Jesus's Words

The Cult of Paul

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Contrast #20: Paul's malleable theology and Jesus' consistent Way...

In examining the writings of and about Jesus and Paul in the Bible, it becomes readily apparent to the earnest reader that whereas Jesus' fundamental teachings remain remarkably consistent throughout the New Testament,18 Paul's quite clearly do not. Indeed, Paul himself even goes so far as to openly boast about his knack for theological bendability, at one point bragging that I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. To the Jew I became a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the Law I became as one under the Law (though I myself an not under the Law) so that I might win those under the Law I have become all things to all people, that I might be any and all means save some of them.1 Corinthians 9:19-22 He also admitted openly and without remorse that I try to please everyone else in everything I do,1 Corinthians 10:33 and encouraged his followers not to speak their Truth courageously, but rather to Let your speech always be gracious, and seasoned with salt,Colossians 4:6 for in his opinion, some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry, and others from goodwill... [some] out of love... and others out of selfish ambition... What does it matter, so long as Christ is proclaimed?... Whether out of false motives or true, in that I rejoice."Philippians 1:15-18 Unsurprisingly, this penchant for irregularity manifested itself is many of the more fundamental tenets of Paul's theology. Consider the following examples thereof:

  • * Paul was inconsistent in his approach to honoring the Law. Sometimes he claimed to be a strictly staunch upholder thereof - believing everything laid down according to the Law and written in the prophetsActs 24:14 and being as to the righteousness under the Law, blameless,Philippians 3:6. See also Acts 22:3, 23:6, 26:5 while at other times he spoke openly and quite heretically against the same —— claiming in Romans 13:8-9 and Galatians 5:14 that all the Law could be fulfilled in one word,(Jesus saying otherwise in Matthew 5:17—18, 7:21, 13:16-23, 22:37-40, 24:12-14.) claiming in 1 Corinthians 6:12—14 and Colossians 2:16 that all things were lawful,(Jesus saying otherwise in Matthew 5:18, Luke 6:17, John 14:15.) claiming in Romans 14:14 that nothing is unclean in itself,(Jesus asserting otherwise in Matthew 5:8, 15:11, 23:25-26.) claiming in Romans 6:14, 7:4 that Christ had abolished the Law and replaced it with grace,(Jesus noting otherwise in Matthew 5:17-18, 7:21, 19:17, 28:20, Luke 16:17, John 13:15-17.) claiming in Romans 3:20, Galatians 2:16-21, 3:11-21 that no one was justified by the Law and even in Galatians 3:13 that the Law was a "curse",(Jesus clearly announcing otherwise in Matthew 7:20-21, 13:18-23, 16:27, 19:17, 24:12-14, John 13:15-17.) and claiming in 2 Corinthians 3:12-16 that the Law was "veiled" and thereby too difficult to understand or fulfill.(Jesus intoning otherwise in Matthew 11:28-30, 19:26, 22:37-40, John 14:4-6, 15:11.)
  • * Paul was also inconsistent in his proclamations concerning Faith and Works - on the one hand often proclaiming that it was only faith that saved,(Romans 4:1-5, 5:1-2, 10:6-9, Galatians 2:21, 3:22.) while on the other hand brazenly stating that the only thing that counts is faith enlivened19 by LoveGalatians 5:6 and that his followers should turn to God and do deeds consistent with repentance.20Acts 26:20 Similarly, Paul cannot seem to make his mind up regarding when his version of faith takes hold - noting that before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the LawGalatians 3:23 and yet essentially stating exactly the opposite in his later letter to the Romans.(Romans 4:3, 22.)
  • * Paul was inconsistent in his teachings on the nature of Jesus Christ - on the one hand claiming that he was the divine Son of God,(1 Corinthians 8:6. See also Romans 9:5, 10:13, 1 Corinthians 2:16.) and on the other that he was a human saint, lord, and teacher.(Romans 1:3, Galatians 4:4, 1 Corinthians 2:8, 15:3—4.)21
  • * Paul was inconsistent in his proclamations about predestination and choice - on the one hand stating that God has mercy on whomever He chooses, and hardens the heart of whomever he choosesRomans 9:18 and on the other that God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that He might be merciful towards all;Romans 11:32 on the one hand declaring that he sinned because of the Law(Romans 7:7-13.) and on the other that he will not be dominated by anything.1 Corinthians 6:12
  • * Perhaps most amusing of all, Paul cannot even make up his mind about making up his mind - stating on the one hand quite clearly that If I were seeking to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ,Galatians 1:10 and yet also stating just as boldly that I try to please everyone in everything I do.1 Corinthians 10:32. See also Romans 12:17, 14:18, 2 Corinthians 8:21Intriguingly, here are two saying of Jesus in the Gospels: Woe to you when all men speak well of you.Luke 6:26 and, what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of the Lord.Luke 16:15

