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Is Paul Appealing Or Appalling?


Neon Genesis
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A lot of liberal Christians I've met seem to hate the teachings of Paul although they of course love Jesus. They rightly criticize Paul for his views on women and gays and claim him as responsible for the homophobia and sexism in the church. I used to hate Paul myself and I thought he was the opposite of everything Jesus stood for, but what changed my mind about Paul was reading Borg and Crossan's book, The First Paul. In this book, Borg and Crossan make a powerful and compelling case that the most sexist and anti-slavery verses attributed to Paul were later additions to the scriptures that were added in by later scribes who trying to censor Paul's views on women which was actually quite radical for his time. They also argue that the Pastoral epistles, which is where Christians get most of their anti-women views from, are forgeries that were written in Paul's name long after he was already dead and not actually written by Paul. The sexist verses attributed to Paul in 1 Corinthians may be later additions as they seem to interrupt the flow of the text and don't appear in early manuscripts of 1 Corinthians, like the Codex Sinacticus (spelling?). There were actually many powerful women leaders in Paul's church, contrary to the claims of conservative Christians. Phoebe was a female deacon who Paul commanded men to submit to. Women were prophets in the Corinthian church and in Romans, Junia is a woman apostle who's name was later changed to a man's name to censor that Paul had women apostles in his church.

 

If you take Paul's writings into historical context and accept that not everything in the NT that claims to be from Paul is actually by Paul, Paul was surprisingly ahead of his time in many ways and I have a much more sympathetic view of him now. I still think Paul has some very powerful teachings, like about grace versus following strict religious teachings to get saved, and I think Paul's famous love chapter is a beautiful and inspiring chapter that's still relevant to Christianity today. I don't like the idea of original sin, this idea that humans are born into sin and depravity, but if I understand my religious history correctly, that's not actually in the bible and is a theology that was later developed by St Augustine. As a gay man, I also feel conflicted about Paul's teachings on homosexuality but I understand Paul lived in a different culture and didn't know as much about science and the role of genetics as we do today, so I have more pity for Paul than hatred, although I've heard some alternate explanations that the verses regarding homosexuality are mistranslated. What are your thoughts on Paul's teachings? Do you find him appalling or appealing? Which of his teachings do you like if you like them and which ones do you object to?

Edited by Neon Genesis
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Personally, I’m a fan of Paul and a follower of his teachings. I believe he was who he said he was. His Galatians and Roman epistles are rich in theology and have convinced me that Paul truly was inspired and his Damascus transformation was real and confirms that he was the chosen vessel.

 

The fundamentalists belief that every word appearing in our present day bible was placed there personally by God, and therefore must be interpreted literally, is a virtual guarantee for confusion and misunderstanding. If all the writings attributed to Paul are read and interpreted too literally his intended message will likely end up being convoluted and confusing as well.

 

Paul’s Corinthian, Galatians, and Roman epistles contain numerous contradictory thoughts and instruction. You have noted some of them. There is no way to know for certain how much editing has been done to the original text or to what extent Paul’s Jewish heritage influenced his teaching.

 

Galatians and Romans, IMO, are Paul’s most significant epistles. Those writings form the foundational beliefs of the Christian faith. If Paul wasn’t who he said he was the consequence of that are almost immeasurable.

 

Judaism’s influence on all NT writings, at least IMO, is a major factor that must be considered and evaluated with attempting to interpret the writer’s message.

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That Paul's writings may have been edited to some extent seems reasonable. After all, we have entire epistles in our New Testament which we are almost certain are pseudonymous. But I am in no position to criticize the texts in this respect. It is clear to me, though, that Paul's religion was radically different from the prevailing values of his culture. I believe he had a more cosmopolitan sensibility, and in his theology sought to unite all peoples, breaking traditional barriers, and unite them in his conception of Jesus as the cosmic savior. We all know of the verses that state in Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male or female. I am no authority on ancient Mediterranean religion, but that seems kind of radical to me.

