Saturday, September 19, 2009

Paul: A False Prophet?

I'm currently reading N.T. Wright's What Saint Paul Really Said with a couple of friends. One of those friends, Mark, doesn't accept the writings of the Apostle Paul as inspired (for various reasons), and instead views Paul as a false prophet who, if alive today, should be put to death.

As we began to read the book, he brought up these beliefs again, and I thought I would share my response to Mark that I sent during our email discussion: (This begins after a short discussion of Gamaliel's defense of the Apostles in Acts 5)

Incidentally, as I was reading those sections of Acts again, I read Gamaliel's words with a new perspective (no pun intended)... When he defends the apostles in Acts 5, he says:

"Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God."

Gamaliel seems to have the same idea of God that I do: If he does exist and he is a personal, non-deist type of God, than he has a stake in the course of history (especially in the development of the Bible). A god that doesn't protect his communication with his people is not a god I can believe in. In case it's not obvious what I'm getting at: I don't think I can believe in a God that allowed the writings of a "false apostle" to be accepted as inspired by the vast majority of his followers. For me, to believe in God is to believe in the God of the Bible as we have it. Not because I trust Paul for any particular reason, but because any god worth believing in should be trustworthy when it comes to "scripture". Gamaliel's statement in Acts 5 takes as it's presupposition the only god I'm prepared to believe in: a god that fights for ideas that are true and suppresses ideas that are not. (Please don't ask me to explain why Islam is so widespread; I can't.)

I know that doesn't address all your specific comments (attacks :) ) on Paul, but I think my comments above make it clear: I don't think a faith in a god that does not include Paul as a true apostle is a faith worth having. I think it is much more likely that God just does not exist. I'm reading this book to make sense of some parts of the Bible that puzzle me, but it is not an option (for the reasons above) to throw out parts in order to salvage consistency. In my mind, the Bible works (somehow) or God does not exist.

In addition to what I said in my email, it's also important to note the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount:

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them." Matthew 17:15-20

I think that if we look at the "fruit" of the Apostle Paul as seen in the size and character of the Church today, it is almost silly to suggest that Paul is a false prophet.

To me, it seems like the god that Mark believes in is so unconcerned with his people, or so uninvolved in world events, or simply so weak, that it's not worth pursuing any kind of relationship with his God. If God isn't interested in protecting the Bible from false prophets, then would he really be interested in me at all?

30 comments:

beowulf2k8 said...

The size of "the church" (which one?) Does not prove that Paul was a true apostle any more than the size of Islam today proves Mohammed was a true apostle! Besides, Jesus said few would be saved because the way is broad that leads to destruction. The big size of Pauline churches could just as well therefore be taken as a proof that he's not a true apostle.

Size cannot be our measurement of true and false. Sucess does not indicate right. Joel Osteen has a big church. All he teaches is self help gobblygook.

HenryJ said...

Jesus also said something akin to "good trees will bear good fruit, and evil trees will bear evil fruit."

As it stands, right now, the Pauline church has bore more "evil fruit" than the essentially Buddhist religion that could have been ever could.

DC talks said...

Again Cool Post. What I wrestle with though, "Is everything that Paul said perfect theology" for walking the Christian Life? I can ascribe to easily 95%, but some of the things Paul attacks have to be cultural based - so do they apply now? The bigger question is "Is everything in the Bible the prefect word of God?" and us in Bible churches are taught?

What does this Perfect Word of God mean? I am OK with "Inspired word of God", but at the end of the day the writings were recorded and edited by imperfect man and are quite often stories of man's fallen nature.

The reason I belabor this point is that to a new Christian or a questioning Christian, much of what is recorded in the bible is not really understandable or applicable to living the changed life that Jesus taught.

How do you reconcile all the destruction and death in the Old Testament with the Pure Message of the Gospels?

Joe said...

DC, I agree that a lot of the Bible is not useful or understandable to new believers or seekers.

But I think that some might disagree with you. Doesn't 2 Tim. 3:16 say that ALL scripture is useful for training in righteousness? And add to it the fact that Paul was speaking only of the Hebrew scriptures...

Joe said...

DC, great point about the destruction and death in the OT. I've discussed that before . It's still a problem I wrestle with a lot.

James said...

" A god that doesn't protect his communication with his people is not a god I can believe in."

A God who didn't allow it would be interfering with free will. For there to be Free Will God would have to let someone corrupt his Word.

Second, the compilation of the "Bible" was a man made affair, and God had nothing to do with it. If you study the evidence of the early manuscripts, you will find that there are thousands of variants between the oldest manuscripts of the "New Testament" and the current manuscripts. So we know that it has been corrupted.

Third, I would point out that a God who is inconsistent is not a God worth trusting for your salvation. So by that standard, if anything Paul wrote contradicts anything that God revealed, and Paul claimed to speak for that God, then Paul is a false prophet.
Fourth God gave us a way to test rather someone was speaking for him. Deuteronomy 18-22. Therefore we should apply that test to Paul, and if Paul fails it than so be it.

