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Paul's Hijacking Of Christianity?


DavidD
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I’ve heard a lot of discussion about Paul, about parallels with other religions of the Roman Empire, etc. Some of it is to give Paul credit for Christianity, but those who blame him for making Christianity something it shouldn’t be have kept my mind thinking about this for some time. Isn’t the question about whether Paul hijacked Christianity quite simple? If there is not an interventionist God, Paul had no idea what he was talking about, so who cares? It’s interesting as far as the cultural evolution of religion, but not all that important.

 

If there is an interventionist God, why would God allow such a hijacking? The only thing that would make sense to me then would be that if there was a hijacking, God did it, not Paul.

 

Now I realize that debating the existence of an interventionist God is not that easy, but that one is an important point no matter what else. Once one has taken a position on that, though, doesn’t that essentially settle whether Paul was a mover and shaker vs. just a pawn, maybe even God’s finger puppet? It seems to me that would save wasting a lot of time arguing about this aspect of whether Christianity is what it should be.

 

Can there be agreement on that, or am I missing something?

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I’ve heard a lot of discussion about Paul, about parallels with other religions of the Roman Empire, etc. Some of it is to give Paul credit for Christianity, but those who blame him for making Christianity something it shouldn’t be have kept my mind thinking about this for some time. Isn’t the question about whether Paul hijacked Christianity quite simple? If there is not an interventionist God, Paul had no idea what he was talking about, so who cares? It’s interesting as far as the cultural evolution of religion, but not all that important.

 

If there is an interventionist God, why would God allow such a hijacking? The only thing that would make sense to me then would be that if there was a hijacking, God did it, not Paul.

 

Now I realize that debating the existence of an interventionist God is not that easy, but that one is an important point no matter what else. Once one has taken a position on that, though, doesn’t that essentially settle whether Paul was a mover and shaker vs. just a pawn, maybe even God’s finger puppet? It seems to me that would save wasting a lot of time arguing about this aspect of whether Christianity is what it should be.

 

Can there be agreement on that, or am I missing something?

The Line usually goes something like : (___________) Church is the triumph of Paul over Christ"

 

What is really happening is that the writer is hoping to undo the legalism of Paul in order to assert a more mystical, spiritual and progressive dogma. Of all the early Church Fathers Paul was the most active in church planting and governance, and so dealt with the most practical or real world problems. Becasue of this Paul lays down the most strictures, he is most often cited by those who wish to opine or rule on conduct. For example in the current debate on Gay Marriage in our society Paul provides the only New Testament proscription of Gay conduct.

 

Christ taught the doctrine, and made the covenant. Peter and James founded the Church and began its mission, but Paul and his co-workers were the evangalists and spread the word far and wide.

 

It is true that Paul taught a lot to the church about how to get along with authority, and also had the strictest moral code (James, by contrast teaches only Christ's command of Love for God and Man, and the avoiding fornication and unclean foods).

 

Rather than try to unwind the New Testament, progressive Chrisitians should seek to reconcile it all. If we give primacy to Christ, then to his apostles a clearer moral guide comes about : That which fosters faith and salvation outweighs exclusion. We, as a community, are to reject those who hate the Lord and all his works, but other than that we should be a welcoming community preaching grace and the Love of God. We can't help people come to the Lord if we drive them out of our churches with overly dour and accusitory faith. Paul himself reserved severe discipline only for the severly sinful who had rejected all counseling.

 

Re-read Corinthians and Romans, Paul is not nearly as harsh a guy as some folks make him out to be.

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I agree that Paul isn't as bad as some make him out to have been. First of all, some of the letters that have traditionally been attributed to Paul, scholars now contend were not written by Paul - but by others in his name (an ancient custom)

- especially some of the more mysoginistic/anti-woman ones.

 

Moreover, there are a number of progressive Christians and "radical Bible scholars" who perceive Paul (along with the authors of the Gospels) as intentionally offering radical, counter-cultural, and even subversive alternatives to the Roman empire and the larger ways of the world.

 

Here are some articles and recources to explore:

Paul's Gospel and Caesar's Empire

Ctinquiry.org

 

Paul and Empire: Religion and Power in Roman Imperial Society

by Richard A. Horsley

amazon.com

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  • 2 months later...

I like Paul. I think he was probably a good egg--egalitarian and even liberal for his time, a good Christian who probably did work based on a sincere understanding of religious experience. Without Paul, Christianity would be an obscure Jewish sect. I think Paul gets a bad rap for the same reason any of us would get a bad rap if someone took our emails and based a religion on them for two thousand years.

 

 

Cheers,

 

Tom

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