are accepting the gospel in Antioch (as taught by those who fled from Saul’s persecution, Paul is still in timeout at Tarsus and nowhere near Antioch) they send Barnabas to check it out (Acts 11:22)  and Barnabas picks up Paul from his timeout on the way there.

But why?  Because Paul is now a changed man.  Obviously Barnabas has been keeping in touch and knows that Paul has sliced the circumcision requirement off the top of his Olive Tree.

Nonetheless, in Acts 15, “And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, saying: Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”  Who are these “certain men” and why does Luke not name them?  They are obviously ex-disciples of Paul, disciples of Paul’s older doctrine, men who believe the full-blown Olive Tree Theology that Paul was teaching prior to his timeout in Tarsus.

Would we know about “grace” without Paul?

Whenever anyone suggests the possibility of rejecting Paul, instantly the “orthodox” will defend him with an assertion something like:

Without Paul we’d believe we had to live a perfectly sinless life to be saved.

Now, that’s an absurd claim considering the only person in the biblical period who ever taught that God requires sinless perfection was Paul himself. You certainly don’t get this impression from Jesus.

Jesus taught “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.”

Jesus taught that we can pray for forgiveness and be forgiven if we forgive others.

Jesus taught that the angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner who repents.

Jesus taught in the parable of the prodigal that even if we left God and squandered our spiritual inheritance in a far country, when we come to our senses, we can come back and God will welcome us with open arms.

Jesus also taught that he that breaks the least of the commandments will be called least in the kingdom (but apparently still make it to the kingdom).

So, we clearly don’t get the impression from Jesus that sinless perfection is required for salvation.  So without Paul, we know that salvation doesn’t require living a perfect life.

Now, if that’s what we mean by “grace”—i.e. God’s mercy in forgiving us—then Jesus taught it, despite not using the term “grace.”

If we means something else by “grace”—like Calvinistic magic enabling power to undo a total inherited disability and enable you to believe—then no, we can’t get that without not only Paul but Augustine too.

But look, the fact of the matter is that without Paul, we have  a much more gracious gospel.  Jesus never teaches that obedience undoes grace.  Jesus never teaches that if we obey God (i.e. “works”) that we lose God’s mercy.  Paul, however, seems to teach this.  Paul insists that if any works are involved “then is grace no longer grace.”   In the end, that becomes a sort of anti-obedience legalism, or antinomian legalism.  It results in the idea that if you obey even one commandment once, you’ll be damned.  So ultimately people come up with the idea that to be saved according to Paul, you must rely so heavily on faith and grace alone that you never obey God at all ever.  Now, Jesus did not teach such a nightmarish doctrine!

Rather, Jesus clearly shows how grace (i.e. God’s mercy) and works work together.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

Your merciful works help you obtain mercy.

“Pray: Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”

Your forgiveness of others helps you be forgiven.

“The angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner that repents.” The prodigal “came to himself and said ‘I will go home to my Father’s house!'”

Repentance and returning to God helps you obtain mercy.

Very different from Paul’s evil anti-works anti-law anti-obedience legalism.

 

And because Paulinism will abound, the love of many will grow cold

I was watching Paul D’s latest video (he won’t agree with one word I say below, by the way):

He places a great deal of importance on Matthew 24:12 and Jesus’ prediction there of the state of men’s hearts at the end times:

And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.

But he doesn’t see you could basically translate that into modern English as

And because Paulinism will abound, the love of many will grow cold.

When you think of lawlessness, you immediately think of Paul.

But how can that be?  David, are you saying that Paul is the man of lawlessness?  But Paul is the one who tells us about the man of lawlessness.  Well, who better to know about the man of lawlessness than himself.  Let’s look at what Paul says on the subject:

2 Thessalonians 2

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ[a] had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin[b] is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God[c] in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He[d] who now restrains will do so until He[e] is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

The mystery of lawlessness is already active in Paul’s day, which basically means the man of lawlessness is someone living in Paul’s day.  So its not the pope; sorry diehard anti-papists.  And its not Mohammed; sorry diehard anti-Muslims.

