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Elevating Jesus over Paul: Handling Objections

 

Hi Anonymous

Well, you appear to be asking how to overcome the objection that the Bible we received must be accepted in its present form because God supposedly would not allow this to exist unless it was His will. Am I close to identifying the point you anticipate will be raised against ignoring Paul?  

 

Of course, this objection has no Bible support itself. It is just a human doctrine. 

It may be influenced by the mistranslation of 2 Tim. 3:16 -- rendered as "All scripture is inspired of God." But in Greek, the KJV inferred IS there where it did not belong. It truly reads "all scripture inspired of God is useful," etc. See link.

First, it was always absurd to say all "scripture" -- a word simply meaning a writing - is inspired, as that would mean my email here, and yours to me would be inspired because they are writings too. This is why Tyndale in 1536 rendered this from the Greek -- as was the Latin translation too -- only that "all inspired scripture is profitable," etc. Id.

More important is the following information to challenge the human supposition behind this objection you allude to: 

1. In 1885, the King James Bible removed several books that were included in the 1611 KJV Bible. See link

So did God make a mistake for 274 years? or did He allow us to make a mistake for 274 years? It necessarily is the latter, because God does not make mistakes.

 

2. Also, reading Jesus over Paul is a proper Protestant hermeneutic if we follow even Luther's principle of how to read canon when one passage contradicts another. We just make a different choice than Luther did on who is our sole teacher.

 

When Luther started the reformation, and did not merely correct Catholic errors on indulgencies and baptism for justification, Luther relied upon Paul to change salvation doctrine to faith alone. Luther did so by claiming Paul was in "advance" of Jesus and Moses. Luther recognized that Paul contradicted both. Thus, Luther for the first 17 years of the Reformation taught that it is  proper we read Paul, and we can ignore the Jesus speaking in Mark, Luke & John who was "behind" Paul in wisdom and inspiration.  

 

First, read this from Luther:

“There is no man living on Earth Who knows how to distinguish between The law and the gospel … even the man Jesus Christ  was so wanting in Understanding when he was in the vineyard that an angel had to console him though he was a doctor from heaven he was strengthened by the angel.” (Luther, Luther Works 54, 127.)

 

Second, read this from Luther in the 1522 Preface to the NT: "the Epistles of St. Paul and St. Peter are far in advance of the three Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke." See "Luther's Criticism of Scripture," The Bibliotheca sacra (Dallas Theological Seminary: 1906) Volume 63  at 18, citing Luther Preface to the New Testament from E.A. lxii, 137.)

 

You can see the word "advance" is used in the last quote similar to how Luther in the first quote says Jesus is "wanting" in "understanding" on the Law which obviously Luther thought only Paul supposedly understood was abrogated. Jesus is therefore supposedly behind Paul in wisdom and inspiration, so Luther implied. The driving wedge was Jesus' adherence to the Law.

 

Luther explained not only why he prefers Paul over Jesus of the Gospels, but also why he picks Paul over James who is also in the Bible -- James and Paul too contradict:

 

Many sweat hard at reconciling James with Paul, but unsuccessfully. ‘Faith justifies [Romans 3:28] stands in flat contradiction of ‘faith that does not justify’ [James 2:24.] If anyone can harmonize these sayings, I’ll put my doctor’s cap on him and let him call me a fool....Flatly against St. Paul and all the rest of Scripture, it [James] ascribes righteousness to works, and says Abraham was justified by his works, in that he offered his son Isaac [James 2:21], though St. Paul, on the contrary teaches in Romans 4 [vv. 2-3], that Abraham was justified without works, by faith alone, before he offered his son, and proves it by Moses in Genesis 15 [v.6]. [Quoted in Jason Von Vliet, Living Waters from Ancient Springs: Essays in Honor of Cornelis Van Dam (Wipf & Stock Publishers 2011) at 103.] [FOOTNOTE 1]

 

FOOTNOTE 1: By the way, Paul misread Genesis 15:6. Abraham attributed God's giving him a baby in old age to the righteousness of God. It was not God attributing righteousness to Abraham for believing God would do this. See link. END FOOTNOTE.

 

Thus, due to Paul contradicting Jesus and James, one must choose which path to follow. It is an either  / or decision. Will we follow Jesus and James? Or will we follow Paul? 

In the end, Luther reversed his decision, and he too rejected Paul. But he did it subtly. He said in 1537 in the Antinomian Theses -- to rebut Agricola who said Paul displaces Jesus, and thus we can ignore Jesus -- that from now on anyone who teaches against the Law, the Ten Commandments in particular, is a "false prophet" even if he talks a lot about "grace."  In context, Luther was pushing against Agricola's claim that Paul was the sole dispensation. Luther's aim was to restore authority back to Jesus. Luther had made the opposite choice earlier, and now had a chance to repent, and did so.

On this 1537 writing of Luther, see link.

Unfortunately, we are never reminded today that Luther brought Melancthon -- his successor upon his death -- along. And that after Luther's death, Lutheran doctrine changed by 1555 to a non-Pauline Double Justification doctrine of salvation. Melancthon -- the head of Lutheranism after Luther died -- championed this in what today is called the Majoristic Controversy. (See our article on the Majoristic Controversy.

After Melancthon died in 1560, the faith-alone party of Lutheranism gradually ascended. In 1580, it repealed the Double Justification doctrine. The sola-fidists replaced it with faith alone both for how one became a Christian as well as how one is always saved thereafter even though engaging in unrepentant evil. This is discussed and proven in the Preface to Jesus' Words on Salvation. 

 

Thus, if one selects Jesus over Paul, we are still using the same principle of Luther on how to measure canon -- giving emphasis to one part over another based upon how we resolve the contradiction between Paul and Jesus. Those who accept Jesus as the sole voice of the New Covenant to whom we must obey are giving Jesus this authority for good reasons. 

 

First, Jesus said He is our 'sole pastor" (John 10:16) and "sole teacher" (Matt 23:8-11.) 

Also, Jesus warned of a false teacher named the Least who would teach us not to obey God's Law. Matt 5:17-19. And scholars realized in the 1900s that Paulus -- Paul's name in Latin -- is a contraction of pauxilillus in Latin -- a word meaning LEAST. The scholars said Augustine revealed the meaning of this contraction in the 300s in a passing explanation of why Paul calls himself the "Least" in the Greek of his epistles. See link.

And many more reasons appear in the Further Reading page at Jesus' Words Only under Selected Articles on Paulinism:  link.

If one persists with Paul, God is testing that person. Paul gives a latitude that Jesus surely does not, and that person may be tempted to stay with Paul over Jesus. 

Thus there is indeed a reason God allowed Paul in the Bible -- God in Deut 13:1-5 says he allows "false prophets" with "signs and wonders" to "seduce" us from the Law (given at Sinai - the Ten Commandments in context) to see if we will be deceived, or whether we resist, which God says tests whether we "love the Lord your God with your whole heart mind and soul." Jesus quotes this Deuteronomy passage in Matt 7:15-24. See link.

Does that help?

Blessings of Christ

Doug