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
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.
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.
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.
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.