Spin-off: Following Jesus v. following Paul

I have an atheist friend who posts here occasionally who goes by @vulcanlogician who I believe shares your dismay over the relative prominence of Paul’s teaching over that of Jesus.

But obviously evolution is mainline science, the gold standard for the biological sciences. The rejection of evolution is not only anti-science but also anti-intellectual. It is dogmatism posing as a reasoned stance which fools mo one who isn’t similarly pre-decided on every question by a literalist, uncritical reading of the Bible.


That isn’t quite what he said… be interested if that is what he meant.

I certainly agree that any understanding of Paul at odds with Jesus should be discarded. But only Jesus simply isn’t Christianity. There are lots of religions who see themselves as followers of Jesus including Islam. But most Christians don’t see Jesus and Paul as being at odds. And while I have criticism of some popular directions Christianity has taken I do not attribute this to Paul but to other things such as Gnosticism and Plato. The gospel of salvation by grace through faith is taught by both of them. It is the Gnostic change of this to a gospel of salvation by sound doctrine which is the worst distortion and other ways in which some Xtians have made being saved an accomplishment in life with a sense of entitlement from some legalistic formula for salvation.


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They misuse the term evolution in that type of article. Drug resistance is not evolution in cancer or with bacteria.

Yeah. Those anti-Pauline ideas I shared (at some point?) I likely picked up from Tolstoy, who had a slew of criticisms.

I understand why Paul’s writings are so cherished. They’re good. Very good. They’re incredibly poetic. They have a knack for cutting through the bull and taking an unwavering stand on things. These are (I imagine) only some of the reasons they were considered a shoe in for inclusion in the NT canon. There is also the fact that (alongside being such good rhetoric) these are some of the earliest writings to be found in the tradition… and it doesn’t hurt that they are from one who has “apostolic authority.”
But (since they made it into the canon), now it’s hard to criticize the writings or debate their merits with believers. They’re in the book, and that grants them some kind of validity.

If people want to think Jesus was infallible, fine. But it irks me to think someone who wrote “slaves, obey your masters” was infalible. Why not write, “Slavery is morally wrong”…? It’s no secret that Southern slaveholders, having converted their slaves to Christianity, used this passage to legitimize the bonds of servitude.

Couldn’t Paul just be considered a devoted follower of Christ, whose words should be treasured for their insight? That’d be okay with me. But Paul is far too opinionated (and urged toward creating a religion, not just practicing it) to be the kind of infallible guide he is taken to be.

But that’s just a nonbelievers opinion. And for me, it’s not just Paul. The whole Bible is just too darn big. It’s unrealistic to think most people will even comprehend the whole thing, let alone follow it to the letter. I think it’s a product of being compiled centuries after Christ’s death… too much time for this or that “indispensable writing” to not be added to the canonical body.

For me, if it had just been the four Gospels… things would be much more manageable.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” seems to rule out slavery as morally permissible activity. But even then you have the nonchalant way the Gospels refer to slaves in parables and such. But at the very least you aren’t left with “Slaves, obey your masters.” That’s to hard a pill to swallow for me, and perhaps others who might otherwise see a lot of good in Christianity.

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Something that may not have entered your mind is that we who are followers of Jesus were actually there on the cross with Him. He was dying in our place, as our substitute, He was us. So we who are children of God by new birth have already been set free from our old master of sin. We are now, in this life children of God, citizens of another kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven. So we are freemen. So when Paul is talking to us, not unbelievers, he tells us it doesn’t matter where you live, or your circumstances. If your a slave, don’t worry about it because your are the Lord’s. And even if we are free, we are still the Lord’s servant and slaves of righteousness. Our freedom can make us content where ever we are because we know our true freedom comes from being united in Jesus through His death and all the way through His resurrection. This is not our world so we are not to be caught up in its affairs. We are ambassador from another country, Heaven. So if your a real slave to a man, serve him and do good to him, for it is the Lord who will repay you. Jesus came as a servant to serve us, to die for us, to raise from the dead for us. So that we could be truly free.

Since this is not a reality for you, this world is all you got. And even if your not a slave of another person, all are slaves of sin. So, people may think they are free because they own their own house, car, have a job and a family but in reality they are still slaves until they obtain freedom and liberty through Jesus.