So that you know Deuteronomy 18 list 6 signs of a false prophet
1) Does the person claim to speak on behalf of god
2) Does he oversteps his bounds, acting presumptuously with an inflated sense of self-worth
3) Does he openly and publicly preaches to others, communicating his message in the name of God
4) Is his message inconsistent with what God has instructed and directed
5) Does he speak in the name of gods other than Yahweh
6) He does not accurately convey what is happening and what has happened in the past, and his predictions of the future do not materialize and come to exist as they he stated them?

If you apply this test to Paul you can determine if he was a false prophet.

" I'm reading this book to make sense of some parts of the Bible that puzzle me, but it is not an option (for the reasons above) to throw out parts in order to salvage consistency. In my mind, the Bible works (somehow) or God does not exist."

If that is your reasoning, then you must believe that God does not exist, because there is no way to reconcile much of what Paul teaches with what God revealed.

Rather than get into to extended detail here, I will give you a website to a free book, which is only in it's beginning stages at this point, but will eventually cover all of Paul's letters. Currently it only covers Galatians. And no this is not my book, though I have exchanged emails with the author, and would encourage anyone who has questions or challenges to what the book says to do the same.

If you are interested in knowing what God said, www.yadayahweh.com is entirely free, it examines Scripture in depth using amplified translations from the original languages. And www.questioningpaul.com is the same authors newest book, which is set up to address Paul.

Again if you read those books and have any questions, or find any flaw in the logic or misstatement of truth, email the author, or post in the forum located at the site.

I'll leave with this, according to Paul the Torah, God's primary revelation to mankind, enslaves us. How can someone be speaking for the God who inspired the Torah, and call it a method for enslavement? either that God has changed his mind and is thus unreliable, or that man is a false prophet.

And for those who would say that Paul wasn't a prophet, according to Scripture a Prophet is anyone who speaks for God, and a false prophet is any who claims to speak for God, but doesn't. It is not just one who give prophecy.

James said...

"The reason I belabor this point is that to a new Christian or a questioning Christian, much of what is recorded in the bible is not really understandable or applicable to living the changed life that Jesus taught."

God would disagree with you
"Yahuweh’s (YaHuWeH’s) Towrah (towrah – law and prescriptions for living) is complete and entirely perfect (tamym – without defect, lacking nothing, correct, sound, genuine, right, helpful, healthful, beneficial, and true), returning, restoring, and transforming (suwb – turning around) the soul (nepesh – consciousness). Yahuweh’s testimony is trustworthy and reliable (‘aman – verifiable, confirming, supportive, and establishing), making understanding and obtaining wisdom (hakam – educating and enlightening oneself to the point of comprehension) simple for the open-minded." (Psalm 19:7)

Joe said...

James,

Thanks for your comments. Your "test" for a false prophet seems pretty clear-cut until one actually reads Deuteronomy 18... It seems clear to me that this is speaking about a specific prophet, in a specific context, not a universal test for all time. God is going to raise up a prophet for Israel and is telling them how to tell who it will be. Using this passage to discredit Paul may be convenient for furthering a particular theological agenda, but it doesn't hold any water with me.

Also, I haven't heard a convincing argument for why Paul should be considered a Prophet.

Finally, regarding free will: I agree that in order for God to "protect his communication", i.e. not allow corruption of scripture, He may need to restrict free will. But that does not mean that free will does not exist. Also, (speaking hypothetically and simplistically now) God would not always have to impede free will in order to protect scripture, because we are certainly not free do do anything we choose. We are limited by our circumstances, which God can control. Take this silly example: I'm driving down the road, heading to a meeting where I intend (through my own free will) to corrupt scripture forever. God causes my car to hit a patch of ice, and it goes into the ditch, causing me to miss the meeting, and protecting scripture. Did He take away my free will? Absolutely not! I am free to respond to my circumstances in any way I choose.

James said...

Joe,

"But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death. You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by Yahuweh?”" Deuteronomy 18:20-21

I don't see how this is limited in time or place. What he is saying is how to tell if a message came from Him or not. While the previous verse is speaking of Him bringing up a prophet among them, the way to tell if a person is speaking for Him is spoken in general terms.

If you choose not to use this standard, then how do you tell rather something someone is teaching in God’s name is from God, or not? I’m sure you would agree that Muhammad did not speak for God, but what do you base that on? Is it not on his contradiction of God’s Word?

“Also, I haven't heard a convincing argument for why Paul should be considered a Prophet.”

As I said, I didn’t want to get into the details of it here. I posted a link to a 500 page review of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. If you would take the time to go there and read it you will find ample examples of Paul contradicting God. I challenge you to read it, and show me any flaws, I am very open to hearing them, and if I am wrong I want to know. I don’t have any agenda other than to understand, and to help others understand. I am completely convinced by the evidence presented there, but I am flawed, and may very well have missed something.

www.questioningpaul.com

I will point out one glaring piece of evidence. 1Thessalonians 4:17 speaking of the rapture Paul said, “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds” The key word here is WE. Paul would be included in WE. There Paul is saying that he would be alive at the time of the Rapture. Last I check he is not. Also worth pointing out is that two verses earlier he claimed to be quoting the Messiah when he wrote these words, there is no record of the Messiah ever saying these words, and since they are wrong it would be wrong to attribute them to Him.

