"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Portrayal of Paul

"Paul did not invent the faith of the early Church in the continuing reality and presence of Jesus.  If Paul became in his own lifetime the most articulate spokesmen for this faith, he was never much more than an articulator who knew how to zero in on the most essential argument and could thread his discourse with the welcome colors of his own very personal experience.  If Paul had never left the Pharisaical school, the Jesus Movement that became Christianity would have survived and probably even prospered (if with a more limited scope), but it would have been a Christianity that lacked (at least for some time) Paul's intellectual edge as well as his emotional edginess.

"For beyond his education, by which he intertwined antiquity's most rigorous intellectual traditions, we cannot neglect to consider the man's natural temper: neither flatterer nor diplomat, neither charmer nor salesman, Paul was not the sort of man you would immediately associate with the effort to pitch a new idea, let alone a whole new worldview and way of life.  Devoid of small talk, anecdotes, and the sort of chatter that puts people at their ease, Paul was an either/or kind of guy, an absolutist for whom the matter under discussion would always be All or Nothing. An intellectual overachiever, pushed repeatedly to success by a keenly competitive father, Paul had no time for ordinary social niceties and neither gave nor expected to receive normal social comforts. One can imagine him sitting uncomfortably in some conventional parlor, staring penetratingly at his hostess while trying to find some Meaning in her inquiry as to whether he took one lump or two."

pg.120  Desire of The Everlasting Hills by Thomas Cahill

Past Post:  Why I Like the Apostle Paul


Lat said...

In the past whenever I read Islamic websites,they never fail to qoute Paul how he was the mastermind to form the basics of Christianity that we see today.Pauline Christianity?

I don't know the amount of participation he had,but he certainly did make an impact esp to the abolishment of the law.Did he not? A book I've read even called him a mystic.Very interesting.

Wafa' said...

i have read once about the importance of the FIRST follower(yes there were many followers at the life of Jesus but they are merely names and didn't try as hard as Paul). And maybe that's the importance of Paul.

I know from an Islamic point of view he is an evil who make Jesus into God. And maybe other believe the same. But to believe this much in something and preach it and be in so much trouble because of is not something any fake person can do.

Suroor said...

Susie, I'll give you names of books written by Biblical scholars who are not Christians anymore but who believe that Paul's message was very earnest and honest; that he NEVER taught that Jesus was God. It is evil to call him evil when he went through so much for the love of Jesus. Show me only one Muslim man willing to spend his life for Jesus like Paul teaching that Jesus was just a prophet and I'll call Paul a devil instantly. Till then he was an honest man.

Susanne said...

Lat, yeah I didn't realize he was credited with "inventing" Christianity until I met Samer three years ago and we started discussing these things. :)

Paul simply believed Jesus fulfilled the Law (as Jesus said in the Gospels) so he didn't think non-Jews had to become Jewish and follow the Mosaic Law. He didn't really abolish it. He just thought it was fulfilled in Christ so we were no longer made righteous through keeping rules.

Never thought of Paul as a mystic, but I can see how some might interpret his Damascus Road experience that way!

Thanks for your comment!

Susanne said...

Wafa', good point. When Samer read through Paul's letters with me and also Acts which speaks of him, he was amazed at all Paul went through to tell the good news of Jesus. He used to think Paul infiltrated Christianity to corrupt it for the sake of Judaism, but had to rethink that position when he read what all Paul endured. Samer didn't think many people would go to that trouble.

Thank you for sharing your point of view! :)

Susanne said...

Suroor, :-D Thanks! I'd love to know the names of those authors/books. Thank you!

Suroor said...

Oh I wanted to add that my comment was general, aimed more at general Muslim understanding of Paul like Wafa mentioned. My comment was not aimed at Wafa :D I am terribly sorry!

Just wanted to say that basically I was saying what Wafa said much better - But to believe this much in something and preach it and be in so much trouble because of is not something any fake person can do.

Susanne said...

Suroor, I didn't think you were speaking of anyone in particular. :) Hopefully Wafa' didn't as well. :)

Actually the more I read this book the more I see that the author doesn't believe Paul even thought of Jesus as God. Jesus as Savior, yes. But not as God.

To this he credits John or "the beloved disciple."

I've been reading more today and just got to this part a bit ago.