( for or for )
"Bad News Paul"
feature the good news of Jesus
for all kinds of needy people,
Paul's epistles contain
a lot of bad news
for the weak, i.e.
for slaves, the poor,
women, Jews, and gays;
but good news
for some in power.
Paul of Tarsus was so ambitious and so energetic that, had he been a business man, he could have been the Donald Trump of his day. If Jesus had wanted to include the great enterprising Paul among the twelve men who would carry forth his work after his passing, there was nothing preventing him from doing so. But he didn't. And what happened as soon as Jesus left the scene? If we are to believe Paul, then one of the first things Jesus did when he got to heaven was to discover what a huge mistake he had made, and to make things right, by first converting Paul, and then selecting him after all, not just to be one of the twelve, but to be the one apostle who would write more, travel more, and work harder than all twelve of the original apostles put together. Although it's been assumed for centuries that the Matthew and John who wrote Gospels were the original apostles of those names, the Gospels don't make such claims. And considering the facts that these were very common Jewish names, and that John's Gospel was writen in a language that was as "Greek" to him as it probably is to you, it is very unlikely that the apostles of those names wrote the gospels attributed to them.
Yet, we know that Paul's epistles were making the rounds of the churches between the years 51-64 CE, dozens of years before any of the four gospels appeared. For someone who was supposed to be one of Jesus of Nazareth's top representatives, it's remarkable that he never referred to Jesus being born of a virgin birth or to Jesus performing all kinds of miracles. And how could he represent Jesus without ever citing any of he many actual words of Jesus that the Gospel writers would eventually publish?
While the twelve apostles maintained the one original Christian community in Jerusalem, Paul was busy establishing churches throughout the Roman empire, all of which went on long after the Roman army destroyed the Jewish capital just 36 years after Jesus left the scene, along with the original community of Christ's followers – the Jewish Christians who were following the eleven apostles whom Jesus had left in charge of his work. Athough Paul only claimed for himself the title of "Apostle to the Gentiles", who knows what became of the project that Jesus chose the original "apostles" to carrry on after his departure from the earth? There is more than enough evidence to support the view that the "Christianity" many "believers" have inherited over the centuries has been based on the legacy, not so much of Jesus of Nazareth, but of Paul of Tarsus.
After writing most of the content of this website, the thought occurred to me that "The Acts of the Apostles" should provide some insight as to what the original "apostles" did after Jesus had departed the earthly scene, in comparison to what Paul did. So I reread that book with the sole purpose of answering that question. To my amazement, what I learned was:.
Although they may not recognize it, Conservatives are much more enthused about the teaching of Paul than they are of Jesus' teaching. Just listen to them, or look at what they write. Most of the time, even when they mention Jesus' name, it isn't to promote his teaching about himself, but to promote Paul's teaching about Christ. Here is a perfect example of how "Christian Conservatives" view their identity as "Christians", not by what Jesus taught, but by what Paul taught.
Unlike Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Liberal who built up the weak and the poor, while tearing down the mighty, Paul of Tarsus was a Conservative who often down the weak: women, slaves, Jews, gays and the poor, while empowering those in power, as I will spell out in Paul's own words below. Paul has proven himself the dream theologian of Conservatives, who for centuries has provided any number of bible passages to help white, European, male, prosperous, heterosexual "Christians" to help them keep the rest of mankind under their feet.
As we show in great depth at our LiberalvsConservative.Org site, the real essence of Conservatism, is the persuasion that some people are entitled to have advantages or privileges giving them social standing above people of color, or Jews, or women, or homosexuals, or the poor, and they can and should do whatever it takes to protect, i.e. "conserve" and promote those advantages against the efforts of those who would "liberate" themselves (or others) from their disadvantages.
So-called "Conservative Christians" have never been able to find much in Jesus' teaching to support their conservatism. But they hit the biblical jackpot in support of their views in the teaching of Paul of Tarsus.
"Let the gentleman go to revelation to learn the decree of God, let him go to the Bible. I said that slavery was sanctioned in the Bible, authorized, regulated, and recognized from Genesis to (the book of) Revelation. Slavery existed then in the earliest ages and among the chosen people of God; and in revelation we are told that it shall exist till the end of time shall come. You find it in the Old and New Testaments, in the prophecies, psalms, and (especially) the epistles of Paul; you find it recognized and sanctioned everywhere."
