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Bernard Gui

Paul the Inconvenient Apostle

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Posted (edited)

 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a bit flummoxed by the apostle Paul, or so says Jana Riess. Among other reasons, she says, 

“Contemporary Latter-day Saints like their New Testament to resemble in every particular the structure and leadership of their own 21st-century church, so it’s discomfiting to realize that Paul’s apostleship was entirely of the self-proclaimed, charismatic variety. Paul’s leadership self-help bestseller could be broken down into three basic stages. Step One: Have a vision of Jesus. Step Two: Stop persecuting Christians and become one. Step Three: Put yourself in charge of the movement you just joined five minutes ago.

“In Latter-day Saint eyes, the first two are fine, and the third is damnable heresy. Why, there are channels of authority! There is an expected chain of command! Paul never even met Jesus, for crying out loud; the Savior was long crucified before Paul came on the scene. Yet the Bible wants us to believe that God chose this aggressive outsider in addition to the Twelve, many of whom had actually walked with Jesus and paid their dues.

“Even more troublingly from the correlated perspective, Paul considered other people, including women, to be leaders in the church. He called women his fellow laborers, and named them as deacons and even apostles. Junia in Romans 16 is one hotly contested example. In fact, that whole chapter of Romans is filled with women — and that whole chapter is ignored in the new curriculum, which pragmatically advises that we read Romans 12 to 16 to find ‘one or two’ aspects that can teach us ‘how Saints should live.’”

https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2019/08/02/jana-riess-reasons/

Edited by Bernard Gui

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11 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

There is an expected chain of command! Paul never even met Jesus, for crying out loud; the Savior was long crucified before Paul came on the scene. 

Truly Jana Reiss has humiliated us all by her incisive knowledge of scripture.

Wait, hold on.....

3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:

4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest

Oh right, never mind, she is an idiot.

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2 hours ago, The Nehor said:

Truly Jana Reiss has humiliated us all by her incisive knowledge of scripture.

Wait, hold on.....

3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:

4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest

Oh right, never mind, she is an idiot.

Yeh, but the variations in Paul's First Vision story (in the very late accounts in Acts) prove that he had no such vision.  For example, Acts 9:7 has the men hearing the voice, while 22:9 has them not hear the voice (Acts 9:3-11, 22:6-10, 26:13-18).  Liars can never get their stories straight.  See Blake Shipp, Paul the Reluctant Witness (2005).

Moreover, we know from comparing David's much earlier question to another Saul (1 Sam. 26:18, cf. verses 5-20, and 1 Sam. 24:1-15), that Luke in Acts was cribbing from the OT.

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10 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Yeh, but the variations in Paul's First Vision story (in the very late accounts in Acts) prove that he had no such vision.  For example, Acts 9:7 has the men hearing the voice, while 22:9 has them not hear the voice (Acts 9:3-11, 22:6-10, 26:13-18).  Liars can never get their stories straight.  See Blake Shipp, Paul the Reluctant Witness (2005).

Moreover, we know from comparing David's much earlier question to another Saul (1 Sam. 26:18, cf. verses 5-20, and 1 Sam. 24:1-15), that Luke in Acts was cribbing from the OT.

All that proves is that Paul likely did not exist at all which removes the original problem.

Your move Jana.

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20 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Yeh, but the variations in Paul's First Vision story (in the very late accounts in Acts) prove that he had no such vision.  For example, Acts 9:7 has the men hearing the voice, while 22:9 has them not hear the voice (Acts 9:3-11, 22:6-10, 26:13-18).  Liars can never get their stories straight.  See Blake Shipp, Paul the Reluctant Witness (2005).

Moreover, we know from comparing David's much earlier question to another Saul (1 Sam. 26:18, cf. verses 5-20, and 1 Sam. 24:1-15), that Luke in Acts was cribbing from the OT.

And then there is this in Acts 22...

Quote

17 And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance;
18 And saw him saying unto me,
Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.
19 And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee:
20 And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.
21 And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles

 

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Posted (edited)

More from Jana...

Quote

It’s gratifying to see so much attention paid to Paul, because the old Gospel Doctrine manual breezed through the epistles much too quickly. (One day — just one day! — on Romans?)

But just like the old manual, the new curriculum is far more focused on the “practical Christian living” aspect of the New Testament than it is on actual history or theology

In part, that’s just what church curriculum does, in an effort to keep things simple and applicable to daily life. But I believe there are particular reasons why the Pauline section is even more historically acontextual (or even downright anti-contextual) than the program’s other sections on the New Testament. And that’s because Latter-day Saints still don’t know quite know what to do with that irascible outsider, Paul.

The Church intentionally focuses on how the scriptures teach us to live better lives in its 45-minute lessons at the expense of studying detailed history in order to cover up potentially embarrassing faith-destroying information.

