St. Paul

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Reply Tue 15 Sep, 2009 01:38 pm
One thing that gets me about christianity, is that the teachings of St. Paul seem to be more valued then the teachings of Christ throughout mainstream christianity. Why is this?

I feel that St. Paul right as he may have been for the era in which he lived. His teachings fall far short of the criteria for happy modern day living. The first one that comes to mind the the "law" of celebacy untill marage. People forget that on average, in thoes days, the mariage age was about 13. In the modern day the mariage age is roughly the mid to late 20's and 30's this is far to long a time to wait to have sex. (If you dont use it you lose it). This, I feel, is the cause of the sexual problems that our society faces today. It is this demonization of sex that allows it to be such a rampant problem in todays society.

The other one is, due to the way that St. Paul writes, there is very little room for open mindedness in the mainstream curch. The cause of this is the fact that the area in which paul preached was generously estemated the size of texas. The open world in which we live carrys a much broader scope of people, places, things, idea, and cultures then existed in St. pauls world. I feel that this is a huge problem in todays culture.

The last problem was that St. Paul was an extremist. Extremism is always a problem. Now granted that St. Paul had to be an extremist due to the nature of the culture in which he lived. But, because of this, especialy considering todays society, his works must be considerd as such and must be therefore considered far form inspired by god as they are now. This would imply that his words should not be taken as the exact words of god as they are today. I feel that if these things were taken into consideration by the average christian. Christianity would be more appealing to the modern day human therby makeing Christianity a faith based religion as opposed to a fear based one like it mostly is now.

Just some thoughts.

thanks

Vajrasattva
 
salima
 
Reply Tue 15 Sep, 2009 03:20 pm
@vajrasattva,
so where can one find the teachings of jesus? i thought there were none left that could be verified. i am not too well versed on christianity, though my parents were christian. but i do certainly agree that sex is badly mishandled...you have heard the saying 'i am a recovering catholic' i assume?

and where are the teachings of st paul found? i mean he didnt write any of the four major gospels in the bew testament, so where is what he wrote? just curious...

i had thought about that sex thing...but we can hardly advise children to go out and have sex because they are anatomically ready for it. glad i dont have to think about that stuff any more. actually child marriage doesnt sound like a bad idea to me-works ok here in the villages. but it really wont suit modern society, they are now trying to abolish it here as well. why are human beings' bodies ready for sex before their minds can handle it i wonder? animals dont have these problems...in fact their minds are ready before their bodies, so they have other problems...
 
Labyrinth
 
Reply Tue 15 Sep, 2009 03:54 pm
@vajrasattva,
vajrasattva;90382 wrote:
One thing that gets me about christianity, is that the teachings of St. Paul seem to be more valued then the teachings of Christ throughout mainstream christianity. Why is this?


I don't know if I would totally agree with that. Words attributed to Christ and those of Paul seem to be referred to equally. Paul's contribution is mostly through his missions to the non-Jewish or as is called in the Bible, Gentile peoples. Gentile inclusion was the big issue in the period of Christianity's birth. It takes an astute eye to note its true significance in the scriptures. Peter and the other apostles were actually not willing to make a complete break from Judaism. Galatians 2 relates Paul's side of the story of a dispute resulting from disagreement on whether or not the Jewish Law was still enforceable (which if it were would exclude the majority of Gentile believers). Paul boldly separated from the apostles (but still recognized the primacy of the Jerusalem church for the sake of unity of faith) in his missions. This is reflected in that the Jewish Barnabas who accompanied him on his first mission was replaced by the Gentile Silas. Also, note this comment from Paul at the end of Colossians...

"Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me."
Colossians 4:11

Paul was much lacking in Jewish support in his Gentile mission. He worked seemingly alone in spearheading this grand effort. He is credited with this much as you may have heard the term Pauline Christianity. Paul's teachings are still valuable (Freud numbers him among the great thinkers), but his bold "include everyone" attitude is what separates him from the pack of early evangelists. Without such a figure like Paul, Christianity as we know it today might have simply been (and perhaps have died out) the Jewish sect known as the Nazarenes.

vajrasattva;90382 wrote:
I feel that St. Paul right as he may have been for the era in which he lived. His teachings fall far short of the criteria for happy modern day living. The first one that comes to mind the the "law" of celebacy untill marage. People forget that on average, in thoes days, the mariage age was about 13. In the modern day the mariage age is roughly the mid to late 20's and 30's this is far to long a time to wait to have sex. (If you dont use it you lose it). This, I feel, is the cause of the sexual problems that our society faces today. It is this demonization of sex that allows it to be such a rampant problem in todays society.


