"St. Paul ... substituted another doctrine for ...the plain and profoundly revolutionary teachings of Jesus." (H.G. Wells, Outline of History 1921.)

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The Pandemic of Paulinism

 

Just like warnings are ignored at our peril when a pandemic contagion breaks out, the same has befallen almost all of Christendom.

 

Many say it is wrong to warn people that holding onto doctrines found in Paul like faith alone, eternal security and predestination, etc., have to be extinguished. We are supposedly causing '"doubt" when confidence is always best. However, these doctrines in Paul's writings clearly contradict Jesus' blunt warning that a sinning "believer" has two choices: you can go to heaven maimed (i.e., sternly cut off any connection to temptations) or you will go to hell whole. See Mark 9:42-47.

Jesus clearly is sharing that God does not predestine your obedience. It is up to you to obey Jesus' warning.

Virtually no Protestant Christian wants to hear Jesus' warnings. They want the leaven of Paul's assurance of salvation on the meagerest ground possible, namely that nothing but believing that Jesus died for their sins and that Jesus resurrected "shall" save them. That's what Paul clearly teaches in 1 Cor. 15:1-5.

However, Dietrich Bonhoeffer -- a modern Christian martyr -- said this is cheap grace -- an assurance of salvation we give ourself that is not grounded on the teachings of Jesus. See Preface to Jesus' Words on Salvation.

 

The infection of Pauline cheap grace doctrines has permeated everywhere in Christendom -- an out-of-control spiritual pandemic of enormous proportions. It has overwhelmed Christianity wherever you look.

What about that Jesus said the opposite of Paul's cheap grace teachings in Mark 9:42-47?

Will you do "testing" -- like we do to avoid falling ill to a pandemic -- to see if the doctrine you believe based upon Paul is valid when compared to what Jesus says in Mark 9:42-47?

Are you willing to learn you are infected with the leaven of the Pharisees of which Jesus spoke in Matthew 16:6?

 

What Was The Leaven of the Pharisees?

 

What did Jesus say was dangerous about letting even the smallest entry point for the Pharisees' teachings into your conscience? Why could it imperil your chance for eternal life, making you twice the sons of hell as the Pharisees?

(Matt 23:15.)

In fact, Jesus warned that unless the smallest leaven of their doctrine is eradicated (from your mind), it will contaminate the entire kneed of dough (that is, it will spread from you to the entire Christian community, potentially souring all of our values). (Matt. 16:6.)

Thus, what was the doctrines of the Pharisees which Jesus clearly condemned a few verses after his "sons of hell" warning to us if we follow them? 

In Matthew 23:23 -- eight verses later, Jesus says the Pharisees are not teaching the weightier matters of the Law and prefer to teach just about tithing:

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye tithe mint and anise and cummin, and have left undone the weightier matters of the law, justice, and mercy, and faith: but these ye ought to have done, and not to have left the other undone. (ASV.)

[Cf. KJV "omitted... weightier matters."]

 

Luke says something similar. Scholars now realize that Luke's Gospel was translating an early Hebrew version of Matthew (link). Luke's purpose for that Gospel and Acts -- a two volume work -- was to inform the trial counsel handling Paul's defense in the pending trial before Nero about Paul and potentially implicating all of Christianity. See link. Its purpose was not simply to exonerate Paul but also to prevent Christianity from being outlawed if blaimed for the entry of Trophimus -- Paul's companion -- in an uncircumcised condition into the Jerusalem Temple (link).

Thus, here is Luke's simpler looser message (apparently limited by his ability to translate Hebrew) yet still similar message:

 

Woe to you Pharisees! You pay tithes of mint and rue and every herb, but you disregard justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without neglecting the former. (Luke 11:42.)



What therefore do these similar passages in the Greek and Hebrew Matthew mean?

First, the Pharisees emphasize a lesser command -- the tithe. But the Pharisees omitted / neglected teaching God's more important principles from the Law on judgments (right and wrong), on mercy (how to be truly saved based on loving and obeying God), and on PISTIS (obedience or faith). 

 

What is God's principle of MERCY? Is it based on faith alone? Or is it based upon something entirely more which requires you have more than just faith in facts about Jesus? 

 

The answer is well-known but ignored.

 

Inside the Ten Commandments, God says He gives his "mercy" to those "who love me and obey my commandments." (Exodus 20:6 KJV.) Not faith alone. Why?