 

But let us assume for the sake of argument that Paul really did write those things about women and homosexuals. That would only serve to show that he was more or less still a man of his time and culture. It doesn't strike me as reasonable to say that that would make him responsible for the subsequent sexism and such in the church. The values found in those verses are the prevalent values that were entertained at the time. Jesus himself may have more or less agreed with them, for all we know and can assume. Just because the red letter verses in the bible make no mention of homosexuality, for instance, does not mean that Jesus would have approved of it. We always have to take into consideration the social context. I think the greatest things we can learn from Jesus, Paul, or anyone else, is not where they agreed and followed along with their culture, but the ways in which they were radically opposed to it and revolutionary. It is where they broke the established pattern that informs us of who they were, that gives them meaning, a signal, amid the redundancy of the status quo.

 

Peace to you,

Mike

Edited by Mike
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Oh dear ... at the risk of seeming controversial I find myself wanting to ask a few questions. So here goes. On another message board that appeals to the label of "progressive" I find myself attacked by "liberal" and "conservative" elements when I speak in a manner that is consistent with both my religious and political understanding of what we mean by the word "progressive". In the same regard, I suspect this is similar to the position Paul found himself in so long ago. Very often we find ourselves engaging in what D. M. Schnarch calls "the devils pact". By this Schnarch means that we frequently suppress elements of our own beliefs in order to "just get along". It is an unspoken agreement in the form "I won't bring up 'X' if you won't bring up 'Y'. As I understand the thrust of Borg and Crossan, the radical Paul broke this pack and, much like the clash permeating our political scene today, faced a stong "push back" from (possibly) elements on both sides of what would have been the religious/political spectrum of his day? As I understand it, the term "progressive" carries with it a resistance to the status quo as it (the status quo) changes over time. If this be the case, I find myself having to adjust my views of Paul and say "appealing".

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Galatians and Romans, IMO, are Paul’s most significant epistles. Those writings form the foundational beliefs of the Christian faith. If Paul wasn’t who he said he was the consequence of that are almost immeasurable.

I think Paul was certainly an important figure in church history. He played a major role in the reformation of Christianity as a religion for all nations and not just for the Jews and he helped to spread the gospel to the Gentile world, but at the same time, I think it's possible Christianity could have still existed without him. Paul himself was a convert to the already existing followers of Jesus. There were other Christian groups in the early days who had their own gospels and mythology that were unconnected to Paul. For example, the Ebionites were Jewish Christians who rejected Paul and believed that to be a Christian, you had to follow the old law. The Ebionites only accepted Matthew's gospel and the OT as their sacred text and rejected Paul and all other gospels as hearsay. Who knows what Christianity would be like today if Constantinople had adopted Gnosticism as the official religion of Rome instead of Trnitarian Christianity.
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Very interesting post! I appreciate Pauls letters very much...but they were not perfect, as he was not perfect. I have read that there were times when Paul was actually asking questions to the recipients of his letters, but then they were, through the yrs and translations, reconfigured to read as statements. One writer said, for instance, that when it says in scripture for women to submit to their husbands, that it was originally written and intended that it read for both husband and wife to submit to each other. That it said for both to submit one to another, then down in the text it is just stating it again for the woman, and adding for the husband, to love his wife... As far as original sin, I think that the CC's take it too far and seem to say we are all rotten to the core. I think that after being exposed to the opportunity of making choices...when humans had been sheltered up until that time...that we became a mix of the two...both good and bad (which I see on a daily basis anyway). Humanness is a very wide-range of good and bad. I am not sure if we would be fully human if we did not have a full, free-will. I also think that the whole premise of love is to gladly-give/care in an environment that is imperfect. We would not need the ingredients of love if we were each perfect with no mistakes made toward each other. What would we need the word patience or kindness for then? The whole reason for "love", is to connect imperfect creatures.

 

 

A lot of liberal Christians I've met seem to hate the teachings of Paul although they of course love Jesus. They rightly criticize Paul for his views on women and gays and claim him as responsible for the homophobia and sexism in the church. I used to hate Paul myself and I thought he was the opposite of everything Jesus stood for, but what changed my mind about Paul was reading Borg and Crossan's book, The First Paul. In this book, Borg and Crossan make a powerful and compelling case that the most sexist and anti-slavery verses attributed to Paul were later additions to the scriptures that were added in by later scribes who trying to censor Paul's views on women which was actually quite radical for his time. They also argue that the Pastoral epistles, which is where Christians get most of their anti-women views from, are forgeries that were written in Paul's name long after he was already dead and not actually written by Paul. The sexist verses attributed to Paul in 1 Corinthians may be later additions as they seem to interrupt the flow of the text and don't appear in early manuscripts of 1 Corinthians, like the Codex Sinacticus (spelling?). There were actually many powerful women leaders in Paul's church, contrary to the claims of conservative Christians. Phoebe was a female deacon who Paul commanded men to submit to. Women were prophets in the Corinthian church and in Romans, Junia is a woman apostle who's name was later changed to a man's name to censor that Paul had women apostles in his church.