President of the Confederate States of America
Frederick Douglass was an extraordinary man, who not only managed to throw off the shackles of slavery but went far beyond the conventional wisdom of his enslavers. In his autobiography, he contrasted the Christianity that characterised America's Southern "Bible Belt", and the Christianity of Christ :
" I find, since reading over the foregoing Narrative that I have, in several instances, spoken in such a tone and manner, respecting religion, as may possibly lead those unacquainted with my religious views to suppose me an opponent of all religion. To remove the liability of such misapprehension, I deem it proper to append the following brief explanation.
What I have said respecting and
against religion, I mean strictly to apply to the
slaveholding religion of this land, and with no possible
reference to Christianity proper; for, between the
Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I
recognize the widest, possible difference–so wide, that
to receive the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity
to reject the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked. To be the
friend of the one, is of necessity to be the enemy of the
other. I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity
of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding,
women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical
Christianity of this land. Indeed, I can see no reason, but
the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land
Christianity. I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers,
the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels.
. . . I am filled with unutterable loathing when I contemplate the religious pomp and show, together with the horrible inconsistencies, which every where surround me. We have men-stealers for ministers, women-whippers for missionaries, and cradle-plunderers for church members. The man who wields the blood-clotted cow skin (whip) during the week fills the pulpit on Sunday, and claims to be a minister of the meek and lowly Jesus. The man who robs me of my earnings at the end of each week meets me as a class-leader on Sunday morning, to show me the way of life, and the path of salvation. He who sells my sister, for purposes of prostitution, stands forth as the pious advocate of purity. He who proclaims it a religious duty to read the Bible denies me the right of learning to read the name of the God who made me. He who is the religious advocate of marriage robs whole millions (of slaves) of its sacred influence, and leaves them to the ravages of wholesale (moral) pollution. The warm defender of the sacredness of the family relation is the same that scatters whole families, – sundering husbands and wives, parents and children, sisters and brothers, leaving the hut vacant, and the hearth desolate. We see the thief preaching against theft, and the adulterer against adultery. We have men sold to build churches, women sold to support the gospel, and babes sold to purchase Bibles for the poor heathen! all for the glory of God and the good of souls! The slave auctioneer's bell and the church-going bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries of the heart-broken slave are drowned in the religious shouts of his pious master. Revivals of religion and revivals in the slave-trade go hand in hand together. The slave prison and the church stand near each other. The clanking of fetters and the rattling of chains in the prison, and the pious psalm and solemn prayer in the church, may be heard at the same time. The dealers in the bodies and souls of men erect their stand in the presence of the pulpit, and they mutually help each other. The dealer gives his blood-stained gold to support the pulpit, and the pulpit, in return, covers his infernal business with the garb of Christianity. Here we have religion and robbery the allies of each other–devils dressed in angels' robes, and hell presenting the semblance of paradise."
"I assert most unhesitatingly, that the religion of the South is a mere covering for the most horrid crimes–a justifier of the most appalling barbarity, a sanctifier of the most hateful frauds, and a dark shelter under which the darkest, foulest, grossest, and most infernal deeds of slave holders find the strongest protection. Where I to be again reduced to the chains of slavery, next to that enslavement, I should regard being the slave of a religious master the greatest calamity that could befall me... I... hate the corrupt, slave holding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land."
– Frederick Douglass (After the Escape)
"As for the male and female slaves whom you may have, it is from the nations around you that you may acquire male and female slaves. You may also acquire them from among the aliens residing with you, and from their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property. You may keep them as a possession for your children after you, for them to inherit as property."
and Exodus 21:20, which adds:
"When a slaveowner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. But if the slave survives a day or two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner's property."
So-called "Christian Conservatives" who desperately need some of the Bible's least important verses to hound homosexuals these days, are the worthy descendants of their predecessors, who used the Bible in the very same way to promote and defend slavery for hundreds of years. As Dr. Terrry Matthews explains so well in http://WhatWouldJesusThink.info/
slavery&southernchurches.html, "The South felt it necessary to defend the Bible as inerrant truth, with no mixture of error because Southerners came to believe that anything that threatened to undermine the authority of scripture also undermined one of their best defenses of slavery.