 

 

Edited by Bernard Gui

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Posted (edited)

And then badly misrepresents and distorts LDS doctrine....

Quote

A final reason Latter-day Saints don’t know what to do with Paul is because he sounds so uncompromising, so absolute, about grace. Paul wrote that by grace we are saved through faith, and that it’s not the result of works. He also equates the law with death, which seems a bit harsh.

The new curriculum demonstrates the theological evolution the church has been evincing during the past two generations, by which “grace” is no longer something that is the sole province of born-again evangelicals. To give you a sense of the past, Bruce R. McConkie wrote in the 1960s that “grace is granted to men proportionately as they conform to the standards of personal righteousness that are part of the gospel plan.”

Now, there are things in McConkie’s writing that were not mainstream Mormon theology even in the 1960s, but his approach to grace was quite typical, emphasizing that it’s the individual member’s responsibility to “grow in grace” and that the fullness of grace is experienced only by those who keep the commandments.

This conditional approach to grace runs headlong into Paul.Full-on Pauline grace is scary to Latter-day Saints. It sounds lawless and potentially dangerous, like all the traffic lights have been turned off and people have license to drive as recklessly as they please. Is Paul really saying that people don’t need to keep the commandments to be saved? Latter-day Saints like rules. Presbyterians may have popularized the phrase “decently and in order,” but Latte-day Saints have exalted order to an art form.

And actually, Presbyterians didn’t invent the phrase; Paul did (1 Cor. 14:40). That should tell us something. Paul was about balance, for all his bombastic rhetoric. And so, for its part, is the new church curriculum, which tries to have it both ways: neither grace nor works is irrelevant. The Romans lesson for next week emphasizes that keeping the commandments is not what saves us — Christ’s atonement does that — but that through faithful obedience to the commandments we help to open our hearts to receive grace as “an enabling power.”

 

Edited by Bernard Gui

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Ok, just reviewed the story of Paul.

I see him being baptized, confirmed, meeting with the Apostles, being set apart to serve a mission by the laying on of hands etc.

I have also read before that Paul was a Seventy as in D&C 107:25.  Seventies were also referred to as Apostles in the days of Joseph and Brigham.

Jana doesn't know what she's talking about.  "Paul’s apostleship was entirely of the self-proclaimed, charismatic variety" and "Put yourself in charge".  Nope, not at all.

I see ample evidence that Paul followed the standard steps of being baptized by authority and then set apart probably as a Seventy.

4 hours ago, The Nehor said:

All that proves is that Paul likely did not exist at all which removes the original problem.

Except Joseph Smith seems to have met him.

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1 hour ago, JLHPROF said:

Ok, just reviewed the story of Paul.

I see him being baptized, confirmed, meeting with the Apostles, being set apart to serve a mission by the laying on of hands etc.

I have also read before that Paul was a Seventy as in D&C 107:25.  Seventies were also referred to as Apostles in the days of Joseph and Brigham.

Jana doesn't know what she's talking about.  "Paul’s apostleship was entirely of the self-proclaimed, charismatic variety" and "Put yourself in charge".  Nope, not at all.

I see ample evidence that Paul followed the standard steps of being baptized by authority and then set apart probably as a Seventy.

Except Joseph Smith seems to have met him.

In addition, when the question of need of circumcision of gentiles came up, didn't Paul defer to Peter on the matter? 

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2 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

Ok, just reviewed the story of Paul.

I see him being baptized, confirmed, meeting with the Apostles, being set apart to serve a mission by the laying on of hands etc.

I have also read before that Paul was a Seventy as in D&C 107:25.  Seventies were also referred to as Apostles in the days of Joseph and Brigham.

Jana doesn't know what she's talking about.  "Paul’s apostleship was entirely of the self-proclaimed, charismatic variety" and "Put yourself in charge".  Nope, not at all.

I see ample evidence that Paul followed the standard steps of being baptized by authority and then set apart probably as a Seventy.

Except Joseph Smith seems to have met him.

Never thought that he was  seventy, makes sense though. However, if that were true it’s interesting we would consider his writings scripture. That’s unprecedented in the modern church. 

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1 hour ago, Vance said:

Paul uses "faith" to represent obedience to the Gospel (including the commandments), and "works" to represent obedience to the law of Moses (including all the other stuff not the commandments and the commandments).  At least that is the way I read him.

I think you've nailed it. When you read his epistles, he definitely does not recommend sinning, but the opposite. To sin is essentially to break a commandment. So he teaches not to break them, and tells the followers to do good works. I think it depends on his audience what he is referring to when he says "works." What he calls "dead works" are the works of the Mosaic law, which he teaches cannot save us. To be saved he teaches we must have faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. So for Paul it is this faith in the gospel vs the dead works of the Mosaic law. He is not saying that the works of the gospel make us dead. He is saying the works of the Mosaic law - without faith in Christ make us dead. Alone, they will not save us. This distinction ends up getting confused in his epistles, but it is there. When read this way Paul makes complete sense with the rest of the NT, and his own teachings do not seem conflicting. Having faith does not excuse us from not following the commandments - for we shall be rewarded by our works - but it is a necessary component to being forgiven. Doing good works will not get us forgiven - that is an Islamic concept. 

