Rejecting Paulianity

After the recent Roy Moore allegations and the Moore-supportive stances of some members of the Republican party and evangelical church, it has never been more clear to me how so much of the American Christian church is morally and ethically bankrupt. The church is failing its people, is failing the poor and the suffering. It is being revealed as a place of sexism, racism, homophobia, and xenophobia, and, horrifically, not-entirely-anti-pedophilia. None of these stances can be traced back to Jesus. They can all be traced back to Paul.

I know I’m late to the party, but I recently realized how much of the Christianity I was raised on was based on the theology of St. Paul, not Jesus himself. Paul is the basis of the current evangelical church, not Jesus. Frankly, I don’t see much of Jesus at all in many Christian communities today. I see only Paul.

It’s easy to idolize Paul. He was so much more specific than Jesus, which also means his teachings are much easier to follow, but it also means they are much more dangerous. The very specificity that makes them easy to follow means that they are not applicable to all situations. Context is totally missing from most analyses of his words. Then you have the fact that Paul was human, thus he was imperfect, and his views were developed out of of the backwards, unjust time in which he lived. Can we really expect Paul–or anyone–to have risen entirely above his circumstances to reflect God in all His perfection and Truth?

I can no longer accept unquestioningly that Paul spoke as God’s revealing voice. Why should I accept it? Why should I accept human teachings as holy, divine, not-to-be-questioned? It’s hard enough for me to accept the divinity and God nature of Christ. It is a step too far to demand I accept a second man’s word unquestioningly, especially a man who spoke on so much that Christ never touched on. That puts Paul on the same level as Christ, and I cannot abide by that.

I want to study Jesus’ teachings alone, divorced from Paul’s, for the first time. I want to learn what Jesus said and see what a theology based totally and only on Christ’s word looks like. I want to imagine a world that lived according to Christ’s teachings, not Paul’s.

I wonder if that is a world I would prefer to live in.

I wonder how much pain and suffering would have been avoided and could now be avoided if the church worshiped Christ instead of Paul.

That thought should give every lifelong Christian pause.

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