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« God In Man's Image | Main | National Day of Prayer Unconstitutional »

April 15, 2010


A thread over at the Sojourners Blog had multiple accusations against a commenter about whether Jesus and Paul taught the same Gospel, saying things like, ". . . the question of whether the Gospel according to Paul agrees with the Gospel according to Jesus seem largely ignored."

A commenter there referred to someone quoting Paul as a “Paulian” instead of a “Christian” and a commenter here literally said that “Jesus trumps Paul.”

It is sad to see those that claim the name of Christ make such errors. I offered these suggestions to those who hold the Jesus vs. Paul view.

1. Jesus is God. The Bible is the word of God. Therefore, it is all the word of Jesus. The original writings turned out just like He wanted them to, including Paul’s letters.

2. The “red letters” (direct quotes of Jesus sometimes printed in red ink) carry no more authority than any of the other verses, let alone the ~3,000 verses saying, “God said,” “The word of the Lord came to me,” etc.

3. Roughly 10% of the “red letters” quoted the “black letters.”

4. Peter referred to Paul’s writings as scripture.

5. None of the people making this argument seem to question what Luke wrote in his Gospel, so why do they question what Luke documented about Paul in the book of Acts, including his encounters with Jesus and his acceptance by the other Apostles?

6. Unless you think Paul made up his whole story — which would raise a whole new set of issues — then his claims are just as authoritative as the Gospel writers.

For example, Luke was not a direct follower of Jesus but was a careful historian and under the tutelage of Paul. Mark was not an eye-witness but leveraged Peter for his Gospel. But Paul heard directly from Jesus.

7. Think about how much you know about the concept of grace and where that came from. Do you really want to toss that out?

8. Jesus and Paul don’t disagree. The clear trumps the unclear, but a Gospel writer’s presentation of Jesus’ teachings doesn’t trump Paul’s presentation of Jesus’ teachings.

9. Much of Paul’s writings pre-date the Gospels.

So I don’t think Paul disagrees with what others documented directly and indirectly about Jesus, and even if they did you wouldn’t necessarily go with the Gospels.

Just quote scripture, in context. It’s all good.

As an Eastern Orthodox convert from evangelicalism, I would suggest that righteousness is imparted by the grace of baptism, and that any imputed justification is posterior to that and can be supported by Scripture, and that both Jesus and Paul taught that. When Scripture is forever up for grabs for want of Holy Church, it will always be interpreted and reinterpreted, causing unending foment. Lord have mercy. God bless us all.

I always think the best argument against Paul's... originality, shall we say, is based on his prominence in the early church. The early Christians had every reason to distrust him and his motives. There were 11 of the original 12 around to shut him up and denounce him as soon as he started to differ from what they heard straight from Jesus. Instead, they endorsed Paul. Why would they do that if he was making stuff up?

Ben Marston, a couple questions:

1) In addition to righteousness, is *salvation* imparted by the grace of baptism as well?

2) If so, why did Christ needlessly die on the cross, when all we *really* needed was baptism?

3) If one makes a death-bed conversion but the last rights (incl. baptism) cannot be administered, is that individual saved?

A couple answers to the questions:
1) Yes
2) Baptism is where the individual meets the Blood of Jesus (Rom. 6)
3)If questions are impossible to answer because the unknown is not declared.

I don't think that it is clear what Ben meant by baptism. However, from what I have read about the Eastern Orthodox church, it is water baptism that unites a believer with Christ. If my understanding is wrong, I hope that Ben will correct me. The thing I find difficult with Ben's position is the assertion that Jesus held the position that such baptism was necessary. If He did hold it, why did He tell the thief hanging on the cross that he would be in paradise with Him that very day without the benefit of water baptism? Could it be that it reflects Jesus' teaching to the contrary of proponents of water baptism as necessary to salvation?

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