Who is it then?  Well, he is restrained, but Paul says the one restraining him will be taken out of the way.  And eventually after that restrainer is removed, after the safety is off and the man of lawlessness runs full steam ahead (or his ideas begin to be accepted without restrain) then he will be exposed.

So who is it?  Its Paul himself.  The one restraining is Peter, or James, and Paul is the one being restrained.  The good thing in the story is the man of lawlessness will be consumed by the Lord’s breathe in the end, so Paul will get his.

But come on…how can it be Paul when he’s the one writing about it?  Well, he loved unrighteousness more than the truth so much that he was deceived by the very deception he was spewing. He didn’t even realize he was writing about himself.

Now, the pope was never in the temple of God. Paul was.  Paul entered the temple, remember, with Trophimus the Gentile, and was arrested for it.  Paul entered the temple setting himself up above God and everything that is called God. The Law clearly said nobody uncircumcised was to enter that temple, but seeing himself greater than God, Paul took uncircumcised Gentiles into the temple, setting himself up above God.  In a certain way he was exposed right then! But for most of us his exposure has been centuries in the making.

The other things is, there’s no temple now. And I don’t believe there ever will be again; I don’t think that the temple is to be rebuilt. Now, if that’s the case, then there’s no way this man of lawlessness can be anyone else. Because what temple  can we get this guy into?  There isn’t one.  But there was Paul, highhandedly in the temple flouting his opposition to circumcision in a way that basically declares himself greater than God.

Now, that Paul makes the love of many grow cold is obvious in various ways. (1) People are constantly at each others throats arguing about what this horrible writer even meant. (2) His support of unrighteousness and easy believism gives all sorts of antichristians, Jews, atheists, Muslims, etc. ammunition against Christianity. (3) He’s rather mean spirited and hateful towards anyone who disagrees with him, especially when they are right. And this breeds the same sort of attitude in those who hold him up as the standard. (4) His simply generally disagreeable nature and the pessimism in his view of humanity just simply turns people off. (5) The coupling of Jesus with Paul as if they are inseparable makes people hate Jesus……I could go on and on.

Now, what about this that Paul says about the man of lawlessness?

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Mohammed admits openly that he did no miracles. The only miracle he offers is the literary quality of the Koran (which was clearly put together by an illiterate).

The pope has done no miracles. The only miracle he offers is transubstantiation, which is nothing but an assertion.

But Paul let a demon-possessed girl follow him for 4 days and finally on the 4th day cast the demon out, because he was annoyed (not because he had compassion).

Paul healed people with handkerchiefs.  Paul preached so long that it literally killed people, and he presumably healed that guy that fell out of the window.

How can Paul not be a true apostle when he did all these miracles?  Paul himself tells us the man of lawlessness will do a lot of miracles.  And people will buy these miracles (he says) because they don’t love the truth but rather love pleasure in unrighteousness!   But isn’t that the exact reason people keep hanging onto Paul?  Its the idea that we don’t have to obey God at all, ever, not even once, because “Paul said faith alone.”

But that passage says the man of lawlessness will do miracles by Satan! Surely you’re not saying that’s Paul?  Well, look, Jesus said you’ll know them by their fruits.  What are the fruits of Paul?  Faith alonism, Gnosticism, Calvinist, and legalism.  Yes, I blame legalism on Paul, because many go the opposite direction trying to fix the faith alone problem he created, and that’s where legalism comes from!  With those fruits, its believable that his miracles were from Satan, not to mention casting a demon out simply because he was annoyed, (Acts 16:18) not due to any compassion for the girl.  If you read Acts 20 about the guy that fell out the window, you’ll see a lack of compassion there too.  Paul goes out and sees the guy is still alive, goes back in and continues his sermon, then they come out and take the guy up after Paul finished his sermon! I’ll bet you never noticed that before. I’ve witnessed something similar in a church where a guy passed out and the preacher continued the sermon as if nothing had happened…and I know where he got the idea.

This doesn’t mean Paul doesn’t belong in the canon, because the strong delusion that Paul says God will send to those who don’t want the truth, is Paul himself.  That strong delusion has got to be in there for those who want it; for those who take pleasure in unrighteousness and hate the truth.

