Does New Testament deny followers of Jesus (p) to be “Muslims”?

Does New Testament deny followers of Jesus (p) to be “Muslims”?

A look into New Testament beyond mere “Christian” disciples of Jesus (p)

 

Question Mark

 

Introduction

In the last installment we proved that Qur’an does not lend any veracity to the “Bible”. We also quoted that Qur’an does claim the original followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) to be Muslims (c.f. Qur’an 3:52, 5:111); this obviously offends Christians like Sam Shamoun who claims that Qur’an is at historical “error”.

Therefore, in this part, we would consider New Testament itself for the validity of the Qur’anic assertion. We would see that there were many “other-apostles” of Jesus (peace be upon him) albeit, sarcastically called as “chief-apostles” by Paul (c.f. 2 Corinthians 11:5), and put under extremely negative light (as expected) who, interestingly, had beliefs very similar to the Qur’anic claim!

Let Loose the Letters

 

Most of the Epistles of the New Testament were written to address specific issues which the fledgling first century (earliest) churches were facing. In this regard, Pauline epistles to Corinthians are of immediate interest to us since they relate to our investigation quite precisely.

However, before we actually delve into the epistle, it is important to observe the tone which Paul has used. Consider the following “verses”:

From Paul, who was called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Sosthenes –” (1 Corinthians 1:1)

Note that Paul starts off by strongly emphasizing that it was by the “will” of God Himself that he became an apostle of Jesus (peace be upon him). In other words, he wanted to assert his apostolic authority over the Corinthians. This phenomenon is interspersed throughout the epistle. Consider a similar emphasis again merely eight verses later:

By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ I appeal to all of you, my brothers…” (1 Corinthians 1:10)

Paul did not find it redundant to reiterate his “apostolic” authority one more time:

So then, we do not speak in words taught by human wisdom but in words taught by the spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:13)

Why was Paul so concerned to exert his apostolic authority so often? Probably because masses were not recognizing him as any so-called “apostle” of Jesus (peace be upon him). In fact, as we would soon explore, Paul was indeed unrecognized to have any “apostolic authority”. This would have a close link with our principal investigation: whether Jesus (peace be upon him) had Muslim followers? We would start from the very reason why Paul was made to write the letters to the Corinthians!

Paul had been informed that there was a vitriolic schism in the “Christian” community of Corinth and so he dispatches letters to the Corinthians addressing the issue; exhorting people to unite (c.f. 1 Corinthians 1:11). However, the nature of the dispute is very crucial because the earliest “Christian” community was divided over the apostles:

“Let me put it this way: each one of you says something different. One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Peter”; and another, “I follow Christ.”” (1 Corinthians 1:12, Good News Edition)

The above quotation indicates that the preaching of different apostles were different. (And they differed very arduously as we would subsequently observe.) Otherwise it makes no sense that the community would be divided over apostles if they were monolithic.

Moreover the last part of the citation is utmost important since it alludes to a particular group in the community which denied to follow any so-called “apostles” than Jesus (peace be upon him) himself! Who could be these people? New Testament provides meager information about these “Christ-followers”; however, we can be sure that they cannot be Jews since they recognized Jesus (peace be upon him) as “Christ”. Similarly, they cannot be “Christians” either, that is, the “orthodox” Pauline Christians – believing cross, alleged death and resurrection and deity of Jesus (p) – since they rejected Paul to follow Jesus (peace be upon him); be mindful that there was a certain group who was claiming to be “Paul-followers”; and these “Christ-followers” did not coincide with them in their declaration! Thus, if this group was neither Jewish nor Christian, then obviously there remains a big question as to who were these people?

Moreover, why this group choose to follow Jesus (peace be upon him) himself rejecting multiple “apostles” at their disposition who were readily, in turn, claiming to follow Jesus (peace be upon him), Paul for example (c.f. 1 Corinthians 11:1). Did not they know that these were “apostles” either handpicked or ‘supernaturally’ chosen en-route Damascus by Jesus (peace be upon him) himself? The only reason they would reject “apostles” to follow Jesus (peace be upon him) is when the apostles differed from Jesus (peace be upon him) so much so that they thought it is best to follow Christ (peace be upon him) himself rather than following differing apostles!

We cannot even dash off these Christ-followers as “heretics”; they can only be condemned as heretics when the condemner is presupposed to be an “orthodox”! In other words, it depends on the perspective one is looking from. For it is sure that Paul and his preaching were “heretical” for these “Christ-followers”, as we would soon observe through the pages of New Testament!

And thus, as discussed above, if this particular group was neither Jewish nor Christian then it certainly opens up the contention that followership of Jesus (peace be upon him) was not merely restricted to those who became positively famous through the pages of New Testament and subsequently in the “orthodox” churches as “Christians”. And so, for the rest of the paper we would further substantiate this notion. In the course, we would indirectly glean intriguing deductions that groups like “Christ-followers” denied deity of Jesus (peace be upon him) to consider him as mere mortal thus further corroborating the Qur’anic assertion that original followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) were Muslims.

Finally, it is worthwhile to note that the historical, Muslim followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) had to follow Jesus (peace be upon him) himself than any other “apostle” just like contemporary Muslims have to follow Mohammad (peace be upon him) than any other teacher no matter how influential s/he is and if s/he differs from Mohammad (peace be upon him) himself! So in this context, these Christ-followers come very close to the Qur’anic assertion that Jesus’ (peace be upon him) original followers were Muslims: following him (p); rejecting intricate philosophies (trinity, vicarious atonement) of “apostles”, to submit their wills to God alone.

“Apostle” Paul rejected at Corinth

Remember that the first Pauline letter to the Corinthians was written because particular groups in the community chose individual apostles for themselves. It was not merely an issue of choosing one from the wide range of apostles, rather it entailed with it rejecting others while choosing the one for the particular group. As such those group who chose apostles other than Paul, or even those who ultimately chose Christ (peace be upon him) himself, rejected Paul (obviously for his preaching):

“Am I not a free man? Am I not an apostle? Haven’t I seen Jesus our Lord? And aren’t you the result of my work for the Lord? Even if others do not accept me as an apostle, surely you do! Because of your life in union with the Lord you yourselves are proof of the fact that I am an apostle.” (1 Corinthians 9:1-2)

Recall that at the start of this paper we noted that Paul, in this first letter to the Corinthians, chose a tone to defend his apostleship at Corinth, albeit, hitherto, indirectly. However, at this point in the letter, things just went out of hand where he had to make explicit appeal for his apostleship. Nevertheless, in a way, they also provide information as to the objections which the opponents of Paul raised. Paul appeals that because he has “seen” Jesus (peace be upon him) and “worked” for him with results, therefore, he must be a bona fide apostle!

However, why did Paul felt the need to appeal these specific notions? Probably because these were the primary arguments, amongst others, raised against his apostleship!: Corinthians were sure that Paul never consorted with Jesus (peace be upon him) in real time and the only information about Paul “seeing” Jesus (peace be upon him) comes after Jesus’(p) alleged death and only through hearsay to the Corinthians (in fact to almost everybody for that reason).

Similarly, Paul’s “work” could well have been another reason for his opposition. To be sure, Paul’s primary “work”, in other words, his preaching, was salvation through the alleged death and resurrection of Christ (peace be upon him) on cross. This could have gone unintelligible with his Corinthian opponents:

“For God in his wisdom made it impossible for people to know him by means of their own wisdom. Instead, by means of the so-called “foolish” message we preach, God decided to save those who believe. Jews [1.] want miracles for proof and Greeks look for wisdom. As for us we proclaim the crucified Christ, a message that is offensive to the Jews and nonsense to the Gentiles, this message is Christ, who is the power of God and the wisdom of God. For what seems to be God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and what seems to be God’s weakness is stronger than human strength” (1 Corinthians 1:21-25)

And therefore, Paul appeals to support these notions with a hope that even if other factions have denied his apostleship, at least, those who are apparently loyal to him would not doubt them.

More Issues with Paul and His preaching in Corinth

It was not that opposing groups in Corinth were merely following their apostles or “Christ”; in fact they were on full-fledged ministry against Paul and his preaching:

“I wish you would tolerate me, even when I am a bit foolish. Please do! I am jealous for you, just as God is; you are like a pure virgin whom I have promised in marriage to one man only Christ himself. I am afraid that your minds will be corrupted and that you will abandon your full and pure devotion to Christ – in the same way that Eve was deceived by snake’s clever lies. For you gladly tolerate anyone who comes to you and preaches a different Jesus, not the one we preached; and you accept a spirit and a gospel completely different from the Spirit and the gospel you received from us!” (2 Corinthians 11: 1-4) [2.]

Notice that “apostles” in Corinth were teaching a “different Jesus” and a “gospel completely different”. This gospel preaching about Jesus (peace be upon him) was so fundamentally different from Paul that he had premonitions that people might abandon “full” and “pure” “devotion” to Christ (peace be upon him).

According to standard Pauline, Trinitarian theology, “devotion” to Christ (peace be upon him) means services to Jesus (peace be upon him) while bearing him as “divine” “God” – the “second” in the divinity of “three”! Thus, inferably, we have a proof in the above polemical passage that opposing “apostles” in Corinth were specifically preaching a non-divine Jesus (peace be upon him). As celebrated Bible expositor Albert Barnes specifically comments on the same:

Ye might well bear with him – Margin, “with me.” The word “him” is not in the Greek; but is probably to be supplied. The sense is, there would then be some excuse for your conduct. There would be some reason why you should welcome such teachers. But if this cannot be done; if they can preach no other and no better gospel and Saviour than I have done, then there is no excuse. There is no reason why you should follow such teachers and forsake those who were your earliest guides in religion. – Let us never forsake the gospel which we have until we are sure we can get a better. Let us adhere to the simple doctrines of the New Testament until some one can furnish better and clearer doctrines. Let us follow the rules of Christ in our opinions and our conduct; our plans, our mode of worship, our dress, and our amusements, engagements, and company, until we can certainly ascertain that there are better rules. A man is foolish for making any change until he has evidence that he is likely to better himself; and it remains yet to be proved that anyone has ever bettered himself or his family by forsaking the simple doctrines of the Bible, and embracing a philosophical speculation; by forsaking the scriptural views of the Saviour as the incarnate God, and embracing the views which represent him as a mere man; by forsaking the simple and plain rules of Christ about our manner of life, our dress, and our words and actions, and embracing those which are recommended by mere fashion and by the customs of a frivolous world. (2 Corinthians 11:4, Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

As expected Barnes has a tone-down for any gospel message portraying Jesus (peace be upon him) other than as portrayed by Paul simply because he assumes/believes Paul (and himself) to be an “orthodox” Christian! And therefore, the Pauline opponents, for him, would have to be “heretics” incompetent of producing anything better than Paul. Nevertheless, as we argued earlier, the other-apostles at Corinth would have assumed exactly the same for their opponents. For them, they were “orthodox” and Paul and his supporters were “heretics”. However, in any case, no matter from which perspective we are looking from, for sure, we had groups as early as Paul, preaching a Jesus (peace be upon him) who was a “mere man” than any pagan influenced “incarnate god”.

Likewise, noted New Testament commentator Vincent also informs that at Corinth a Jesus (peace be upon him) of different “identity” and “nature” was proposed:

Another Jesus – another Spirit (ἄλλον  – ἕτερον)

 

Rev., another Jesus, a different Spirit. See on Mat_6:24. Another denies the identity; a different denies the similarity of nature. It is the difference of “individuality and kind” (Alford). (2 Corinthians 11:4, Vincent’s Word Studies)

As touted in churches, the “orthodox” Pauline “identity” and “nature” of Jesus (peace be upon him) was that he was “divine” Son of God, a “divine” savior and intercessor, the very “divine” second god-person of Trinitarian godhead, same in essence with divine Father (the “nature”); nevertheless, inferably, all of these were categorically denied by Pauline opponents when preached a Jesus (peace be upon him) of different “identity” and “nature”.