The only passage I can think of referring to this can only be called a strong suggestion to remain unmarried and not a law. Remember, in that time, churches were not yet locally governed entities. They met in people's houses and preachers were itinerant missionaries. Such traveling preachers were best functional without family commitments. I agree with this part of your post. We can use simple hermeneutics to recognize that this teaching doesn't apply so much to our times.

vajrasattva;90382 wrote:
The other one is, due to the way that St. Paul writes, there is very little room for open mindedness in the mainstream curch. The cause of this is the fact that the area in which paul preached was generously estemated the size of texas. The open world in which we live carrys a much broader scope of people, places, things, idea, and cultures then existed in St. pauls world. I feel that this is a huge problem in todays culture.


Paul was mostly concerned with battling division in the church. I saw Paul as a more open-minded figure among his fellow believers. I've already mentioned his efforts to include all the peoples of the world (his whole world) in the church. Romans 14 illustrates a good example of how Paul teaches understanding of people's beliefs and differing consciences for the sake of unity. This post is already gaining considerable length, so I won't go into detail on it. I suggest reading this passage and studying its background.

vajrasattva;90382 wrote:
The last problem was that St. Paul was an extremist. Extremism is always a problem. Now granted that St. Paul had to be an extremist due to the nature of the culture in which he lived. But, because of this, especialy considering todays society, his works must be considerd as such and must be therefore considered far form inspired by god as they are now. This would imply that his words should not be taken as the exact words of god as they are today. I feel that if these things were taken into consideration by the average christian. Christianity would be more appealing to the modern day human therby makeing Christianity a faith based religion as opposed to a fear based one like it mostly is now.


Fully agree with you. Not all Christians go strictly by the written word in a literal sense (thankfully!). A better sense has taught us the value of hermeneutics allowing for proper application of the teachings and an overall better understanding of them. The dominant mantra during the Pauline era was that Christ was coming imminently. They rightly felt the need for extremism as they truly believed that this was the end. Not keeping this in mind can really skew a believer's mindset badly.

Great post on Paul!! I know its rare that one would read his letters and agree with all his teachings as some of them are hard to swallow. I cut him a lot of slack because of his furious energy and his frantic quest to establish unity in a geographically and culturally wide range. Also, I always make sure to keep in mind that he didn't write scriptures; he was writing letters that came to be treated as scripture. Canonization is an after-the-fact process.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Tue 15 Sep, 2009 05:08 pm
@Labyrinth,
Right, Paul's place is largely the result of his mission to the Gentiles. In many ways, he is more influential on Christianity than Jesus.

A Christian is someone who follows the teachings of Christ, Jesus - if Paul's teachings seem to contradict those of Jesus, the Christian should go with Jesus. Of course, finding what exactly Christ taught is not so easy. I suggest comparing the various teachings of the Gospels, and the teachings found in apocrypha. Ultimately, you can only accept what agrees with your own sense of reason.

There is a book I have been meaning to pick up for some time now. It is Elaine Pagel's The Gnostic Paul. Reading Paul as a Gnostic is certainly uncommon, so if anyone has read this book, I would be very much interested in their take on the work.
 
peter74
 
Reply Tue 15 Sep, 2009 05:25 pm
@vajrasattva,
It was St. Paul that converted Christianity as a Jewish Sect to Christianity as a Major Religion which made him popular.
 
prothero
 
Reply Tue 15 Sep, 2009 07:50 pm
@vajrasattva,
I think without Paul there would not be a Christian faith.
It is doubtful Jesus intended to found a new faith as opposed to reforming Judaism.
The primacy of love over law and of inner spirituality over external piety.
It was Paul who took the message of Jesus (as interpreted by Paul) to the Gentiles and founded a new religion as opposed to a Jewish sect.

It was of course the adoption of Chrisitainity as the official religon of the Roman Empire which ensured its European dominance for the last 2000 years and the dominance of Europe over the world that made Chrisitianity a world religion.
 
