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Misunderstood Bible verses

Discussion in 'Religion and Spirituality' started by Unlucky 13, Jul 18, 2014.

  1. Unlucky 13

    Unlucky 13 Team Rosen Staff Member Club Member

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    http://listverse.com/2014/07/18/10-bible-verses-that-are-always-misunderstood/

    These kind of things have interested me for a long time. As a non-religious person, it has always seemed odd for me, looking from the outside, that people would follow a religion and make it a large part of their life, but not want to know as much as possible about the roots of the teachings. When I was in college, I had several friends who were religious studies or theology majors, and they each learned Hebrew, and pointed out that if you read the bible in that language as opposed to English, you can take a very different sense of the meaning in many places.

    Its also been pointed out many times that along with accidental mistranslation or instances where there simply wasn't an equilivant word, those who translated would sometimes alter the ext to further their own agendas or preconceptions. And then you have all of the things that aren't in the bible at all, and were invented by people in the last 500 years or so, but are believed and even taught in churches all the time.

    For those of you who do believe, what do you think of this? Does it matter to you? Many I talk to take the path that whatever their individual church teaches them is what they believe, regardless of what they may learn elsewhere, which seems so strange to me.
     
  2. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    My Hebrew is pretty poor but my Greek is OK. The author of the article makes some good points which scholars would generally agree with. Some other interpretations he offered would be considered as speculative as the ones he is rejecting. Clearly he has an agenda regarding homosexuality which colors the way he looks at the scriptures he raises.

    Christianity is unique among the earth's religions in that it does not require the faithful to learn the language of the original texts in order to be faithful. Jewish children learn Hebrew, Moslems learn Arabic, etc. Christianity does not require the believer to learn Greek. In fact, it is generally accepted Jesus' basic language was Aramaic and yet the New Testament was written in Greek, then the lingua franca of the western world. Why? So the faith would be available to the entire world. God was for all people not just Jews. The openness of Christianity to translate its Holy writings into every language is generally a positive but it does have problems which were made a lot worse when literalism became a foundational principle of conservative, Protestant theology. In addition, no Holy Text made it through "The Enlightenment" untouched.

    How do I live within it? First I work hard at understanding the text in question within the context of the passage. Second, I try and see it within the much larger context of the total corpus of the Bible. For some this may sound heretical, but I do not believe that every verse of scripture should be read the same way or even given the same weight.

    I think your thread was intended to discuss how people of faith live with their Holy writings. If you want to discuss any of the specific interpretations mentioned in the article, bring them up and we can give them a once around.
     
  3. Unlucky 13

    Unlucky 13 Team Rosen Staff Member Club Member

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    Mostly just curiosity for my reasoning. The broader idea - that people make such a huge deal out of things that could be seen as small or non-issues, I think is important for society as a whole. Its something thats been interesting to me, and the article sparked me to see what others thought.
     
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  4. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    You say you are non-religious so you may not get this. Sacred texts, that is texts that the faithful understand as being given them somehow by the entity they understand to be God, are ALWAYS a very, very big deal. Thus to them nothing is small or insignificant.

    That is both good and bad. It is why I push for interpretation within a group and not simply by each individual. While that does not preclude delusion, it can help reduce it.

    Good topic, thanks for bringing it in.
     
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  5. Unlucky 13

    Unlucky 13 Team Rosen Staff Member Club Member

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    As you said, I can't truely understand how others think and feel about it myself. I'm a person who really takes nothing on faith, questions everything, and always wants to figure out things and understand them on my own whenever possible. I'm never above saying that I'm wrong on anything, or that someone else is right, but I want to use my own senses and reasoning, using everything available to me, to do so. I'm not anti-faith/religion, I'm just not a part of it.
     
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  6. padre31

    padre31 Premium Member Luxury Box

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    I think the issue lays not in the translations, in fact anyone with a Strong's Concordance can clear things up for themselves rather quickly..though it also opens new pathways if one is astute. Things are not always what one would think they are, there are allusions to topics that require study

    But I digress, the real issue is not sacred texts, the issue is in how such Faith is applied.

    There was a book whose name and author escapes me, who spent a yr trying to follow all of the old Testament rules and the results were rather fascinating. Meaning it is not the words that have weight it is the actions
     
  7. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    Certainly the actions are vital but what a text says is important. It provides the canvas on which many actions get taken.

