Jesus's Words

The Cult of Paul

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Conflict #03: Paul guided by convenience and convention vs Jesus abiding by "the Fruit of the Tree"...

A finer examination of the New Testament shows that Paul regularly coddled to religious traditions that were not in alignment with his own spiritual beliefs, essentially allowing the demands of public opinion to influence, guide, or even alter his behaviors. Even though Paul was adamant throughout his ministry that the Jewish Law was no longer to be considered a primary spiritual determinant,(e.g. That it was not necessary to follow the Law's demands regarding food: See Romans 14:21, 1 Corinthians 8:4—13, 10:19:29. That it was not necessary to follow the Law's demands regarding circumcision: See Romans 2:29, 1 Corinthians 7:18, Galatians 2:4, 5:2-6. And that faith in Christ was the only true prerequisite for salvation: See Romans 1:17, 3:31, 5:10-20, 6:14, 10:4, 10:9-13, Galatians 2:16, 3:11-13, 3:23-29, 5:4, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, 2 Corinthians 5:1.) he regularly caved to the conventional expectations of the Law's demands anyway — making sure that Timothy was circumcised,(Acts 16:3.) cutting his hair because he was under a vow,(Acts 18:18.) entering the Temple and making public the completion of [his] days of purification,Acts 21:26 testifying publicly to Felix of completing the rite of purification,Acts 24:17-18 openly and boldly claiming that the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good,Romans 7:12 and stating whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.Romans 15:4 In essence, Paul was primarily interested in gaining as many followers as possible, and thus conveniently bent and twisted his theology depending upon the over- arching beliefs of each particular audience. Quite evident in his statement, let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned,1 Corinthians 7:17 and nowhere more telling than his admission, Though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all... To those under the Law I became as one under the Law — though I myself am not under the Law... To those outside the Law I became as one outside the Law... To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by any means save some.1 Corinthians 9:19-22

In astounding contrast, Jesus never vacillated in the content of his message — and this, no matter to whom he happened to be sharing it. Jesus was not out to convince or convert or cajole. He was simply determined to share the Truth of the Way of his Life(e.g. John 14:6.) — namely the Truth that the Way to real Life would have to come from a radical purification of the common practice of the Jewish Law.(Matthew 5:17-18, 19:14, John 5:39-40, 8:45-55.) He shared that same message over and over and over again, and then he simply let others hear that message and either emulate his example or not as they saw fit.(e.g. If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23. See also Matthew 3:3, 11:9-10, Mark 1:3, Luke 3:4, John 1:23.) Indeed, where Paul often wavered in the face of expectation or caved to conventional whim, Jesus remained astoundingly consistent throughout his ministry. When his audience wanted to be coddled and comforted, Jesus was stark and uncompromising(e. g. Matthew 7:13— 14, 19:21, Luke 18:2. Along with the majority of The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7.) When his audience demanded his easy rejection in the form of a coerced self-incrimination, Jesus was either cryptic or silent.(See Luke 23:3 juxtaposed with John 6:15, Mark 14:61b-62 juxtaposed with Mark 10:18. Along with Matthew 26:63, 27:12, Mark 14:61a, 15:5, Luke 23:9, John 19:9.) And when his audience wanted to be saved by him, Jesus boldly reminded them that they would have to ultimately save themselves.(Matthew 7:21, 13:18-23, 18:3-4, 20:23-28, 24:12-14, Luke 10:29-37, John 13:15-17, 14:12-20.) In essence, where Paul frequently allowed the hopes and wishes of his audience to mold his message, Jesus remained ever steadfast — teaching without fail that his followers should do the same; that they should not follow cultural norms or communal expectations, but rather should abide fully in only those teachings that engender the "good fruit" of peace and harmony after they are set in motion.(Matthew 7:15-20, 12:33-35, 21:43, Luke 6:43-45, 7:33-35. See also John 7:22-24.)

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