Because faith is assumed as present but does not suffice by itself for mercy. For you can not love God unless you believe in Him,  but you also can believe in God's existence without loving or obeying Him. Satan believes God exists, but does not love or obey Him. Hence faith is necessary to love or obey God, but faith alone does not satisfy either love or obedience for God. Exodus 20:6 thus clearly contradicts faith alone as the sole predicate to receive God's mercy.

Pharisees like Paul (Acts 23:6, Paul declares he is a Pharisee) therefore "omit" or "neglect" teaching God's true principle of Mercy. His true grace.

In line with Matthew in 23:23, Luke says Jesus tells the Pharisees that they omitted to teach the "love of God." This matches Exodus 20:6 which confirms that Jesus is pointing at the Pharisees ignoring Exodus 20:6, including its requirment to "love God" to receive mercy.

This Law on Mercy is right after the first of the Ten Commandments. It is also prior to the Second Commandment.

Then how did the Pharisees avoid teaching about God's mercy? About the importance to love God in deed?

 

The Pharisees Distorted View of God's Mercy / Salvation.

 

Instead, the Pharisees taught that all of Israel will be saved in heaven because of God's promise to "bless" the seed of Abraham which blessing fell on Jacob. He was later renamed Israel.

As a result, Pharisees taught a Gentile could only be saved by becoming a son of Israel supposedly by means of circumcision. (Cf. Acts 15:1-2 Christians likely Pharisees taught Gentiles had to be circumcised to be saved, although the Law never says a Gentile can becomes a son of Israel by doing so.)

 

How was God going to save all Israel in Pharisee eyes? By faith alone? or something that by-passed human will totally? The Pharisees were predestinarians, claiming God will predestine all Israel to be saved regardless of any unbelief. See our link.

As Ebinezer Ireson in The Methodist Preacher (Putnam:

1833) at 160 wrote:

The Pharisees were, at that time, the most rigid 

predestinarians in the world, and believed (as a matter

of course) in the doctrine of unconditional election

and reprobation; and believed, also (as all do who credit

the doctrine) that they were elect, because they were

descendants of Abraham…. (Emphasis added.)

 

John the Baptist was condemning this Pharisee doctrine -- excoriatng the Pharisees' idea you are saved by simply being a "son of Abraham." John the Baptist retorts that God wants repentance from sin -- what John called the "perfect fruit of repentance." If God was going to save all Israel regardless of repentance (including a return to obedience), God could just as easily turn rocks into his children if that is all God wanted. Matt 3:7-10.

Of course, Paul claimed "all Israel will be saved" (Rom. 11:26) and hence implied they are not even a necessary field of evangelism. In context Paul says the Israelites will remain in "unbelief," but will still be saved -- receive mercy -- by the "belief" of the Gentiles. See Romans 11:28-32. Paul conceives that the "belief" of the Gentiles will be the grounds that God will save the Jews despite their unbelief. (Id.) Very strange indeed.  But very similar to the Pharasaic predestinarian doctrine of Paul's time.

 

How does Paul and other Pharisees conceive this operates on even unbelievers?

What Pharisees taught, including Pharisee Paul (Acts 23:6), is that the Israelites are essentially predestined, so there are no worries there.

Therefore, Paul like Pharisees before him was not teaching the true principle of mercy that Israel and all Gentiles need to hear -- Exodus 20:6 which reads "I give mercy to those who love me and obey my commandments."

Hence, we can all see a remnant of this false Pharisee teaching remained expressly in Paul.

However, Jesus strictly condemned this doctrine of the Pharisees in Matt 23:23 because it did not teach God's true principle of mercy in Exodus 20:6.

 

As to the Gentiles' right to mercy, Paul likewise missed Exodus 20:6. But Paul devised a different solution than the Pharisees who contended that circumcision was necessary for Gentiles to be saved through "conversion" to become now somehow a "son of Israel."

Instead, Paul taught Gentiles were saved by "faith alone" (not circumcision). However, Paul's teaching shared in common with Pharisee doctrine that this was as equally without any moral change / repentance as John the Baptist was saying was the defect in the Pharisee doctrine about how the children of Israel were saved.

For Paul said such faith is a "gift from God" (Ephesians 2:8-10). This means God predestined you by giving you faith which you otherwise would not have had. God is giving it to you; you supposedly do not form the belief without God's gift to you of faith.