No surprises that contemporary Bible giants like James Dunn assert that “earliest” Jesus (p) traditions have no hint for his divinity:

 “There is no real evidence in the earliest Jesus traditions of what could fairly be called a consciousness of divinity.” (James Dunn, Christology in the Making, p.60)

It is for such notions that professors like John Hick claim that to impute divinity upon “historical” Jesus (peace be upon him) is not merely “devoid” in sense but its gradual evolution has pagan influences:

“For to say, without explanation, that the historical Jesus of Nazareth was also God is as devoid of meaningthat Jesus was God the Son incarnate is not literally true, since it has no literal meaning, but it[s] an application to Jesus of a mythical concept whose function is analogous to that of the notion of divine sonship ascribed in ancient world to a king.” (John Hick, The Myth of God Incarnate (London: SCM Press, 1977), p. 178)

Interestingly all of this is expressly important for the Qur’anic assertion that original followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) were “Muslims” since as Muslims they would not recognize him as divine in any sort since. Consider the following was the express teaching of Jesus (peace be upon him):

And behold! Allah will say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah’?” He will say: “Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, Thou I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden. “Never said I to them aught except what Thou didst command me to say, to wit, ‘worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord’; and I was a witness over them whilst I dwelt amongst them; when Thou didst take me up Thou wast the Watcher over them, and Thou art a witness to all things. (Qur’an 5:116-117)

They do blaspheme who say: “Allah is Christ the son of Mary.” But said Christ: “O Children of Israel! worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.” Whoever joins other gods with Allah,- Allah will forbid him the garden, and the Fire will be his abode. There will for the wrong-doers be no one to help. (Qur’an 5:72)

The forgoing could well be the reason that respected Christian sources like Compton’s Encyclopedia states that it was difficult to distinguish earliest “Christians” from Jews since the “only” difference between them was that they accepted Jesus (peace be upon him) to be “Messiah” while their Jewish counterparts did not:

“The early Christians were all Jews. They remained in Jerusalem and partook in the religious observance in the Temple. They differed from their fellow Jews ONLY in that they believed that the Messiah had come. Had they kept quiet about their conviction, they might well have remained a sect within Judaism…” (Compton’s Encyclopedia, ‘Christianity,’ (CD-ROM Home Library, 1997.)

So, the only difference was Messiah consciousness as opposed to divinity consciousness. And “Muslim” followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) had to recognize him as “Messiah”! (c.f. Qur’an 3:45). Now compare this with Pauline opponents at Corinth who claimed that they were “Christ”-followers, denyingfull and pure devotion to Christ” (c.f. 2 Corinthians 11:3).

Furthermore, it would be incorrect to restrict the scope of the Pauline verse to divinity of Jesus (peace be upon him) alone since, we know, Paul centered his theology on crucifixion and its redemptive capacity as well. Therefore, if Paul so staunchly complains that other “apostles” were preaching a “gospel completely different” about a completely “different” Jesus (peace be upon him) then his opponents were disparaging the importance and implications of cross! As Paul clarifies that many were rejecting crucifixion and philosophies entailed around it:

For the message about Christ’s death on the cross is nonsense to those who are being lost; but for us who are being saved it is God’s power.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)

It is interesting to note the place where Paul places the above “verse”. He wrote them just after introducing the division in the Corinthian church implying strongly that it was inside the Corinthian church where crucifixion and subsequent redemption was rejected and Paul was reproaching the same. This is further proven by the words Paul has chosen in the quoted “verse”. Note he writes that for only a particular few in the community – “for us” – the “message” about crucifixion is “power”; Paul is obviously addressing to those few who were loyal to his preaching; implying again that there were other rejecting cross and its efficacy (if any).

Contemporary New Testament authority Bart Ehrman also speculates that the author of ‘Q’ – a contemporary with Paul and firsthand source, for evangelists Matthew and Luke – denied vicarious atonement through the cross of Jesus (peace be upon him) – a philosophy which was corner stone for Paul:

The author of Q, too, may have thought that it was the sayings of Jesus that were the key to a right relationship with God. If so, in losing Q we have lost a significant alternative voice in the very earliest period of early Christianity. Most scholars date Q to the 50s of the Common Era, prior to the writing of the Synoptic Gospels (Mark was some ten or fifteen years later; Matthew and Luke some ten or fifteen years after that) and contemporary with Paul. Paul, of course, stressed the death and resurrection of Jesus as the way of salvation. Did the author of Q stress the sayings of Jesus as the way? Many people still today have trouble accepting a literal belief in Jesus’ resurrection or traditional understandings of his death as an atonement, but call themselves Christian because they try to follow Jesus’ teachings. Maybe there were early Christians who agreed with them, and maybe the author of Q was one of them. If so, the view lost out, and the document was buried. In part, it was buried in the later Gospels of Matthew and Luke, which transformed and thereby negated Q’s message by incorporating it into an account of Jesus’ death and resurrection. One more form of Christianity lost to view until rediscovered in modern times. (Lost Christianities, The Battles of Scriptures and the Faiths We Never Knew, p. 59)

What is still interesting is the result which these opposing apostles were receiving in Corinth for their “missionary activity”! Reconsider the following passage:

For you gladly tolerate anyone who comes to you and preaches a different Jesus, not the one we preached; and you accept a spirit and a gospel completely different from the Spirit and the gospel you received from us!” (2 Corinthians 11: 4)

The rapid success of his opponents frustrated Paul to such an extent where he even started to act like “fools”:

I am acting like a fool – but you have made me do it. You are the ones who ought to show your approval of me. For even if I am nothing, I am in no way inferior to those very special “apostles” of yours. The many miracles and wonders that prove that I am an apostle were performed among you with much patience. (2 Corinthians 12: 11-12)

Note that, according to the above citation, it is now not people of other camp who are deserting Paul rather they are the very people about whom Paul was confident will accept him as “apostle”. It is natural that in such scenarios people would act like “fools”!

In fact, to make matters worse for Paul, these much anticipated followers of Paul were the same who even demanded proofs from Paul for his apostleship:

You will have all the proof you want that Christ speaks through me.” (2 Corinthians 13:3)

Notice, even though Paul asserted that the “miracles and wonders” he ironically “performed among [them]” (c.f. 2 Corinthians 12:12, quoted above) were the very proofs for his apostleship yet Corinthians demanded proof from him! This certainly makes sense because according to Jesus (peace be upon him) even charlatans would be able to achieve miraculous feats:

“For false Messiahs and false prophets will appear. They will perform miracles and wonders in order to deceive even God’s chosen people, if possible. Be on your guard! I have told you everything before the time comes.” (Mark 13: 22-23)

It is very plausible that by “proof”, Corinthians demanded a doctrine compatible with Jesus’ (peace be upon him) message and human cognizance. They could neither see Jesus’ (peace be upon him) stamp or compatibility in the Pauline preaching about his deity nor could they fathom any logic in the theories of cross and vicarious atonement there from. Not much surprise, it came to them as “foolish”.

Such embarrassing response at Corinth by his own faction led Paul emotionally appeal against his rejection:

Dear friends, in Corinth! We have spoken frankly to you; we have opened our hearts wide. It is not we who have closed our hearts to you; it is you who have closed your hearts to us. (2 Corinthians 6:11)

Due to brevity of this paper we have not documented that Paul was strongly opposed at most places he preached like Galatia, Ephesus, Antioch, and even in Jerusalem. What is very interesting to note is that the oppositions in Antioch and Jerusalem did not come from any revolting “heretical” faction but from “brother of Christ” (peace be upon him) James himself! The one thing which all of these do prove is that there were various faiths prevailing amongst the earliest communities!

 

Conclusion

 

We saw that the earliest “apostles”, as early as Paul himself, were divided over doctrines. Many apostles contemporary to Paul at Corinth came to oppose him for his most fundamental theories, like, vicarious atonement through alleged crucifixion of Jesus (peace be upon him) and his divinity.

This made university scholars like Dr. A. Meyer (Prof. of Theology at Zurich University) to conclude that the “Christianity” we know of was not the religion Jesus (peace be upon him) came to promulgate rather it was a complex philosophy that Paul coined:

If by ‘Christianity’  we understand faith in Jesus Christ as the heavenly son of God, who did not belong to Earthly humanity, but who lived in the divine likeness and glory, who came down  from heaven to earth, who entered humanity and took upon himself a human form through a virgin, that he might make propitiation for men’s sins by his own blood on the cross, who was them awakened  from death and raised to God as the Lord of his own people, who believe in him, who hears their prayers, guards and leads them, who shall come again to judge the world, who will cast down all the foes of God, and will bring his people with him unto the house of heavenly light so that they may become like his glorified body – if this is Christianity, the[n] such a Christianity was founded by Paul and not by Jesus.” (Meyer, Jesus or Paul, p. 122)

All of this are conducive to conclude that earliest community of “Christians” were not merely composed of “Christians”, that is, those believing in redemptive capacity of cross and divinity of Jesus (peace be upon him). And thus, subjective Christians like Shamoun, merely to falsify Qur’an, try to restrict the followership of Jesus (peace be upon him) only to those who became positively recognized in the pages of New Testament. Consider the following parochial note that he wrote:

Contrary to the Quran’s assertions, Christ’s disciples proclaimed that Jesus is the divine Son of God who died on the cross and rose from the dead three days later. They also testified that he sits enthroned in heaven alongside the Father as the sovereign Lord of all creation, and that he will return to the earth in order to judge the living and the dead. They even went as far as to worship Christ as their risen and exalted Lord!

Note that some (self-claimed) “disciples” of Jesus (peace be upon him) did imply his divinity in some sort and did promulgate his alleged crucifixion and entailing salvation theories. However, these were not the “only” disciples. There were others contemporary to Paul (i) who denied “full and pure devotion to Christ”, (ii) they denied the preaching of Paul which, evidently, relied heavily around the alleged crucifixion and vicarious atonement there from, yet these at the same time also (iii) claimed that they were “Christ-followers”! So next time Shamoun claims that “There is simply no way around this fact”, he needs to suggest what name other than “Muslims” could he give to these opponents of Paul? Pick one! It seems like, “There is simply no way around this fact” that original followers of Christ (peace be upon him) were “Muslims”!

Even if we allow that these Pauline opponents were not “Muslims” yet there mere presence at such odds with “orthodox” Christians (Paul, for example) is enough to open up the contention that the followership of Jesus (peace be upon him) was not only restricted to those who were labeled as “Christians”. This in itself makes the Qur’anic fact further viable that original followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) were “Muslims”! Subsequently, from a historians’ point of view, the Qur’anic assertion is not at any “historical error”.

There is still vast amount of information which has to be unearthed from New Testament about Paul and his ways which we would definitely do in future, inshAllah. For the time being since Paul asserts that everybody else opposing him were “false apostles” and, Shamoun disdains original follower of Jesus (peace be upon him) to be Muslims; therefore, in the next installment – the final installment of the series – we would turn our attention to the well-known New Testament disciples and see how much of a ‘disciple’ they were! We do have some important stuff coming up, inshAllah.

Footnote:

[1.]       At first glance, many would be tempted to interpret that the “Jews” mentioned in the verse are those traditional Jews who hated Jesus (peace be upon him); and not the Corinthian Jews who came to believe in him. However, this cannot be precisely correct in the overall context of the epistle. Consider the following issues:

Firstly, in the context of the epistle we have differing factions in the Corinthian community split over apostles for their preaching. Now notice the sarcastic tone which Paul has used in the subject passage: “foolish message”. Therefore, the first target audience for this sarcasm has to be those Corinthians who rejected Paul to accept Christ (p) himself (or some other apostle for that reason) labeling his message as “foolish”. If this was not true then Paul’s sarcasm would make no sense since the letter was not going to Jerusalem – the haven of Christ (peace be upon him) killers; it was going to a supposedly “Christian” community of Corinth.

