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Old 07-22-2001, 10:15 AM   #1
Bill
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Question Jesus vs. Paul vs. Roman Catholocism - Major Differences In Theology?

Pardon me for what is destined to be a "hit and run" post, but Nomad raised this question over in Feedback Discussion, and it belongs over here instead. Also, I'd like to take a bit to give some background. Then, I'll bail out and let you regulars in this forum hash this over.

Let me begin this with a quotation from over a century ago, by Thomas Henry Huxley in his essay on Agnosticism (1889):
Quote:
Now what is a Christian? By whose authority is the signification of that term defined? Is there any doubt that the immediate followers of Jesus, the "sect of the Nazarenes," were strictly orthodox Jews differing from other Jews not more than the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and the Essenes differed from one another; in fact, only in the belief that the Messiah, for whom the rest of their nation waited, had come? Was not their chief, "James, the brother of the Lord," [231] reverenced alike by Sadducee, Pharisee, and Nazarene? At the famous conference which, according to the Acts, took place at Jerusalem, does not James declare that "myriads" of Jews, who, by that time, had become Nazarenes, were "all zealous for the Law"? Was not the name of "Christian" first used to denote the converts to the doctrine promulgated by Paul and Barnabas at Antioch? Does the subsequent history of Christianity leave any doubt that, from this time forth, the "little rift within the lute" caused by the new teaching, developed, if not inaugurated, at Antioch, grew wider and wider, until the two types of doctrine irreconcilably diverged? Did not the primitive Nazarenism, or Ebionism, develop into the Nazarenism, and Ebionism, and Elkasaitism of later ages, and finally die out in obscurity and condemnation, as damnable heresy; while the younger doctrine throve and pushed out its shoots into that endless variety of sects, of which the three strongest survivors are the Roman and Greek Churches and modern Protestantism?

Singular state of things! If I were to profess the doctrine which was held by "James, the brother of the Lord," and by every one of the "myriads" of his followers and co-religionists in Jerusalem up to twenty or thirty years after the Crucifixion (and one knows not how much later at Pella), I should be condemned, with unanimity, as an ebionising heretic by the Roman, Greek, and [232] Protestant Churches! And, probably, this hearty and unanimous condemnation of the creed, held by those who were in the closest personal relation with their Lord, is almost the only point upon which they would be cordially of one mind. On the other hand, though I hardly dare imagine such a thing, I very much fear that the "pillars" of the primitive Hierosolymitan Church would have considered Dr. Wace an infidel. No one can read the famous second chapter of Galatians and the book of Revelation without seeing how narrow was even Paul's escape from a similar fate. And, if ecclesiastical history is to be trusted, the thirty-nine articles, be they right or wrong, diverge from the primitive doctrine of the Nazarenes vastly more than even Pauline Christianity did.
In Feedback Discussion, specifically in THIS THREAD, I asserted (among many other things, including the thesis that Jesus, James, and John the Baptist were all of the Essene sect of Jews) this:
Quote:
It's been clear to me for a long time (as I personally deconverted from Christianity) that Jesus himself would have denounced the trinity as blasphemous. If he existed at all (and I, along with G. A. Wells, now believe that there was a historical person behind the Jesus myth), Jesus was most certainly a devout Jew who would never have for an instant countenanced the idea that He was God!
Nomad took issue with my Essene hypothesis, and punched in with (among other comments) this:
Quote:
Since the only evidence we have as to what Jesus believed and taught is found in the NT Bible, I would like to see what other evidence Bill has to prove that Jesus was an Essene. Since the Gospel accounts of Jesus clearly portray him as being quite different from Essene theology, I would like to see what else is out there to establish what Jesus REALLY believed.
Now, while I presume that almost all of us know what the New Testament says, there are only a few of us (frankly, not including me, thus this "hit and run" post) who are intimately familiar with what Essene theology actually is. However, I took it in the context given by Huxley, above, that the theology of James was equivalent to the Theology of Jesus. Thus, I replied to Nomad, to justify the Essene hypothesis, thusly:
Quote:
I thought that I clearly identified the sources I was primarily relying upon here:I also thought I was pretty clear about what was conjecture and what had strong factual support.

Eisenman's book focuses on James, a man that for too long, Christians have tried to write out of the New Testament. (For instance, take the comments of Martin Luther on James.) James is probably THE key for gaining any really deep understanding of the historical reality of the Christian movement in the first century. As Eisenman ends the above book, he writes as his final sentence: "Who and whatever James was, so was Jesus." (Mind you, I'm approaching this as a question of HISTORICAL fact, not RELIGION! Don't hit me with that "Jesus is God and James is not" stuff.... I know what Christianity is!)
In his reply to the above assertions of mine, Nomad made the following totally-ludicrous assertion, which forms the basis for my beginning the thread herein:
Quote:
Originally posted by Nomad:
Finally, since James and the Paulines are not in conflict, then what is your point here?
Excuse me? James and the Paulines "are not in conflict?" I cannot imagine a more absurd statement, particularly in view of the very source that Huxley himself cites: Chapter 2 of Galatians!