Also we learn as much from negative examples as from positive.  Most of the examples in the Old Testament are certainly negative, what we should not do. Paul fits in the same class. He’s the Baalam of the New Testament, as is clear from Revelation chapters 1-2.  He’s also both Baalam and the rebel Korah in Jude 11. He’s the Nadab and Abihu of the NT. We have to learn from him what not to do, what false doctrine not to teach, by seeing the disastrous results of his errors.

[That even a false prophet would be forced by God to reveal certain truths is found in the story of Baalam, so its not that big of a surprise that the man of lawlessness would be the one to prophecy of the man of lawlessness. This also explains why a pretty decent amount of what Paul writes actually is true. He wouldn't be much of a deceiver if he just came at you completely 100% wrong.]

Gospel Harmony that maintains natural order of Matthew and John

Just wanted to share a gospel harmony that I found which strives to stay in line with the chronologies of Matthew and John without transposing them (except in just a few places).   That is, most harmonies assume Luke’s chronology is right and therefore make major transpositions of Matthew’s material and sometimes of John’s as well.  But this one takes the position that Matthew’s gospel has the correct chronology, and it mixes in John’s gospel in order with that, transposing Mark and Luke to fit with them.

This is the columnar harmony: Lant Carpenter’s Apostolical Harmony (1838 edition)

Later on a “Monotessaron” or mixing of the four gospels into one narrative was created based on the columnar harmony: Lant Carpenter’s Monotessaron (1851 edition)

These may be of interest to someone in their quest to be a disciple, a student, of Christ himself.

Did Paul Get Jesus Right? Part 2

If you haven’t seen the first part, See Did Paul Get Jesus Right? Part 1.

Now, I want to look again at what John Piper said in his second paragraph (i.e. from Did Jesus Preach the Gospel of Evangelicalism?):

What I am driven by in this message, and in much of my thinking since my days in graduate school in Germany, is the conviction that Jesus and Paul preached the same gospel. There is a 300-year history among critical scholars of claiming that Jesus’ message and work was one thing, and what the early church made of it was another. Jesus brought the kingdom; it aborted; and the apostles substituted an institution, the church. And dozens of variations along this line.

Notice that it is scholars who have been saying Jesus preached a different gospel than Paul.  Pastors always want to make it out like its just kooks and internet trolls saying this.  Nope.  Its scholars.  And “There is a 300-year history” of it!  That’s John Piper admitting it, not just me saying it.

Now, this position has always been more accepted in Germany than in America, because the American theological academy is under the control of the Calvinists, of guys like Piper.  So much so that had Piper himself gone to graduate school in the US, he probably wouldn’t be knowledgeable enough on this subject to even know that there is a 300 year history of scholars saying Jesus taught a different gospel from Paul!  Seminary in the US is Mickey Mouse basket weaving time.

I saw a post on an online forum using Hebrews 6:1-2 to demonstrate that Paul rejected the teachings of Jesus:

Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ [or elementary teachings of Christ], let us go on unto perfection [or maturity]; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

The argument was that Paul calls Jesus’ own teaching “elementary” but his new teaching “mature.” That this is very clear evidence Paul taught a different doctrine.

Now, I’ve never taken the idea of Pauline authorship of Hebrews too seriously.  But then again, I don’t take the Pauline authorship of Romans and Galatians too seriously anymore either.  Paul is more a group, an emerging sect or heresy, than an actual person.  So I suppose I can grant the “Pauline” authorship of Hebrews.

What does “he” actually mean when he says that he wants to “leave behind” the “elementary teachings of Christ” and move on to “maturity”?

Well, contextually, it appears he means two things:

(1) high christology.

(2) that the law is completely obsolete.

These are the two points discussed from this point on in Hebrews, along with (in this chapter, see 6:4) his theory that nobody who falls away can be restored (which is different from the “Paul” of the other epistles, obviously—not to mention that it is also essentially a denial of the parable of the prodigal son).

Basically what is being said is “What Jesus preached: an impending resurrection and judgement that requires us to believe in God and repent of our sins and be baptized—man that’s old hat. Today where its at is high christology, making Jesus out to be either an exalted pre-existant spirit, a ‘logos’ whom God used to create the world, or making Jesus out to be God himself somehow.”