Jesus Christ, on the other hand, never wavered in sharing his brand of Gospel - a Gospel which was clearly defined twofold:

  • A) that the Kingdom of Heaven was already present in every single moment of every human's life,(Specifically that it is even now at hand.Matthew 10:7 See also Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:15, Luke 10:9-11, 17:20-21)
  • B) that the entrance into that Kingdom came only to those who were willing to actively(Matthew 7:21, John 13:15-17.) and self-sacrificially(e.g. Matthew 5:38-42, 16:24-26, Luke 6:28-30, 9:23.) care for others(Explicitly referenced in Matthew 24:12-14.) - especially the downtrodden in their midst(e.g. Matthew 25:35—40.) and/or the enemies in their lives.(e.g. Matthew 5:43-48, Luke 6:27—28, 10:29-37.)
Consider the following as additional proof for this remarkable theological unanimity:
  • * When crowds of people demanded he show them "signs" and miracles, Jesus often refused to do so - opting instead to share the message of his Way of selfless Love.(Matthew 12:38-39, Mark 8:11-13, Luke 11:29-30, 12:54-56, John 4:48-50.)
  • * When strangers or his disciples or even demons proclaimed that he was the Davidian Messiah, (Instead of simply a pure relayer of a most pure Way.) Jesus repeatedly informed them of their error and told them with great vehemence not to spread that particular falsehood to others.(Matthew 8:4, 9:30-31, 16:20, Mark 1:23—25, 34, 40-44, 7:36, 8:22-26, 27—30, 31—33, Luke 4:31-35, 41, Luke 5:12-16, 8:49-56.)
  • * When tested on the Law, Jesus never faltered in defended the absolute purity of the same(See Matthew 5:17-18, along with the rest of Matthew 5-7.) - ever doing so under the penumbra of its most essential Gospel: That God was a celestial Father of perfect Love and absolute mercy.(Matthew 5:48, Luke 6:36, and that we could all become his spiritual Children via acting accordingly. See Matthew 7:21, 13:18-23, 24:12-14, John 10:34—38, 13:15—17, 14:12, 14:20-23.)
  • * Even when threatened by the authorities, Jesus affirmed his message and its underlying principles - calmly "passing through" violent mobs instead of caving to their criticisms,(e.g. Luke 4:30.) answering his aggressive questioners cryptically,(often saying "No" in the form of the subtly coy You say so Mark 15:2, Luke 23:3, juxtapose with John 6:15. See also Matthew 26:64, Mark 14:61b-62 juxtaposed with Mark 10:18.) and even maintaining complete silence in the face of dire legal challenges.(see Matthew 26:63, 27:12, Mark 14:61a, 15:5, Luke 23:9, John 19:9.)
  • * Even though others persistently proclaimed that he was the Messiah - the one and only "Son of God", Jesus repeatedly informed them that this was certainly not the case - that he was not equal to God,(Matthew 24:36, Mark 10:18, John 7:16, 8:50-54, 12:44.) and that instead of worshiping him(I accept the glory of no human being.Matthew 7:21, John 5:41) they should all simply do as he had done(John 11:26, 13:15-17, 14:12.) and thereby become as he had become.(John 10:34-35, 14:20-23.)
  • * Indeed, despite all manner of resistance and rejection and ridicule, Jesus' message remained stunningly consistent from start to finish. In his ministry's very beginning calling for all to Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is even now at hand.,Matthew 4:17 cf. Mark 1:15. See also Matthew 11:21, Luke 3:8—11, 5:32, 13:3-5, John 3:3-8 throughout its course noting again and again and again that the "repentance" which he proclaimed22 was nothing short of showing unconditional Love for others in the form of deeds of selfless kindness,(Matthew 5:39-48, 7:21, 18:21— 22, 25:35-40, Luke 6:27-36, Matthew 22:37-40 juxtaposed with Luke 10:29-37, John 13:15-17, 15:12-13.) and defining his unique "Gospel" quite specifically in accordance with the same. Jesus clearly stated, The Love of many will grow cold, and yet the one who endures [in Love] to the end will be saved. And it is this Good News of the Kingdom that must be proclaimed throughout the world.Matthew 24:12—14. See also Matthew 28:19—20, Mark 16:15—16, Luke 24:46-48, John 20:21
  • * Just as revealing, every single one of Jesus' biblical parables(By far his favorite teaching medium. See Matthew 13:10-15, 34, Mark 4:33-34, Luke 8:10, John 16:25.) is grounded in the same Truth; namely, the Truth that the Way to real Life(What he sometimes refers to as the narrow gate.Matthew 7:13-14, Luke 13:23-25) is tread solely via deeds of selfless caring and loving kindness. For starters, both his very first biblical parable(Sometimes called The Wise and Foolish Builders — where the wise man was the one who hears these words of mine and acts on them. Found in Matthew 7:24-27, Luke 6:47-49.) as well as his final three such teachings(The parables of The 10 Virgins, The Talents, and The Sheep and the Goats.23 All found in Matthew 25) are all built upon and/or immersed in this basic Christ-principle of selfless action for others. Even more importantly,(At least for evangelical fundamentalists and any other "biblical literalists".) the Parable of the Sower — which Jesus himself clearly raises up as being the most important of all his parables saying, If you do not understand this parable, how will you understand all [my other] parables?Mark 4:13 — quite obviously adheres to the same teaching; stating in no uncertain terms that as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the Word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.Luke 8:15 cf. Matthew 13:23, Mark 4:20) In truth, throughout the Gospels it can be readily seen that almost every single one of Jesus' parables has selfless action as one of its primary hubs, if not as its sole centrifuge. See his focus on the "harvest" of The Tares(Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43.) and of The Growing Seed, (Mark 4:26-34.) on the "sowing" of The Mustard Seed,(Matthew 13:31-32, Mark 4:30-32, Luke 13:18-19.) on the "mixing" of The Yeast,(Matthew 13:33, Luke 13:20—21.) on "seeking" The Hidden Treasure and The Pearl,(Matthew 13:44-45.) on The Two Sons and "doing the will of the Father",(Matthew 21:28-32, Mark 11:27—33, Luke 20:9-19.) on going out and "gathering" guests for The Wedding Banquet,(Matthew 22:01-14 and Luke 14:16-24.) as well as for The Great Supper,(Luke 14:16-24.) on The Faithful Servant being ever "at work",(Matthew 24:45-51, Mark 13:33-37, Luke 12:35-48.) on The Good Samaritan actively "showing mercy",(Luke 10:29-37.) on the generosity of The Giving Friend,(Luke 11:5-10.) as well as Lazarus and the Rich Man's lack thereof(Luke 16:19-31.)and on celebrating the "finding" of The Lost Sheep and The Lost Coin and The Lost Son.(Luke 15:3-32.)