With regards to your comments on free will, you make very good points. While I don’t think it is out of the realm of possibility for God to interfere in such a way, I don’t see God doing it, but that is just me, my point with bringing up free will was that people could mess with God’s word. The only problem with the idea that they can’t, is the evidence.

If you are going to argue that God would not let his Word be corrupted, you are face with a Catch 22. There are more than 300,000 documented variations between the oldest Manuscripts of the “New Testament”, and the more modern ones. Therefore either God let them be corrupted then, and then fixed them later, or he let them be corrupted later. Either way we know they were tampered with at some point. Therefore we know that God allows man to tamper with his Word.

James said...

“According to all you inquired about and requested of Yahuweh your God near Horeb (Mount Sinai) in the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the thunderous voice of Yahuweh, our God, nor let me see this great fire again, lest I die.’ Yahuweh said to me: ‘They have successfully and rightfully spoken. I will come onto the scene, exist substantively with, standing upright and rise up before (quwm –establish and confirm, ratify and fulfill before) them an inspired prophet from among their brothers as Myself in a point in time. And I will put My Word (dabar – advice, account, promise, message, and counsel) in His mouth, and He shall say to them all that which I direct and instruct (tsavah – command, enjoin, authorize, and appoint). And it shall come to pass that any man who will not listen to and carefully consider My Word (dabar – message and advice), which He [the Messiyah] shall declare in My name (shem – title, authority, mark, designation, character, individuality, position, and reputation), I will question and judge him, holding him accountable.
Surely the person who proclaims a message on behalf of a deity (naby’ – prophet, speaker, and spokesperson) who oversteps their bounds (zyd – acts presumptuously with an inflated sense of self-worth, demonstrating self-reliance while taking liberties, who arrogantly pretends to know, who insults others and is disrespectful, displaying pride in the pursuit of personal recognition and acclaim while despising others, who rebels against the rules and is prone to rage, who seethes with anger and is often furious, overbearing, rude, and conceited) to speak (dabar – communicate) words (dabar) in My name (shem – renown and reputation) which I have not instructed nor directed him (lo’ tsavah huw’ – I have not appointed, constituted, decreed, or commanded (i.e., that which is in conflict with God’s Word)) to speak (dabar), and who speaks (dabar) in the name (shem) of other (‘aher – different) gods (‘elohym), indeed then that prophet (naby’ – person who proclaims a message on behalf of that false deity) is destructive and deadly (muwt – is absent of life and is associated with death).
And if you ask in your heart, ‘How shall we know (yada’ – possess the information required to distinguish, discriminate, understand and acknowledge) if the words (dabar) which he speaks are not Yahuweh’s (YaHuWeH’s)?’ If that statement (dabar) which is spoken (dabar) by the one who proclaims the message (naby’ – prophet) in Yahuweh’s (YaHuWeH’s) name (shem – reputation and renown) does not exist (hayah – did not happen (is not accurate historically)), and does not come to be (bow’ – and arrive upon the scene (is not accurate prophetically)), the message (dabar) which he has spoken (dabar) is not (lo’) Yahuweh’s (YaHuWeH’s). He has spoken in arrogance and presumptuousness (zadown – imprudently insulting contemptuous and shameless speech, taking great liberty while overstepping all due bounds, in disobedience to the law and judge). His message (dabar) is not prophetic (naby’ – is not a message from God). Stir up trouble for and quarrel with him.” (Deuteronomy 18:18-22)

Joe said...

@James:

I think you're right, the clause "You may say to yourselves" of v.21 is transfering to a universal question of "How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD ?" But here there is but one test, the test of a prediction (Made by a prophet, v.22) that does not come true. This is a far cry from your six point test you mention in your first comment.

Given that, I need to be convinced of BOTH of the following for me to accept Paul's teachings as false:

1) Paul was a prophet.
AND
2) Paul made predictions that did not come true.

I would need to be confident enough to throw away a lifetime of teaching, all my friends, the support system of my church, and my marriage, as well as a stable future of faith for my children.

You have ignored point 1) in your previous comment, and your example of Pauls prediction being false is unconvincing. ("WE" could very easily mean "the people of the church" while not requiring him to be included)

I admire your search for the truth, and I join you in it. I welcome your comments regarding the above.

A couple other observations/comments:
-I don't have the time to read 500 pages of text to further understand your point. While I'm certianly not opposed to reading opposing viewpoints (the rest of my blog is proof of that) I also am a husband, father, small group leader, engineer, scientist, prison minstry worker, friend, etc. I have boiled the debate down to two points (above). If you're interested in changing my mind, you'll address these two issues directly, and as succinctly as possible.

-The content on your two Yada Yahweh websites is not very useful. Hundreds of pages of text without a single subtitle or section heading is impossible to read, or even evaluate whether it is worth reading.

-Your run-on sentances (with lots of parenthetical descriptions of words) are very difficult to read. I realize it is tough to express the true meaning of translated passages, but the way you do it causes your true message to be lost in the noise.