That is essentially what Christianity has become, is it not?  Its all about christology, about your opinion on what sort of being Jesus is/was.  Its no longer about following his teachings; and certainly no longer about repentance and judgement.  The concept of resurrection has even been replaced by immediate going to heaven upon death. That’s a subject that one Paul disagrees with another on, for in 1st Cor 15 Paul is in favor of the resurrection, but in Philippians where he’s hard pressed to decide whether or not to commit suicide (yes, I said it, Philippians 1:20-26) Paul expresses that to die is to be with Christ (immediately); so much for the resurrection. Ultimately Paul not only undoes the teachings of Jesus but one Paul undoes another Paul.

Did Paul Get Jesus Right? Part 1

Last night I read this comment on the blogpost Tweet, Tweet: The Religious Voter at Paul’s Passing Thoughts.  In short, the comment said that “On the 26th of May, 1786, James Madison” said the following in a sermon:

“I earnestly recommend to our Christians to reject every system as the fallible production of human contrivance, which shall dictate the articles of faith; and adopt the Gospel alone as their guide. Those Christian societies will ever be found to have formed their union upon principles, the wisest and the best, which makes the scriptures alone, and not human articles, a confession of belief, the sole rule of faith and conduct.”

Therefore, I mused, what gospel is John Madison referring to?  Jesus’ or Paul’s?

That led me to search the question on google: Paul’s gospel or Jesus’ gospel

And up came an article by the Calvinist prozac posterboy, John Piper. Did Jesus Preach the Gospel of Evangelicalism?

Now, I didn’t watch the video or listen to the audio, because John Piper’s voice and presentation style are horrendously annoying to anyone who is sane and not on prozac like himself.  But I began to read the article, and I want to make a series out of quoting/responding to it over time.

John Piper begins:

The aim of my title is not to criticize the gospel of evangelicalism but to assume that it is biblical and true, and then to ask whether Jesus preached it. If I had it to do over again, I would use the title “Did Jesus Preach Paul’s Gospel?”—the gospel of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, on the basis of Christ’s blood and righteousness alone, for the glory of God alone.

The first paragraph is a distortion of Paul’s gospel, since Paul himself is not that consistent with it, but that is the basic jist of how he is interpreted by those who bulldoze over his inconsistencies and force him into a coherent system.

But what I want to particularly notice here is that although Piper intends to ask the question of whether Jesus taught this same gospel, he doesn’t really intend to ask the question at all. He begins with a foregone conclusion that he will not dare question.

The reason he is even writing this article or giving this speech is because others are asking the question, and they intend to really pursue the issue for real, and he sees that their truth-seeking is harming the false doctrine of Calvinism (this will be apparent as we continue).

What I am driven by in this message, and in much of my thinking since my days in graduate school in Germany, is the conviction that Jesus and Paul preached the same gospel. There is a 300-year history among critical scholars of claiming that Jesus’ message and work was one thing, and what the early church made of it was another. Jesus brought the kingdom; it aborted; and the apostles substituted an institution, the church. And dozens of variations along this line.

Although surely some scholars have taken the position that the kindgom was aborted and then Paul came along and saved the day with a new concept, the church, there’s obviously a better way to put it.   That is—Paul aborted the kingdom.  The idea of “kingdom living” or living right, was killed in the womb by Paul and his doctrine, his false dichotomy between faith and works.   Not that nobody has entered the kingdom since Paul, because many have, but the majority have been deceived by Paul, who, like his fellow Pharisees before him, took away the key of knowledge and did not enter neither would he suffer others to enter in.

So the problem I am wrestling with is not whether evangelicalism gets Paul’s gospel right, but whether Paul got Jesus’ gospel right. Because I have a sense that among the reasons that some are losing a grip on the gospel today is not only the suspicion that we are forcing it into traditional doctrinal categories rather than biblical ones, but also that in our default to Pauline categories we are selling Jesus short. In other words, for some—perhaps many—there is the suspicion (or even conviction) that justification by faith alone is part of Paul’s gospel, but not part of Jesus’ gospel. And in feeling that way, our commitment to the doctrine is weakened, and we are thus less passionate to preach it and defend it as essential to the gospel. And we may even think that Jesus’ call to sacrificial kingdom obedience is more radical and more transforming than the gospel of justification by faith alone.