 

If you take Paul's writings into historical context and accept that not everything in the NT that claims to be from Paul is actually by Paul, Paul was surprisingly ahead of his time in many ways and I have a much more sympathetic view of him now. I still think Paul has some very powerful teachings, like about grace versus following strict religious teachings to get saved, and I think Paul's famous love chapter is a beautiful and inspiring chapter that's still relevant to Christianity today. I don't like the idea of original sin, this idea that humans are born into sin and depravity, but if I understand my religious history correctly, that's not actually in the bible and is a theology that was later developed by St Augustine. As a gay man, I also feel conflicted about Paul's teachings on homosexuality but I understand Paul lived in a different culture and didn't know as much about science and the role of genetics as we do today, so I have more pity for Paul than hatred, although I've heard some alternate explanations that the verses regarding homosexuality are mistranslated. What are your thoughts on Paul's teachings? Do you find him appalling or appealing? Which of his teachings do you like if you like them and which ones do you object to?

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It seems to me there is much wisdom to be found in the writings attributed to Paul. To me, it is important not to take his words as "The Word of God" but rather as an epistle (personal letter) to the churches that contains inspired writings received through his personal revelation of God in his own words along with his personal views/customs on other things. From that perspective, I find Paul appealing and not at all appalling. It seems to me it is not his fault that the 'organized church' made it into something that in my view, it is not.

 

Joseph

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A feminist friend of mine went to India as part of a mission program. An instructor there asked the class what they thought about beauty pageants. Of course, everybody was against them; all they did was to objectivize women. The instructor pointed out, however, that many Indian women found them to be empowering. They live in a society that is oppressive to them, and beauty pageants allow them to celebrate their own beauty as women. I thought about that as I heard on NPR (?) about the controversy around the possibility of having a beauty pageant in Palestine (?). (Note the question marks; I apparently didn't pay all that much attention while driving.) Social mores are relative, and so too are our responses.

 

My understanding of Paul in context is that he would be the social equivalent of a social revolutionary. Even if we understand Paul as being in three phases (the radical Paul of the personally written texts, the liberal Paul of later pseudo-nonymous texts, and the reactionary Paul of the Pastorals), each tell us something about how to engage society to make significant social changes. For example, radical Paul seems to have exhibited a strong ideology that drove his quest for change. The reactionary Paul seems to have been written during tougher times for Christians. During such times, pragmatism becomes more important. Therefore, we see an adherence to cultural norms...with a significant twist, one that threatens to become a strong basis for wider change. So, in this sense I find Paul appealing.

 

The problem arises when people refuse to take Paul as a person in history. By taking him out of context, they seek to impose a radical vision for the first century CE upon the 21st century. This is not only not helpful, but also damaging to society. Inasmuch as authority for such changes are attributed to Paul, I find Paul appalling.

 

Perhaps the thing that "Paul" has taught me is that one's approach to change has to be context dependent. There's no one way to eat a Reeses. And if there aren't any Reeses around and you aren't prepared to eat something else, then lean times are ahead.

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To me Paul’s letters provide as much hope, strength and comfort as Jesus’ sayings.

From Romans, the impossibility of perfection by humans, and “there is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ...all things work together for good to those who love God who are called according to his purpose….Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds.”

 

From I Corinthians, the idea that faith rests not on human wisdom but on the power of God; there is one body and many members, each equally important; and the part Jenny pointed out, “just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman.”

 

From II Corinthians, the part on being a new creation; on God reconciling us to himself (not the other way around) and entrusting us with the ministry of reconciliation. The idea that grace is made perfect in weakness.

 

From Galatians, as Mike quoted - “there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, male and female.”