Secondly, we know for a fact that Paul’s most fundamental preaching was the alleged crucifixion and philosophies around it! Now as Corinthian opponents rejected Paul they did not reject the “man” Paul with two eyes and one nose. They precisely rejected his preaching which has to be the alleged crucifixion and this made Paul write that the crucifixion comes as “foolish” and “offensive” to the Jews – the believing Jews of Corinth in the context; and, likewise, “nonsense” to the Gentiles. If these were not valid, it makes no sense that many Corinthian groups “rejected” Paul.

 

[2.]       The King James Version of the Bible renders the word “simplicity” in place of your “full and pure devotion”:

“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3)

Nevertheless, it hardly makes any difference in the interpretation of the verse when we look at it like a Christian would. For this “simplicity” in Christ (peace be upon him) is the quality of him being the divine Son of God who desires pure and simple devotion to him; and the “simplicity” comes because of his alleged sacrificial death on the cross. Consider some standard expositions of this rendering:

From the simplicity that is in Christ –

 

(1) From simple and single-hearted devotedness to him – from pure and unmixed attachment to him. The fear was that their affections would be fixed on other objects, and that the singleness and unity of their devotedness to him would be destroyed.

(4) from the simplicity in worship which the Lord Jesus commended and required. The worship which the Redeemer designed to establish was simple, unostentatious, and pure – strongly in contrast with the gorgeousness and corruption of the pagan worship, and even with the imposing splendor of the Jewish temple service. (Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, 2 Corinthians 11:3)

And,

3. The simplicity that is in Christ] i.e. the pure gospel that salvation is by faith in Christ alone. (A Commentary on the Holy Bible Edited By J.R. Dummelow)

Notes:

  • Unless otherwise mentioned, all Qur’anic text taken from Yusuf Ali Translation.
  • Unless otherwise mentioned, all biblical text taken from Good News Edition.
  • Emphasize wherever not matching with original is ours.
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Comments

  • semsav12  On March 7, 2013 at 9:59 am

    Salam! Incredible Article keep em coming! The comment then Dunn made was very encouraging, what are some other things that we should take note of from his book Qmark?

    • qmarkmark  On March 7, 2013 at 5:05 pm

      Walekumassalam,

      Thanks for your note.

      I believe the gradual deification of Jesus (p) must be noted. Mark portrays Jesus (p) as “mere man” albeit miracle-working; for Matthew, Jesus (p) is Jewish in every sense of the word; Luke portrays him as yet another Jewish “prophet” who would be abandoned once again by their own people [comes very interesting to me!]. Nevertheless, John is out of the league, he certainly has a tone different from his predecessors. Johannine-Jesus is elevated more than his predecessors. (No surprises, scholars have their reservation with Johannine traditions I am yet to learn this area.) That is the reason Dunn asserts that “earliest” traditions/communities had no consciousness of divinity.

      That was to the best of my knowledge to date as I continue my learning in this massive area.

      Sincerely,
      Q.M.

  • semsav12  On March 8, 2013 at 6:42 am

    Salam this is from the site Jews for Judaism Canada “The contradiction between the synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John is indeed a serious discrepancy. Christian apologists have a very difficult time answering this discrepancy as

    Mike Licona, a Conservative Christian apologist and author conceded in a debate with professor Bart Ehrman “Can historians prove Jesus rose from the dead?” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBxCAexOTRU at 13:10 into the clip

    Listen to that Concession! Qmark, you need to take a look at this!

    • qmarkmark  On March 9, 2013 at 4:09 pm

      Salam,

      Heard of Norman Perrin, inshAllah someday I would read him. Jazakallah for the link though.

  • mansubzero  On March 8, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    from the article

    “If I may intrude with my own observation, the mini-didache in Matthew stands in opposition to Paul’s theology of faith. For Paul, we obtain righteousness through God’s mercy and grace by professing faith in Christ. For Matthew, we receive the reward of righteousness by correctly performing acts that demonstrate our faithfulness to God. According to the Sermon on the Mount, righteousness requires action on the part of the faithful. However, these cultic acts, all of which are known to Judaism, have only one correct method of performance, namely (1) with the aim not to impress other people but to please God and (2) in secret so that God “who sees in secret” will reward openly.”

    • qmarkmark  On March 9, 2013 at 4:14 pm

      Salamalailkum,

      Exactly, salvation always depended on acts with belief. And Paul’s preaching, therefore, stands at odds with others (James) including Jesus (p). But then the very important and intriguing question is how did Paul win the ultimate asserted his philosophy upon others and came to be widely accepted. This is my next big query, inshAllah.

  • mansubzero  On March 10, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    > You may characterize my responses as you wish, but it can’t be helped
    > that your posts are irrelevant to the resurrection as history. Your
    > goldfish post was more to the point.

    First, then why didn’t you answer my more-to-the-point goldfish
    analogy and arguments?

    If the resurrected Jesus appeared to you with all the convincing
    clarity that he allegedly did to the apostles in the first century,
    and confirmed for you that a doctrine you were having trouble with was
    biblically justified and that you are now commanded to start promoting
    it, what is the likelihood that you would respond by ATTACKING that
    doctrine for the next few years?

    The resurrected Jesus allegedly appeared to the apostles and commanded
    them to teach Gentile salvation (Matthew 28), yet years later, they
    sharply criticize Peter for having fellowshipped with a Gentile
    believer, and find it stupefying and unanticipated and shocking that
    God has granted repentence to Gentiles that leads to eternal life
    (Acts 11).

    How do you explain the apostles’ firm resistence to Gentile salvation
    for the first few years after Jesus made it clear that such mission
    field was his will?

    What exactly is it about the resurrected Jesus’ words about this
    Gentile mission field in Matthew 28 that are sufficiently ambiguous so
    as to require the apostles several years to figure out what he was
    talking about?

    How do you explain how Jesus, saving both Jew and Gentile during his
    earthly ministry, somehow mysteriously never revealed what Gentiles
    must do to be saved, so that this unanswered question created the stir
    at the Council of Jerusalem so many years later?

    This is not irrelevent to the resurrection, your inability or refusal
    to answer requires you to leave some options on the table that
    militate against your resurrection thesis. You have already attempted
    to stupid the apostles out of this jam and failed miserably, and then
    you attempted to shore up your position be refusing to answer my
    specific analysis of these matters, with your generalization that I’ve
    got it all wrong and this is all irrelevent.

    YOU are the one refusing to answer specific arguments, YOU are thus
    the one losing here, not me. Your consistent “this is irrelevent”
    tactic logically does nothing to the arguments I’ve advanced. Please
    answer my points directly, and maybe that is how you will come to see
    that these several black holes in New Testament history are indeed
    particularly relevent to the historicity of the resurrection.

    > O’REILLY
    > Again, a false and misleading premise.

    skepticdude:
    what, you don’t think Jesus appeared to the apostles in the first
    century with convincing clarity? But if he did, then my analogy about
    him appearing with convincing clarity to you was neither misleading
    nor false.

    OR:
    You are introducing terms

    > such as “convincing clarity” to set up a straw man. Again, this has
    > nothing to do with the resurrection, which was purportedly the hook upon which
    > you hung this argument when you first introduced it, and asked me to
    > comment.

    skepticdude:
    Stop trying to jump the gun. Answer the questions directly and you’ll
    soon discover how this is relevent to the resurrection.

    OR:

    > Where, for example, did Peter “attack” it?

    skepticdude:
    After ‘men from James’ arrived in town, Peter withdrew from table
    fellowship with Gentiles and began compelling them to become like
    Jews, see Galatians 2.

    Also, the apostles sharply criticize Peter in Acts 11 for
    fellowshipping with a gentile-believer. So both Peter and the other
    apostles are attacking Jesus’s teaching that Gentiles and Jews have
    equal access to salvation.

    How does this relate to the resurrection? Take your best shot at
    explaining the apostles’ first-century resistence to the notion of
    Gentile salvation. You will not be able to advance any thesis that
    doesn’t do violence to the credibility of the NT text and/or the
    witnesses involved in the resurrection story. I’ve already refuted
    your “they-were-merely-slow-to-understand-the-full-import” excuse.
    There’s not too much in the phrase “go make disciples of all nations”
    in the great commission to the gentiles (Matthew 28), that the
    original apostles could have found puzzling or profound…unless you
    say all the rest of the gentile salvation stuff Jesus did in the
    previous 3 years is just a fictional story?

    If Jesus really did grant salvation to Gentiles during his earthly
    career, how is it that the apostles found the concept utterly shocking
    and unanticipated so many years later in Acts 11, etc, ?

    > Skepticdude
    > The resurrected Jesus allegedly appeared to the apostles and commanded
    > them to teach Gentile salvation (Matthew 28), yet years later, they sharply
    > criticize Peter for having fellowshipped with a Gentile believer, and find
    > it stupefying and unanticipated and shocking that God has granted repentence
    > to Gentiles that leads to eternal life (Acts 11).

    > O’REILLY
    > It is not apparent in Acts 11 that the apostles were specifically
    > the ones who had problems with the gentile issues.

    skepticdude:
    Yes it is:

    Acts 11:1-3 NAS
    1 Now the apostles and the brethren who were throughout Judea heard
    that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.
    2 And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those who were circumcised took
    issue with him,
    3 saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.”

    OR:

    > Peter, as leader of the
    > apostles, went with the flow regarding Cornelius, so to speak. And Acts
    > 11:1 specifies two groups, the apostles and the “believers” who met Peter
    > upon his return. Only the second of these groups, the “circumcised
    > believers” (Acts 11:2), questioned Peter. This is no way supports your
    > thesis that apostles disobeyed any command of Jesus. I think your
    > effort would be better expended elsewhere.

    First, you need to read Acts 11:1 again…there are two groups,
    apostles and “brethren”, but the next phrase “those who were
    circumcized” cannot be grammatically restricted to either “group”. If
    they were circumcized, then they were those who took issue with Peter,
    you cannot narrow the criticizers further than that.

    Second, obviously something is amiss here….if there were both
    circumcized and uncircumcized “believers” within the church during the
    episode of Acts 11, then how is it that the circumcized ones are
    faulting Peter for Gentile-fellowship in spite of the alleged numbers
    of gentile-believers right there with them? Or maybe you’ll say that
    back in Jerusalem where this criticism occured, Jewish Christians did
    not fellowship with Gentile Christians? If that is the case, why not?
    Isn’t that what Jesus taught? Be sure and don’t forget how the
    apostles, whatever their scruples may have been, were also given
    special spiritual power to perform the great commission in Acts 2.

    As I said before, the problem I raise can never be answered by you in
    a way that defends or protects the credibility of the resurrection
    witnesses or the story in general. This first-century division is
    completely unexpected granting the protestant Christian understanding
    of the entire NT story, and there is no way to explain the schism
    without admitting that the NT is attempting to trivilaize what was a
    rather serious unresolvable doctrinal split in the original church…a
    split that is completely unexpected if in fact these disagreeing
    witnesses all saw and heard the resurrected Jesus tell them to preach
    salvation to Gentiles…and were then also given special spiritual
    power to perform this command as stated in Acts 2 and later.

    > Skepticdude
    > How do you explain the apostles’ firm resistence to Gentile salvation
    > for the first few years after Jesus made it clear that such mission field
    > was his will?

    > O’REILLY
    > I don’t see the firm resistance you are suggesting on the part of the
    > apostles. You keep saying it, but you haven’t proven it. It
    > appears to me that the first set of converts would naturally be located in and
    > around Jerusalem, and these would be Jewish. They would bring their
    > former outlook on the law, etc., into their new faith.

    skepticdude:
    Let us assume your previous assertion in Acts 11 is true, namely, that
    it was only a small faction of “believers” distinct from apostles who
    took issue with Peter’s Gentile-fellowshipping. In Acts 11:18, this
    faction concludes that God has “also” granted salvation to Gentiles,
    as if they had never known this would be the case until hearing
    Peter’s recent testimony. How do you explain how a Jew in Jerusalem
    could convert to the gospel preached by the apostles, and yet maintain
    full ignorance of Gentile salvation so much that Peter’s later
    “testimony” on this matter constitutes an unexpected shocking
    theological development/revelation?