Now, I know that the foundation of Protestant theology (such as that espoused by Martin Luther) is that the Roman Catholics got things all wrong, and that we needed to get back to Paulene Christianity. That is why Luther (as do most Protestants) focuses his theology on "faith alone" as the single requirement for salvation. On the other hand, the Catholics, focusing on the James letter in the New testament, have relied upon a doctrine of "Faith Plus Works" as the requirement for salvation.

So, it sure seems to me that we have at least three distinct brands of Christianity here:[list=1][*]The Jamesian sort, which is Christianity as a sect of Judaism;[*]The Paulene sort, where "faith alone" is sufficient for salvation; and[*]The Roman Catholic sort, where "faith plus works" is required for salvation.[/list=a]Now, I'm pretty sure that Nomad is replying from a fundamentalist Protestant perspective, automatically denying the Book of James (as did Luther himself) and the whole Roman Catholic Church. It's clear that Protestants and Catholics have major differences in their theology.

But it also seems clear (from at least Chapter 2 of Galatians, and from other similar Biblical references) that Paul's theology and the theology of James are very much at odds. James was, for instance, a devout Jew. James would never have been a trinitarian! After all, James was "the brother of Jesus" (however you wish to read the word "brother" in that Bible assertion). So, James was unlikely to violate the first commandment and literally worship his own "brother!"

So, does anybody here have any actual factual support for Nomad's ludicrous assertion that "James and the Paulines are not in conflict"?

== Bill (who is now bailing out of this forum after tossing out this bomb - sorry!)
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Old 07-22-2001, 02:33 PM   #2
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John Calvin begins his argument which prefaces his NT commentary on James as follows:

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It appears from the writings of Jerome and Eusebius, that this Epistle was not formerly received by many Churches without opposition. There are also at this day some who do not think it entitled to authority. I, however, am inclined to receive it without controversy, because I see no just cause for rejecting it. For what seems in the second chapter to be inconsistent with the doctrine of free justification, we shall easily explain in its own place.
Well, go read a few short pages (starting here in the 2nd chapter perhaps) of Calvin’s commentary for yourself. Christians should by all means affirm the consistency we see between these two passages, and indeed, the consistency we see throughout the entire Bible.

Salutations,
Jim Mitchell

[ July 22, 2001: Message edited by: Jim Mitchell ]
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Old 07-22-2001, 03:11 PM   #3
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Christians should by all means affirm the consistency we see between these two passages, and indeed, the consistency we see throughout the entire Bible.
To someone wearing purple-tinted glasses, the world is consistently purple. However, a little common sense tells us that the Hebrew Scriptures and the NT texts were written by many different people in different situations, for different purposes, and with different audiences in mind. It does these texts and their authors a grave injustice to say of them that they are all a consistent whole. It is only the illusion generated by their being bound together that leads to such a conclusion.
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Old 07-22-2001, 06:01 PM   #4
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Let me toss one more hand grenade into this matter, with a quote from page 529 of James the Brother of Jesus : The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls by Robert Eisenman (which quote occurs just after Eisenman spends 4.5 pages discussing whether or not the "Saulus" mentioned by Josephus could be St. Paul, and what sort of connections Paul had into the Herodian royal family, and what all that might have meant for Paul once he got to Rome):
Quote:
These matters, true or otherwise, are not completely ungermane to the presentation in the Pseudoclementine Recognitions of Paul's attack on James in the Temple by the Enemy Paul in the 40s, if not the 60s. The very statement of the possibility of such an attack by Paul on James sends shudders up the spines of orthodox theologians and believers and has done from the moment of the first appearance of the Pseudoclementines.

There is clearle something very peculiar about the sequencing of events relating to these two stonings [of Stephen and James] as we have them in Acts and Josephus. Of course, there is the twenty-year gap in the chronology between them, but we have this concerning the two riots, too, the one in Acts led by Paul, after the attack on Stephen in the 40s and the other in Josephus led by Saulus after the attack on James in the 60s. It is almost as if these two documents are totally remaking each other's chronology. Then, too, though Acts places the riot led by Saulus in the 40s - where according to the Pseudoclementines it most likely occurred - it transposes the stoning of James in the 60s with that of Stephen in the 40s. Josephus does the same with the riot led by Paul in the 40s, seemingly transposing it to the 60s.