God bless,
-Joe

James said...

Joe,

“I think you're right, the clause "You may say to yourselves" of v.21 is transfering to a universal question of "How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD ?" But here there is but one test, the test of a prediction (Made by a prophet, v.22) that does not come true. This is a far cry from your six point test you mention in your first comment.”

First, this is a pet peeve of mine, I have to address LORD. LORD is an abhorrent substitution for God’s name, Yahuweh. LORD is ba’al, a title for the adversary. Yahuweh gave us his name 7,000 times in His Scripture, and he asks us to use it.

Second, Deuteronomy 18:19 reads:

“Surely the person who proclaims a message on behalf of a deity (naby’ – prophet, speaker, and spokesperson) who oversteps their bounds (zyd – acts presumptuously with an inflated sense of self-worth, demonstrating self-reliance while taking liberties, who arrogantly pretends to know, who insults others and is disrespectful, displaying pride in the pursuit of personal recognition and acclaim while despising others, who rebels against the rules and is prone to rage, who seethes with anger and is often furious, overbearing, rude, and conceited) to speak (dabar – communicate) words (dabar) in My name (shem – renown and reputation) which I have not instructed nor directed him (lo’ tsavah huw’ – I have not appointed, constituted, decreed, or commanded (i.e., that which is in conflict with God’s Word)) to speak (dabar), and who speaks (dabar) in the name (shem) of other (‘aher – different) gods (‘elohym), indeed then that prophet (naby’ – person who proclaims a message on behalf of that false deity) is destructive and deadly (muwt – is absent of life and is associated with death).”
The Hebrew word naby’ which is the word translated Prophet, is anyone who claims to speak on behalf of a deity, there are true naby’ ones that speaks on behalf of Yahuweh, and false naby’ ones that don’t, but claim to speak either on behalf of Him, or on behalf of another deity.

So by that definition, Paul was a naby’, since he claimed to speak on behalf of Yahushua (The real name of the Messiyah, which was corrupted Jesus). Therefore everything mentioned here should be applied to him to determine if he did in fact speak for Yahuweh. And if any of them are true than he is according to Yahuweh destructive and deadly, and therefore we should not follow him.

James said...

“Given that, I need to be convinced of BOTH of the following for me to accept Paul's teachings as false:

1) Paul was a prophet.
AND
2) Paul made predictions that did not come true.”

This is part of the test, but a subtlety of the Hebrew in Deuteronomy 18:20 that is missed in English translations is the subtle difference between hayah, and bow being used here. Hayah in this context means does not exist and did not happen, past tense, meaning he does not accurately convey what has happened. Bow here means does not come to be. This means that what they claim in God’s name must be accurate historically and prophetically.


“I would need to be confident enough to throw away a lifetime of teaching, all my friends, the support system of my church, and my marriage, as well as a stable future of faith for my children.”

I agree dismissing anything you have held dear for so long is difficult, and you have to be sure before you do this. I have seen this from many perspectives. I came from an agnostic point of view, and considered all religions, and religious writings to be man-made, and have come to know Yahuweh and trust His Word. My wife grew up in a very Christian home, and has come to realize that so much of Christianity is wrong, and she has come to know Yahuweh. I have a close friend who was an atheist, and rejected the idea of a God all together. He do has since come to realize that everything he believed was wrong, and he too has since come to know Yahuweh. For all of us it took many many many hours of diligent study and hours of prayer, but we were all willing to invest that time, and the reward has been greater than we could ever have imagined.

I don’t know why you would have to throw away your marriage, or friends, but the rest does get left behind, and that can be very difficult. Also when you come to know Yahuweh, and know His Word, faith becomes irrelevant, and you come to what the Greek word errantly translated faith, pistis, actually means Trust and Reliance. It is only through coming to Know Yahuweh that we are in a position to Trust Him.


“You have ignored point 1) in your previous comment, and your example of Pauls prediction being false is unconvincing. ("WE" could very easily mean "the people of the church" while not requiring him to be included)”

Like I said this is really not the best place to discuss this. The style and layout of the site makes it very difficult to read, the formatting system sucks, and there is too much information to really delve into here.

As your response about WE, is invalidated by the Greek. The Greek word that Paul chose is emeis. Emeis is defined as the first person personal plural pronoun including the speaker/writer and others, possibly including his/her audience. Had Paul intended to speak of others not inclusive of him, he would have used you, those, or the ekklessia (The Greek word corrupted to be the name of a Pagan god, Church). Paul used We a total 6 times, between verse 13 and 17. Not once did he separate himself from the group he was discussing this, not once did he say you, them, those or ekklessia. I don’t see any way to dismiss We here as not including Paul, unless you are trying to rationalize Paul being wrong, he wrote WE, there is no way to use WE and not have it inclusive of the speaker.

James said...

Webster’s defines WE as “I and the rest of a group that includes me : you and I : you and I and another or others : I and another or others not including you —used as pronoun of the first person plural”

Others define WE as “the persons speaking or writing: used to refer to the speaker or writer and another or others, sometimes including those addressed”

So there is no other way to read WE, other than to include Paul.