    Is there really anything wrong with my thesis that the original gospel
    was never intended to be preached to Gentiles? Yeah sure, that makes
    apostle paul a first-rate liar and makes some gospel texts on gentile
    salvation into corruptions, but so what? if a Mormon may not fall back
    on their trust in the BOM’s historical trusworthiness to refute such
    criticism, you also may not simply fall back on your cherished
    untouchable belief that no part of the biblical text is dishonest in
    the effect to refute such thesis.

    OR:

    > It was a natural
    > and inevitable tension that would need to be addressed as the church
    > grew.

    skepticdude:
    If the commandment of the resurrected Jesus, that the apostles make
    salvation available to the Gentiles, was be a natural point of
    contention for the early church, that sounds like you are admitting
    that some of the original eyewitnesses did not believe Jesus gave the
    great commission of Matthew 28…welcome to your first lesson in how
    F.C Baur’s thesis operates to make some original resurrection
    testimomy suspect.

    OR:

    > I don’t see specific mention of apostles, witnesses to the
    > resurrection disputing Peter’s vision, arguing with him in Acts 11, or
    > disputing with him after he ended the discussion in Acts 15.

    I have already clarified the problems with your attempt to distinguish
    those holding the heretical view in Acts 11 from the apostles, but
    anyway, Paul admits in Galatians 2:9 that the original apostles
    continued to restrict their mission-field to Jews alone. Sorry dude,
    Jesus didn’t say in Matthew 28 “don’t you worry about the Gentiles,
    I’ll blind Paul on the road to damascus in the near future and have
    him take care of that responsibility”. According to your
    presuppositions, the resurrected Jesus told Peter, James and John,
    “YOU make disciples of all nations (i.e., Gentiles).

    Worse, it is “men from James” whose presence near Peter motivates him
    to begin acting legalistically in Galatians 2:12. How do you figure
    anybody who converted to James’s gospel, could ever get the idea that
    Gentiles are second-class Christians at best, whom Jewish Christians
    should not fellowship with?

    You don’t have the option of pleading heresy. The heresy excuse might
    work today with 50 million denominations of Christianity pointing the
    finger at each other and crying “heretic” while quoting the same bible
    version and texts, but it cannot work in the first century, where the
    exact truth of these doctrines could be undeniably verified with
    certainty going far beyond one’s ability to interpret written words.
    How do you figure James’s preaching in Jerusalem could ever have
    produced a “sect” of ultra-conservative Christian Jews who denigrate
    the Gentiles, if in fact James never once taught such a thing? And how
    do you explain how this freak movement grew to such proportions that
    it necessitated a serious COuncil of Jerusalem and sober Judgment of
    James in deciding the matter, if in fact this heresy was obviously a
    far departure from what James preached?

    Has the preaching of your paster ever caused a group of people to
    become Mormons, and then for this group to grow within your church to
    the point that it created a serious schism that needed to be
    addressed? Or are you now convinced that there were too many checks
    and balances within Jame’s congregation of the first century to allow
    such a riduclous heresy to gain any footing?

    Or maybe the Judaizer doctrine wasn’t heresy after all?

    > Skepticdude
    > What exactly is it about the resurrected Jesus’ words
    > about this Gentile mission field in Matthew 28 that are sufficiently
    > ambiguous so as to require the apostles several years to figure out what he
    > was talking about?

    > How do you explain how Jesus, saving both Jew and
    > Gentile during his earthly ministry, somehow mysteriously never revealed
    > what Gentiles must do to be saved, so that this unanswered question created
    > the stir at the Council of Jerusalem so many years
    > later?
    > O’REILLY
    > Again, not related to the resurrection. That is why and how this
    > subject was surfaced by you.

    Let me explain again how Baur’s thesis, which I promoted here, ends up
    destroying the credibility of your resurrection witnesses:

    1 – if you say the apostles just didn’t “get it” due to brain-slowness
    or whatever, now your resurrection witnesses are near idiots who don’t
    even understand the easiest parts of the gospel, and this idiocy is
    compounded by the fact that they allegedly experienced personally the
    resurrected Jesus telling them to work the Gentile mission-field plus
    their special spiritual empowerment to do so by your presupposition
    that this empowerment in Acts 2 really happened. Not even miracles of
    God can get your eyewitnesses of the resurrected Jesus to figure out
    what it meant when Jesus saved gentiles in their presence for three
    years and then commanded them do the same in his resurrection. That’s
    level of stupdity is so great that only future idiots, exactly like
    them, would accept their testimony of a resurrection.

    2 – If you say none of the original apostles was involved in heresy,
    and it was always other conservative idiots who perverted their
    original teaching, you must then explain how this could have grown
    unchecked to the serious proportions requiring formal rebuttal in Acts
    15, and growing in Jerusalem, which is where Paul said Peter James and
    John chose to restrict their ministry. That is an argument you will
    never make nor convince anybody of. In other words, it doesn’t matter
    what you do to refute Baur’s thesis, you cannot avoid the hit to the
    apostle’s credibility (or the hit to the liklihood of the NT story in
    general).

    Again, I’ve explained before that I do not accept your excuse here.
    Your excuse that this thesis is irrelevent to the resurrection of
    Jesus is not your true reason for refusing to more directly engage it.
    You fear being painted into a corner on the resurrection if you
    attempt to refute it, so, like standard procedure for every other
    inerrantist in a debate, your safest bet is to simply avoid serious
    engagement. Yes, you are answering a bit more directly with my
    prodding, but as is plain, you are still refusing to answer the “hard”
    questions with your pretext of “irrelevancy”.

    I once told a Mormon that there is no archaeological evidence to
    support any of the BOM’s unique historical claims, and if he knew of
    any, I was open to hearing such. He remarked that the historicity of
    the BOM is “irrelevent”, and all that matters is whether I’ve prayed
    to God whether that book is another testament of Jesus Christ.

    Do you agree with me that religionists who know they will get killed
    in a debate, attempt to save face with a bull**** story about
    irrelevancy, so they don’t open this doorway to hell? Take a look in
    the mirror.

    > Skepticdude
    > This is not irrelevent to the resurrection, your inability or refusal
    > to answer requires you to leave some options on the table that militate
    > against your resurrection thesis. You have already attempted to stupid
    > the apostles out of this jam and failed miserably, and then you attempted to
    > shore up your position be refusing to answer my specific analysis of these
    > matters, with your generalization that I’ve got it all wrong and this is all
    > irrelevent.

    > YOU are the one refusing to answer specific
    > arguments, YOU are thus the one losing here, not me. Your consistent
    > “this is irrelevent” tactic logically does nothing to the arguments I’ve
    > advanced. Please answer my points directly, and maybe that is how you
    > will come to see that these several black holes in New Testament history are
    > indeed particularly relevent to the historicity of the
    > resurrection.
    > O’REILLY
    > Good grief. Indeed, we have reached an impasse on the topic and
    > whether it has any impact on the resurrection in history. You say “yes,”
    > I say “no.” I am satisfied with my answers to date. You are not.

    When I quote 1st John 1:8 to Christian scientists who deny the fact of
    evil and sin, they too declare that “we have reached and impasse”, and
    they kindly show me the door. Do you think I and they reached and
    impasse, or do you think that is merely their bull**** face-saving
    excuse to avoid having their beliefs stomped to death?

    OR:

    > I would end with this though. Prescinding from my view of the
    > matter, let us assume you are correct. That there was a dispute among
    > the apostles, a tension between Paul on the one hand, and the rest on the
    > other, or some variation thereof regarding the application of grace and
    > salvation among the gentiles. What would this prove? Nothing
    > against the resurrection. It would certainly be evidence that there was
    > no concerted conspiracy to create a unified “myth” or “hoax” regarding
    > Jesus. People dispute over real things and real issues.

    That is a great mischaracterization, so let me explain on more time:

    It doesn’t matter how you explain the schism I drew your attention to,
    you are either gonna make the apostles look so stupid and slow, yet
    quick to misunderstand, that it would raise legitimate concerns about
    ANYTHING they testified to. If you were having trouble believing the
    trinity, then Jesus appeared to you as much as he did to the apostles
    in the first century and told you the Trinity is true, there would be
    serious problems with your general credibility if you then admit that
    somehow, you just didn’t “get” this rather plain declaration straight
    from God, and continued attacking the Trinity for severla years
    afterward (yes, there is a parallel, Peter was one of the Judaizers
    even though he had no excuse to misunderstand Jesus, see last sentence
    of Galatians 2:14).

    And if you try to answer by saying none of the original apostles took
    part in the Judaizer heresy, only conveniently unnamed “Judaizers”
    did, then this thesis is wrong because it contradicts all the biblical
    and historical data proving that the Judaizer position was the true
    method of salvation Jesus intended to be taught after his death.

    While I am not satisfied that you sufficiently engaged the issues, you
    DID at least respond a bit more specifically to my points.

    skepticdude:

    Acts 21:18-24 NAS
    18 And now the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all
    the elders were present.
    19 And after he had greeted them, he began to relate one by one the
    things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.
    20 And when they heard it they began glorifying God; and they said to
    him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of
    those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law;
    21 and they have been told about you, that you are teaching all the
    Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to
    circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs.
    22 “What, then, is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have
    come.
    23 “Therefore do this that we tell you. We have four men who are under
    a vow;
    24 take them and purify yourself along with them, and pay their
    expenses in order that they may shave their heads; and all will know
    that there is nothing to the things which they have been told about
    you, but that you yourself also walk orderly, keeping the Law.
    ———

    1 – How exactly did the mother-church in Jerusalem, under the heading
    of James, misunderstand Paul’s actions abroad here?

    2 – How great is the blow to the first-century mother-church’s general
    credibility, if it be admitted that they trusted in a false rumor
    about a contemporary apostle?

    3 – Open your bible and read past verse 24: How great is the blow to
    the first-century mother-church’s general credibility, if it be proven
    that not even the most blunt manner of correcting their view which the
    leaders suggested Paul employ (i.e., the physical demonstration of
    conformity to the Law), was sufficient to convince the mother-church
    that their view of Paul was false?

    4 – Paul could just as easily have called a public meeting and
    preached directly to James’s congregation that their beliefs about
    what he taught abroad were false rumors. Why were the leaders so
    worried that they believed Paul only had a chance of dispelling the
    rumor with the most blunt dramatic type of rebuttal possible (i.e.,
    public conformity to Mosaic rituals in the temple)? COuld it be that
    the leaders of the mother church viewed their original converts as so
    gullible that only the most extreme measures had any hope of
    correcting their false views?

    5 – If you are an observant Jew in the first century, and after
    converting to James’ gospel, you yet “remain zealous for the law”,
    would it be safe to infer from such words that after conversion you
    thus remained zealous to conform to the part of the Law that says
    Gentiles must be circumcized in order to be placed in convenant with
    God (Exodus 12:48)? You know…the Judaizer belief?

    6 – Eusebius (History of the Church 2:23:4-7); Jerome (De Viris
    Illustribus, chapter 2) and Epiphanius (Panarion 29:4:2-4 and 78:13:5)
    state and agree that James did things which only the Jewish High
    Priest could do: enter the Holy of Holies ALONE, wearing the gold
    headplate of the high priest mentioned in Exodus 28, etc. Do you
    believe these rather orthodox Christian historians are reporting
    historical truth? If so, what kind of Christianity could be espoused
    by a man whom the Jews permit to enter the Holy of Holies? A
    Christianity that says Jesus was just a nice guy, and that Gentiles
    must be circumcized and keep the law or they cannot be saved, correct?
    If James preached that Jesus was God and his death on the cross caused
    God to regard future animal sacrifice as pointless, do you think the
    Jews would have permitted him to enter the HOly of Holies (where
    animal sacrifice occured)? And if you believe the above three
    historians are probably passing down corrupted tradition on James, how
    do you figure the tradition became solidly rooted so early that these
    historians pass it down without the slightest hint that it might be
    corrupt? Can you admit that even when a tradition appears so strong
    that it is passed down from Christian historians without any stated
    reserve, that it may still be corrupt?

