Saturday, April 27, 2013

FacePalm of the Day - Debunking Christianity: Jesus Versus Paul: The Greatest Love?

It's always amazing how badly people want to undermine Christianity so that they can continue in their unbelief and feel justified. If the stakes for their soul weren't so high it would be comical but it is just sad. One such tactic is to pretend that Apostle Paul's theology and teachings are contrary to what Jesus said. It's not true but always facepalm inducing. For example take this article. I waited about 15 hours to see if any atheists would be honest enough on Debunking Christianity to point out how bad this particular argument is but alas nothing. There was a great comment by Dr David Heddle but I will save that for the end of this post. I have some direct observations to make on the post.

According to the famous Whitney Houston song, the greatest love of all is to love oneself.
Travelling back in time long before Grammy awards were handed out, we find that Jesus, (according to the Gospel of John), had a different idea:
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13 (NIV)
Well at least Green recognized that Jesus was teaching something different that what our culture says so he gets a point there. It all goes downhill from there.

But, the Apostle Paul (not-surprisingly) had his own take on it:

For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us… For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Romans 5:7-8, 10 (NASB)

I find several things interesting about this. First, I have to side with Paul on this. I know he usually comes across like an arrogant know-it-all, what with his self-declared apostleship and talk of trips to the Third Heaven, but when he’s right, he’s right. Dying for one’s enemies, for those who are unworthy, is a hell of a lot more nobler and impressive than dying for one’s friends. Friends mean something to you. An act of self-sacrifice for a friend, while admirable, is not unthinkable, but dying for an enemy is a very strange thing indeed.

What I find most interesting that J.M. Green (who wrote this post) thinks that Jesus and Paul are saying contradictory things to one another. I should point out that he later changed the post to say that dying for one's enemies is "unusual". Let's look at the context for John 15:13.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other. - John 15:9-17

It should be obvious that Jesus is not talking to the same audience as Paul was talking to. Jesus was talking his followers and admonishing them to love one another. And they were all Jesus' friends (except Judas). Paul was talking about the love Jesus has for all us.

So, sorry Jesus, but Paul wins this round. You really should have thought that line through a bit more carefully (or at least, the gospel writer who placed that line of dialog in your mouth should have). That sort of easy mistake tends to undermine the idea that you were supremely wise. And, if you truly had foreknowledge, you would have known that Paul would come along and trump your pronouncement.

Interesting how Green gives Paul's context but not Jesus' context. Either he is ignorant or dishonest. Also Paul did not say the dying for your enemies is greater than loving your friends. He was saying that Jesus showed His love for us in that he died for us inspite of us being His enemies. Green is still Jesus' enemy. Green is arguing that Jesus did not tell us to love our enemies. Is there a single scripture that tells us not to love our enemies? Not a chance. In fact we have the opposite. Jesus said:

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. - Matthew 5:43-45

I know this may seem minor to some of you, but when a ‘mere ma’n one-ups the ‘Son of God’ in defining the highest pinnacle of love, then that is somewhat of a big deal.

Paul didn't contradict Jesus here. I would argue that no where did Paul contradict Jesus.  Atheists will have to do better than this to prove this canard. 

The other interesting thing is how often the teachings of Paul are at odds with the teachings of Jesus. Oh I know, the letter to the Romans was written decades before the Gospel of John and all, but still, these kind of discrepancies in the ‘amazing unity of the Bible’ should give Christians pause. But, sadly it doesn’t seem to. Perhaps another time, we will take a look at some of more pronounced differences between Paul’s gospel, and that of the Jesus he claimed to have been personally selected and tutored by.

Written by J. M. Green

Poor J.M. Green Of course an outright contradiction should give us cause in accept Christianity. The
problem is no one has pointed out one and that should give atheist pause and  cause them to seek God with all their hearts.  David Heddle posted the following remark

David Heddle 4 hours ago
Hmm, lots o' confirmation of
The Super-duper Paul of Tarsus View: Atheists often attribute the Apostle Paul with powers far beyond what Christians grant. To wit: it is often suggested that he a) did not exist. And yet in spite of not actually being real he managed to b) usurp Christianity, creating an entirely new religion quite different from that taught by Jesus—who by the way probably did not exist either. And c) Paul managed, while not existing, to steal Christianity —through the use of forged letters. Remarkable! In a nutshell the "super Paul" view is that two people who never existed created two distinct religions (fraudulently). Then later fools, who believed in both of these non-entities, merged their contradictory teachings into a franken-religion.

I agree with Dr Heddle. He posted a comment showing how silly the remarks in this post are and how it shows how little people understand Christianity in general and Paul in particular.  A scathing  comment like this of course generated a response. However John Law isn't that honest.

Honest_John_Law David Heddle 2 hours ago
Wow! More keen insight from David Heddle, the guy who reads the Bible intelligently and comes here for fun. Since David Heddle began visiting this website, we have observed that:
a) he rejects the position of Early Church Fathers re. their widely held view of an infallible sacred magisterium...

The position of the  Early Church Fathers was not the "widely held view of an infallible sacred magisterium..."

b) he agrees with Luther's positions on sola fide and predestination yet disagrees with Luther's views re. the sacraments and polity...

 So? Martin Luther was not infallible. You can disagree with him and still be a believer and go to heaven. I think Heddle is right on that. And Luther himself would not say you have to agree with him 100% to be a true Christian.

c) some of his views re. Calvinism appear at odds with WLC's views...

Duh. So what? Does Law think that William Lane Craig is the beginning and ending of Christianity? If so he should get out more. 

d) he stated that " when I (David Heddle) disagree with Pope Francis I think I (David Heddle) am correct."...

And....? Law (I assume) disagree with Pope Francis. Does that mean he is just as wrong as me and Heddle?

e) he stated that "There are probably ~8000 Protestant denominations. Whether God is happy with that or not I couldn't say." and suggested that different denominations within the Christian faith are "not a big deal"...

Why should it be? The majority of them only disagree on minor issues that are not important. Things like worship styles. You can't honestly include Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, and Christian Science in that group. If you do, then you are even more ignorant than I thought. 

f) he boldly asserts that the "vast majority of Christians" agree upon the basic gospel message, yet he provided no statistically significant independently verified data to substantiate that claim. In fact, the RCC is by far the largest denomination, and their comprehensive views re. salvation are at odds with those held by mainline Protestant "churches". The RCC is abundantly clear on this point re. those who "knowingly and deliberately" (that is, not out of innocent ignorance) reject divinely revealed doctrine taught by the RCC...
If scripture was intended to be read intelligently by individuals who then may interpret scripture as it seems right to them, it would be astounding if orthodoxy could be preserved over many centuries. Then again, David Heddle suggested that different denominations within the Christian faith are "not a big deal"...
Eureka! We now clearly see that David Heddle HAS contributed something of real value here. David Heddle is a "Cafeteria Christian" for all to observe with astonishment and wonder... Well done, David Heddle. Keep up the good work.

Law forgets that the Roman Catholic Church is hardly based on Sola Scriptura so that is why it's different on some of those main things.  They are not reading the scriptures intelligently. Neither does J.M. Green or Law. And while I will agree that David Heddle HAS contributed something of real value her but he is not a  "Cafeteria Christian". However John Law's comment has contributed nothing of value. 

The bottom line is that Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross because He loves us. That is what Jesus taught and that is what His followers taught and teach.  

Debunking Christianity: Jesus Versus Paul: The Greatest Love?

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