And again, since two verses earlier Paul says that Yahushua said this, and we have no record of him saying this in any of the biographical accounts his life, and none of the Apostles record him having said this, we are left with no choice but to think that Paul is indicating that this is a revelation, a prophecy, given to him alone. Since this didn’t come true, since Paul is dead and the rapture hasn’t happened Paul is a false prophet.



“I admire your search for the truth, and I join you in it. I welcome your comments regarding the above.”

I hope the comments I have made are helpful to you.

“A couple other observations/comments:
-I don't have the time to read 500 pages of text to further understand your point. While I'm certianly not opposed to reading opposing viewpoints (the rest of my blog is proof of that) I also am a husband, father, small group leader, engineer, scientist, prison minstry worker, friend, etc. I have boiled the debate down to two points (above). If you're interested in changing my mind, you'll address these two issues directly, and as succinctly as possible.”

I understand the constraints of time; I’m fortunate right now, that I do have a fair degree of free time to spend in Yahuweh’s word. And I can clearly see that you are open to reading opposing views, and I applaud you for it. It is one of the reason I’m investing the time to talk with you, that and in hopes that others who read this may find it beneficial.

While I currently have free time to invest, it was not always this way. Up until last year I was working 60hr weeks, going to school full time, would spend several hours a week studying, and had a fiancĂ©e to spend time with. Finding time to study Yah’s Word then was, but still very rewarding. In my opinion it is one of the reasons Yahuweh gave us the Sabbath, so that we would be able to set aside that one day a week to spend with our Father.

James said...

“-The content on your two Yada Yahweh websites is not very useful. Hundreds of pages of text without a single subtitle or section heading is impossible to read, or even evaluate whether it is worth reading.”

Well it’s not my site, just a site that I have found to be a great resource for studying, and through the forum discussing Yahuweh’s Word with intelligent well researched people.

I don’t know what you mean by hundreds of pages without a subtitle; Yada Yahweh is 58 chapters in 7 volumes. Each chapter ranges from about 50 to 100 pages. Also on the home page there is a list of topics, with links to the chapters that discuss them. Personally I would recommend starting from the first chapter, of the first volume. After the introduction, it begins a review showing the scientific accuracy of the creation account, and then the volume continues going through Genesis touching on Adam, Noah, and Abraham. The second volume is dedicated to Yahuweh’s 7 called-out assemblies, their history and prophetic meaning. The third volume is a review of Hosea, with a focus on the parallels between today and Hosea’s Israel. The fourth volume deals with Messianic prophecies, their fulfillment, and what they teach us about Yahuweh’s nature, and the nature of our relationship with Him. The fifth book deals with the history of the “church” and how pagan practices were adopted into Christianity, using Revelation’s 7 letters as an outline. And the final volume is all about future prophecy, with a focus on the rapture, and the end times. It’s pretty much laid out like any other book.

As for Questioning Paul, after the introduction to the book, it starts with Galatians 1:1 and goes through the end of the letter. In it every single verse of Galatians’ is rendered in a amplified translation.


“-Your run-on sentances (with lots of parenthetical descriptions of words) are very difficult to read. I realize it is tough to express the true meaning of translated passages, but the way you do it causes your true message to be lost in the noise.”

I apologies for the way it came out, like I said I’m not a fan of this format, and didn’t at the time realize that my formatting of the verse wouldn’t carry over, hopefully it will this time, I added the html tags. What I posted was an amplified translation of the Deuteronomy verses. The format I use was supposed to be a translation of the Hebrew, in a limited amplified way, and then within the parenthetical, I placed the Hebrew word transliterated in italics, so that the reader can if they choose look up the word and verify that I’m not making up a definition, and then and expanded definition of the word. I prefer this format because it allows the reader to go through and read just the bold and get the meaning of the verse, but then be able to go back and get a deeper understanding of the word. I think we should go out of our way to portray the word’s God chose to use, he chose them after all.

May Yahuweh bless you and guide you.

James said...

I came across this quote today and had to post it here.

Those who say Yahweh would never permit Satan to infiltrate and corrupt "His Word" ignore the fact that Yahweh allowed Satan to infiltrate and corrupt His Own Creation in His Own garden

Joe said...

@James:

You said:
"Webster’s defines WE as “I and the rest of a group that includes me : you and I : you and I and another or others : I and another or others not including you —used as pronoun of the first person plural” "

How about this usage of the word "we":

"I go to Northridge Church, where WE just finished building a new worship center."

Did I build the worship center? No, members of my group (the church) did. I need not have anything to do with it. Does that make me wrong? No.

The "we" in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 appears to refer to Paul's group, specifically the members of the group who were alive at the event in question. This need not include Paul himself.

Joe said...

@James:

You said:

"Since two verses earlier Paul says that Yahushua said this, and we have no record of him saying this in any of the biographical accounts his life, and none of the Apostles record him having said this, we are left with no choice but to think that Paul is indicating that this is a revelation, a prophecy, given to him alone. Since this didn’t come true, since Paul is dead and the rapture hasn’t happened Paul is a false prophet."