    7 – Jerome says in the same De Viris Illustribus, chapter 2, that the
    James mentioned by Paul in Galatians was held in excessively high
    esteem by the Jews in general, so that they attributed the downfall of
    Jerusalem to his previous unjust death by a fuller’s club. The Jews in
    general viewed Jesus as a blasphemor. How do you figure the Jews could
    view Jesus as a blasphemor, but view Jesus’ worshipper, James, with
    great adoration/devotion? If Jesus was a blasphemor, then so were all
    of his serious followers, correct?

  • mansubzero  On March 10, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    OR: > Peter, as leader of the
    > apostles, went with the flow regarding Cornelius, so to speak. And Acts
    > 11:1 specifies two groups, the apostles and the “believers” who met Peter
    > upon his return. Only the second of these groups, the “circumcised
    > believers” (Acts 11:2), questioned Peter. This is no way supports your
    > thesis that apostles disobeyed any command of Jesus. I think your
    > effort would be better expended elsewhere.

    in reply the sd wrote:

    First, you need to read Acts 11:1 again…there are two groups,
    apostles and “brethren”, but the next phrase “those who were
    circumcized” cannot be grammatically restricted to either “group”. If
    they were circumcized, then they were those who took issue with Peter,
    you cannot narrow the criticizers further than that.

    Second, obviously something is amiss here….if there were both
    circumcized and uncircumcized “believers” within the church during the
    episode of Acts 11, then how is it that the circumcized ones are
    faulting Peter for Gentile-fellowship in spite of the alleged numbers
    of gentile-believers right there with them? Or maybe you’ll say that
    back in Jerusalem where this criticism occured, Jewish Christians did
    not fellowship with Gentile Christians? If that is the case, why not?
    Isn’t that what Jesus taught? Be sure and don’t forget how the
    apostles, whatever their scruples may have been, were also given
    special spiritual power to perform the great commission in Acts 2.

    As I said before, the problem I raise can never be answered by you in
    a way that defends or protects the credibility of the resurrection
    witnesses or the story in general. This first-century division is
    completely unexpected granting the protestant Christian understanding
    of the entire NT story, and there is no way to explain the schism
    without admitting that the NT is attempting to trivilaize what was a
    rather serious unresolvable doctrinal split in the original church…a
    split that is completely unexpected if in fact these disagreeing
    witnesses all saw and heard the resurrected Jesus tell them to preach
    salvation to Gentiles…and were then also given special spiritual
    power to perform this command as stated in Acts 2 and later.

    ………………….. …

    of course the nt authours are going to trivialise

    1. they were fans of paul
    2. jerusalem church was replaced by the european one. this must have been a relief for the fans of paul
    3. we have no letters by the opposition groups.

  • mansubzero  On March 10, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    For Matthew being Jewish:

    The fundamental affirmation of the Law (cf. Matt 5.17-20; 23.3a,
    23b).
    The sustained reference to the Old Testament and the emphatic
    application of the idea of fulfilment (cf. e.g. Matt 1.22-23;2.5-6,
    15, 17-18; 3.3; 4.4-16; 8.17 and others).
    The fundamental limitation of Jesus’ mission to Israel (cf. Matt
    10.5-6; 15.24).
    The Matthean community still keeps the Sabbath (cf. Matt 24.20).
    The Matthean community still lives within the jurisdiction of Judaism
    (cf. Matt 17.24-27; 23.1-3).
    The Moses typology in Matt 2.13ff.; 4.1-2; 5.1 and the five great
    discourses in the Gospel present Jesus as having an affinity to
    Moses.
    The language, structure, reception of the Gospel of Matthew point to a
    Jewish Christian as its author.

    Against:

    The Gospel’s offer of salvation to all clearly points to a Gentile
    mission that has been underway for some time (cf. Matt 28.18-20;
    8.11-12; 10.18; 12.18, 21; 13.38a; 21.43-45; 22.1-14; 24.14; 25.32;
    26.13).
    The nullification of ritual laws (cf. Matt 15.11, 20b; 23.25-26).
    The Matthean critique of the Law. Especially in the Antitheses of the
    Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5.21-48)

    Jesus places his own authority higher than that of Moses, for which there is no parallel in ancient
    Judaism.

    Matthew presents a thoroughgoing polemic against Pharisaic casuistry
    (cf. Matt 5.20; 6.1ff.; 9.9ff.; 12.1ff., 9ff.; 15.1ff.; 19.1ff.;
    23.1ff.)

    Matthew avoids Aramaisms (cf. Mark 1.13/ Matt 4.2; Mark 5.41/ Matt
    9.25; Mark 7.34/ Matt 15.30; Mark 7.11/ Matt 15.5).

    The Matthean community understands its life to be at some distance
    from that of the synagogue (cf. Matt 23.34b ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς ὑμῶν
    [in your synagogues]; Matt 7.29b καὶ οὐχ ὡς οἱ γραμματεῖς αὐτων [and
    not as their scribes]).

    Ritual prescriptions for the Sabbath have lost their significance (cf.
    Matt 12.1-8).

    The rejection of Israel, i.e. that Israel has lost its distinct place
    in the history of salvation, has been accepted by Matthew as reality
    for some time (cf. Matt 21.43; 22.9; 8.11-12; 21.39ff.; 27.25; 28.15).

    ..

    Another possibility for explaining the for and against is that we are
    dealing with two different authorings which reflect different times
    and states of the religion in the locale of writing.

    I find the assumption that there was only one evangelist writer per
    gospel preposterous.

    ..

    that the verses of the gospels have been INTERPOLATED to align with pauline beliefs is KNOWN to many people .

    here is the first part of the discussion between skeptic dude and orielly

    First, apostle Paul admitted that the Judaizers (i.e., Paul’s greatest
    theological enemies) came from James:

    Galatians 2:11-13
    11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because
    he stood condemned.
    12 For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat
    with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold
    himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision.
    13 And the rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result
    that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.

    Second, While fundies explain Peter’s fall into legalism as
    characteristic of his known stupidity and gullibility, fundies
    conveniently ignore “even Barnabas”, who, as Paul’s personally chosen
    fellow apostle in the Gentile ministry, had more intimate knowledge of
    Paul’s criticisms of the Judaizers than any Christian would ever
    after, who was yet drawn to believe the Judaizer gospel and adopt
    their ways. Apparantly, those Judaizers gave extremely powerful
    arguments. And let’s not forget Paul’s own testimony in Galatians
    1:6, where Paul marvels at how quickly most of his Galatian converts
    are abandoning him for the Judaizer gospel. The New Testament says
    absolutely nothing about the Judaizers unless it is to help promote a
    Pauline agenda. There’s a whole ‘nother Christianity that has been
    white-washed from history, but gems of which still glimmer in the New
    Testament.

    Third, three patristic sources (i’ll limit myself here to Eusebius)
    make claims about James that all require that he became a High Priest
    (and thus, did High Priestly duties in the Holy of Holies, such as
    animal blood atonement). It really doesn’t matter which exact “James”
    it was; pick any James mentioned in the New Testament, they all agree
    that it was a James who was

    a – brother of the Lord
    b – author of the epistle of James
    c – first head of the Jerusalem church
    d – (my conclusion) thus an excellent candidate as the specific James
    who headed the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15

    Eusebius quotes Heggesippus:

    Quote:
    History of the Church 2:23:4-7
    James, the brother of the Lord,
    succeeded to the government of the Church in conjunction with the
    apostles. He has been called the Just by all from the time of our
    Saviour to the present day; for there were many that bore the name of
    James.
    He was holy from his mother’s womb; and
    he drank no wine nor strong drink, nor
    did he eat flesh. No razor came upon his head;
    he did not anoint himself with oil, and
    he did not use the bath.
    He alone was permitted to enter into the holy place; for
    he wore not woolen but linen garments. And he was in the habit of
    entering alone into the temple, and was frequently found upon his
    knees begging forgiveness for the people, so that his knees became
    hard like those of a camel, in consequence of his constantly bending
    them in his worship of God, and asking forgiveness for the people.
    Because of his exceeding great justice he was called the Just, and
    Oblias,which signifies in Greek, `Bulwark of the people’ and
    `Justice’, in accordance with what the prophets declare concerning
    him…”

    “He alone was permitted to enter into the Holy Place”. Jerome quotes
    this same section of Heggisippus but says “Holy of Holies”. The only
    person Jews would allow to alone enter the Holy of Holies is the High
    Priest. The only way James could have been a high priest is if his
    Christianity was radically different than Paul’s. The gospel of
    Jesus, apart from Paul’s ramblings, changes nothing about Judaism
    except that the time has now come for God to reveal the messiah.
    The lists of Jewish High priests where James is absent only present
    thorns and thistles to fundies: If James wasn’t a high priest, what
    does this quote from Eusebius mean, and is this false history being
    promoted by Eusebius? Must we wonder how many other false bits of
    history Eusebius passed on, that Christians blindly believe merely
    because there’s not proof against it?

    All sources agree that James was in favor with the Jews in spite of
    his Christianity. the Christian gospel as we have it today is
    absolutely scandelous to a first-century law-observant Jew. Thus the
    only way the Christian James could possibly have held such high honor
    among the Jews is if his brand of Christianity was far less
    antagonistic against Orthodox Jewish beliefs. Acts says the many
    thousands of Jews who had converted to James’s gospel, continued to
    “remain zealous for the law”, making it near certain that whatever
    gospel James gave them, it was not a gospel that said Christ was the
    end of the law for righteousness as Paul’s gospel stated:

    Acts 21:18-20
    18 And now the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all
    the elders were present.
    19 And after he had greeted them, he began to relate one by one the
    things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.
    20 And when they heard it they began glorifying God; and they said to
    him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of
    those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law;

    How could James’s converts from Judaism retain their zeal for the Law,
    if the gospel James gave them was that Pauline stuff about the old law
    covenant “decaying” (Hebrews 8) ? Easy, James’s gospel was opposite
    of Paul’s gospel. The Christianity James preached to the Jews was far
    more compatible with existing Jewish beliefs than the freeloader
    gospel of Paul.

    How convincing would you find the “conversion” of Mormon who said “I
    am now a protestant evangelical born again bible believing
    Christian….but I am still zealous for the Book of Mormon….” ?

    skepticdude:

    O’Reilly said:

    First, I am not familiar with Lightfoot or Baur, so I am in no
    position to comment upon or to defend their views and their
    characterizations about “powerfully transformed,” etc. The apostles
    do seem to be more courageous; whereas the ‘transformation’ you
    suggest, or at least as I understood you, seems to include full
    knowledge of all of what Jesus intended.

    skepticdude:
    You make an interesting point I can use: From Acts 2 and later, the
    story says they certainly were “amazingly transformed”, and by the
    rather graphic power of the Holy Spirit. Ok….how could this kind of
    miraculous spiritual change have occured and yet STILL leave them
    continuing to disobey the resurrected Jesus’s plain call for Gentile
    salvation? There’s only so many times you can observe a mathematician
    swear he doesn’t know how much 2+2 is, before you start wondering
    whether issues of credibility require analysis….

