Question: I ran across some new information that rings true...about seeming contradictions in the Bible, especially with regard to Paul’s teaching. No, I do not believe that Paul’s words and teaching have been “twisted” over the centuries. Of course, not all of what Paul wrote was untrue (some of my favorite Bible verses are in Paul’s letters), but when a few lies are peppered in with the truth, it all becomes tainted. Is Paul a tare, planted by Lucifer (God’s perfect flaw) who blinded Saul on the road to Damascus, parading as Jesus to deceive Paul? I’m convinced Paul is a tare, and many will follow him instead of following Jesus.
Response: We examined the “new information” you recommend, and frankly, it is nothing new. This is the same old twisting of Scripture to justify preconceived ideas. The teacher you cited (in your much longer letter) is teaching the same things the Judaizers of Acts 15 and Galatians taught. The reason for antagonism against Paul is evident. Paul’s epistles expose the person’s false teaching—therefore, Paul must go.
You say that you don’t believe that “Paul’s words and teachings have been twisted over the centuries.” You’re right, they haven’t. Note that Peter said that Paul’s epistles were “Scripture” (2 Pt 3:16). Before that, however, Peter had written, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Pt 1:20-21).
Paul’s words, as “Scripture,” were not just his private opinion; he wrote as he was “moved by the Holy Ghost.” How then could he be a “tare?” He couldn’t! But unbelievers have been voicing similar ideas for centuries.
The Maronite Catholic mystic and poet, Kahlil Gibran, wrote in Jesus the Son of Man: “This Paul is indeed a strange man. His soul is not the soul of a free man. He speaks not of Jesus nor does he repeat His Words. He would strike with his own hammer upon the anvil in the Name of One whom he does not know.” Gibran’s Jesus was another Jesus (2 Cor:11:4), and he drew his conclusions from a mixture of Christianity, Islam, Sufism, Hinduism, and theosophy. So, Paul had to go.
By rejecting Paul’s epistles, it is not surprising to see a growing rejection of the remainder of Scripture. According to adherents of this idea, Luke’s record of Paul’s conversion in Acts 9 is said to portray Lucifer “parading as Jesus.” Luke’s account may be denied, but he plainly stated, “The Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest…” (Acts:9:5) [our emphasis]. There is no room for the insertion of Lucifer. To do that is to add to Scripture. Proclaiming this to be Lucifer in disguise denies Scripture. As on a slippery slope, the first downward step triggers many unexpected consequences.
Throughout the Book of Acts, Paul is called an apostle. Also, in the council of Acts 15, Paul is given a leading role: “Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them” (Acts:15:12).
This clearly shows that the church recognized Paul as an authoritative voice, called by the Lord as “a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts:9:15).