One of the Southern "theologians", Robert Lewis Dabney, clearly described the deliberate nature of this strategy when he wrote in 1851: "Here is our policy then . . . to push the Bible argument continually, to drive Abolitionism to the wall, to compel it to assume an anti-Christian position." Like other Southerners, he felt that if the abolitionists could be made out to be attacking God's Word as well as slavery, their influence among the public could be limited. Another leading Southerner, James Henley Thornwell, went so far as to say that calling Slavery sinful was to reject the Bible in favor of a rationalistic mode of thought. And some Southern religious leaders who went so far as to attack the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Bill of Rights, as having sprung from the same infidel philosophy which bred abolitionism.
While conservative Southern Christians used the worst parts of the bible to justify human slavery, liberal Northern Christians used the best parts of the bible to fight for the abolition of slavery. They focused on the spirit and teachings of Jesus, and believed that the Golden Rule had superseded the ethic of the Old Testament. They saw scripture as a progressive revelation, and therefore gave greater weight to the New Testament teaching concerning the law of love.
On the other hand was the South, with its claim that slavery was divinely ordained. Here are some examples of the use that Southern clergy made of scriptural texts to prove their point, and to even insist that those who differed from them were denying the truthfulness of "God's Word" :
The Alabama Conference of the Methodist Church proclaimed in January, 1861: "African slavery is a wise, humane and righteous institution approved by God. "
The General Assembly of the Southern Presbyterian Church boasted in 1864: "We have no hesitation in affirming that it is the peculiar mission of the southern church to conserve the institution of slavery and to make it a blessing to both master and slave." In an 1862 sermon at Savannah, GA, Episcopalian Bishop Elliott actually condemned opposition to slavery as "presumptuous interference with the will and ways of God."
On the other side, the abolitionist leader, William Lloyd Garrison said at the time, "It [slavery] has exercised absolute mastery over (a large part of) the American Church. With the Bible in their hands, her priesthood have attempted to prove that slavery came down from God out of heaven. They have become slaveholders and dealers in human flesh."
And the one time slave, Frederick Douglass, mourned "We have men sold to build churches, women sold to support the gospel, and babies sold to purchase Bibles for the poor heathen, all for the glory of God and the good of souls. The slave auctioneer’s bell and the church-going bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries of the heart-broken slave are drowned in the religious shouts of his pious master. Revivals of religion and revivals in the slave trade go hand in hand.”
There is no merit to the Christian-conservative argument that most people in Paul's time viewed the enslavement of other human beings as normal.
Historians are now revealing that at the very time that Paul was publishing his epistles, the very pious Essenes, who were also known as the "Nazarenes" (perhaps because of a connection with Jesus of Nazareth), were dead-set against the practice of slavery. We weren't aware of these people until the discovery of many writings of theirs that became famous as "the Dead Sea Scrolls" in the late 20th century.
Philo of Alexandria, a contemporary of the Essenes, wrote about them : "Least of all were any slaves to be found among them, for they saw in slavery a violation of the law of nature which made all people free."
George Lincoln Rockwell (March 9, 1918 – August 25, 1967) was the very racist founder of the American Nazi Party and a major figure in the National Socialist movement in post-war America and his beliefs and writings are still influential among White Nationalists and National Socialists today. In the wikipedia entry on him this interesting statement appears in the middle of the section on his ideological development : "In his later years, he would equate himself with Saint Paul and promoted Christian Identity, a racist sect, hoping to obtain conservative Christian support."
"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. "
Far from encouraging the male chauvinism of the times and of middle eastern culture, Jesus demonstrated a remarkable respect for women. He seemed to go out of his way to interact with women, and especially with women of ill repute or of other cultures. Click here to see ALL of the instances of the word "woman" in the Gospels. Here are the two most noteworthy of those passages:
When pious Religious Leaders demanded that Jesus follow the Bible's teaching and impose the death sentence on the woman "caught in the very act of adultery," instead of condemning the adulteress, Jesus condemned her conservative prosecutors!
What an amazing chapter this is.
It's packed full of worthwhile lessons:
First, if there's one behavior that Jesus couldn't abide, it was sinners playing down their own sins while playing up someone else's. In this instance, the sin of one party (the adulteress) was being used by a second party (the even more sinful religious right hypocrites), to bring harm on a guilt–free third party (Jesus himself).
Then, there's a point so obvious that Jesus may not have felt it even necessary to emphasize. But, as the father of seven daughters, I wish Jesus had asked these sanctimonious male accusers explicitly, "Was this woman alone at the time of this adultery?"