18: Seeing as how the teachings of Jesus Christ as portrayed in the canonical Gospels are more often than not directly opposed to the words announced by the "angel" who spoke about "Jesus" in the book of Revelation, the latter tome must be summarily - and quite appropriately - discounted for this particular contrast to remain fully on point.

19: While it is true that this term is frequently translated as "working", the actual Greek word here is energoumene, Strong's #1754 - a word which more accurately means "made operative", "actively engendered", or "enlivened."

20: How intriguing that these particular sayings of Paul are fully in alignment not only with the teachings of James' faith without works is deadJames 2:14-17 but also the similar postulations of Jesus Christ.(Matthew 7:20-21, 24-27, 13:18-23, 24:12-14, John 13:15—17.)

21: While many a Christian will justify this obvious contradiction by calling upon "the Trinity" - their belief that Jesus was one of the three literal embodiments of God,(with the other two being "the Father" and "the Holy Spirit") it is important for the earnest student of the Scriptures to realize that this doctrine is essentially man-made and actually nowhere to be found in the earliest biblical manuscripts. Yes, 1 John 5:7-8's "There are three that testify in Heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one" does seem to support this notion, and yet:

  • A) this "Johannine Comma" is not present in any of the earliest ancient manuscripts,(It first appeared as a minor textual gloss sometime in the 4th Century, and remains completely absent from all Ethiopic, Aramaic, Coptic, Syriac, and Arabic translations of the Greek New Testament to this day)
  • B) it speaks literally of "the Word" - the Divine Essence that was thought at the time to animate all living beings - not of Jesus Christ as "the Son."
Most importantly of all, Jesus himself vehemently denied that he was a member of any such Trinity throughout the Gospels;(Matthew 418-10, Mark 10:18, 13:32, John 5:41, 7:16, 8:50-54, 12:44.) stating instead that he was an embodiment of the "Son of God" - the same potential embodiment that resides within us all,(Matthew 28:19, John 8:58, 10:30, 17:5 —juxtaposed with John 14:12, 20.) never that he was in any way equal to God or that he was the only such embodiment.

22: NOTE that the word often translated here as "repent" or "repentance" is the Greek word metanoeo, Strong's #4430, a word that combined one's state of mind (noeo) with the active renewal thereof (meta); meaning that — for Jesus at least — "repentance" had little to do with what one thought or said, and everything to do with what one did for others.

23: While not obvious at first glance, the parable of The Sheep and the Goats(Matthew 25:31—46.) is indeed a promulgation of Jesus' call to selfless service, with the lauded "sheep" being animals known for their gentle generosity(and as well being placed at "his right hand" — archetypally the hand of Giving) and the condemned "goats" being known for their greediness.(and being not surprisingly put "at the left" — archetypally the hand of taking.)

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