    I would agree that translations as in New International versus New Revised Standard versus King James, etc. is not the key. Those do sometimes create issues which are not in the original but the more central issue in interpretation is the lack of understanding of "sitz un laben", that is the situation of life for the text. The easiest way to describe that is learning to ask a text the question, "what would the first people who heard this have understood it to mean?" That involves more than translation, it means understanding the life at the time it was written. In many cases there are ways of handling verbs in Greek which give color to a meaning which are best understood in the context of the time.
     
  8. padre31

    padre31 Premium Member Luxury Box

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    Issue is Ohiop, the gnat can be strained and the camel swallowed so to say

    hmm, disagree with a completely contextual view, rather there is a reason for parables and it was not "Thou shalt not" rather it was meant to cause mankind to use the ol' bean that the Most High deemed to give us

    Which is NOT a rejection of Holiness which in on the ground terms is the highest level of implementation..not "holier than thou" rather "if that is what you want to do, let me warn you, the Most High thinks differently"

    In all of my adventures, that simple phrase, based on the Bible, spoken in truth has spared friends and frenemies tonnes of grief
     
  9. padre31

    padre31 Premium Member Luxury Box

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    Let me speak for a moment, in truth of those matters:

    -there used to temple whores, even in Israel, both men and women ones

    -Yes, the Most High called for a genocide (if one studies it, and is a fan of the X-Files, one knows why)

    -No, the Bible does NOT command a "6,000 yr Creation"

    Onto Wisdom and observation
    '
    -The borrower is Slave to the Lender..ask anyone who owes student loans about that one
    -Homosexuality "they shall burn twice, once here, once there" (paraphrase) I have seen this to be true though Judgment is always left up to God and Jesus

    Competing on the ground verses:

    -Jesus "he is a drunkard and a glutton who hangs out with prostitutes and tax collectors"
    -Paul "have nothing to do with ppl who drink all day and hang out with prostitutes"
    -"You are saved by Grace, not by works"
    -"Charity (love) covers a multitude of sins"

    Sounds confusing? Nope, the point is, one knows in ones heart what is "right" and "wrong" thus do not expect Padre to carry a sign saying "God Hates You" neither do not expect a Cheerleader
    -
     
  10. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    I interpret for a group every week when I preach so perhaps the explaining of context and back story is second nature to me now.

    Padre's comments bring up a point on one of the author's examples, "Judge not....." I think the author missed the mark entirely in his "corrective" explanation. Judgment in Biblical times was solely the prerogative of the King. People did not "judge". Today's language has a completely different understanding of those words. Where Christians falter is in not hearing that verse in tension with "Bear one another's burdens..."

    If you are doing something (or perhaps failing to do something) which I understand may be harming you or others around you, I do not get to say, "Stop it or you will go to hell!" But I am in faith compelled to say, "Out of love for you and others, what you are doing is harming you, I want you to stop so you cease the harm it is doing." The difference may seem subtle but it is essential.
     
  11. Galant

    Galant Love - Unity - Sacrifice - Eternity Staff Member

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    Just to throw in a quick couple of thoughts. This subject of interpretation is often, as I've seen it, itself misunderstood and is often exaggerated as a problem in faith 'circles'. In all honesty, in terms of this being a huge issue, I'd like to say it's really not. It's already been mentioned that accuracy of translation isn't really an issue. Issues of interpretation of verses too aren't usually an issue unless someone has a bone to pick, and even then the advantage, of the Bible at least, is that Biblical/Christian teaching doesn't stand on a bunch of disconnected verses or thoughts but rather the whole taken together brings an intrinsic balances. In addition, there no major doctrine or teaching which stands upon the basis of only one or two passages or verses. All major doctrines come from the collective. I can honestly say that from my earliest years of growing up in church up to the present time twenty odd years down the line having studied and become involved in ministry, the heart of my faith, the central truths, have remained the same. I have certainly learned better balance, better focus, learned to major on the majors more and not get distracted. I've learned more of what's really important and adjusted my life and practise to fit and of course my understanding has grown and deepened and that in itself is a source of joy and peace. I will say that I am very much a work in progress and I've a long way to go, a long, long way, in all these areas and more. However, in these sorts of discussions I want to reiterate that the heart of the faith, the essentials, are simple, and that's beautiful, and it corresponds with and is borne out by Scripture. The gospel of Jesus Christ, if it is the gospel, must apply to and be available for everyone - the poorest and richest, the weakest and strongest, the least intelligent and simplest to the most intelligent. For that to be true, the essentials have to be presentable simply and easily, and they are.