This false idea which Paul's words support is popularly spread today, but it has long been around.

 

For example, John MacArthur, a leading voice, echoes Calvin and Augustine on the relevant passages. MacArthur explains this passage in Ephesians 2:8-10 means even "faith" is given you -- you do not will faith -- because otherwise it supposedly would become a "work" of your will. Salvation is by "faith, not works," says Paul in Eph. 2:8-9. (Grace to You -- MacArthur's church website at this link.)

Hence, MacArthur construes Paul as saying God predestined you have faith as a gift to you without your conscious awareness it was compelled upon your mind. Any other position is characterized as heresy against Ephesians 2:8-10 -- we are supposedly saved by faith alone without the work of even willing our own faith.

 

This only makes sense without contradicting Exodus 20:6 if Paul says God predestined faith by God upon those who fit the criteria of Exodus 20:6. That is, if God predestines faith to those who "love God and obey my commandments," then in theory predestining faith does not contradict Exodus 20:6.

 

Is that a possible solution in reading Paul? If so, that could work to save Paul's doctrine from being atrocious and immoral.

 

Unfortunately Paul doubles down in Romans 9:10-15, favoring an atrocious reading of Holy Scripture.

Per Paul in that passage, faith is given to you based upon nothing you have done, whether for good or evil. Instead, such faith is given ... God's alleged method of mercy ... by means of an arbitrary selection upon whom God will grant mercy, as Paul contends in Romans 9:10-15. (Paul extrapolates improperly this principle from singular events mentioned in the Bible.)

Hence, in Paul's mind in Romans 9:10-15, the non-Israelite Gentile is supposedly saved by the same arbitrary predestination that saves all Israelites whom Paul says are saved despite "unbelief" (Romans 11:26) -- somehow God imputing salvation to Israelites despite unbelief due to God seeing the "faith" of the Gentiles. (Don't get me started on whether this strange idea is eerily pagan.)

 

So what should we Gentiles then be concerned about according to Paul interpreters once we believe Jesus died for us and resurrected?

Paulinists say we have absolutely nothing to concern ourselves about once we believe those two facts about Jesus. They cite 1 Cor. 15:1-4. It is supposedly all out of our hands. We allegedly cannot lose salvation even if we tried.


Paulinists take refuge in nothing less than self-delusions that twist Jesus' words to fit Pauline doctrine. It is too long a discussion to review here. However, I elsewhere review with quotations  / links to the systematic contortions by Paulinists which they use to counter each major costly-grace passage of Jesus. You can find this in my book Jesus' Words on Salvation. The materials of that book are free at this link.

 

J. Vernon McGee -- the weekly radio talk show host, now deceased -- puts the net effect best: "sit back and relax, and enjoy your salvation." (J. Vernon McGee, How You Can Have the Assurance of Salvation (Pasadena: 1976) at 12.)

This depraved view of salvation -- at total odd with Jesus and Moses who unlike Paul depict a God who extends mercy on morally just grounds -- those who love and obey God -- has taken over.

 

To even raise Jesus' words or Yahweh's words in opposition to Pauline salvation doctrine is hooted and denounced from almost everywhere. Amazingly, Paul has made saving faith possible to be given without that person ever even voluntarily loving God. Paul has in 1 Cor, 15:1-4 a loveless faith not arising by your own will as sufficient to actually save you. It is obviously a nonsensical treatment for the human sin condition, but millions believe it.

This atrocious and blasphemous view of God is yet promoted by famous Christians leaders like John MacArthur. 

 

The Spiritual Contagion Waves of Paulinism

 

This means the pandemic of Paul's Pharisee-type species of doctrine which Jesus and even John the Baptist condemned has overtaken us. The first major wave of contagion began under Roman Catholicism. Its famous Augustine taught the predestination doctrine of Paul. This made converting people under Catholicism simply that you need only baptize them which supposedly imparts justification and salvation at the same time. God supposedly predestines your faith afterwards. As long as you remain a Catholic, you allegedly remain saved by the authority of the church. A little glimmer of Jesus' doctrine was left by allowing for rare excommunication for "serious" sins only. But failing such an action, if you died in the church's arms -- receiving all the rituals and ceremonies of last unction, you could count on Augustine's predestination principles from Paul to make it to heaven.