 

And though Ephesians was not one of the authentic letters, it conveys the spirit of Paul -- Christ is our peace, he has made both into one and broken down the dividing wall between us.

 

Two other helpful books besides the one Neon mentioned – Robin Scroggs, Paul for a New Day, and Burton Mack, Who Wrote the New Testament? They both make the point that in Paul, the basic human condition of sin/death is the result of the performance principle (justification by works), contrasted with God’s justification by grace, which enables us to leave that culture and enter the realm God intended for us (the new creation). As Scroggs says, “This transformation does not involve trying harder, which would be a return to the performance principle; rather it is the giving up of effort, the acceptance of life as total gift.” (not unlike Buddhism!)

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I used to find Paul appalling, but if you're looking for a great short read, John Temple Bristow's What Paul REALLY Said About Womenis wonderful. The subtitle is "An Apostle's liberating views on Equality in Marriage, Leadership, and Love." He goes into how we miss so much of the original Greek meanings when reading English translations of the Bible. VERY interesting!

 

One of my biggest struggles with the Bible has been its portrayal of women and their roles, and I read this book as one of my first ventures into the idea that the Bible might not be timeless in all of its messages. Now, I'm struggling more with Paul's emphasis on Jesus being Christ the Savior and his insistence that there's nothing we can do to stop our sinning, although I like how you've addressed that, Rivanna. I'm not a fan of the Original Sin idea, either. Paul's letters are informative about struggles within the early church that are still relevant to today.

 

Overall, I'd say Paul is both appealing and appalling to me, and it probably says a lot more about me and my own struggles than it says about Paul... I still have some growing to do!

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The book by John Bristow sounds interesting - saw a review of it on line.

 

Another thing to keep in mind about Paul and the other epistle writers is that they expected the world to come to an end very shortly. There didn't seem to be much point in a thorough restructuring of society--thus the advice to remain in the same position in which you were called.

 

About women's roles in the bible - a struggle for me as well. Though there are many examples of strong inspiring female characters, the language is androcentric, the value system patriarchal, from beginning to end. I guess the way I've dealt with it is partly with the balance of several feminist spirituality books on my shelf. Partly relying on contextual interpretation to see the bible as a radical or progressive voice compared to the culture from which it originated, not compared to our own. And partly by seeing Jesus as the embodiment of God's wisdom or Sophia. I believe Paul's letters express the same womblike compassion, treating men and women as equals - so often he addresses his audience as "brothers and sisters."

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  • 2 months later...

I'm new here, but I've spent a lot of time looking at this issue. So far what I've discovered is that there are some legitimate translation issues involved with Pauls writings.

 

It appears to me that rather than supporting patriarchy or any sort of male/female heirarchy, Paul is actually pointing to something better, something at odds with the culture of the day.

 

If anyone has a particular passage that troubles them I'd be happy to add my 2 cents. Just ask.

 

FYI - the Barstow book is pretty good. There is also another book by Wm Webb that is excellent called "slaves, women and homosexuals". I don't necessarily agree with his conclusions, but his idea of a redemptive hermeneutic and a moral trajectory are very helpful. Essentially he asks if we can understand the bible as pointing in a more egalitarian direction - that it's not advocating a final status for women but rather a direction for us to journey toward.

 

I'm happy to answer any questions about troubling passages like 1 Tim. 2 or Ephesians 5. I think there are some straightforward explanations for some of those issues.

 

Regards,

 

BT

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It's not clear how anyone can come to have an opinion of someone while admitting they cannot determine if their source about the individual is credible or not.

 

(If one chooses to not believe "original" sin, then they must also understand the awful situation they are in to consider anything being good, or evil.)

 

We may banter about the changes of societies and the not-quite-so-certain evidences, but when it comes down to it, we have no other source to believe when it comes to Christianity. We can choose to believe it or not. I believe it's entirely reasonable to question what we read in the Bible, but to cherry-pick bits of it to form a basis for a faith while ignoring all the other bits is merely an arrogant fooling of oneself. The faith called Christianity would become a mess of subjective opinions rather than God's objective truth to Man. No real basis for a real faith at all.

 

This is where the conflict is. Is the Bible only considered to be culturally oriented, or is it objectively true?