    Now, that's not to say there aren't important issues within faith and the church that don't arise/haven't arisen from misinterpretation/misunderstanding etc. However, I'd say that these issues demonstrate more either the presence of an agenda or a lack of commitment and effort to Biblical interpretation. To borrow a quote and apply it out of context, "Christianity has not been tried and found lacking, it has been found difficult and left untried." (G. K. Chesterton) In the same way, I think a lot of issues we see today have resulted not from an inability to properly interpret Scripture but rather a lack of commitment to learn and apply it.

    The method of Biblical interpretation is not a great mystery. It's actually rather straightforward. Rather, it's that often people come to Scripture to validate the opinions they already hold and have no interest in learning and listening, especially at cost to either one's time, or one's pride and opinion. Additionally, Biblical interpretation is done best through interaction with others in the church, and with prayer, both things that many prefer to neglect. It's not always easy for one person to hold in mind all the different facets of biblical teaching or have the perfect perspective. Working with one another helps make use of that collective memory and perspective, and works, as long individuals stay faithful to the method of interpretation and be honest about their own issues, doubts, problems, fears etc. and with a healthy respect for the Scriptures and the fear of the Lord - which act as a corrective to any desire or tendency to simply make Scripture say what one might want it to say, or to rather wait when faced with uncertainty rather than simply fudge it, or make declarations where there may be doubt.

    Still, in all of this, I want to remember again that the heart of the faith is clear and simple. Not always easy to live out, but still easy to see, read, and understand.

    I think it can help to remember that if it were the case that 'interpretation' is a huge issue and little can truly be known and that there is massive doubt, a lot of smart people through the centuries would have spotted it and stayed away. There are too many bright individuals who have gone into this wonderful faith in Jesus Christ with their eyes wide open for this to be truly considered a major problem. As I said, I believe it is a case that people haven't found the Bible and the interpretation of it wanting, it's that they've found it potentially challenging, with too serious implications, and so closed the door without seeing if it will open.
     
  12. rafael

    rafael Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    I think interpretation issues are why there are so many different branches of Christianity. I think that people that claim that there aren't interpretation issues are simply reading things under the light of what they already believe surrounded by others who believe the same. It's not surprising that they all think the interpretations are obvious. I've been in bible study sessions with various different branches of Christianity and they have all said the exact same thing, "that the fundamentals are not in question", yet when I study with a different branch they have slightly different fundamentals that are also not in question. Obviously these different sects are deciding what their "fundamentals" are under their own interpretations. IMO the one fundamental is "love one another". Beyond that how the bible says we are supposed to do that is open to interpretation.
     
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  13. Fin D

    Fin D Sigh Club Member

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    Is it even possible to misunderstand the Bible? Or any other religious coda for that matter?
     
  14. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    Absolutely. That is why study and mutual consultation is essential. And that is true of any text either sacred or secular.
     
  15. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    I am not sure I would answer the same way you do, but I strongly support the way you have said it. Interestingly, that "church" group in Kansas that hates gays bases their theological understanding on rejecting that which you have named as central. For them God does not love. I have no clue how anyone can read the whole of scripture and come to that conclusion but they have. Sigh!
     
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  16. Fin D

    Fin D Sigh Club Member

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    For the Bible to be "misunderstood" there would have to be a single correct way to interpret the Bible. As raf pointed out, with all the different denominations of the Christian faith, there is obviously not a "single" way otherwise there'd be a single denomination. So its possible to misunderstand the Bible based on a given denomination's interpretation, but it cannot be possible to misunderstand it in a broad sense.
     
  17. rafael

    rafael Season Ticket Holder Club Member

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    Good point! Even what I would consider to be the simplest, most fundamental concept has different interpretations. I guess the real issue is that saying something as simple as "the sky is blue" will foster arguments about shades of blue and the importance of nighttime so anybody claiming that there aren't interpretation issues on any topic just hasn't spoken to enough people.
     
  18. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    Okay, I see the point you are making. In that philosophical sense you are correct. That said I have seen "interpretations" which ignore the linguistic meaning of a text.
     
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  19. Galant

    Galant Love - Unity - Sacrifice - Eternity Staff Member

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    You're assuming that there is always sufficient material to be interpreted. The fact is, the Bible doesn't say as much on some subjects and says lots on others. Where less is said there is more room for difference of thought.

    Also, on the wider issue of interpretation, Raf, I would specify that there are differences that arise from interpretation however, I wanted to speak against two notions - 1) that the Bible is unknowable because anyone can interpret it any way, and, 2) to point out that so-called 'interpretations' based on nothing more than "because that's what I think it says" don't count as interpretations in my book.
     
