I have spent some time with my comparisons between Jesus’ words and Paul’s. I will be posting my first comparisons in the next week or so. But I wanted to talk a little about what I have found so far. As Sam, who commented on the last post, indicated I have found that a big part of the differences between Jesus and Paul lay around the way we look at Paul’s words. Do we take each and every word to be for all circumstances and for all eternity or was he just addressing a particular situation in one of the congregations that Paul had previously started?
If we follow the dominant Evangelical line we take every word to be for every instance. In other words, all of Paul’s words are doctrine for the church in general. This is where I believe the problems most frequently occur. When we do this we are indeed pitting Jesus words, which most believe are all pretty much doctrinal in nature, against sometimes very different words from Paul found in the correspondence he wrote to those churches. I am a person who puts Jesus Christ front and center in my faith and life so I tend to make Paul’s words secondary at best.
I have also been casually looking at some of the theologian’s words about this topic. They are all over the map when it comes to Paul. There are some theologian’s who believe that the true foundations of Christianity are Pauline and that Jesus’ words have little to do with today’s church. Then there are those who take the complete opposite stand. Thomas Jefferson, who I have read quite extensively was one who believed that Paul took the otherwise very simple message of Jesus and made it very complicated by all his rules and edicts. In fact Jefferson went to far as to put together his own version of the Bible. Of course none of the Pauline letters were included.
As usual there is generally not much agreement about Paul’s place in the church. But what else can we expect given all the divisions that have taken place in the church? I tend to keep in simple in this regard and say that anyone who takes Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior is a member of the one true church. All this other stuff, Paul included, is just small stuff.
Next time I will be bring some direct comparisons to Jesus’ words with Paul’s.