Fido
 
Reply Tue 15 Sep, 2009 10:00 pm
@vajrasattva,
vajrasattva;90382 wrote:
One thing that gets me about christianity, is that the teachings of St. Paul seem to be more valued then the teachings of Christ throughout mainstream christianity. Why is this?

I feel that St. Paul right as he may have been for the era in which he lived. His teachings fall far short of the criteria for happy modern day living. The first one that comes to mind the the "law" of celebacy untill marage. People forget that on average, in thoes days, the mariage age was about 13. In the modern day the mariage age is roughly the mid to late 20's and 30's this is far to long a time to wait to have sex. (If you dont use it you lose it). This, I feel, is the cause of the sexual problems that our society faces today. It is this demonization of sex that allows it to be such a rampant problem in todays society.

The other one is, due to the way that St. Paul writes, there is very little room for open mindedness in the mainstream curch. The cause of this is the fact that the area in which paul preached was generously estemated the size of texas. The open world in which we live carrys a much broader scope of people, places, things, idea, and cultures then existed in St. pauls world. I feel that this is a huge problem in todays culture.

The last problem was that St. Paul was an extremist. Extremism is always a problem. Now granted that St. Paul had to be an extremist due to the nature of the culture in which he lived. But, because of this, especialy considering todays society, his works must be considerd as such and must be therefore considered far form inspired by god as they are now. This would imply that his words should not be taken as the exact words of god as they are today. I feel that if these things were taken into consideration by the average christian. Christianity would be more appealing to the modern day human therby makeing Christianity a faith based religion as opposed to a fear based one like it mostly is now.

Just some thoughts.

thanks

Vajrasattva

Paul made Christianity a success by making it palatable to the Romans, as it would never have been as an obscure Jewish sect... He interpreted the action oriented, and psychologically inspired relationship of God with Christ as purely a matter of faith, and faith without works is Christianity...He gave us grace, what might be called tangible justification for the Jews, as an interpretation of Jesus, as we have him in the parables, blessing as he sees fit rather than by just deserts... There is no accounting for the love of God in the eyes of Paul, and we have it -though unworthy... How then shall the modern Christian tell if he is chosen???One might say that he will just know...The common experience has been that we know we are blessed in a tangible fashion, just as the Jews -because the grace of God can be demonstrated, and shown as success, or wealth...
 
Caroline
 
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 05:41 am
@salima,
salima;90407 wrote:
i am not too well versed on christianity, though my parents were christian. but i do certainly agree that sex is badly mishandled...you have heard the saying 'i am a recovering catholic' i assume?

No I haven't, what does it mean please?
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 07:04 am
@Caroline,
It means that they were raised Catholic and later found the teachings as they understood them to be unpalatable.

For example - "No sex before marriage!"

"Are you serious?"

"If you do, off to Hell!"

"Forget Catholicism."
 
Alan McDougall
 
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 08:31 am
@vajrasattva,
To me Paul was less radical than Jesus in his teaching, he allowed for the concept of grace, whereby a person is not saved by their works; but by the grace given by the blood of the sacrificial Jesus, like the passover lamb in Exodus

On the other hand Jesus seemed to base his teaching more on works
 
salima
 
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 08:56 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;90567 wrote:
It means that they were raised Catholic and later found the teachings as they understood them to be unpalatable.

For example - "No sex before marriage!"

"Are you serious?"

"If you do, off to Hell!"

"Forget Catholicism."


that's not the way i understood it! it is to parallel the AA statement when an alcoholic no matter how many years he has been dry is still considering himself a 'recovering' alcoholic. the damage is lifelong and one has to continually struggle against the influence of the past which caused various hangups. it's an inside joke...sorry, i thought everyone knew. i must admit it was poor taste for me to have repeated it. sorry again.
 
vajrasattva
 
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 09:02 am
@vajrasattva,
I do feel that St. Paul considering his christian faith dose indeed desereve the title before his name. He was indeed a saint. I would also like to precurse whth the fact that Christ was a specimin of alturism that is rarely found on earth.

