Despite his having written an entire biography of Paul in Acts, Luke seems to be curiously unaware of Paul’s life and ministry as reflected in Paul’s authentic letters. None of Paul’s letters are mentioned in Acts. The language and theology of Paul’s speeches as told by Luke are so different in vocabulary and theology from the Paul of the authentic letters that it seems much of Luke’s Paul can be chalked up to dramatic license. The authentic Paul emphasizes justification and reconciliation while Luke’s “Paul” preaches righteousness and forgiveness. In other words, Luke’s Paul preaches in the theological language of Luke, not Paul.
From the book: Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity (Felten, David;Procter-Murphy, Jeff)
Even after all these years of being a follower of Jesus I am still constantly studying the Bible for new revelations in my life. As someone in the Bible said the words found there are useful for teaching and understanding. If only those who put so much emphasis on trying to prove that the Bible is without error and totally God breathed spent time instead trying to learn lessons about Jesus. I have adamantly come to believe that the Bible is a compilation of stories about God. It is not God nor did He dictate all of its words.
When we accept that the stories in the Bible were written by well meaning men, and maybe even a few women, we can see things as cited above. We can then understand that maybe Paul’s letters were just not deemed of great importance at the time. Maybe they were just that, letters to council some troubled congregations and were not necessarily meant for eternity. Why do the stories of Paul differ so completely from the letters Paul allegedly wrote? The only logical and reasoned conclusion is that both the letters and what came to be known as the Book of Acts were written by men and maybe they are not even written by or about the persons we currently ascribe them to. That fact does not destroy or even reduce their usefulness to us.
There are just too many today who spend all their energies trying to stubbornly stick to some thousand year old beliefs that don’t deserve all the energy devoted to them. If instead these people would spend that energy living out their lives as Jesus showed us. Being a follower of Jesus is more than about proclaiming certain beliefs, it is about actually “being” a disciple…
I will end this post with another quote from the book:
For many religious people, it takes some serious readjustment to change those theological underpinnings and recast Christianity as something fluid. Some are too controlled by fear—of change, of uncertainty, of being called heretical—to make the shift. They keep trying, desperately, to hold on to old conceptions as if their eternal life depended on it. But there are alternatives.