And finally, there's the magnificent way in which Jesus turns the table on the hypocrites doing the accusing, and puts the judges themselves on trial :
"I know this is painful for the ladies to hear, but if you get married, you have accepted the headship of a man, your husband. Christ is the head of the household and the husband is the head of the wife, and that's the way it is, period."
– Pat Robertson again, The 700 Club, 01-08-92 and
"This passage is especially striking because Paul is talking about the class of suffering people who are nearest and dearest to God – and look at the conditions he requires before recommending assistance to widows within the church: first, family responsibility; second, help only to over–60s; third, help only to those well–known for good deeds. From all this we learn much about the particular problem of helping widows in the church, but we should also draw a logical conclusion: How much more so should we be careful before putting others on the list?
And how careful should we be in making up a list of those to be aided by government? Other parts of the New Testament similarly show that God is not obligated to help even widows, when ungodly belief and behavior has come to dominate a culture." (p. 265, "The Tragedy of American Compassion (1992)", by Marvin Olasky)
"My favorite memory of this verse occurred my first Sunday in Berkeley. I attended the local Episcopal parish next to the campus. A woman read both the Hebrew Scripture and Epistle lessons. The first lesson ended with the customary, 'The word of the Lord' to which Episcopalians heartily respond 'Thanks be to God!'
The Epistle contained the verses of I Cor.14: 34–35 (see above). One could observe the woman lector become increasingly incensed as she read the passage. At the end of the passage, there was a long pause after which the woman shook her head and gave the alternative acclamation, 'Here ends the lesson,' an acclamation to which there is no liturgical response. It was quite comical. I stifled a giggle but what happened next completely surprised me. The parish burst out in applause. In a subtle way, the woman lector had made a theological commentary on the lessons and the crowd roared its approval. Now, one doesn't see that in your average Sunday liturgy."
"Christians" who have a dim view of sexuality, women and marriage owe that view to Paul of Tarsus, rather than to Jesus of Nazareth, for ...
"Paul had mounted a vigorous defense of celibacy or remaining unmarried. Although he does not require it of his followers, he asserts that he lives the single non–sexual life and he strongly recommends it as the most practical as well as the most spiritually devoted lifestyle. He writes, in this regard, 'I wish that all were as I myself am,' [ I Corinthians 7:7–8 ]. . . one can conclude that if Paul had known Jesus to have been single or unmarried, living a celibate life, he would have mentioned it prominently. In fact it would have been one of his main points. It would have been irresistible. He mounts every possible defense of celibacy, but in the end is only able to appeal to his own example. Imagine how much more rigorously he could have argued had he been able to say, "follow me here, as I follow Christ." In this particular case I think his silence is "deafening." As with Cephas (Peter), the other apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, he knows that having a wife as a companion is the norm and pattern in the group. Paul must have known that Jesus was married."
[ http://jesusdynasty.com/blog/2007/05/01/was-jesus-married/ - no longer online - ]
There was an early Christian book called "The Acts of Paul and Thecla" in which Paul promoted total chastity as the only path to Heaven!
On the September 12, 2006 edition of Talk Radio Network's The Savage Nation, Michael Savage had this to say about women:
" Weren't we told before Barbara Boxer became a U.S. senator, before Dianne Feinstein became a U.S. senator, before Hillary Clinton became a U.S. senator, that when women became senators, we'd have a kinder, gentler Senate, a more compassionate Senate? Well, I think the results are quite clear. The Senate is not kinder and gentler or more compassionate. In fact, it's more vicious and more histrionic than ever, specifically because women have been injected into the Senate."
While Rev. Lee Grady published a book called "Ten-Lies-Church-Tells-Women", I don't know if he dealt with the contrast between Paul & Jesus, honestly. I hope that someone who has read the book will inform me. [ See
While Paul reflected the male chauvinism of his world, see the refreshingly liberal view of women that Jesus expressed in his words and his deeds. Sadly, in too many Christian homes and communities, Paul's view has prevailed over Jesus' view!
" Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning."
Unless the victims of these crimes had the foresight to have several witnesses on hand to observe the perpetration of the crimes against them, Jehovah's Witness say that God's Word proclaims that they are out of luck!!! See the very informative video :
See Part Two |
for the attacks of "St. Paul"
on Jews, gays and the poor;