The teachings of christ can be summed up in one verse "love your neighbor as your self and love YOUR god with all of your heart your mind your soul and your strength". St. Pauls fervor for the propogation of this teaching was incredible. Imagine walking from Austin texas to Dallas texas or even to Corpus Christi (HA HA HA) to see your idols ideas heard. Not to menition the fact that every self proclaimed god ruler of the area was out to kill St. Paul for what he said. Imagine teaching white supremacy as a religion in Ingelwood California in the early 90's.

I also feel that considering the time and the situation in which St. Paul lived that his extreemism was mild. More blood had been spilled over religion in that area then any other place on earth. And we all know that the religious hate new ideas due to the fact that they are afraid to be wrong or in hell.

But the fact that the gospels of St. Paul are taken as the direct words of the mouth of god is frankly disgusting. I like his teachings and all but they are not the inspired word of god. I feel that God (considering his/her/its existence) would be a being of little word and gentle toung. "LOVE your neighbor as YOURSELF". And "love YOUR god with all your heart mind soul and strength". Not hard to swallow not hard to do. Christ as a self proclaimed savior of the earth would not want half the earth to go to hell due to an inability to swalow his teaching not to mention do it. That would mean that he failed and is therefore fallable. "I will save the entire world except thoes I dont like, which is prety much all of you" and I quote [(6th john 102:207) ha ha ha].

I feel that (as a recovering catholic) that preaching to the romans was an audacity considering what has happened to that sect of this religion. I feel that roman catholicism and catholicism in general is an abomination. Not to mention EVERY other fundamentalist sect of EVERY other religion. The fruition of the humans desire for control of his fellows can be found more in religion then anywhere else. And religion in general has done more harm to the human species then anything else. The results of a Nuke are significantly less damaging then the fear based faith that reilgion tends to inspire in the commoner. I feel that religion in general should be pagan (meaning individual) and universal. This is the only way that the individual will be able to impress his or her good upon society as a whole.

As a rule I feel that christianity is a falling religion due to the close minded fear of its memebers. In general the christians that I have met are totaly closed to the idea that god could be found somewhere other then their religion, and are also clinging to the idea that god is omnipresent. And in the same breath believe that god is omnibenevolent, but a good portion of the earth is going to burn in hell FOREVER because of the fact that the were raised to another creed. Other logical falacys which their closed minds love to preach pervade the western culture and frankly anyone with half a brain at some point must come to question these"FACTS" of there faith. This is why I feel that western religion and theistic religion in general is doomed to fall to the tide of time.

Just some more thoughts

Thanks

Vajrasattva
 
Labyrinth
 
Reply Thu 17 Sep, 2009 07:19 am
@vajrasattva,
vajrasattva;90613 wrote:

....I feel that (as a recovering catholic) that preaching to the romans was an audacity considering what has happened to that sect of this religion. I feel that roman catholicism and catholicism in general is an abomination. Not to mention EVERY other fundamentalist sect of EVERY other religion....


I hope I'm reading this incorrectly as I've gotten the impression that you think Paul is to be faulted for writing to the Romans. The book of Romans is far from a writing that inspires oppression or declaration of a "holy war." The interpreter (or editor if you'd prefer another term) and not the writer of scriptures should be blamed for faulty interpretation in cases where the writer is reasonably believed to be writing in good conscience. If this isn't the case, should we blame Charles Darwin for social Darwinism? Or Jesus Christ for Christian heretics? Plato for Neo-Platonism?

Yes, Catholics had a badly mistaken objectified divinity in that it progressed to the point that divine flesh was said to be in bread and forgiveness was said to be in a slip of paper. But I blame the Catholics for that, and not Paul.
 
Caroline
 
Reply Thu 17 Sep, 2009 07:22 am
@salima,
salima;90610 wrote:
that's not the way i understood it! it is to parallel the AA statement when an alcoholic no matter how many years he has been dry is still considering himself a 'recovering' alcoholic. the damage is lifelong and one has to continually struggle against the influence of the past which caused various hangups. it's an inside joke...sorry, i thought everyone knew. i must admit it was poor taste for me to have repeated it. sorry again.

I think one can put the past behind to a point it has no influence what so ever, it's a matter of how you look at it, your outlook. I've never let the pass influence me, nor will I ever, well certainly not the bad things, its easy you just ignore it til it goes away.Wink
Thanks.
 
