Archive for the ‘Apostle Paul’ Category

Plunder the Philistines or Join them?

April 14, 2009

Benedict XVI used (N.B. Benedict XVI was the one whose meditations these were, yet he did not write them, nor did he actually read the aloud – for more details about this situation – see the letter from the Vatican, explaining – link) the following line in his “Good Friday” meditations: “Lead me from the unreal to the real, from darkness to light, from death to immortality.” That line is apparently taken from Brahadaranyakopanishad an Hindu writing. He also used a line from Tagore’s Gitanjali: “Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service.” Furthermore, he made reference to Mahatma Ghandi. (source) None of this is wrong in itself, as long as we are plundering the Philistines, not joining them.

But the Hindu leaders praised Benedict XVI for this, rather than criticizing him for taking their scriptures in another sense than they were intended. Will we see clarification from the Vatican? I am guessing not. The zeitgeist of Vatican II is of meta-ecumenicism, which would avoid noting the fact that Catholicism must take these lines in a different sense, while promoting a semblance of unity.

I should note that Paul the Apostle plundered from the Greek poets, but when he did so he made clear that he was using these things either in the same or a different sense, depending on the context. He was not promoting ecumenicism with the Greek pagans, he was trying to convert them.

The reader can decide for themselves whether Benedict XVI was following in Paul’s footsteps or departing from them.

-TurretinFan

UPDATE: Reginald di Piperno (Roman Catholic) has provided some factual corrections to the article linked above. (link to RdP’s post) The basic point remains, as apparently it is not disputed that the various lines were spoken and that the references were welcomed by the Hindus. I’m also not sure whether RdP got the idea that plundering the Philistines is a good thing, whereas joining them is a bad thing.

UPDATE: In view of an amusing post at Ichabod, I’ve updated the post above a bit further (link).

Sur-Response Regarding Paul the Apostle

January 14, 2009

The anonymous critic of Paul has provided a new attack on the apostle. The new attack is this:

so why does he say it doesn’t matter to him what Peter James and John are? and why does he false accuse Peter of compelling Gentiles to live as Jews when Peter did not such thing but only accommodated the weaker brothers who came from James by not eating meat that would offend them, in good keeping with Paul’s own doctrine? is the Paul of Galatians ignorant of Paul’s own doctrine from Romans 14?

1) “so why does he say it doesn’t matter to him what Peter James and John are?”

He doesn’t say precisely that. Instead, he indicates that his commission is a divine one, not an apostolic one. Paul is not under Peter or James or John as a head (either any one of them or all of them together), but is instead an apostle of Jesus Christ by virtue of a special commission from God.

2) “and why does he false accuse Peter of compelling Gentiles to live as Jews when Peter did not such thing but only accommodated the weaker brothers who came from James by not eating meat that would offend them, in good keeping with Paul’s own doctrine?”

The idea that Peter was not guilty of what Paul accused him is simply without any evidence. There is no reason to deny that Paul’s accusation was true. Indeed, the formulation of this particular challenge is especially odd, since (as the objector notes) it would require Paul not only to challenge Peter (and indirectly, James) but also for Paul to contradict his own expressed views. This objection cannot stand.

3) “is the Paul of Galatians ignorant of Paul’s own doctrine from Romans 14?”

No. Indeed, Paul is consistent in Galatians and Romans. The only supposed inconsistency is introduced by the critic who supposes both that Peter wasn’t guilty as charged, and that Paul somehow forgot what he wrote in one epistle or the other. No, the same Paul was inspired to write both epistles.

-TurretinFan

Paul’s Conversion Chronology

January 13, 2009

One reader of this blog has recently provided some comments asking why it is that I believe Paul to be an apostle, and questioning the accounts of Paul’s conversion as being inconsistent. Let me first address Paul’s status as an apostle, and why I accept that. Afterward, I will provide a harmony of the Biblical accounts of Paul’s conversion.

Why do I believe that Paul is an apostle? The short answer is that it is because I believe the Bible and the Bible declares Paul to be an apostle. For example, Paul is called an apostle in each of the following verses:

Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,

1 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,

2 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:

Galatians 1:1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)

Ephesians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:

Colossians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,

1 Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;

2 Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,

Titus 1:1 Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;

One might object that these are all from Paul’s epistles. Of course, Paul’s epistles are part of the Bible. Nevertheless, if one wanted additional demonstration, the Acts of the Apostles refers to Paul as an apostle:

Acts 14:14 Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,

Furthermore, while Peter does not explicitly call Paul an apostle in his general epistle, Peter does refer to Paul’s writings as Scripture:

2 Peter 3:15-16
15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

Turning from the issue of why I believe that Paul was an apostle, let’s consider the accounts of his conversion. There are four accounts of Paul’s conversion, three in the book of Acts (Chapters 9, 22, and 26), and one in Paul’s epistle to the Galatians (Chapter 1-2). It is important to recognize that none of the conversion accounts are designed to provide a comprehensive chronological biography of Paul. Thus, each account includes details not found in the other accounts.

Accordingly, it is sometimes challenging to try to convert the Scriptural evidence into a chronological list to show the relation among the passages. Nevertheless, I have provided a preliminary chronology below. This is not a comprehensive chronology, although I think it does show one way in which the details of the accounts can be chronologically arranged. In particular, I should note that I have identified two visits to Jerusalem. None of the accounts specifically identifies (that I noticed) that there were two visits two Jerusalem. Nevertheless, the combination of the accounts seems (to me, and so far) to suggest that there was a first brief visit to Jerusalem that was terminated by God giving Paul a vision, and a second visit to Jerusalem later.

Without further ado, here is the chronology:

1. Paul Persecuting Church

Acts. 9:1-2
Galatians 1:13-14
Acts 22:4-5
Acts 26:10-11

2. Paul’s Conversion and Beginning Time at Damascus

Acts 9:3-25
Galatians 1:15-16
Acts 22:6-16
Acts 26:12-18, 20

3. Paul’s Trip to Arabia and back to Damascus

Galatians 1:17

4. Paul’s Departure from Damascus

Acts 9:22-25

Galatians 1:18

5. Paul’s First Visit to Jerusalem

Galatians 1:18-19
Acts 22:17-21
Acts 26:21

6. Paul’s Trip to Syria and Cilicia

Galatians 1:21-24
Acts 26:20

7. Paul’s Second Trip to Jerusalem

Galatians 2:1-3

Acts 9:26-29

8. Paul’s Trip to Caesarea and Tarsus

Acts 9:30

That is not the end of Paul’s life or of his missionary journeys. It is, however, the end of this particular harmonious recounting of the conversion and subsequent travels of Paul.

-TurretinFan


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