Piper saying he’s wrestling with the question is a pretense.  He refuses to wrestle with the question, and that’s the problem.  Some in his congregation are wrestling with it for real, and he wants that to stop.

Now I want to zero in on this statement:

And we may even think that Jesus’ call to sacrificial kingdom obedience is more radical and more transforming than the gospel of justification by faith alone.

Well, why wouldn’t we think that?  Faith alone is nothing: its the devil’s doctrine.  Faith alone is the same as atheism, just an atheism that says “Ok, God exists and I believe a few facts about: back to disobeying him heartily!”  Of course Jesus’ call to “sacrificial kingdom obedience” is “more radical and more transforming” than a baptized atheism.

So I am starting where R. C. Sproul left off in his message to us yesterday. And I consider this message as an exegetical extension and defense of what he said: “If you don’t have imputation, you don’t have sola fide (faith alone), and if you don’t have sola fide, you don’t have the gospel.” And my goal is to argue that Jesus preached the gospel of justification by faith alone apart from works of the law, understood as the imputation of his righteousness through faith alone.

Notice how he snuck in the “of the law” now.  He didn’t say that in paragraph 1!!!!!!!!  Notice that!!!!! This needs like 50 billion exclamation points!!!!!

Piper’s normal modus operandi is to teach faith alone period.  Now he only claims faith alone as in apart from the works “of the law” so that he can pretend that Jesus taught faith alone period.  Sneaky, isn’t he?

Now, I may or may not continue this series, because honestly, this is all that needs to be said on the subject.  Anyone with half a brain and any commitment to the truth whatsoever will eventually figure out that Paul got Jesus wrong, period.  So I don’t really have to go through all of Piper’s crappy arguments, but I might, if and when I get the time to do so. But I have zero fear that anyone with reasonable intelligence and a love for the truth will be led astray by Piper’s arguments without a refutation by me.  Simply reading the gospels all the way through, over and over, which any lover of truth will do, refutes Piper’s arguments!

I want to close this Part 1 by noticing simply something he says on the parable about the prayers of the Pharisee and the publican. I’m skipping over a few of his arguments to this point. I might go back to those in another part of the series.

Concerning the Pharisee’s “righteousness,” Piper says:

Third, he believed that this righteousness was the gift of God. Verse 11: “The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men.’” He gives God the credit for making him upright and devout like he is. “I thank you that I am morally upright and religiously devout.” In other words, this man is not what theologians call a Pelagian—a person who believes he can make himself righteous without God’s help. He may not even be a semi-Pelagian—a person who believes that God’s help is needed but the human will is decisive and can successfully resist God’s help. But none of that is mentioned here. It’s not the point or the problem.

Calvinists normally act like the Pharisee was a Pelagian or semi-Pelagian.  John Piper admits this is not the case. This Pharisee believed his righteousness was a gift from God!!!!  So then what is he?  What is left?   Piper can’t answer that question, since it makes against him, but I can answer it: this Pharisee was a Calvinist. And that is precisely the point of the parable, despite Luke’s interpretation of it throwing us somewhat off track: Jesus is saying that anyone who claims their righteousness is a direct gift from God and other people’s sins are caused by God (i.e. by God not giving them the grace to repent) CANNOT be justified.

The problem is not whether the man himself has produced the righteousness he has or whether God has produced it. The problem is: He trusts in it. This is his confidence. Verse 9: “[Jesus] also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous.” Now make sure you see what this is saying. It is not saying that he is trusting in himself to make himself righteous. No. He says explicitly he is thanking God for that. He is not trusting in himself to make himself righteous. He is trusting in himself that he is righteous with the righteousness that he believes God has worked in him. That is what he is trusting.