Alan McDougall
 
Reply Thu 17 Sep, 2009 07:54 am
@Caroline,
Caroline;90857 wrote:
I think one can put the past behind to a point it has no influence what so ever, it's a matter of how you look at it, your outlook. I've never let the pass influence me, nor will I ever, well certainly not the bad things, its easy you just ignore it til it goes away.Wink
Thanks.


But the past does effect you dear Caroline, like it or not!
 
Caroline
 
Reply Thu 17 Sep, 2009 07:56 am
@Alan McDougall,
Alan McDougall;90865 wrote:
But the past does effect you dear Caroline, like it or not!

What do mean exactly? I was talking about bad things that happen to you in the past, it's up to you whether you let it affect you or not.
 
vajrasattva
 
Reply Thu 17 Sep, 2009 10:38 am
@vajrasattva,
I feel that St. Paul did an excelent job evangelizing for the time in which he lived. But in todays world his teachings are far inadiquit. And the roman catholic church is the most dogmatic, controling, and demanding of all of the modern curches with the exception of perhaps the Southern Baptists.

"Failing the Great Integrity (God)
we resort to virtuousness
failing virtue
we resort to moralizing
failing moralizing
we resort to dogma
the most superficial form
of faith and loyalty
and the noruishment for confusion."
- The Tao Te Ching

This is the reason that i said that St. Paul was wrong for evangelizing to the Romans. The Romans took Christ and proceded to make his teaching the central form of law and government in the roman world. This is a huge problem.
 
Labyrinth
 
Reply Thu 17 Sep, 2009 02:31 pm
@vajrasattva,
vajrasattva;90938 wrote:
This is the reason that i said that St. Paul was wrong for evangelizing to the Romans. The Romans took Christ and proceded to make his teaching the central form of law and government in the roman world. This is a huge problem.


Again, I don't see why you fault Paul exclusively for this and not the Roman Catholic clergy themselves. How much subjective independence do you allow for in one's actions?

Hegel, to me, explains the fault of the Catholics best in Philosophy of History. He describes how the Catholics wrongly tried to make the earthly world contemporaneously the objective kingdom of heaven. When this worldview is taken, things of divinity are thought to be in tangible forms in our world. Paul did not preach this. The Catholics claimed the divine powers to be in their hands in the sacraments. At one point, a piece of paper absolves one of sin. Flesh of God in bread, pieces of a saint's bone containing healing powers, a money payment securing one's soul....this is all a result of a woefully confused worldview, not Pauline writings.

The Reformation was the attempt at a return from this objectification of spiritual powers back to faith properly placed in the subject. Pauline writings were appealed to in this movement as well.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Thu 17 Sep, 2009 02:38 pm
@Labyrinth,
Blaming both Paul and the RC Clergy is mistaken if we are talking about the politicization of the Church by Rome - that was Constantine and his successors, not the current Pope in Rome.

But I will say that Labyrinth is quite right with respect to Paul's writings - they were extremely important for Reformation arguments against the obscenities of the Catholic Church at the time.

I just want to remind everyone that the Reformation takes place after a series of the "Secular Popes" who are noted historically for their immense abuse of power, lack of spiritual concern, the waging of war, and for gluttonous absurdity. In other words, they are not very good representations of the spiritual tradition of the Catholic faith, instead, they are great representations of just how corrupt any tradition can become.
 
Labyrinth
 
Reply Thu 17 Sep, 2009 04:56 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;91020 wrote:
I just want to remind everyone that the Reformation takes place after a series of the "Secular Popes" who are noted historically for their immense abuse of power, lack of spiritual concern, the waging of war, and for gluttonous absurdity. In other words, they are not very good representations of the spiritual tradition of the Catholic faith, instead, they are great representations of just how corrupt any tradition can become.


Good point. I would however include this problem under the mistaken worldview established by the Roman church. The papal position was open to such abuse because they superimposed the spiritual domain over that of the temporal to confirm their belief in the objectified spiritual. I don't know if a series of popes immediately preceding the Reformation sparked it all though my church history is hazy. I know Gregory VII and Innocent III made great strides in this direction whether or not their intentions were good. Vicar of Christ on earth, bread of life, holy relics, money payments with spiritual implications....I don't know...it sounds like bad fruits from one bad tree to me.
 
 

 
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