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10 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a bit flummoxed by the apostle Paul, or so says Jana Riess. Among other reasons, she says, 

“Contemporary Latter-day Saints like their New Testament to resemble in every particular the structure and leadership of their own 21st-century church, so it’s discomfiting to realize that Paul’s apostleship was entirely of the self-proclaimed, charismatic variety. Paul’s leadership self-help bestseller could be broken down into three basic stages. Step One: Have a vision of Jesus. Step Two: Stop persecuting Christians and become one. Step Three: Put yourself in charge of the movement you just joined five minutes ago.

“In Latter-day Saint eyes, the first two are fine, and the third is damnable heresy. Why, there are channels of authority! There is an expected chain of command! Paul never even met Jesus, for crying out loud; the Savior was long crucified before Paul came on the scene. Yet the Bible wants us to believe that God chose this aggressive outsider in addition to the Twelve, many of whom had actually walked with Jesus and paid their dues.

“Even more troublingly from the correlated perspective, Paul considered other people, including women, to be leaders in the church. He called women his fellow laborers, and named them as deacons and even apostles. Junia in Romans 16 is one hotly contested example. In fact, that whole chapter of Romans is filled with women — and that whole chapter is ignored in the new curriculum, which pragmatically advises that we read Romans 12 to 16 to find ‘one or two’ aspects that can teach us ‘how Saints should live.’”

https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2019/08/02/jana-riess-reasons/

I see the story of Paul confirming Latter Day Saint teachings. First, why didn't Yeshua appear to all those who persecuted Him? Why to this one person? The obvious answer for LDS is that he was foreordained - that is not a very comforting answer for evangelicals. 

Lastly, as others have pointed out in this thread, Paul doesn't make himself an apostle. He follows instructions and gets baptized. Again, that is not a very good precedent in many modern evangelical circles where they teach that baptism is an unnecessary "work." He gets ordained - maybe at first as a seventy. But when an opening in the apostleship comes up, he gets ordained as an apostle. And Acts teaches the laying on of hands for this. None of these facts support Reiss' narrative of some rogue apostle. 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, SettingDogStar said:

Never thought that he was  seventy, makes sense though. However, if that were true it’s interesting we would consider his writings scripture. That’s unprecedented in the modern church. 

Conference talks are considered scripture from what I have read, just uncanonized.  If so, many Seventies’ talks there. 

(We are told our journals or patriarchal blessings may be personal scripture or scripture for our descendants; scripture has a broader definition at time).

I think leaders have become more careful in using “scripture” for canonized scripture these days, but we still use noncanonized materials to teach in our manuals and talks, so I don’t see a huge difference in usage. 

Edited by Calm

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5 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

Except Joseph Smith seems to have met him.

I was joking. I believe Paul exists.

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3 hours ago, RevTestament said:

He gets ordained - maybe at first as a seventy. But when an opening in the apostleship comes up, he gets ordained as an apostle. 

I  see no need to assume a second ordination.  I don't see him called to fill a vacancy in the twelve although I suppose he might have.

His proclamation that he is an Apostle seemed to follow what I see as his calling as a Seventy, almost simultaneous in fact.  I have always considered the term Apostle to reach beyond the limits of the Quorum of the 12.

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1 hour ago, The Nehor said:

I was joking. I believe Paul exists.

Sorry, your sarcasm can be very convincing.

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26 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

Sorry, your sarcasm can be very convincing.

Thanks to Poe’s law that is completely understandable.

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14 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

...........................................

https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2019/08/02/jana-riess-reasons/

Having read the Riess article, which is about par for pretentious Mormons who have no training in NT theology, language, or Christian history, I think that Jana went wrong primarily because

(1) she thinks that B. R. McConkie's Mormon Doctrine (written before he became a apostle) is somehow normative.  This is a huge mistake, not only because McConkie had no training in Greek, theology, or history, and his work in Mormon Doctrine was met with disapproval by Pres David O. McKay, but also because she likewise had not bothered to make a formal study of the NT.

(2) she thinks that correlated LDS manuals represent the best that LDS CES people can do, completely ignoring the opinions and writings of qualified LDS scholars.  She does cite Rev Tom Wright's bio of Paul, which is great, but that is like reading Cliff's Notes just before a test as an undergrad, and then passing her new-found impressionistic wisdom along to the great unwashed masses of Saints.  The manuals are not designed to push scholarship, but only to inculcate Christian behavior and belief (as she herself admits).

