What I want to bring to the attention of people here is that one of the cornerstones of orthodoxy has always been that there were men of a particular generation, empowered with a grace from God to determine questions of canonicity, they were afforded an infallible status and that their decision on what should be considered "Scripture" was final. It never really was final though because there were continuing debates for much of the next 1300 years. It was only in the 1800s when there was finally a complete elimination of the Apocrypha from the King James Bible. Early in American history it was not abnormal for most family Bibles to include those books. So if religious men weren't even sure of what was the inspired writings belonging to a class of authoritative scriptures into even the last couple hundred years, it makes no sense to say that the debate is over today.
My suggestion here is that what was taking place was fallible men, who were as vulnerable to fault and error as anyone else. They were not empowered to make the decision on what to include.
What is God's word for us? His commandments? What is His revelation?
Many zealous men began ascribing to a selection of letters certain statuses or designations, identifying them as the Word of God. The idea of orthodoxy, is that God first empowered certain men to write down injunctions and commentary, as well as historical narrative, on things He saw fit to describe. These writings were given an indestructible status. At some point in the future, a group of men were empowered to collect and assemble these words into one final publication and these were infallible decisions. If that succession of events fails in one of the transits from one point to the next, orthodoxy begins to unravel.
The primary views on inspiration/inerrancy:
I. A number of Christians who believe the Bible is perfect and inspired. They accept its claims uncritically, with no examination. That if they are told anything or read anything that seems to be contradicted by it the claim must be rejected
II. A number of unbelievers (really all of them) who believe it is not perfect, not inspired, and is more or less false. There is no more reason to believe it than believe Bozo the Clown is able to heal the blind, or that the TSA giving your grandmother a cavity search makes us safer as a nation. Clearly, all of those things are absurd and the unbelievers consider the Bible just as absurd.
III. Christians in the middle who see that there is some sort of error somewhere but otherwise are less concerned with diagnosing theologically what it is. Those Christians who have a progressive view that there are greater principles outside the Bible that the Bible tries to channel, but that it does not channel perfectly, or channel without error, or channel consistently from cover to cover.
If it is going to be suggested that there is, in the preliminary, the possibility that there is something contained in the Bible that is inaccurate then it has to be proposed how to identify that information and specific instances where that has occurred.
"If the Bible is authentic, then it must be completely consistent with itself."
The nature of the book is that the claims surrounding it indicate that it contains words so true that nothing outside of it can disprove its claims. If it be true that there are instances of inaccurate claims to be found within the book, there is no way to identify that information except with a test for internal consistency. The true Word would expose the fiction that is packaged together with it. In other words, if it can be isolated where the contradictions exist, we can uncover from that which source is to be trusted, or in other words, what is authentically from God.
Beyond that, I suggest there are some fundamental questions that should be answered about the claims made within our faith:
If God cannot lie and God has preserved His word, then there are no lies found in it. But how can we be sure that what we have today is the authentic document, in its entirety and free from error after years of transcribing and translating?
"Is the Bible free from contradiction?" Generally Christians would answer yes. But this is not the only response a Christian might give.
Finally, my arguments are probably painful for fundamentalist Christians reading this and would be seen as only being destructive unless I were offering some alternative. I never thought it was sufficient for someone to point out flaws, decimate ideas and tear your dreams apart and offer you nothing in return, nothing of substance. I will offer you choices, A or B, but, and there's always a but, none of them you will like, you will refuse to accept any of them and you will never recognize them as being valid dichotomies. But then there is this: Either what I am saying is true or what you say is true. Convenient though it may be to hold on to your beliefs, if you are incorrect, then it can only be that one of my two choices are true.
On we go...
Here I want to examine a class of teachings found in Paul's writings and how Christians actively subvert his message because they find it inconvenient. This is valuable because where the vast majority of the church finds itself at odds with Paul's teaching, that is more likely to be a false teaching than something the church largely agrees upon. The most contentious verses are going to show the greatest likelihood of error.
# 1. The falling away of 2 Thes 2 versus the Revival of Joel
Christians enjoy the feeling that Christianity offers and there is no greater feeling for us than when we feel closest to our Creator. Latter Rain was a teaching that gave Christians purpose, a raison d'etre. Their job was to usher in a final outpouring of the Holy Spirit, reclaim the earth for Christ and pave the way for His kingdom. So it simulated this effect, the feeling that Christians try to pursue. They would experience an onslaught of revival and holiness unrivaled since the days of Pentecost. Today, Latter Rain seems isolated to a few isolated groups; however, there is a teaching common to churches that does take a cue from Latter Rain; namely, that in the Last Days there will be a great outpouring of the Spirit and Christians will perform great signs and wonders like in apostolic times.
But what they do not tell you is the picture that Paul painted for the last days was very different. The faithful would sink to new levels of unbelief and despair, coming to accept false teachings and false teachers and that many would fall away from the faith altogether and pave way for a last days apostasy. These are not popular predictions and so are simply not given the air time that Joel's prophecy is given.