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  20. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    Let me give a concrete example of a particular "error". In the story of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness the first temptation is Satan asking Jesus to "prove" He is the Son of God by turning stones into loaves of bread. Many folks interpret that as Satan asking Jesus whether or not He is the Christ. BUT Koine Greek has a grammatical construction (use of the subjunctive) which allows an author to write a rhetorical question. In English that can only be done by vocal inflection in speech.

    Thus suggesting the text is about proof is not an allowable alternative interpretation, it is simply wrong. It is about temptation.

    Now weighing texts versus other texts is always a hard job. It takes study, cooperation, prayer, and a willingness to admit "I might be wrong!?"
     
  21. Fin D

    Fin D Sigh Club Member

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    That doesn't really affect my line of thought or point though.

    See, we're not even talking about interpretations or misunderstandings simply between languages, but if we were that would just kind of further what I'm saying.

    For me it comes down to a philosophical conundrum. Either the Bible is a book of parables open to personal interpretation which means there's no right or wrong interpretation OR its meant to be taken literally word for word and we just have to figure out which version is true, but we can't because none of us were around when the original gospels were written.
     
  22. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    Millions of folks come down in between those two. I hope you eventually are able to as well. While you are able to find fringe groups who take absurd readings and focus on them, ultimately the way scripture is read is in community. One weighs and balances things.

    Indeed scripture is where we meet God and yet God is with us as we read. It is about being in relationship, with God, with the text, and with others in their reading. Best wishes.
     
  23. Galant

    Galant Love - Unity - Sacrifice - Eternity Staff Member

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    Actually it does. What I'm saying is that there is one way to interpret the Scriptures correctly. Different denominations do not have to result from different interpretations where Scriptural teaching is available but simply different preferences of church arrangement/focus, or, different understanding of where Scripture isn't clear.

    There are, of course, denominations where there is a disagreement over an area of Scripture where teaching is full and clear. Usually though, these result from one of the conditions I mentioned earlier, i.e. extra material has been added, material has been removed/ignored, or no real interpretative practice has been applied.

    Additionally, the differences between denominations has often been grossly exaggerated. Again, not that there are no differences, or that some don't have or see big theological differences, but rather that I've found most people speak of such differences out of ignorance or vitriol and use it to dismiss the gospel in a way that is really unwarranted and even unjustifiable.

    Again, to be clear, my central point here is that the gospel and the Bible are very understandable, and can be read/heard, understood, grasped and acted upon. The way of Biblical interpretation - 'how to read the Bible' - can be learned and isn't a huge mystery. It's just that to really master the whole Bible takes a lot of time and effort. And, though not wanting to sound like a broken record, the major themes are recurring, the message consistent and the gospel is clear.

    The Bible is categorically not a matter of 'interpret' it how you feel (that's not interpretation). It is a book to be taken literally and seriously - but that little word 'literally' is one a growing number of people don't understand or use properly.
     
  24. Unlucky 13

    Unlucky 13 Team Rosen Staff Member Club Member

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    Probably the biggest interpretation difference that I can think of really shocked me. Growing up in the Cathloic church, the teaching was always that there was God, and then there was his son Jesus. Two separate entities. When I met my wife and attended a few services at her Southern Baptist church, I learned that they, and many others apparently, view Jesus as actually being God, and that the two are one in the same. It seems like a huge difference to me.
     
  25. Galant

    Galant Love - Unity - Sacrifice - Eternity Staff Member

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    Hmmm, could you clarify? This might simply be a case of poor communication. This is to do with the essence of the trinitarian nature of God. Although Roman Catholics and Protestants have a number of significant differences between them their views on the triune nature of God are the same. Assuming that neither the RC teaching you received nor the teaching at your wife's SB church were/are different from the norm for those churches, there won't be any difference, so that's why I think this may just be poor communication at some point.
     
  26. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    Got to go with Galant here, Unluck. Roman Catholics ascribe to the Apostles', Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds all of which understand there to be one God, revealed in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Those who were teaching you as a young person sound like they were unclear on this issue (maybe even within themselves) which unfortunately happens too often in a young person's faith education.

    Galant is also correct in noting that the differences between Christian traditions are no where near as large as folks make them out to be. Fifty or more years ago when most of the nation was Christian we would emphasize our differences in a way of stating identity. I have read older papers by scholars of the time who hated that and predicted (rightly) that we would pay dearly for emphasizing our divisions.

    The largest difference in the world is the schism between Orthodox Christianity and Western or Latin Christianity (Catholicism). Frankly this arose in a political world and has since been deepened by ten centuries of mistrust, anger, and increasing differences in practice, polity and piety. The last couple of Popes and Ecumenical Patriarchs have been working to improve relations. There is an unstated goal that by the 1000th anniversary of the Great Schism in 2054, the two then office holders can announce some kind of rapprochement.