What is the explanation? There is none that will satisfy everyone. ...
Eisenman then goes on for nearly 20 pages, sifting through details of various materials, and then stating this:
Quote:
... As we have already suggested, the numerous sessions Paul had with Felix over the 'two-year' period detailed in Acts (24:26-27) were doubtlessly more in the nature of intelligence debriefings than theological or religious discussions, as Acts, rather disingenuously, attempts to portray them. It was, very likely, during the course of these exchanges that James' pivotal role among the Jewish mass and at the center of Messianic agitation in the Temple was made plain by Paul to his Roman and Herodian overlords.

If this is so, then Paul has a hand in the 'plot' to destroy and bring about the death of James, which would would not be surprising in view of Paul's manifold differences with him, the manner of his frequent discomfiture by James, and his admitted previous destruction of such Messianic Leaders (I Cor. 15:9 and Gal. 1:13). ...
Eisenman believes that the New Testament accounts are never to be trusted without external coroberation. If two other sources disagree with Acts, for instance, it's a virtual certainty that Acts is wrong. Throughout the whole of the book, Eisenman brings numerous sources to bear on the issue of Acts deliberately twisting or changing things around so as to protect those who would eventually emerge victorious and in control of the whole religious life of the bulk of the Roman Empire, plus its barbarian neighbors to the north. Acts, as a theological book, has a mission not to tell the truth, but to present a convincing (but necessarily untruthful) picture of the "sacrifices" of the early Christians, obviously made for the benefit of the Christians of the present day (no matter when that "present day" might be).

But let me not digress from my mission within this thread, which is to take issue with this ludicrous claim of Nomad's:
Quote:
... James and the Paulines are not in conflict, ...
The conflict was so severe that Paul is implicated as a cause of the death of James. How much more of a "conflict" might they have had?

== Bill
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Old 07-22-2001, 06:19 PM   #5
Jim Mitchell
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James still wrote:

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However, a little common sense tells us that the Hebrew Scriptures and the NT texts were written by many different people in different situations, for different purposes, and with different audiences in mind. It does these texts and their authors a grave injustice to say of them that they are all a consistent whole. It is only the illusion generated by their being bound together that leads to such a conclusion.
Be careful – while I affirm that all of the Bible is always consistent since all the human authors are all ultimately inspired by God Himself, I certainly do not adhere to any monotone view of Scripture as you seem to suggest. By affirming consistency I simply mean that the Bible is never self-contradictory – a standard and fundamental Christian confession.

Of course, it is obvious that we should pay careful attention to grammatical-historical matters when interepreting the Bible. We should also consider the basic heart-presuppositions of Biblical interpreters, while affirming common grace insights and the truths we can learn through unbeleivers. Scriptures do address a great diversity of issues – and in different historical and literary contexts. Reformed theologians have wrote plently of good multi-volume sets if you’re interested the sorts of nuaces in Scripture which we strive to recognize in our interpretations.

The Bible is useful for many different things; teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, to name a few. It is the secularist’s mistake is that he attempts to interpret Scripture without spiritual discernment and a commitment to Christ; for the Old Testament was written about Him.

Salutations,
Jim Mitchell

[ July 22, 2001: Message edited by: Jim Mitchell ]
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Old 07-23-2001, 08:39 AM   #6
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I don't believe that Paul and James are really that different in theology.

Like we, here, get ourselves worked up occasionally on issues only to find out that we started from different definitions of a term, this is what we see with Paul and James.

They both have the same set of beliefs but approach the subject of faith from different perspectives and with different definitions.

James simply emphasizes that a faith without works is not real faith. Paul empasizes faith but also states that your works will reflect your faith. I see no real contradiction, only some initial confusion on the part of the reader.

Ish
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Old 07-23-2001, 10:00 AM   #7
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So, who is right? If James is right, but I follow Paul's writings, will I go to hell? Who do I blame that on?
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Old 07-23-2001, 10:02 AM   #8
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A quick look at the internal evidence reveals that there were theological disputes between Paul and the Jerusalem church.

Paul insists that three years after his conversion he spent 15 days with Peter in Jerusalem (Gal. 1:16-19). He did not seek out James or the others and seems to have been apathetic about them. Perhaps the feeling was mutual because very quickly he is sent out to the Gentiles. Since Jesus himself didn't bother reaching out to the Gentiles and since Jerusalem was the center of action where God's rule was expected imminently this mission really amounts to getting rid of him. It would be like a passionate stage actor who makes the trek to New York only to be told to go to Nebraska to start up an acting company. Not exactly glamorous.