I would argue in concert with the Princeton scholar J. Gresham Machen, who pointed out that if the Bible is merely culturally oriented, the foundation upon which Christianity rests has been destroyed. To call oneself Christian would then simply have no basis in truth.

 

I believe the Bible is entirely credible. Because, I believe the Bible is men writing completely inspired by God having communicated to them His words, in a language they can understand and communicate to other men. Therefore, I find all of Paul's epistles more than appealing. I find them credible. I find no vice nor failing in his writing.

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Hi David,

 

It's not clear how anyone can come to have an opinion of someone while admitting they cannot determine if their source about the individual is credible or not.

 

I tend to think that this kind of indeterminacy would make any kind of knowledge anybody can claim about Paul to be opinion.

 

I believe it's entirely reasonable to question what we read in the Bible, but to cherry-pick bits of it to form a basis for a faith while ignoring all the other bits is merely an arrogant fooling of oneself. The faith called Christianity would become a mess of subjective opinions rather than God's objective truth to Man. No real basis for a real faith at all.

 

That depends on what one considers the words 'faith', 'real', 'basis', and indeed 'Christianity' to mean, doesn't it? It also depends on what it means to 'question' what one reads in the Bible. I'm quite certain that a skeptic will tend to question the Bible very differently than a believer. When I read through your post David, I find a lot of subjective opinions. Including the opinion that those who are selective about what they find of value in the Bible are arrogant in self-deceit, an accusation which does not strike me as innocuous since it might very well be assumed that you're speaking about the previous posts.

 

Since everyone is selective in their reading of the Bible, and faith tends to be by nature a wedded to a 'mess of subjective opinions' if one prefers to so call it that (though I would not), this accusation seems to backfire when pressed too far. Perhaps those who admit that they are selective are merely being frank.

 

Peace to you,

Mike

Edited by Mike
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I believe it's entirely reasonable to question what we read in the Bible, but to cherry-pick bits of it to form a basis for a faith while ignoring all the other bits is merely an arrogant fooling of oneself. The faith called Christianity would become a mess of subjective opinions rather than God's objective truth to Man. No real basis for a real faith at all.

 

 

So, do you stone people to death for eating shrimp or wearing clothes made from mixed fabrics?
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It's not clear how anyone can come to have an opinion of someone while admitting they cannot determine if their source about the individual is credible or not.

 

o·pin·ion n. 1. A belief or conclusion held with confidence but not substantiated by positive knowledge or proof:

 

(If one chooses to not believe "original" sin, then they must also understand the awful situation they are in to consider anything being good, or evil.)

 

'Your opinion' of course.

 

We may banter about the changes of societies and the not-quite-so-certain evidences, but when it comes down to it, we have no other source to believe when it comes to Christianity. We can choose to believe it or not. I believe it's entirely reasonable to question what we read in the Bible, but to cherry-pick bits of it to form a basis for a faith while ignoring all the other bits is merely an arrogant fooling of oneself. The faith called Christianity would become a mess of subjective opinions rather than God's objective truth to Man. No real basis for a real faith at all.

 

David,

This is a borderline derogatory remark as Mike pointed out as you are free to express your opinion or belief but there is no need to infer/accuse others who believe differently of "arrogantly fooling" them self. State your opinion as you did and why you believe that way but leave the mild insults out as it adds nothing to this forum and does nothing to convince or persuade others of your point.

 

 

This is where the conflict is. Is the Bible only considered to be culturally oriented, or is it objectively true?

I would argue in concert with the Princeton scholar J. Gresham Machen, who pointed out that if the Bible is merely culturally oriented, the foundation upon which Christianity rests has been destroyed. To call oneself Christian would then simply have no basis in truth.

 

This is again your opinion of course and stated by you to be the opinion of the scholar J. Gresham Machen. That is acceptable except for the last sentence. You know me well enough and have been around long enough to know that as moderator i will not stand for insinuating that people who call themselves "Christian would then simply have no basis in truth", if they believe differently than your opinion or that of another quoted. It may be just your opinion but in the guidelines of this section it clearly includes not to call or for that matter infer that a PC is non-Christian because of his/her belief. it is provoking, unacceptable and accomplishes nothing in the name of love.