    O’reilly:
    One might argue over how plain Jesus’ words were, or whether they
    should have understood them then, as we, with the benefit of hindsight
    and 2000 years of Church history behind us might understand them now.

    skepticdude:
    I disagree: if Jesus really said they should preach salvation to the
    Gentiles, ain’t a whole lot in this “great commission” to
    misunderstand. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter if it was a deep
    profound truth. After Jesus commissioned them to Gentile salvation
    preaching, they are then empowered by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost
    (Acts 2). There can be no excuses for “misunderstanding what Jesus
    meant”.

    O’reilly:
    The American Constitution might seems like a straightforward document
    in parts, but you have at least a couple different camps in this
    country who are each opposed to the other’s interpretation and
    implementation of the document on some points.

    skepticdude:
    The analogy is unfitting. Nobody in Christianity disagrees on whether
    the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19 referred to Gentile salvation.
    There is no reason to think the meaning was somehow more ambiguous
    when it was first given.

    O’reilly:
    I don’t see the issue as a “refusal” to obey Jesus; I think we’d need
    additional information on what aspect of the Lord’s teaching was
    appealed to in defending either position regarding the gentiles. For
    example, it would be helpful to have had information that one apostle
    appealed to Jesus’ words directly on the question They may have, but
    we just don’t have that record.

    skepticdude:
    Did you ever wonder why, if Jesus truly is the basis of the gospel,
    why his words are almost never appealed to as the basis of the gospel
    in post-resurrection writings? Why does Paul prefer to quote the Old
    Testament to Jews and Gentiles, when in fact most of his subject
    matter had already been addressed by Jesus to both Jews and Gentiles
    in the 4 gospels? Could it be that how later Christians viewed the
    words of Jesus, was not how they were originally intended to be
    understood by Jesus?

    Can you imagine your pastor preaching the gospel and quoting the Old
    Testament more than Jesus? Sort of leaves you scratching your head,
    eh? Why did Jesus need to preach anything, if quoting the Old
    Testament was good enough?

    O’reilly:
    It seems to me from a straightforward reading of Acts 10 onwards that
    the apostolic teaching on the question developed. Their openness to
    change, though meeting some resistance, but being overcome with time
    with apostolic insistence, does not suggest an attitude of obstinate
    refusal on the part of the eyewitnesses. It seems clear that their
    understanding of what Jesus wanted deepened and developed.

    skepticdude:
    How do you figure the apostles could have ran around with Jesus for
    three years while he was saving Gentiles, and NOT have experienced his
    answers to the obvious question of the Gentile’s relation to the law?
    If it be true that Jesus didn’t require circumcusion of male Gentiles,
    then it would have been clear to James in Acts 15 that the Judaizers,
    by requiring circumcision, thus contradicted Jesus, and he wouldn’t
    have given them the time of day, let alone a chance to voice their
    opinion in the Council of Jerusalem. Your explanation does not
    seriously interact with how events would have played out after Jesus
    made his views on the matter known. Plus, with your “their views
    developed over time” theory, you are ignoring the jump-start to their
    understanding that allegedly occurred in Acts 2.

    O’reilly:
    I have not set out to trivialize any thing. There may or may not be
    grounds to debate the development of Christian faith from a more
    Jewish-centric beginning to the inclusion of the gentiles. However, I
    think the point is obscure in its relation to the resurrection.

    skepticdude:
    If you admit Jesus preached salvation to the Gentiles, how do you
    explain that subject becoming so heated that James felt it necessary
    to give Judaizers a fair shake? Jesus had already made his views on
    the Gentile’s relation to the Law, known to the apostles, correct?
    Could he have preached to Gentiles WITHOUT answering that obvious
    concern about the law? In other words, the fact that the original
    church had a great contention regarding circumcision just does not
    make sense if we assume all else in the gospel is true. The only
    rational way to explain the contention is to say that the apostles
    were so utterly stupid and slow to learn, and quick to misunderstand,
    that none of their testimony should be regarded as compelling.

    O’reilly:
    In any event, this seems more a question of dogma or practice, rather
    than a question affecting the truth of falsity of the resurrection.

    skepticdude:
    I have yet to see you provide a rational explanation for the
    unexpected disagreement about circumcision the apostles had with the
    Judaizers. It doesn’t matter what Jesus felt about the issue:
    whatever his view actually was, would have been clear and plain to the
    apostles years before Acts 15. When I read Acts 15, I often wonder
    whether the apostles also got into long arguments with other people on
    whether Jesus was male or female. If the truth was obvious long ago,
    you do NOT waste your time with confirmed heretics, you simply tell
    them the truth and bid them farewell. You do NOT call a meeting to
    try and “resolve” an issue that was already resolved while Jesus was
    still alive. Again, something is missing from the NT picture.

    Oreilly:
    I disagree that this touches upon the reliability of the witnesses.
    You say the original words are clear to you, but the question is
    whether they were clear to them (see comments on the Constitution).

    skepticdude:
    I’m a spiritually dead agnostic. The apostles were EMPOWERED by the
    Holy Spirit and a very special way in Acts 2 some days after the Great
    Commission was given. Your attempt to suggest the apostles did not
    have some kind of knowledge-benefit that a modern atheist has, is
    unpersuasive, rather, if the story is true, they had far more reason
    to know the true meaning of Jesus words than any Christian that lived
    after them.

    Oreilly:
    Acts suggest they weren’t, at least not initially.

    skepticdude:
    How stupid must a book make one of its story characters, before it
    reaches unbelievable levels? If the bible said Peter didn’t know how
    to say “fish” in greek, would you believe that? Is there a limit
    here?

    Oreilly:
    Their understanding developed, and it is the willingness to pursue
    this development which gives witness, again not pressing the point too
    strongly, that there was a central event (i.e., the resurrection) that
    confronted them – which convinced them to be open to what changes
    seemed to be suggested, even if they initially did not recognize them
    as mandated.

    skepticdude:
    Sure, but this doesn’t answer the question of whether their initial
    inability or slowness to realize the truth, is itself believable.
    Slowness might work for a modern Christian dealing with a difficult
    passage that scholars disagree on, but the apostles were
    contemporaries of Jesus and were blessed with far more intimate
    knowledge of actual truth than we’ll ever get from words in a book,
    plus the power of the Pentecost scene in Acts 2, plus the multiple
    other indications of spiritual enlightenment they allegedly enjoyed in
    later chapters of Acts (Peter in Acts 5). You seem to have it
    backwards. the group that should be found slow to learn is not the
    people who had all the advantages to get it right the first time, but
    the group that lived 2000 years after the fact. In other words, you
    have not made a very good case to justify the NT story about the
    apostle’s “slowness to realize the truth”.

    In summary, it seems that you are not willing to go where the odds
    lay, but are rather willing to adopt whatever position might be
    required in order to accomodate ALL the NT data. Unfortunately, there
    is no justification for the presupposition that the entire NT is
    inerrant or historically reliable. Are you open to the possibility
    that some parts of the NT may have embellished or white-washed
    Christian history?

    > KESLER> If the> twelve disciples (or later followers of Jesus) were promised that the> Israel-only mission wouldn’t be completed before the son of man> came, why make allowance for a Gentile mission?

    skepticdude:good point. The intention of Jesus here (i.e., that he
    meant he’d accomplish his second coming within the natural lifetimes
    of the original apostles) is also supported by a remark of

    Paul: Galatians 2:9 “and recognizing the grace that had been given to
    me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to
    me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we might go to the
    Gentiles, and they to the circumcised.”

    Notice that even according to Paul, the original apostles continued to
    view themselves as limited to the Jews only, even during his
    ministry. That’s explosive: If Jesus truly wished Jew and Gentile to
    be saved, where did the original 11 apostles get the idea that they
    should limit themselves to the Jews? Again, it seems that the
    “Gentile” mission field is an afterthought, prompted by the Pauline
    school after it began to become clear that the original intention of
    Jesus was never going to be fulfilled.

    Unfortunately, Jesus is requiring the apostles to preach to Gentiles
    in Matthew 28, so the apostles’ continued restricting of themselves to
    Jews alone can only mean (under inerrantist assumptions) that in spite
    of Spiritual empowerment in Acts 2, they just plain didn’t care about
    the resurrected Jesus’ commands, thus tarnishing their credibility as
    eyewitnesses of the resurrection.

    You saw the resurrected Jesus, but you have no inclincation to obey
    him? Baur wasn’t wrong: Pauline Christianity as set forth in the New
    Testament is a corruption of the exclusively Jewish form Jesus
    intended it to be originally. What’s worse, Paul insists in Romans
    11:11 that the gospel went to the Gentiles because the Jews first
    rejected it.

    This is near impossible to reconcile with Acts 21 which says James’
    ministry resulted in “myriads” (i.e., tens of thousands) of Jews
    converting to the gospel. Does it make sense to characterize the
    successes of the gospel to the Jews recorded in Acts, as a failure of
    the Jews to accept the gospel?

    This is nonsense. Either Paul did not know of the high success rate of
    the gospel among the Jews, or else he viewed James’s gospel as a
    corrupted gospel, or else Acts is embellishing the number of Jews taht
    converted under the apostles.

  • mansubzero  On March 10, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    > STEVEN
    > Since his concept was all based on the very false idea that Jesus
    > taught Gentile circumcision and thus it would be a New Covenant
    > requirement, there really was not much to discuss. The fact that he
    > spun it around complex constructs can deceive those not familiar with
    > the topic. I only have limited time for diversions of no merit,
    > based on false concepts.
    > Shalom,
    > Steven Avery

    As I said before, if your position is true (i.e., Jesus never required
    circumcision of Gentiles), then this position of his would have been
    known for three years by James and Peter.
    That creates a problem for you, because the book of Acts portrays
    apostles as viewing the Gentile circumcision issue as some new thing
    that Jesus never yet provided an answer for:
    Acts 11:1-3
    1 Now the apostles and the brethren who were throughout Judea heard
    that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.
    2 And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those who were circumcised took
    issue with him,
    3 saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.”
    What gospel had these circumcised “apostles and brethren” converted
    to, that they found Peter’s eating with an uncircumcised Gentile so
    unacceptable? Probably not the gospel represented in Matthew, Mark,
    Luke and John, right?
    After Peter explains his vision to them…
    Acts 11:18
    18 And when they heard this, they quieted down, and glorified God,
    saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the
    repentance that leads to life.”
    If the 4 canonical gospels correctly represent Jesus, then how is it
    that, a few years after Jesus died, these circumcised apostles and
    brethren found the salvation of Gentiles such a shocking unanticipated
    thing?
    If it was clear that Jesus never required circumcision of Gentiles,
    why didn’t Peter just say “Jesus ate with uncircumcised men without
    demanding that they be circumcised, so why can’t I follow his
    example?” Why would Peter chose to appease his conservative Jew
    brothers with a story about his vision, if the example of Jesus would
    be the ultimate argument to support his eating with Cornelius?
    By the way, why did Peter need a vision to explain to him that
    Gentiles can now be saved? Wasn’t this an obvious truth that he would
    have learned from Jesus? You may say Peter was fickle and stupid and
    denied Christ, so maybe he just didn’t get it, but Peter became a very
    powerful spiritually mature wonder-working apostle in Acts 5, so that
    the churches largely “feared” his arrival in town, and everybody
    thought that his shadow passing on them would cure them of any
    ailment. In other words, Peter cured his “stupidity” problem before
    Acts 10 and 11, so the question of why he would need a vision to
    convince him of salvation for Gentiles without circumcision, when
    according to you, Jesus taught him exactly this for three years,
    remains unanswered.
    The conservative commentaries simply opine that these curious things
    are just proof that the apostles just didn’t “get it”. But that is
    most unlikely. If Jesus came and lived with you for three years, and
    held during that whole time that speaking in tongues is a gift of the
    holy spirit that is validly practiced in some of today’s Pentecostal
    churches, what is the likelihood that, for a few years after he leaves
    you, you wouldn’t “get it”, and you might align yourself with a
    Baptist church that strongly holds that this gift died out at the end
    of the first century?
    “The apostles just didn’t get it” is an absurdly unlikely hypothesis
    to explain the data, so my hypothesis (that original Christianity
    required Gentiles to be circumcized, with no anticipation of any
    theological change) remains on the table.