 

To help cement this guarantee of church-ordained salvation, the Catholics compelled each member to regularly confess 1 Cor. 15:1-4 -- you believe Jesus died for your sins and resurrected -- in the modified form of the Nicene Creed crafted in 325 BC. 

As a result, Paulinism came to mostly corrupt Roman Catholicism, as it enforced the misleading importance of confessing faith regularly in facts about Jesus as somehow saving you, as Paul claimed in 1 Cor. 15:1-4. Roman Catholicism became a Credal Christianity founded on the words of 1 Cor. 15:1-4. Paulinism's strongest wave of such nonsense began with Roman Catholicism.

The second wave came with Pauline Christianity in the Reformation. It triumphed over the emergent non-Pauline Reformation salvation doctrine of Tyndale, Meno Simons, and Carlstadt and the mature Luther. These men all accepted Double Justification -- salvation begins by faith alone but requires a second or double justification by works to be saved.

This means that the mature Luther and Melancthon had eventually repented of their faith alone teaching by 1536 as sufficient for your entire life to be saved. They embraced the Double Justification doctrine found previously by Tyndale, Simons, Erasmus and Carlstadt. These four were heavy-weights of the Reformation. In 1517, Carlstadt was even the co-founder of the Reformation with Luther.

Soon after Luther died, Melancthon as the new head of the Lutheran church after years of effort finally succeeded in having Lutheranism accept double justification in 1555. However, when Melancthon in turn died, the faith-alone advocates in the Lutheran churches took over. They reversed double justification in the Book of Concord in 1580. See Preface to Jesus' Words on Salvation.

 

So the mature Luther and Melancthon failed to contain the contagion that they both first earlier fueled and taught. They thought they could close it up. Melancthon thought he ended the infection they both started years earlier. However, then they both died, and the contagion re-infected Christianity.

Now centuries later, the spiritual chance at eternal life was lost to millions who were adequately aware from reading Jesus and the Ten Commandments that mercy does not turn on faith alone, or national identity as a son of Israel. Our armies of pastors -- well-paid for sticking with Paul -- were mostly no help. They have largely rejected Jesus' teachings, preferring the notion that Paul's teachings could supplant our "sole teacher" (Matt 23) and "sole pastor" John10:16 (G. poimen, pastor.) They generally embrace dispensational doctrine that Jesus' gospel teachings were superceded by Paul's doctrines even though Paul never quotes Jesus in any epistle to support his teachings.  See

Was Paul a Messenger of Jesus' Doctrines?

 

Our Duty Now.

 

We have to shelter in place solely with Jesus. We need to  pray to Jesus to protect us from the contagion that Paulinism represents. It often has infected our own mind and our fellow-Christians' minds. It is hard to break free -- it is so ingrained.

Hopefully by reading and studying Jesus we will be cured and healed.

His word is the Bread of life, and can restore health to our souls.

We must expurgate forever from our mind the teachings of Paul. We must then remain constantly vigilant to never let Paulinism back into our community.

 

Paulinists' Last Ridiculous Threat.

 

Paulinists' last resort before they are gone will be to use Paul's words to scare you that by teaching what Jesus taught you and I could be damning to ourselves. Paul even says there is a curse on anyone who turns people back to Sabbath and the Law. (Gal. 4.)

But we need not fear. Paul contradicts himself thereby, and proves himself incoherent giving such a threat. For Paul said a "believer" shall be saved if I have all the right beliefs in 1 Cor. 15:1-4, but now Paul says in Galatians 4 that is all extinguished by just myself simply obeying Sabbath and obeying God's commands on Gentiles as conditions of mercy. Somehow Paul threatens that God's law is so flipped around that obeying it now supposedly curses me! This threat, however,  contradicts faith alone -- that my faith alone in Jesus' atonement and resurrection "shall" save me. (1 Cor. 15:1-4.). So this threat of a curse is incoherent with Paul's promise I am eternally secure for holding in belief that Jesus died for sin and resurrected.

Paul's threat of a curse for in effect following Exodus 20:6  is one of the grossest blasphemies against Yahweh imaginable -- that obeying His Law -- by obeying Exodus 20:6 -- damns you. Oh what insults on God that man cannot believe about God Yahweh -- whom they claim is their Father.

 

Once this last ditch Pauline threat is deflected by God's true word demolishing it as foolish nonsense, the contagion of Paulinism will have finally been contained. Let's all work for that day. 

 

Doug