If you'll look through my blog a little more, (try here) you'll see that I agree with you that this is a pretty troubling problem. But the problem is not just for Paul, but for Jesus as well. They both make predictions about the end times that did not come true.

However, you'll also notice that I lean toward the Preterist viewpoint, (see here) which suggests that these predictions were largely fulfilled in AD70 with the siege and destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.

So your problem of a false prediction is not really a problem for a preterist.

James said...

Joe,

“How about this usage of the word "we":

"I go to Northridge Church, where WE just finished building a new worship center."

Did I build the worship center? No, members of my group (the church) did. I need not have anything to do with it. Does that make me wrong? No.

The "we" in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 appears to refer to Paul's group, specifically the members of the group who were alive at the event in question. This need not include Paul himself.”

I would say to that, that that is an improper grammatical use of the word We, and while it is not a problem for you to use it that way, it is a problem for someone who is claiming to speak on behalf of God.

Which brings to mind another point, if one is to believe that what Paul wrote was the inspired Word of God, then they are faced with the fact that by any objective standard Paul’s writings are horrible. In his writings you will find, incomplete, and run on sentences, as well as missing words, and many sentences which are completely incomprehensible. The writing quality and grammar quality of Paul’s writings are far beneath God


“If you'll look through my blog a little more, (try here) you'll see that I agree with you that this is a pretty troubling problem. But the problem is not just for Paul, but for Jesus as well. They both make predictions about the end times that did not come true.”

I haven’t looked at your blog, but will try to spend a little time there tomorrow.


“However, you'll also notice that I lean toward the Preterist viewpoint, (see here) which suggests that these predictions were largely fulfilled in AD70 with the siege and destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.

So your problem of a false prediction is not really a problem for a preterist.”

The problem only exists with Yahushua’s predictions if you are a preterst. This is why I am not a prederist. There are far too many unfulfilled prophecies for the preterst view to be true, and God to be true. You can’t have one without the other, and if God is not trustworthy then there is no point in bothering with preterism, since the God who gave those predictions isn’t trustworthy.

Also I found this site today, I don’t agree with everything on it, but this particular article lays out a fairly good, while not as in depth as I might like, case against Paul. It is more succinct which you said you prefer, so I thought I would share it with you.

http://www.justgivemethetruth.com/problem.htm

Wilkimist said...

Joe, I would have to disagree with your argument of Paul use of "we" in 1 Thess, though I don't think James is correct either.

You use the example :

"I go to Northridge Church, where WE just finished building a new worship center."

Did I build the worship center? No, members of my group (the church) did. I need not have anything to do with it. Does that make me wrong? No.

If you had nothing to do with the building of the new worship center your statement should be "I go to Northridge Church, where THEY just finished building a new worship center." otherwise you are not following proper English and your statement would be wrong. The use of "we" would include you as a part of "Northridge Church" and though the church and yourself may not construct the actual building they did support it, at least financially. Then the building and everything related to it is the responsibility of the church that you are a part of, and you agree you are a part of the church saying "my group (the church) did." Your statement is correct because people may not think that you did any physical labor, but you align yourself and support the people that did, that alignment and support makes you a part of building the new worship center.

I don't agree with James because in because Paul does not tell us a time table but gives his expectation. He does not know when this event will happen, but that when it does the dead will be first then the living. When Paul is writing this, Paul is one of the living and counts himself that way by his use of "we." He is giving assurance that those who died will rise before those that are currently alive IF the Lord comes before they die including Paul. I don't think that the jump can be made from "expectation" to "prophetic prediction," though I don't believe Paul to be an apostle of Jesus he doesn't make predictions about the future in his letters. The only predictions are in Acts 27:10, and 27:21-26 but they really could be guesses and present their own issues, or just words put in the mouth of Paul by the author to make the story more compelling.

As to whether Paul was a prophet, or considered himself one, you seem to be tripping on the concept of a prophet in our present context. Today we think of a prophet as a predictor of the future as in Deut 18, but this is not always the case in the Bible though a prophet may make predictions that is not their main responsibility. They are to act as God's spokesmen to the people or the people's spokesmen to God. Abraham is called a prophet by God (Gen 20:7) because Abraham can pray to God on behalf of Abimelech. In Exodus 7:1 Aaron is Moses' prophet, that Moses is like God to Pharaoh and Aaron will be Moses' spokesman to Pharaoh. Jonah is considered a prophet because he spoke for God even though his message "in 40 days Nineveh will be over thrown" (Jonah 3:4) didn't happen because their repentance caused God to relent from what he was going to do (Jonah 3:10). Deut 13 tells us a prophet of God will not urge rebellion against God, and the Israel must worship only him and follow his commands.

James said...

“I don't agree with James because in because Paul does not tell us a time table but gives his expectation. He does not know when this event will happen, but that when it does the dead will be first then the living. When Paul is writing this, Paul is one of the living and counts himself that way by his use of "we." He is giving assurance that those who died will rise before those that are currently alive IF the Lord comes before they die including Paul. I don't think that the jump can be made from "expectation" to "prophetic prediction," though I don't believe Paul to be an apostle of Jesus he doesn't make predictions about the future in his letters. The only predictions are in Acts 27:10, and 27:21-26 but they really could be guesses and present their own issues, or just words put in the mouth of Paul by the author to make the story more compelling.”

