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Heresy 101: Anti-Paulism

Heresy 101: Anti-Paulism

Anti-Paulism or Pauline Christianity is the belief that the Apostle Paul was a heretic and that the books he wrote are not a part of Biblical Canon.

These terms apply to what some perceive as the religious teaching unique to Paul's writings and distinct from the gospel of Jesus. That is, Jesus taught one thing, and Paul taught something completely different. Those who believe in a separate Pauline Christianity believe that today's Christianity has little to do with Jesus' teachings; instead, it is the product of Paul's corruption of those teachings.

The scriptures are clear and unified as a whole. The Gospels present the work and life of Jesus the Messiah, and the Epistles explain the meaning and scope of Jesus' work and apply it to daily living. The same Holy Spirit who inspired the Gospels also inspired the Epistles to give us a better understanding of God's plan of salvation.

However, those who are anti-Paul (Anti-Paulism or Pauline Christianity) theorize that a separate Christianity formed on Paul, not Jesus.

Here are the heresies they believe:

  • They believed God would overthrow Rome and bring His kingdom to earth, and Jesus' mission of inaugurating a new earthly age failed when the Romans crucified Him.

  • Jesus' followers, believing God raised Jesus from the dead, continued to meet in Jerusalem, awaiting the still-coming kingdom. However, Saul from Tarsus, who "faked" a conversion to infiltrate the church derailed their ministry.

  • They also believe that Saul, who by now started calling himself Paul, artfully combined traditional Hebrew ideas with pagan Greek philosophy, creating a new religion that could appeal to Jews and Gentiles. Finally, they believe it was Paul who began teaching Jesus was God.

As well as other false beliefs, these alone, easily disputed in Scripture, are enough to show the falsehood of this teaching.

They believe Paul was a charlatan, an evangelical trickster who succeeded in twisting Jesus' message of love into something Jesus Himself would never recognize. It was Paul, not Jesus, who originated the "Christianity" of today.

The Apostle Paul

Those who believe this heresy generally believe the following falsehoods.

1) Jesus was not divine. He never claimed to be God, and he never intended to start a new religion.

2) The Bible is not an inspired book and is riddled with contradictions. None of the Bible, except possibly the book of James, was written by anyone who knew Jesus. There are fragments of Jesus' teachings in the Gospels, but it is difficult to discern what he really said.

3) Paul was never a Pharisee and was not highly educated. His "conversion" was either a personal hallucinogenic experience or an outright fraud. His claims to be an apostle were attempts to further his own authority in the church.

4) Pauline theological "inventions" include a) the deity of Jesus; b) salvation by grace through faith; c) salvation through the blood of Jesus; d) the sinless nature of Jesus; e) the concept of original sin; and f) the Holy Spirit. None of these "new doctrines" were accepted by Jesus' true followers.

5) The Gnostic Gospels are closer to the truth about Jesus than the traditional four Gospels of the Bible.

They choose to believe His words on love but deny His teachings on judgment (such as Matthew 24). They insist on a human Jesus, denying His divinity. However, Jesus taught His equality with God in passages such as John 10:30. They want a "loving" Jesus without having to accept Him as Lord and Savior.

Any time a skeptic finds a "disagreeable" doctrine in the Bible, he is likely to say, "That passage has been corrupted," or, "Paul wrote that, and we know he was a liar." Where the Gospels teach a "Pauline" doctrine, such as Jesus' atonement for sin in John 1:29, the skeptic dismisses it as "inserted by devotees of Paul." In reality, the skeptic's only basis for such a selective approach to Scripture is a personal bias against the idea of Jesus' atonement.

Even in his own time, Paul's credentials were attacked by those who wished to discredit him and take Christianity into legalism and other errant ideologies. However, Paul defended himself from the attacks of false teachers in 1 Corinthians 9; 2 Corinthians 12; and Galatians 1.

Paul's apostleship is attested to by the miracles he performed (Romans 15:19), the training he received (Galatians 1:15-20), and the testimony of the other apostles.

Paul's letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:15-16)


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