This becomes a serious problem when the traditional Christian confronts the anti-Paul crowd with judgment and condemnation yet they themselves willfully are ignoring critical Pauline teaching that simply does not sit well with them. These Christians of the Type I rather than Type III variety, which we've established as the unthinking crowd, many of whom advocate for the partially Latter Rain teaching and warn against spotting contradictions or going against the ideas of innerancy or inspiration are they themselves ignoring a biblical message because it doesn't square well with their fairy tale existence. Now, I am a critic of Paul's. But I want tobe clear: It is blatant favoritism and prejudicial to willfully pass over Paul's prophecy because Joel's words are more satisfying. The standard for a faith that identifies itself as the true faith and all others be damned should be higher than "I like what Joel said, I don't like what Paul said." If we are going to reject any part of the Scriptures, this is not the way to do it.
I propose a solution that does not fall into the trap that mainstream Christianity does and also integrates both into a harmonious composite. I argue that on the corporate level there will be a falling away (of the churches). However, what God initially revealed in the body at Pentecost will now be revealed spiritually within the hearts of His true followers, His children. People will prophesy and dream dreams, and see visions, but these are manifestations of a purification and rejuventation in the person's heart, not some change in the environment of the churches or the church body. It occurs purely in the heart of God's people. What does take place around them leaves them shocked and confused: It is the church body that, rather than experiencing revival, sinks into unbelief and immoral practices and it serves as conviction to those with eyes to see and ears to hear. This harmonizes the two and I haven't seen Christians make any attempt to harmonize it, but a willful neglect of the words of Paul. Take note, I am defending Paul here, the Christians are denying him. So far, I have not heard one Christian offer this as an explanation or a similar explanation that seeks to conjoin the ideas as harmonious but only rhetoric that emphasizes one prophecy and downplays or neglects the other.
# 2. Paul and the Darth Vader heresy versus Jesus
Because Christians are in the business of contradictions, which they call mysteries, such apparent discrepancies as this one mean very little to them. In their minds, they are spiritual and witty because they can make two contradictory things to agree. If you don't get it, it's because you're just an idiot and you have demons inside of you. Some just see this as being moronic. What we have here is what I refer to as the Darth Vader heresy.
Matthew 23:7 ""And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven."
Yet Paul opens the way for Catholics to call their priests "Fathers" with the Darth Vader heresy... Corinthians... I am your father...
# 3. Paul and the Not-so-Eternal Torment
Then we have out-and-out deception in Christianity. Whenever Paul says something convenient to the Christian's case, he is hailed. Whenever he says something Christians dislike, they sweep it under the rug.
Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
2 Thessalonians 1:9 "Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power..."
Notice he doesn't suggest an ongoing state of torment in an eternal hell. He only refers to a final destruction and death. But we can't let that get in the way of a ruse like eternal hell, which we hope will scare people into going to church where we can shake them down with Malachian injunctions about if you don't give money to the pastors you're robbing from God and will burn in hell. I've got an idea: Why don't the pastors first show us through their genealogy that they are in fact Levites and the ones who rightfully can collect the tithes and then we'll talk.
# 4. Paul and the Non-Pretrib Rapture
How many Christians keep repeating the satanic pre-trib Rapture doctrine? And they profane the name of Paul by quoting him as its supporter.
2 Thessalonians 2:3,4 "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God."
Students of prophecy will recognize this event as occurring midway into the period of seven years. Sorry.. Paul gives us no more indication than that the rapture can only occur at the earliest at the midpoint and even possibly post-trib.
Some recognize me as being an opponent of Paul. Not at all. I'm calling out the church because they twist Paul's words to settle theological scores. I'm only advocating that Paul be taught for what he is and I'm publicizing what it is that he taught. Namely, he taught against a pre-trib rapture, eternal hell, taught open contradictions to Jesus' gospel, he slandered the apostles who Jesus appointed, he taught to drink alcohol, he tacitly approved of polygamy and openly supported chastity, he taught to curse one's enemies, he taught about proper family relationships, that women are not qualified to preach, and many other astonishing teachings.
Let's recap with what the church teaches...
- Pre-trib (-1 Paul)
+ Eternal hell (-2 Paul)
- No drinking alcohol (-3 Paul)
- Anti-polygamy (-4 Paul)
- Virginity should be discouraged, everyone should get married (-5 Paul)
- No cursing one's enemies (-6 Paul)
- Do not teach proper family relationships (-7 Paul)
+ Women can teach (-8 Paul)
You can see from this list that they only selectively teach Paul. It happens that they keep what is popular they find him saying and then they reject what is unpopular. This list shows anytime Paul said you can do something the church says you should not do it, anytime he teaches one thing, the churches teach the contrary, and if he teaches to not do something, that is what the church's tell you TO DO!
If he affirms virginity, then the elders of the church guess you are gay if you stay single and judge you prejudicially. (-)
If on the other hand, he says to ban women preachers, the church says no, we will allow women preachers. (+)
If he says that parents have an obligation their children to raise them according to a good parental philosophy, the church says no, children ought to do exactly as they're told and be beaten if they disagree. (-)
If on the other hand he teaches that hell is not eternal after all, the churches insist that it is. (+)
In conclusion, it should be noted that I presented a very short list of discrepancies. My final words are to indicate that if the church expects to see resolution with the anti-Paul crowd, then they will have to stop resorting to treachery and deceit to prove their points. If we are to accept Paul at all, it will be for who he is, and not who you want him to be.