But Paul is the sort to make lemonade when life hands him lemons. He sets up a fledging church at Corinth; however, the "Cephas faction" (those who follow Peter in Jerusalem) arrive in Corinth and immediately disagree with the theology that he had taught them there (1 Corin. 1:12-13). It turns out Paul had said that circumcision was optional while the followers of Peter insisted that it was mandatory. They also had theological disputes about purity, food, and probably a lot more than is revealed in Paul's letters. Whom should we believe possessed the actual teaching of Jesus? My money is on Peter since he was a disciple. Also, who really wants to say that Jesus taught an abandonment of circumcision? That's too implausible given that Jesus was a Jew and taught a strict interpretation of Mosaic law.

Well, the feud continued and in his second letter to the church at Corinth Paul complains about "superlative apostles" who teach a false Christ (2 Corin. 11:4-6). Paul even stoops so far in 11:12-15 as to suggest that these "false" apostles are employed by Old Pitch himself! Some apologists seem to want to smooth over the differences between factions in the early movement but I'd say that when one faction accuses the other of working for Satan we can rest assured that the differences were indeed great. In sum, Paul considers Judaism a regression while Jesus' disciples continue to practice their time-honored traditions. This is a fundamental theological dispute that cannot be waved away so easily.
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Old 07-23-2001, 10:07 AM   #9
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sentinel00, maybe I didn't make it quite clear...

I see no major difference between them. Both say mostly the same thing in different ways. James was addressing a mindless and empty faith (after all, the devil believes). Paul was addressing a mindless adherance to The Law with no true understanding and faith.

In other words, "faith" and "works" go hand in hand. You can't have one without the other... (I hear a song in there somewhere. ). Listening to both of them is beneficial.

Ish
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Old 07-23-2001, 10:27 AM   #10
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Quote:
James Still:
<STRONG>A quick look at the internal evidence reveals that there were theological disputes between Paul and the Jerusalem church.</STRONG>
I didn't mean to say that there were not theological disputes. The early church was trying to understand it's freedom from The Law.

Quote:
James Still:
<STRONG>Paul insists that three years after his conversion he spent 15 days with Peter in Jerusalem (Gal. 1:16-19). He did not seek out James or the others and seems to have been apathetic about them.</STRONG>
This is incorrect, Paul met with Peter (Cephas) and James (Jacob):

Gal. 1:18-19 (NRSV):
"Then after three years I did go up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days; but I did not see and other apostle except James the Lord's brother"

Quote:
James Still:
<STRONG>Perhaps the feeling was mutual because very quickly he is sent out to the Gentiles.</STRONG>
He was sent out to the Gentiles by Peter and James, who agreed (see Acts 15) that they "should not trouble those Gentiles who are turning to God" and so did not impose circumcision or the The Law upon them.

Quote:
James Still:
<STRONG>Since Jesus himself didn't bother reaching out to the Gentiles and since Jerusalem was the center of action where God's rule was expected imminently this mission really amounts to getting rid of him. It would be like a passionate stage actor who makes the trek to New York only to be told to go to Nebraska to start up an acting company. Not exactly glamorous.</STRONG>
This is incorrect. Jesus mission was to the Jews first. Also, Old Testament prophecies led the early Christians to realize that their mission was to the Gentiles as well. James himself states this in Acts. Paul was more than eager to take the Good News to the Gentiles and felt it was his mission.

Quote:
James Still:
<STRONG>But Paul is the sort to make lemonade when life hands him lemons. He sets up a fledging church at Corinth; however, the "Cephas faction" (those who follow Peter in Jerusalem) arrive in Corinth and immediately disagree with the theology that he had taught them there (1 Corin. 1:12-13). It turns out Paul had said that circumcision was optional while the followers of Peter insisted that it was mandatory. They also had theological disputes about purity, food, and probably a lot more than is revealed in Paul's letters. Whom should we believe possessed the actual teaching of Jesus? My money is on Peter since he was a disciple. Also, who really wants to say that Jesus taught an abandonment of circumcision? That's too implausible given that Jesus was a Jew and taught a strict interpretation of Mosaic law.</STRONG>
James, most of this seems to be speculation not based on the actual Biblical text. Peter himself decided to do away with Circumcision for the Gentiles as well as not imposing The Law upon them (Acts 15). Peter agreed with Paul. If you'll notice, it is usually the followers of Peter or James who cause the disturbances, and not Peter or James specifically.

The "dispute" that you refer to James, was more of a misunderstanding and struggle to combine the Jews and Gentiles (seemingly different cultures) into the body of Jesus Christ without offending someone. Not an easy task, bound to bring "no little debate".
However, their theology remained the same at the core and their teachings seem to me to be consistent.

Ish

[ July 23, 2001: Message edited by: Ish ]
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