Jesus came to set us free. And He provided the way. He through His cross and resurrection is the way of liberty. Liberty from sin and the devils hold over all who don’t love God. Freedom from sin is the true freedom. Knowing the King of Heaven is everlasting life.

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That did enter my mind. And I tried to make it clear in my post that because I am a nonbeliever I don’t have “skin in the game” like you believers have. But I merely mentioned that rather than making it completely clear. Let me correct that error: Believers have made a commitment to Christ. I have not. Inasmuch as that commitment stands for something, I am out of my league criticizing that “certain something” I personally do not stand for.

But I think my interests and the Christians interests overlap. I am committed to the truth, as much as I am able… and so are Christians. I have read and reread Paul’s passage about slavery. And there is some heart, some consideration, for the slave given there.

But it seems erroneous in the final account (to me). You point out that the words were written for followers and not me. Maybe I was just reiterating your observation there. But it’s a problem for me, and I was simply saying so.

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I am sorry if I misunderstood you. But as a child of God I would totally be encouraged by Paul’s advice. I would not want to be all anxious about being a slave, I wouldn’t want to have to be consumed with trying to escape or think about injustice. I would want to serve my master as long as it did not require me to sin. For in so doing, I could be a witness of the love of God for my master and maybe turn him into a brother. I could be at peace in my position and serve Jesus in it and look to my Father for the commendation, “Well done my good an faithful servant.” Again, this is not my world, I look for the soon coming Kingdom of Heaven and prepare myself for the Lord’s return, where ever I live on this planet. With much or little it is of no consequence, the Lord is my God and in Him I place all my hope and confidence.

What matters to me is that He freed me from my old master of sin and for that I will willingly love and serve Him for the rest of my days here.

And do what, start a slave revolt? The problem with many today is that they think morality can be legislated. Jesus didn’t come to change the laws or governments. He came to change hearts.

There was one main problem with some of Paul’s writings, and Peter summed it up. Paul was raised as a Pharisee, pretty much a religious lawyer of the day. People like that often have a hard time dumbing down what they know so that other people can understand. You have to connect his writings to scripture (his grounding point) or they can lead anywhere.

2 Peter 3:16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

Hoo boy. Apologies to the @moderators for helping to derail that other thread. And to @vulcanlogician for luring him into this explosion of directions.

That said I doubt I’ll be able to contribute anything more for about 24 hours. I have a date with a colonoscopy tomorrow at 1 pm and in about an hour the purge begins with 64 ounces Gavilyte to get the ball rolling. Between now and then it look like that is all I’m having with the other 64 oz for ‘breakfast’. So everyone be happy you can eat but I bet you won’t enjoy it as much as I will my first real food in three days tomorrow.

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No problem. :wink:



I moved this post form the YEC thread to here because I posted it in the wrong place. Sorry for any confusion.

1 Cor 2:12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. 14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment:

16 “For who has known the mind of the Lord
that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ."

Yes, some of Paul’s teachings take thought and study. But as the above is stated for those who believe, “We have the mind of Christ”. An God says He will freely give wisdom and understanding to those who seek Him. So to know the way of the Lord, one must turn from their own thoughts and ask God to show Jesus to them. The Father will do that because that is His will and if we ask anything according to His will He hears us and will answer us.

The Father is not a God who is way out there not willing to be found. He says that He places nations where He wants them with the intent that man will look for Him and find Him. We belong to a God who wants to be known.

Oops. Sorry, guys.

Good. Then the Bible can be accepted as a “manual of how best to change the heart” and NOT a document of perfect moral accuracy. My problem was with those who viewed it as the latter, no one else.

I think the Bible is a pretty good (maybe even an excellent) “manual for the heart.” I wasn’t contesting that at all.


I don’t think Paul , or Peter, taught a different gospel from Jesus. After all scripture makes the claim that the Holy Spirit guided Paul and Peter.

I think the biggest issue is people confusing what Jesus said and are taking it out of context and not Paul. Paul fleshes it out more , and that fleshing out is systematic and causes false doctrine to be harder to push so they claim it’s not Jesus but Paul they disagree with when in reality they are disagreeing with Jesus.

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The problem is that there is no manual, because we can’t change our hearts. He must do it for us. The bible and the law only force us to admit that we are not capable of the type of change he requires.

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