If you read verse 15 prior to starting this Paul says, “for this to you we say in the word of the Lord,” Since he is not quoting Scripture, as this appears nowhere else in Scripture, he is stating that he is speaking in God’s name. Which means that this is not his expectation.

You say you don’t believe Paul to be an apostle, then you must think him to be a liar since he repeatedly refers to himself as an Apostle.

To me the issue of Paul and failed predications is the least of the problem. The fact that Paul makes almost no predications, and the few he does make are vague or wrong, leaves us with only one way to really test rather he spoke for Yahuweh or not, and that is, is what he says consistent with what Yahuweh said. If he contradicts the God he claims to speak for than he is unreliable and a false messenger/prophet.


“As to whether Paul was a prophet, or considered himself one, you seem to be tripping on the concept of a prophet in our present context. Today we think of a prophet as a predictor of the future as in Deut 18, but this is not always the case in the Bible though a prophet may make predictions that is not their main responsibility. They are to act as God's spokesmen to the people or the people's spokesmen to God. Abraham is called a prophet by God (Gen 20:7) because Abraham can pray to God on behalf of Abimelech. In Exodus 7:1 Aaron is Moses' prophet, that Moses is like God to Pharaoh and Aaron will be Moses' spokesman to Pharaoh. Jonah is considered a prophet because he spoke for God even though his message "in 40 days Nineveh will be over thrown" (Jonah 3:4) didn't happen because their repentance caused God to relent from what he was going to do (Jonah 3:10). Deut 13 tells us a prophet of God will not urge rebellion against God, and the Israel must worship only him and follow his commands.”

I agree almost completely with what you are saying concerning a prophet, with one caveat. Yes a prophet for the most part is simply on who Yahuweh has chosen to reveal himself through. The only thing that I would add is that every one of them was given prophecy as a way to know that what they had said came from Yahuweh.

What it all comes down to is you have to have a way to tell rather a message and a messenger comes from Yahuweh or not. The very fact that Paul contradicts Yahuweh so often is enough for me to say that he is not a messenger of Yahuweh. And the fact that Paul attacks Yahuweh’s Torah, and espouses a message which is the antithesis of Yahuweh’s is enough for me to denounce him has a false deceitful liar, and a false prophet.

Jason said...

@Joe
I, too, have stumbled onto the Yada Yahwey site, and although I agree with what is said against Islam (it is of the devil), I have many problems with the zillions of arguments about words on the site, many of which I don't follow.

I spent a lot of time reading along, and I find some glaring issues. They teach that circumcision is required for salvation, a teaching that is nowhere taught in any of the New Testament, certainly not in the Gospel of John.

They teach the the Holy Spirit is the Mother of the believers. I don't see that anywhere in Scripture.

They teach that salvation is by trust alone (another argument about words, trust is not the same thing as faith); yet they teach that circumcision and keeping the Law (clearly works) is required. Make any sense?

They teach that Yahweh (or Yahuweh; there are so many spelling variants) is God's name (I accept that); that God is never called Lord, because that's just another way of pronouncing "Baal" (I'm not so sure, but it's interesting to look into); and God desires relationship, not religion (I agree). Yet the entire religion of Torah is emphasized, and I don't see anything relational about that whatsoever. Make any sense?

beowulf2k8 said...

I want to raise a point that Joe and DC almost brought up towards the beginning of the discussion. DC said he's ok with the terminology "inspired word of God" but not "perfect word of God" and Joe insisted that since the passage says its "good" for correction and so on that means its perfect. Perhaps, however, some passages are only good for correction in the sense that they need to be corrected by other passages. Perhaps some passages are only there to show us what is bad. They are there as false notions about God only so other verse can correct them. This isn't something only I have come up with. Recently I read some of the book, The Human Faces of God, and the author makes the same point, that many of the passages like the OT genocides are there in the canon only as "condemned passages...that is their canonical status...condemned passages." The point is solid. Here we see a sort of negative inspiration, where something is allow in only to show us how bad we would be if we were credulous fundamentalist goons who follow a priests orders to exterminate an entire people. Those passages are there to show us how bad we could become and how bad religion could become without human compassion. Rather than removing them from the canon, we should condemn them. They are there for our correction to be sure. But the correction is to show us what not to do, not what to do.

Anonymous said...