    In America, the numbers of Orthodox are small and they are still divided along ethnic lines (i.e. GREEK Orthodox, RUSSIAN Orthodox, SERBIAN, CHALCEDONIAN, ANTIOCHEAN, etc.). The big split in American Christianity is the same as Western Europe--Roman Catholic and Protestant. Even there the sides are not always clear. Many of the mainline Protestant denominations are in full communion with each other acknowledging their differences have resulted in parallel bodies which can, should, and do work together. This group would include Lutherans, Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians, the United Church of Christ, Moravians, and the Reformed Church in America. Most of them are themselves results of a long line of mergers and consolidations of ethnic and regional bodies over the nation's history. Indeed many of the "differences" between these traditions and Roman Catholicism have been studied and found to be historic misunderstandings . No national or international merger is about to happen but greater cooperation is the norm for most of them.

    Emphasizing the historic distinctions has been a fertile recruiting ground for the rising number of "non-denominational" congregations in this country. I say this without malice but as a statement of observation. Young people have often found those kind of distinctions unpalatable and thus flock to places where they are deemphasized. While these non-denominationals do not share governance, they have de facto become a denomination themselves in that they espouse a fairly common theology and practice. Indeed there is a stronger convergence of theological agreement among them than there is with historic denominations!

    Along with long standing historic traditions such as Baptist, Church of Christ, and Assemblies of God the non-denominationals probably represent the major schism within the Christian Church in the world; how does one understand Baptism? Even there both sides see Baptism as the entry rite into God's Church. The difference lies in who is the principal actor. Is God accepting a person the main point or is it the person coming to surrender to God?

    I will not try and debate this. It would need its own thread and frankly both sides have well established arguments and "proofs" which have become unconvincing to the other. It is not an "argument" which is helpful to the faith. In fact at the level of scholarship it is largely now understood to be "we have agreed to disagree, so let's move on".

    Galant used the phrase "literal reading" of scripture in one of his posts. I resisted rising to an answer then because the way it was used suggested a different understanding of the phrase than I most commonly see. Words have meanings. Any time a person is studying an historic text be it religious, philosophical, or legal one needs to understand what the words mean and meant within their own time and context. That is a literal reading and to it I would agree completely.

    Where I disagreed with the author of the article which began this thread was how he lifted each text alone. Yes, he did answer some with other texts but didn't describe or stick to a particular methodology. I have used the phrase "to weigh" a statement. It is the phrase my professors used most often. Interpretation is when you take a number of texts around a particular issue and try to accomplish that weighing. Be it the place of women in the Church, the death penalty, how does one best help the poor, homosexuality, or any of a dozen other issues; interpretation is a debate among folks who weigh, measure and study the ancient texts, their context, how they have been understood, and how they fit in the larger context of how we Christians understand God still working in His world.

    It is never going to be completely clear. But it should not keep anyone from the message of the Gospel, that God loves us and wants to restore us to a relationship with Him. That restoration happened through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. How life flows from there is going to always be different for every person and situation. There is nothing wrong with that.
     
  27. Galant

    Galant Love - Unity - Sacrifice - Eternity Staff Member

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    Exactly. :)
     
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  28. ToddPhin

    ToddPhin RIP Phinsational Luxury Box Club Member

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    Christianity was hijacked by Paul the [strike]Salesman[/strike] self-appointed Apostle, so I'd say much of the Bible is misunderstood since 13 of the 27 Books of the New Testament are attributed to him and because his words and beliefs don't always coincide with Jesus's, to the degree of being contradictory.
     
  29. padre31

    padre31 Premium Member Luxury Box

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    If one wishes to test Pauline Doctrine then simply apply "you can deduce the spiritual by looking at the natural"
     
  30. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    You will appreciate, Christian believers would reject your conclusion. Paul adds the dimension of what it means to be a follower of Jesus which perforce stretches the faith.
     
  31. Galant

    Galant Love - Unity - Sacrifice - Eternity Staff Member

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    I find it odd that somehow Paul can now be identified as hijacking the faith, even contradicting Jesus, and yet have managed to deceive all the early believers and even the twelve themselves, so that no rebuke came forward, but rather an approval from Peter recorded in his own writings, and also from the council in Jerusalem following a visit the purpose of which was to evaluate the teachings and ministry of Paul, as recorded by Luke, the historian, in the book of Acts.

    Therefore, may I ask, on what basis do you make that charge?
     
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