That is just silly and absurd. If that is indeed the point Luke is making, we would have to point out that as a close personal friend of Paul, Luke could be covering for Paul.  So Luke’s spin on the parable, i.e. his comment that Jesus “told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous” is inadmissible for this discussion of whether Paul got Jesus right or not.  We can use Luke’s historical information, but his interpretation is tainted by his association with Paul, so we can’t use Luke’s interpretation as if it is independent of Paul (it is not).  So, to ask if Jesus teaches the same as Paul, we must ignore Luke’s interpretation of Jesus (which will be the same as Paul’s) and look only at the facts which Luke records, i.e. what he presents Jesus as saying. This parable interpreted only by Jesus’ words, is a parable against those who claim that God made them righteous but didn’t make others righteous; i.e. its a parable against Calvinists.

 

Is grace really opposed to works like Paul A and Paul D claim?

Notice that who does the work is not the issue. Work period is the issue. The BASIS of grace is the issue here, and if the basis of grace is works it is no longer grace. If Christ had to keep the law for us to make grace possible, according to Paul [A], grace is no longer of grace. (Paul D in Charles Haddon Spurgeon: The Prince of Preachers?)

[Of course the idea of keeping the Law for grace makes no sense, especially considering we're Gentiles who were never under the ceremonial law in ANY sense: we were never condemned by it, ever, and never in need of being redeemed from it, PERIOD. So the flawed explanation of Jesus becoming a curse to take the curse of the Law etc. in Galatians could not ever have been intended for us. Its an explanation aimed at Jews.]

There are a few questions that must be answered before we can even talk about this subject:

  1. What is grace?
  2. When is it needed?
  3. beginning?
  4. middle?
  5. end?

Without defining these things, the word “grace” is as meaningless as “Evangelical.”

Augustine basically made grace out to be magic-enabling-power that must come at the beginning to enable you to believe. Then he also made it a continuing but exhaustible power source needed in the middle, but apparently not in the end.  And then he made God out to be a stingy jerk who won’t give you the grace you need no matter how persistent you are in prayer.

To Pelagius grace wasn’t needed at the beginning, at least not grace as we normally define it. The only “grace” needed at the beginning was the preaching of the gospel, which Augustine complained about constantly saying “By grace Pelagius means nothing but law and teaching.”

See Pelagius thought we could respond to the gospel without Augustine’s magic enabling power. No Calvinist zapping from on high was needed to undo inherited disability, because there was no inherited disability!

Grace proper with Pelagius began once you became a Christian, at which point grace enabled you to resist sin “more easily” which implies you could resist sin before conversion too, just not as easily (which Augustine again complained about, because Augustine claimed it was impossible to resist sin at all without “grace”).

And Pelagius identified grace with the indwelling of the Spirit, received in baptism, of course.   Not only that, but Pelagius a credobaptist which again Augustine wasn’t too happy about since his Rome-given job was to invented a theology to defend infant baptism (which is what “original sin” was created for).

But ultimately, isn’t grace God’s mercy? Isn’t it really what comes at the end?

We can delineate 3 graces:

(1) revelation (i.e. what Augustine complains Pelagius believed in, “law and teaching”) : the teaching ministry of Christ’s assembly.

(2) The indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which enables the Christian to resist sin “more easily,” and is received in baptism (Acts 2:38 no matter what the Baptists say).

(3) God’s mercy on Judgement Day, as James says and Jesus as well in the sermon on the mount: he who shows mercy WILL receive mercy.

But what Augustine called “grace” and what both Catholicism and Protestantism teach about “grace” (Baptists too): its like energon in Tranformers; its a myth.

Now, is grace no longer grace if it requires any works?

(1) Well, Relevation is free, although people had to copy it by hand for centuries, and that was works.  If nobody worked you wouldn’t have it.

(2) The indwelling of the Holy Spirit don’t just zap you. You have to repent and be baptized to receive it (Acts 2:38)

And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. (Acts 5:32)

Notice that verse contrary to the Baptist heresy: God don’t give the Holy Spirit to those who simply obey.  Faith alone is Satan’s religion.  God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey.  Obey what?  “Repent and be baptized each of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

(3) He who shows no mercy will receive none, James says.

So each of the 3 graces requires works or you don’t get it. Sorry, but Paul A was wrong, as usual. He’s the source of all Gnostic error and stupidity, as always. Or rather, the epistles forged in his name are, since Paul A in Acts ain’t half a bad as these “authentic epistles” of his.

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