(3) having said all that, she demands that the Saints exhibit a sophisticated understanding of the NT, even though she herself must surely understand how absurd such an expectation is.

(4) she claims that the Saints expect that every jot and tittle of NT Christian Church organization must be reflected by modern LDS structure and procedure.  Probably her gut instinct, but not supported by any surveys that I am aware of.  In fact, although there are some similarities in organization and nomenclature, the Bible and Book of Mormon very seldom demonstrate a one-for-one identity or function with the modern Church -- nor is that shallow claim actually made.  Instead, we see massive differences between Jewish organization, law, and observance and the CJCLDS.  Just a consideration of the vast sacrificial focus of the Jewish temples ought to give one pause before making that sort of silly claim.

(5) she claims, for example, that Paul is an extra apostle and does not fit into the Twelve, even though she has no way of knowing that.  There may indeed have been a vacancy.  Moreover, we already know that the LDS Church regularly has more that 12 apostles (usually 15).

(6) she finds Paul out of harmony with the other apostles, ignoring the necessary shift to the Gentiles due to the Great Commission, ignoring the will of the Lord in selecting powerful and distinct personalities to serve him (it has ever been thus), and ignoring the fact that both Paul and the Lord Himself upbraid Peter for not making the transition from an all Jewish Church to a mixed Gentile-Jewish Church in which the rules of kashrut and circumcision no longer apply.  It is Luke who is writing the account of this in Acts many years later.

(7) she brings The same sort of shallow and incompetent analysis to Jacob 7 in her recent chapter for a NAMIRS book, on which see the review by Duane Boyce just out in Interpreter --  https://www.mormoninterpreter.com/text-as-afterthought-jana-riesss-treatment-of-the-jacob-sherem-episode/.

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41 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

I  see no need to assume a second ordination.  I don't see him called to fill a vacancy in the twelve although I suppose he might have.

His proclamation that he is an Apostle seemed to follow what I see as his calling as a Seventy, almost simultaneous in fact.  I have always considered the term Apostle to reach beyond the limits of the Quorum of the 12.

Correct.  Apostles are not limited to Twelve, and we do not even know if a vacancy had developed in the early Christian Church.  Wild speculation is unnecessary.

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Posted (edited)

Today we covered the Sunday School lesson from Acts that gave Jana Riess such distressing heartburn that she was compelled to berate the Church.

Instead of wasting precious time on unverifiable conjecture about Paul’s position in the Church and how it exposes  weaknesses in the Restoration, the teacher asked us to share examples of when we were in situations where it might have been uncomfortable or even dangerous to share our testimonies and how we can gain inspiration and strength from Paul to be less timid.

We discussed Paul’s sudden and dramatic change from fierce persecutor to indefatigable missionary. Both converts and life-long members told of acquaintances’ and their own similar transformations. A spirit of peace and edification prevailed. It was one of our best lessons so far under the new curriculum.

I wonder which was more uplifting and worthwhile...Ms Riess’s made-up ranting essay about how the Church’s curriculum is designed intentionally to fool its members about inconvenient apostle Paul or the how-to-live-a-better-life discussion we enjoyed? It’s plain to see which hand has the M&Ms which hand has the melted chocolate..

I hope some day Ms Riess has her own road to Damascus experience.

 

Edited by Bernard Gui
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9 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

I  see no need to assume a second ordination.  I don't see him called to fill a vacancy in the twelve although I suppose he might have.

His proclamation that he is an Apostle seemed to follow what I see as his calling as a Seventy, almost simultaneous in fact.  I have always considered the term Apostle to reach beyond the limits of the Quorum of the 12.

I see no reason to assume Paul was a seventy or remained a seventy. Acts 13:2 and 14:14 say that the HS said to separate Saul to the work - this was at the time that there was an established Church in Antioch. I believe Yeshua called Saul to discipleship within seven years of His resurrection. If Paul was made a seventy "almost simultaneously" to his baptism, what work is he being separated to in Acts 13? Barnabus and Paul are plainly called apostles in Acts 14 - if there were seventies, then why not call them seventies? For Paul to be made an apostle directly upon his conversion makes little sense. There were probably already 12 apostles, but in Acts 1:26 Matthias was clearly a replacement for Judas. So we know that the 12 were replaced at least at first. I see no reason to doubt Paul later became an apostle. James, Yeshua's brother, probably did as well.

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Who is Jana Reiss, and why should I care about her opinion?

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13 hours ago, mrmarklin said:

Who is Jana Reiss, and why should I care about her opinion?

A person who publishes sometimes dubious statistics and “helpful” criticism of the church. You should not care at all except possibly because she influences others.

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On 8/4/2019 at 7:41 PM, JLHPROF said:

Sorry, your sarcasm can be very convincing.

You've been around The Nehor all these many years and he can still trip you up?  Wow, I'm impressed to see a master at work!  Props to @The Nehor !!

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