 

 

I believe the Bible is entirely credible. Because, I believe the Bible is men writing completely inspired by God having communicated to them His words, in a language they can understand and communicate to other men. Therefore, I find all of Paul's epistles more than appealing. I find them credible. I find no vice nor failing in his writing.

 

This last paragraph is perfectly acceptable since you are stating your belief and opinion on Paul. It is written very well so that others here may clearly understand your view.

 

Having said all this, please accept this as a PUBLIC warning to take more thought in the future not to infer others are arrogant or non-Christian nor to provoke others.

 

JosephM (as Moderator)

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Though I am someone who leans more towards the "eastern" view of things ( :rolleyes: ) I do take more than a passing interest in the "opposition".... :) Reading the interpretation of St Paul in the book by Thomas Talbott, "The Inescapable Love of God", which argues that St Paul was a Universalist, I obviously find St Paul totally "appealing"! Talbott's analysis of all the relevant verses and chapters is substantial, and he also deals with the subsequent arguments concerning "free will" with depth and clarity.

 

And to be totally serious, and to engage just a little in the debate just going on, I must say that I find Talbott comes across as a totally sincere Christian. (Just as others come across who nevertheless disagree with him.)

 

But the point for me is simple. Here we have beliefs about the ultimate/eternal destiny of millions, salvation itself, yet the Bible is apparently open to interpretation, giving two totally opposed conclusions. The Bible may well be "objective" and "precise" and communicate God's truth to humanity, yet if something so fundamental is left in doubt, as it in fact is, then what does such "objectivety" and "precision" really mean? (Obviously, this is directed at the opinion of David.)

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I've been reading The First Paul by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan. I find the Paul that they describe (an ardent proponent of distributive justice and nonviolence) very appealing. Most of their development depends on the conclusion (one share by many) that Paul actually only wrote Romans, I and II Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, Thessalonians, and Philemon. But some of the points they make do seem to require a bit of a stretch. It is a good read though.

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I like where Paul talks about the internal law of God, or the Spirit. He calls it the law of the “heart” rather than a written law of the Jewish tradition.

 

Romans 2:28

28A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God.

 

I think Paul is calling Christians to experience an internal law of the spirit. He also talks about how good or bad actions are grounded in the heart, in one’s human experience and not so much in a particular tradition. Paul speaks of having a mind in Christ or the law of the heart as the true law. He wants Christians to be alive with Christ experientially and in the moment. This is what makes us human with an enlightened mind and an enlarged heart. It makes us joyous, enthusiastic, adventurous, happy and spiritual.

 

Jesus spoke out against the inhuman, sour-faced individuals that use the false either-or principles that insult divine power and make doctrine cheap.

 

Matt 23

13"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in mens faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.[c]

15"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.”

 

It seems to grow in faith means to live progressively in spirit. Jesus and Paul are talking about this experimental knowledge in the depths of God that transforms in a series of states that reveals and invites us to have a personal encounter and relationship with the living God.

In previous posts people talked about the dangers and problems of diverse languages, original manuscripts and bad interpretations of the scriptures, even early Christian leaders disputed what was to be put in the Bible. It seems we Christians spend most of our time and energy running around the circumference of the circle and not entering the center of the circle to have a spiritual encounter with God. That is why I found these posts and civil discussions piercing my heart. Most took Paul into the heart and read his letters as they reflected off of human experiences and diverse human affairs. I am really impressed with the gay men and women and the straight men and women who didn’t react, but took a deep, reliable, healthy and natural look at Paul and were not afraid of the weaknesses and difficulties of life. We seem to solve our problems by living. I want to thank you for sharing your gifts from God, the ones you deserved for being empty, open, receptive and making room for God’s spirit. I am truly amazed how people can stand firm in a friendship with Christ as dull, drab individuals throw forbidding commandments, laws and codes at them time and time again. I apologize and bow to the people who have suffered at the hands of Christians. The accusers our Christian brothers and sisters are forgiven for hurling accusations, accepting the counterfeit, and ignoring God’s summons to love everyone as God has loved us. They need our help as they think they know what God dislikes and concentrate on that forgetting the joy and grace of a higher order of logic and understanding. I feel as Christians we need to renounce any self-important posturing to a control mode of relating to the world and begin to see first and foremost the Presence of God in our-selves and others The degree to which we experience the presence of God, is the degree to which we do not judge others.