  • mansubzero  On March 10, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    > Hi Folks,
    > >skepticdude:
    > >I don’t see your point in highlighting that I omitted Jesus
    > >referring to the Decalogue,
    > STEVEN
    > Do you see circumcision in the Decalogue ?
    > Shalom,
    > Steven Avery

    Yes, the first commandment. In the mind of Moses, righteousness could
    only be obtained by obeying all of God’s instructions (Deuteronomy
    6:25). In the mind of Moses, your alleged author of the Decalogue,
    the only way for a Hebrew to avoid serving other gods, is to actually
    SERVE the one true God YHWH. You do that by obeying him. YHWH said
    Gentiles cannot be in covenant with him unless they become circumcised
    (Exodus 12:48). Hence, no Gentile could obey the Decalogue
    meaningfully in God’s sight without being circumcised. The only way
    to obey the first commandment is to obey everything else God ever said
    you must obey. This is also true in Christian theology, as he he who
    offends in one point of the law, is guilty of disobeying the entire
    law. James 2:10.
    But even if the Decalogue did not require circumcision, you are
    committing a fallacious argument from silence:
    In Matthew 28:19-20, the resurrected Jesus describes the criteria for
    discipleship (unless you think Jesus would approve of false disciples,
    then his criteria for discipleship is also criteria for salvation,
    since the only true disciples are those that are authentically born
    again). But he never mentions any need to believe his death paid for
    sin, and he never says one must believe in his resurrection, still
    less that one must hold specifically to bodily resurrection. Is
    belief in Jesus’s death and resurrection merely optional, or should we
    infer even where Jesus was silent?
    In Matthew 25, Jesus bases entrance to heaven on whether you did good
    to others. He is talking about salvation, but he never mentions his
    death for sin (even though he presumably knew the future and knew his
    death was necessary for salvation). Did he forget, or should we
    infer?
    In Acts 15, the letter from the apostles instructs that if the Gentile
    Christians refrain from idols, from sexual immorality, from blood and
    from things strangled, they will do well. Is that true? Those are
    the only 4 “dont’s” a Christian must observe? A lazy Christian can
    observe all those ‘don’ts’ without providing for his wife and kids,
    but the New Testament says those who don’t provide for their own
    household are worse than infidels.org, 1st Timothy 5:8.
    Apparently, your argument from silence (attempt to prove what Jesus
    believed by highlighting what he didn’t say) doesn’t work, using your
    presupposition that Jesus taught consistently.
    Also, even if your implication were correct, you’d still be in hot
    water. If the absence of circumcision from Jesus’ words to the rich
    young ruler on how to get eternal life (Matthew 19) meant Jesus did
    not require circumcision, then his disciples would have known with
    certainty, before the events of the book of Acts, that circumcision
    was not required for a person to be in covenant with God. However,
    specific “apostles and brethren” who were circumcised, raise a ruckus
    against Peter after they found out he ate with an uncircumcised man
    (Acts 11:1-3). After Peter explains a vision, these apostles and
    brothers “calm down” and find the salvation of Gentiles to be a
    shocking and unanticipated theological development (Acts 11:18). What
    gospel did these unnamed “apostles and brethren” convert to, that they
    should find the salvation of Gentiles so shocking and unanticipated?
    You may say the apostles just didn’t “get it”. Suppose Jesus came and
    physically visited you everyday for the next three years, and during
    that time, he explained that the gift of speaking in tongues exists
    for today’s church. What is the likelihood, given such education,
    that you might not “get it”, and may perhaps fall into error with the
    local Baptist church, and agree with them that the gift of tongues
    died out in the first century? After being instructed by Jesus
    personally and physically? After having all questions you’d naturally
    raise being answered in full by the real physical Jesus? Not a
    chance. Therefore, the apostles’ failure to “get it”, does not
    explain their resistance to the concept of Gentile salvation. The
    fact that they lived with Jesus for three years makes such doctrinal
    gullibility extremely unlikely.
    How do you figure that certain unnamed “men from Judea” could so
    successfully promote the idea that Gentiles cannot be saved without
    circumcision, that this required a meeting of Christianity’s finest to
    prove them wrong in a rather heated debate (Acts 15), if it was plain
    for all to see that Jesus never required Gentiles to be circumcised?
    Why does James “render a decision” (Acts 15:19) concerning this
    matter, if in fact the issue had already been decided by Jesus years
    before? By the way, wouldn’t a quick “Jesus didn’t require
    circumcision for salvation, so neither do we” have been a better
    answer, than all the Old Testament quotations and preaching the
    apostles engaged in to rebut the Judaizers? After all, if the
    Judaizers were mixing circumcision with salvation in Christ, then what
    Christ himself taught on the subject would be far more authoritative,
    than any Old Testament quotation.
    If Jesus held circumcision to be unnecessary for Gentile salvation,
    how do you explain the Judaizers having such great success that Paul
    admits his converts in Galatia were largely abandoning him for the
    Judaizer gospel (Galatians 1:6)? Since you hold, 2000 years after the
    fact, that what Jesus believed about circumcision’s relation to
    salvation was made clear in his teachings (i.e., his failure to
    specify circumcision when he said the commandments are the key to
    eternal life in Matthew 19), you leave yourself only two options to
    explain the Galatian apostasy; (1) they were very stupid for
    abandoning Paul, or (2) they were very smart for abandoning Paul.
    Which is it? If (1), then the kind of people that were attracted to
    Paul’s original message were rather gullible, and could easily be
    carried about by any wind of doctrine, sustaining the critic’s charge
    that Christianity at first only appealed to the extremely gullible.
    If (2), then you admit the Judaizer gospel is what Jesus taught.
    Jesus told his disciples to spread the message of salvation to the
    entire world in the great commission (Matthew 28:19-20), naturally
    raising the subject of what Gentiles must do to be saved. Acts adds
    that he abode with them 40 days before he ascended. Are you going to
    tell me that in those 40 days, Jesus never clarified how Gentiles get
    saved (i.e., how to accomplish his order to take the gospel to the
    Gentiles)?
    Or maybe there isn’t enough “pizazz” here for you to stay
    “interested”?
    When I invite the Mormons in to my house, I take the first five
    minutes to mention the subjects of the Kinderhook plates, the missing
    116 pages, Smith profiting from sale of tobacco and alcohol, the
    unbelievability of an ancient Mormon author anachronistically
    incorporating even the mistaken words of the KJV into the Book of
    Mormon, and Brigham Young’s desire to kill anybody who got in the way
    of Mormonism. The missionaries predictably get “bored” with me at
    that point and leave.
    But they are lying. They are not “bored”, they are “scared”, but they
    don’t have the honesty to admit they found themselves in over their
    heads. Thus they lie to save face, when actually telling the truth
    and being humble are supposed to be basic character traits of
    genuinely born again Christians.
    ARMANDO
    Have you checked your jewish culture Steven? Or are you assuming he
    was really a jew with jewish name who adopted a greek name when he
    converted to Paulinism? Was Theophilus a jew or a gentile? Have you
    seen what commentators say?
    Armando Ortega
    RAY
    Josephus does say there was a Theophilus who was a member of a wealthy
    Jewish family that did become the high priest. He was apparently high
    priest from 37 – 41 CE. This makes it most unlikely that Luke was
    addressing him in his introduction to Acts. Acts covers the life of
    Paul who most believe to have lived to the mid sixties, so Theophilus
    would have been out of office for at least 25 years. Even more
    ridiculous is the idea that Luke (in his Gospel) would have lectured
    the chief priest about what would have no doubt happened in Jerusalem
    when he (unlike Luke) would have been there. This is confirmed when
    mentions that many others had “undertaken to set down an orderly
    account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they
    were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eye
    witnesses and servants of the word”. So before Luke put pen to paper
    (or papyrus) he admits that many others preceeded him! It sounds rto
    me like Luke should have asked Theophilus what had happened because he
    was a lot closer to the action than Luke.
    > STEVEN
    > Generally I find the topic a bit uninteresting.

    skepticdude:
    Paul sure didn’t think the topic was uninteresting. He lamented that
    his Churches in Asia minor were abandoning his gospel for the Judaizer
    gospel (Galatians 1:6-9). Apparently, whether Paul perverted the
    gospel of Jesus or not, was a very hot topic to his own converts in
    and around Galatia. If Paul could be abandoned with such ferver and
    quickness (Galatians 1:6) by his own contemporaries, then his
    apostleship is certainly worthy of debate.
    Also, it is unbelievable that you find the topic uninteresting. If
    Paul really did pervert the gospel of Jesus, then the vast majority of
    Christianity and most Christians today are wrong and every epistle of
    Paul in the New Testament is non-canonical. My argument, if correct,
    would destroy Christianity with its own materials. Thanks for coming
    to your senses and interacting with the argument.
    Avery:
    > However, it is a bit
    > vague. Do you assume the full historicity of all the NT documents
    > and then say that Paul was a doctrinal interloper ?

    skepticdude:
    I am an atheist, I do not accept the full historicity of all the NT
    documents. I try to prove my argument by assuming, merely for the
    sake of argument only, the basic historical accuracy of the NT
    documents. However, in those places where I believe the NT documents
    are lying, I made argument to demonstrate why I refuse to accept this
    or that particular text.
    Avery:
    > Or is there the
    > normal thing on these lists … “he did not write A” .. “Peter did not write B”
    > A wildly varying skeptic base will of course show that others were
    > not who they purported to be.
    > Shalom,
    > Steven Avery

    skepticdude:
    My argument doesn’t really depend on proving who wrote what. Here’s
    my argument in simplified form, which will allow you to attack it most
    efficiently if you wish. I only assume the accuracy of the NT for the
    sake of this argument.
    Premise 1: Jesus, during his earthly 3-year ministry, granted
    salvation to male Gentiles.
    Premise 2: Jesus, during his earthly 3-year ministry, answered the
    question of whether Gentiles must be circumcised to be saved.
    Conclusion: The circumcision-question discussed in Acts 15 had
    already been answered earlier by Jesus during his 3-year ministry.
    You will not survive this debate because you get in trouble regardless
    of which option you use to answer it.
    1 – If you say Jesus, during his earthly 3-year ministry, did not make
    circumcision a requirement for salvation of male Gentiles, then you
    are admitting that James would have known this position of Jesus for
    three years before Jesus died…making any need to “debate the
    Judaizers” in Acts 15 entirely frivolous, making the pretense of
    needing to “discover” the truth about the matter, as represented in
    this chapter, very suspicious and sounding like something a Paul-
    sympathizer would have writtenin order to paper-over the glaring
    conflict between the theology of Paul and that of the original
    apostles. (i.e., one purpose of the author of Acts was to “explain”
    how Paul and the original apostles were in harmony, an issue Paul
    would likely face with prospective Gentile converts outside Jerusalem
    who had heard that his gospel is different than the one preached by
    the 11.
    2 – If you say Jesus, during his earthly 3-year ministry, required
    circumcision for salvation of male Gentiles, you establish the
    correctness of the Judaizer gospel, and thereby not only invalidate
    the salvation of every male Gentile Christian who never got
    circumcised, but you also invalidate Paul’s claim to be a true
    apostle, since he obviously did not require male Gentiles to be
    circumcised to be saved.
    3 – You may say that although Jesus made clear that Gentiles did not
    need circumcision to be saved, nevertheless, his apostles “just didn’t
    get it”. This is a typical apologetics tactic that only gets you in
    further hot water…If the apostles could run around with Jesus for
    three years and STILL “not get it”, their propensity for ignorance is
    so intolerably great that it would be rational to summarily reject any
    theological teaching later appearing in any of their epistles.
    I find it hard to believe that you regard a skeptical argument, which
    has the potential to kill Christianity dead in its tracks with its own
    materials, to be “boring”, except on the theory that you don’t take
    your own faith very seriously?
    > STEVEN
    > That is illegal here ? Strange.
    > example .. skepticdude asked me if I wanted to debate a topic, I told
    > him not particularly. He repeated the question and I pointed out a
    > problem in such debates (varying ideas of the NT as a historical
    > document) that essentially can make the debate shallow, circular and
    > meaningless.
    > Shalom,
    > Steven Avery