The Jesus of the Gospels, clearly, did not intend to create a church. The Kingdom of God, he said, lies "within you" (Luke 17:21). You don't need intermediaries to show you the way to Heaven. All you needed to do is believe in him. His apostles were not professional priests or theologians. Their mission was to spread his Gospel, and not by preaching, but by example: "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16) Preaching was Jesus' job alone, and he had already done all the preaching that was necessary. As described by those who knew him personally, his ministry was largely a condemnation of the organized religion of his time. When he died on the cross, the curtain to the Holies of Holies, the exclusive domain of the high priest, was rent. (Matthew 27:51)"

But then enter Paul of Tarsus, claiming to have been visited in a vision and ordained by Jesus to speak on his behalf, rebuking the true apostle Peter, praising Jesus on the one hand while on the other confounding his simple message with inscrutable theological rhetoric, cleverly intertwining his personal biases with Jesus’ message, elliptically telling the faithful that they were spiritually unqualified to comprehend the mystery of Jesus, that they would need to depend on holy men like himself to interpret the mystery for them; and in so doing, denouncing intellectual curiosity, fomenting guilt, making people feel sinful so he could save them; and, in effect, resurrecting the priesthood, restoring the Holy of Holies, fabricating a new church and thereby laying the foundation for the collective fanaticism that gave rise the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Salem witch hunts and other crimes against humanity perpetrated in the name of a loving Christ.

In 1 John, the writer, like Peter, an apostle who had known Jesus personally, alludes to a rift that had developed among believers and to the existence of an Anti-Christ that "is now already in the world" distorting the teachings of Christ. And in Revelation (19:20) the same writer (?) depicts him as a false prophet meant to be destroyed and cast into the fires of Hell.

This Anti-Christ could have been none other than the self-anointed apostle Paul. What better way for the Anti-Christ to insinuate himself than by becoming a writer of the New Testament? What better way to keep the faithful duped and disoriented for two millennia? The Epistles of Paul, the Book of Roman in particular (try reading through it) is the greatest con job perpetrated on Western Civilization.

But then, on second thought, Paul may have been right. At the gut level, the mass of humankind prefers the security of a well-organized group, however despotic, to the risks inherent in personal freedom—-the old herd instinct. Maybe by recasting Christ as a leader rather than a liberator the tentmaker from Tarsus saved Christianity from extinction.

On my way home the other day I slowed down for a panel truck pulling into a gas station. The truck's rear bumper bore a sticker that read: "Honk if you love Jesus" Which Jesus did the driver of the truck love? The liberating, forgiving, anticlerical Jesus of the Gospels, or the theocratic, judgmental Jesus of Paul's Epistles? From the looks of the truck and the driver, I couldn't be sure, but I honked, anyway.

Joe said...

Carlos Navarro, why'd you change your comment to "Anonymous said..." ? Just wondering...

Jayke said...

This is not an answer to your question about Islam, but it will give you an answer when you read it. http://prophetofdoom.net/
This book has so much truth, and courage that it is difficult for me to put down. I have read a great amount of it and I am astonished that it is so hidden away. In it, you will find why so much of the world is Islamic. God bless.

Anonymous said...

What about the wheat and the tares? Did God suppress the tares by spraying down "tare be gone" as you would suggest or did he let them grow up together to spare the wheat? God gave us the truth...the enemy while everyone was sleeping sowed a lie. God gave His people eyes to see & ears to hear & they will know His truth & will not believe a lie nor follow another shepherd. Just in Deuteronomy 13 it says why God would allow something like this to happen.

Brian Chandler said...

If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,







Deu 13:2
 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;







Deu 13:3
 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.







Deu 13:4
 Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.








Deu 13:5
 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn [you] away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.

Exposing Paul said...

Paul is a false prophet. Accept it, and turn back to our Heavenly Father in truth.

Anonymous said...

100 % agree with poster, 'Exposing Paul'. No matter how hard it may me to accept- It's the frightening truth. Paul and the Christian religion he founded, is Satan's church. All denominations are based on Pauline doctrine. ALL OF THEM. Any church that calls the name of their messiah, "Jesus Christ", and NOT by his real Hebrew name, Yeshua, is a false church and is following a pagan god that was given a Greek name, by Paul. 'Jesus' is a Greek name and Yeshua is Hebrew. No apostle ever called him 'Jesus'.

If you pray 'in Jesus name', then you are praying to a false Messiah. THAT is why so few people will enter the narrow gate! Paul calls his messiah, 'Jesus' and his followers are called 'Christians'. After all, Yeshua said that many will come and say to him, 'didn't we preach in your name?' And he will say, 'Depart from you you evil doers, I never knew you'. He doesn't know you, because you have never prayed in his real name! That is a clever and sneaky way to deceive many and lead them astray from the True Messiah.

By the way, 'God' and 'Lord' are just titles. Even Zeus was called god and Satan is called a lord-and it doesn't matter whether or not you capitalize their titles! We were told His name. He also told us to call upon it when we pray. His name is YAHWEH. Not Jehovah, as there is no letter J in the Hebrew alphabet. We are allowed to say it out loud, unlike what the Jewish rabbis teach we are to never utter. THEY decided people weren't aloud to say His name, for fear you would mispronounce it or use it in vain. HE TOLD US TO CALL UPON IT! If you do not, then He will never hear one of your prayers because you haven't called him by NAME.

The gate is narrow and too few will ever find it.
By learning our Heavenly Father and His son's real names, you are off to a good start! YAHWEH is His name and Yeshua (which by no coincidence, means 'YAH is salvation') is the Messiah.