Edited by soma
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Mike, I have always appreciated your honest candor. However, if you feel we need to define those terms to have a compehensible discussion, then you have nothing be critical of in my post until we do.

 

I do agree, everyone is selective in reading the Bible and will find differing texts from which they find personal value. That is not arrogance nor deciept, nor what I addressed.

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NG, are you at all familiar with the Biblical concept of the New Covenant?

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Joseph, I appreciate your diligence in policing these posts. Just because I use the word 'arrogance' doesn't mean it is intended toward any individual. It isn't. It is a statement concerning the mind of man, and a condition of which all have been found guilty.

 

Following the question: Is the Bible only considered to be culturally oriented (a mess of subjective opinions), or is it objectively true?; I offered a premise: if the Bible is merely culturally oriented, the foundation upon which Christianity rests has been destroyed. I then offered a logical conclusion: To call oneself Christian would then simply have no basis in truth.

 

We can argue over the question, and even the conclusion, but I never directed these comments accusingly toward anyone. It's like this quick analogy: traffic law says when the light is red, we have to stop. If we don't stop when the light is red, we therefore cannot rightfully say we are law abiding drivers.

 

Who is now offended or feels insulted? Wouldn't it be arrogant for someone to cherry-pick around that in one's driving philosophy?

 

In regard to making provocative comments and statments, have you addressed the 18 April 2010 1:21PM author who IS actually trying to provoke.

 

Again, I appreciate you diligence, but if you wish to dress me down in PUBLIC again, please try to understand what I've actually posted- prior to passing judgement.

 

How do you not insult the insultable?

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Derek,

 

Good to 'hear' your voice.

How does Paul appear as a "universalist' to you after all he teaches of a personal faith in Jesus being necessary for salvation?

---

 

Soma, interesting post. Would you mind clarify something, ..."the false either-or principles..." The phrase seems to intimate all "either-or princples" are false. Could you possibly have meant "the either-or false principles"? Which would, of course, mean there are some that are true as well as some that are false. Otherwise, how would you determine what is an accuser, what is counterfeit, what is a gift from God, or what is love?

 

I hope your post escapes being seen as accusatory, provocative, or personally insulting; since, it might very well be assumed that you're speaking about a previous post.

 

 

 

Respectfully,

Davidk

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Derek,

 

Good to 'hear' your voice.

How does Paul appear as a "universalist' to you after all he teaches of a personal faith in Jesus being necessary for salvation?

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Respectfully,

Davidk

 

 

David,

 

I was speaking of the book by Thomas Talbott, "The Inescapable Love of God" wherein he argued that Paul was indeed a Universalist. I said that...... Talbott's analysis of all the relevant verses and chapters is substantial, and he also deals with the subsequent arguments concerning "free will" with depth and clarity. Perhaps you could read the book and see what you think?

 

And my major point was simple, that if something so fundamental as "salvation" and for whom, was open to genuine debate and interpretation, which it in fact is , then no matter what claim may or may not be made for the "precision" , "objectivity" and "clarity" of the Biblical message, such "clarity" in effect seems to me to mean nothing.

 

 

All the best

Derek

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Hi David,

 

Mike, I have always appreciated your honest candor. However, if you feel we need to define those terms to have a compehensible discussion, then you have nothing be critical of in my post until we do.

 

Being that this a progressive Christian forum I'm sure you're fully aware that people approach faith in varying ways here. Therefore there is, as I have observed, a certain etiquette of "cultural relativism", where it is best not to judge other people's faith simply by one's own terms. This practice is especially problematic when one is drawing a black and white distinction between what is deemed correct doctrine or incorrect doctrine. (For instance I personally take both a utilitarian and an aesthetic approach to doctrine.) Of course it is possible to weigh in your own point of view in a discussion. But I'm sure you can see the difference.

 

It seems that it would be best if one did not try to define for everyone what Christianity means or should mean for them. Especially if one is going to then use that definition to determine whether another's faith is ‘real’ or ‘true’ or whatever else along those lines.

 

Peace to you,

Mike

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