    skepticdude:
    Just to clarify, I hold that while there is some accurate history in
    the New Testament, that Paul was lying in Galatians 2 about the
    apostles finding his theology to be in harmony with their own.
    I also hold that the book of Acts was written by a Paul-sympathizer
    for not much more reason than as promotional material for Paul,
    specifically, to provide Paul with a way to “explain” how the original
    apostles and himself forged theological agreement.
    Steve, if your logic made any sense, there could never be fruitful
    debate between an inerrantist and an atheist. The hole in your
    position is to assume that by coming to the table with differing
    presuppositions about the trustworthiness of the materials, the debate
    will necessarily grind to a stalemate.
    I have news for you: It IS possible for one party to win the
    argument. The fact that differing presuppositions are at play, does
    not protect a person from being painted into a corner and being forced
    to acknowledge the failings of his position.
    Third, “why didn’t A say B” type reasoning is exactly what the
    standard authorities on legal evidence require inquiry into:
    A failure to assert a fact, when it would have been natural to assert
    it, amounts in effect to an assertion of the non-existence of the
    fact. This is conceded as a general principle of evidence…[it is]
    ‘prima facie’ an inconsistency” (Wigmore on Evidence, Section 1042)
    That is what blows your “they-had-a-right-to-pick-and-choose-their-
    material” apologetic sky high. For example, the author of Acts spills
    much ink recording the sermonizing of his favorite players in the
    Judaizer debate in Acts 15, but he only records less than two
    sentences representing the Judaizer position. If the author intended,
    as you believe, to give a fair account of the Council of Jerusalem, he
    would have recorded roughly equal words for both sides of the debate.
    The author’s failure to fairly represent the Judaizer position as
    fully as he represented James and Peter, constitutes a prima facie
    inconsistency that, without more, makes it rational to conclude that
    he wasn’t just biased, but biased to a degree that was unfair to the
    Judaizers. How about if your pastor debated the Mormons, the Mormons
    taped it, but when you went to get your copy, you found the Mormons
    exercised their right to choose whatever material they wished to
    include, and although they had the full hour of speaking from the
    Mormon, they shut off the mic on your pastor after his second
    sentence? When people exercise their right to create such a one-sided
    representation, they only do so because they are trying to hide
    something, not because they are interested in truth. Thus the author
    of Acts 15 was being dishonest since that is the only reason he would
    refuse to reveal the Judaizer arguments.
    Finally, the fact that my critical arguments do not lend themselves
    very easily to “doctrinaire claims” does not mean my reasoning is
    fallacious. First make sure the doctrine is correct, before you start
    worrying about the need to promote it. As my arguments have shown,
    your doctrines have lots of problems, which are apparently so
    insurmountable that you have to “I’m-bored” your way out of having to
    deal with them concisely and directly. As an atheist, I recommend
    that you first learn to make sure your doctrines are TRUE (i.e., under
    your belief system, true means consistent with every other verse in
    the bible), before you worry about the need to promote them. But
    that’s just me. Maybe the bible says you should promote truth-claims
    even if the possibility remains that they are lies?
    Anyway, I proved that circumcision is necessarily implied in the
    Decalogue, which means the only direct rebuttal you supplied has been
    extinguished, and Jesus’ gospel taught that one earns their ticket to
    heaven by obeying the Law, hence proving Paul’s law-free gospel to be
    rank heresy. Your responses have not disturbed my anti-Pauline
    position at all.

  • mansubzero  On March 10, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    i thought brother qmark would enjoy reading the discussions i have cnp here.

    • qmarkmark  On March 10, 2013 at 7:08 pm

      Salamalaikum,

      Thanks for your inputs! InshAllah, there is A LOT to be said about Paul and how he ultimately gained the upper hand. InshAllah, though it would take time but I will try my best to share more of Paul as I saw him.

      Sincerely,
      Q.M.

      • mansubzero  On March 15, 2013 at 8:37 pm

        “…What shall I approach Adonai and bow myself before the Supreme God with? Should I approach Him with olah-sacrifices or calves in their first year? Will Adonai be pleased by thousands of rams, or tens of thousands of rivers of oil? Should I give my own first-born child [in payment] for my rebellion or the fruit of my own body [in payment] for my soul’s errors? Mankind, He has already told you what is ‘good’, what it is that Adonai wants of you – only to act justly, to love kindness, and to walk modestly with your God” (Michah 6:6-8).

        “What use to Me is the huge number of your sacrifices?” Adonai says – “I am fed up with olah-offerings of rams and the offals of fattened calves, and the blood of oxen, lambs and goats does not give Me pleasure. When you come to appear before Me – who asked this of you, to come trampling through My courtyards? Do not bring your meaningless min’ḥah-offerings any more – I find it a disgusting stench… Rosh Ḥodesh, Shabbat, even the Festival assemblies – I cannot tolerate crookedness mixed with ‘service’. My soul detests your Rosh Ḥodesh and Festival observances, they have become tedious to Me; I can no longer put up with them. When you hold up your hands I will hide My eyes from you; I will not hear you no matter how many ‘prayers’ you say – because your hands are covered with blood! Wash, purify yourselves, remove the badness of your deeds from before My eyes, stop doing wrong! Learn to do right, seek justice, protect victims, treat orphans justly, support the claims of widows.

        “Come, please, let’s discuss this rationally,” Adonai says – “even if your sins are like bright crimson, I will bleach them as white as snow: even if they are as red as tola I will make them like [the colour of] wool!” (Y’shayahu 1:11-18).

        msb: the Qur’aan says that the flesh and blood DO NOT reach God , but it is the deeds . before you slaughter an animal , you thank God for providing the food which you will kill and eat .

        can you see all that DEAD flesh and blood in the passages from the torah?

        crosstians, every sundays , remember the MURDER of flesh nailed to planks of wood and DEPEND on it .

        notice how the torah says LEARN to do right and NOT learn to depend on murder of flesh/blood? it is learning which helps you GROW spiritually.

        the murder of flesh does not AFFECT your spirit at all.

        sending an animal in to a hot desert with out food and water and watching the animal die a slow and painful death in the desert doesn’t help your spirit . people DIE everyday
        babies die when they are born . this second someone just died.

        we learn how to save lives

        do we need to get a diesease before we cure it?

        their god is murdered temporarily and then walks out of punishment as if nothing has happened. this is not a great “sacrifice” it is pagan and phony.

        this poor innocent pagan god “willingly” punished himself through human hands and then walked out of punishment, pain and suffering after 6 hours.

        why did the flesh of this pagan and dirty god desperately need to feel VIOLENCE? a soldier may not have a choice to prevent violence unto his flesh ,but a diety didn’t have a choice? he wanted people to remember violence done to his meat by observing 4×4 planks of wood?

        “your hands are covered with blood”

        the cross is COVERED with blood

        WASH your hands, says the torah

        christians , every sunday , remember an item (cross) which was covered with BLOOD ,SO how are they WASHING thier hands when they are depending on blood?

        CONCLUSION: LEARNING IS BETTER THAN SACRIFICE

        LEARNING TO TRUST GOD IS BETTER THAN DEPENDING on meat and blood and thinking that has a MAGICAL CONNECTION between you and GOd.

  • mansubzero  On March 15, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    a baby is born.
    it is covered with a rare skin disease
    it knows nothing but suffering
    it sees nothing but suffering
    it feels nothing but suffering
    shouldn’t that have an impact on you then an “innocent” god who murdered himself to save you from himself and then walks out of his own punishment ?

  • christos  On April 7, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    first off paul claimes his message came straaight from God. So what? Mohammad claimed the same. Paul did have apostolic authority as his gospel was accepted by the Jerusalem Church which featured james and peter . Just because paul makes a claim that his message is from god does not automatically invalidate it as i could use the same logic and argue that nobody accepted mohammad’s prohethood so he had to invent it.
    If you bothered to read the following verses in 1 Corinthians chapter one you would see that paul is exhorting the corinthisans to be more unified as they had become fragmented behind their own teachers. Paul is in fact trying to promote church unity amoungst all the leaders as he states 1
    “13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”

    similarly 1 corinthians chapter 9 is taken out of context

    Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? 2 If I am not an apostle to others, at least I am to you; for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

    3 This is my defence to those who would examine me. 4 Do we not have the right to our food and drink? 5 Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a believing wife,[a] as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? 6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? 7 Who at any time pays the expenses for doing military service? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not get any of its milk?

    he does not say that others do not accept him but rather that he is not an apostle to them. Apostle means one sent and he was not sent to them. At the same time he again promotes unity and his apostleship.

    And as for the preaching of a different jesus again this is in line with what jesus himself preached about false teachers and heretics coming forth.

  • Christos  On April 7, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    The idea that Paul invented Christianity is universally rejected by scholarship. Paul never viewed himself as starting a new religion, rather he viewed the jesus movement as the fulfillment of Judaism (even though Judaism itself is a Greek label) Read James Dunn’s commentary on Romans and Galatians. Similarly the idea that you espouse that the paul thought the law made him sin is a misunderstanding of the text. rather the law made him conscious of his sin but Paul thought of the law in positive terms especially in Romans. What he was advocating was that Christians be led by the spirit with the law being written on their hearts. So this is an internal relationship with God. As I have already said Paul’s gospel had already been approved by the Jerusalem church and was not viewed as a new religion. Rather Paul sought not to impose the law on new gentile converts for whom the law was never meant ( only for the Jews) Paul also viewed Christ as the only thing necessary for salvation so this is why he did not teach the law to gentiles. Paul’s main argument is not that it caused him to sin but that nobody could keep the law perfectly so that you could do your best to keep the law and still come under the power of sin.

    Please read the commentaries i suggested as they can explain it better than i can. The followers of Jesus were Monotheistic Jews, they were “muslims” in the sense that they submitted to god but they did not have anything to do with the religion we call Islam and I’d like you to produce any scholar who think so. It is easy to label anyone as being Muslim hundred of years after the fact. Muslims always say that Paul’s supernatural experience of seeing Christ on the Damascus road was hearsay. What was Mohammad testimony of seeing Gabriel in a cave and being forced to read? How is this any more or less believable? just because his experience of Christ was supernatural does not automatically make it false otherwise you have to reject your own prophet’s claims of flying to heaven on a winged donkey which far exceeded Paul’s. Paul’s claims of being chosen by god whilst still in the womb and not inheriting his gospel from humans but from god are in fact in keeping with the Jewish prophetic tradition . The Jewish prophet always has the words of god placed on his tounge through divine mediation.

    As for there being no early traditions of the deity in early Christianity that is not true. The Philippians hymn talks about Jesus being in the form of God , being equal to god and making himself nothing. Scholars in fact think this a far earlier hymn which predates paul which he in fact is quoting placing as very early evidence of the belief in the deity of christ in the early Church. Also in Corinthians Paul says there is one god the father and one lord Christ . here Paul splits the shema, the central creed of Israel (hear o Israel the lord your god is One). He affirms the oneness of god and places the father and Christ in hypostatic union. This again is very early evidence for the belief in the deity of Christ in the early church. Similarly in colossians (which the authorship some contest) Jesus as seen as the very means for the creation of the world. Or the high christology in the earliest gospel mark where jesus says he is the son of god, will be coming in the clouds of heaven and sitting at the right hand of power.

  • ibrahim itace muhammed  On December 8, 2014 at 10:37 am

    pauline christianity the most blasphemous. he reduced almighty god to human ,which is paganic of old.

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