St Paul The 13th Apostle

By Dr Amtul Qudoos Farhat

(This article refutes some of the concepts of St Paul as stated by His Holiness Pope Joseph Ratzinger Benedict XVI in his book, Jesus, the Apostles and the Early Church. The wording of His Holiness have been quoted in RED)

St Paul the Founder of Christianity

St Paul the most Instrumental Figure in Christianity

 

“He never walked with Jesus of Nazareth, yet he traversed the Roman Empire proclaiming him the divine Christ. He never heard Jesus teach, yet he became Christianity’s most influential expositor of doctrine. He spoke little about Jesus’ life, yet he attached cosmic significance to his death and Resurrection. The Apostle Paul, some scholars now believe, was more instrumental in the founding of Christianity than anyone else–even Jesus himself”[i]

Contrary to the above statement there were men who actually lived with Jesus, may peace be on him, in his life and death. Professor Karl Adam in his book, the Spirit of Catholicism,writes, “they (Apostles of Jesus) were 12 in number: not more not less!” The Revelation 21:14 narrates, “And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”  So, there is no scriptural basis to call Paul an apostle.

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in his book, Jesus, the Apostles and the Early Church, writes:

He shines like a star of the brightest magnitude in the Church’s history, and not only in that of its origins. …  Certainly, after Jesus, he is one of the ORIGINALS of whom we have the most information. … Others called him the “13th Apostle”, or directly, “the first after the Only.” [ii]
His very mention as the 13th gives away the fact that he is not among the original 12, a number that corresponded with the 12 tribes of Israel.

St Paul: was he an Original Apostle of Jesus?

The word ‘Apostle’ (with capital A) refers to any of the original 12 disciples called by Jesus to preach the gospel: Simon Peter, the brothers James and John, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alpheus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas Iscariot.[iii]

A wall painting of Jesus Christ and the 12 Apostles,

St Paul is not an original apostle of Jesus. . He may have been called original because he pioneered a new religion and named it Christianity which was not the religion of Jesus. He preached Trinitarian philosophy as opposed to genuine monotheism and abolished Law and originated new guidelines for salvation. He simplified religion in to believing and confessing (faith) alone. He changed laws related to diet, circumcision and sacrifices to segregate Christianity from Judaism. He infiltrated Pagan ideas in to the teachings of Jesus in the name of universalism. For such reasons President Thomas Jefferson once wrote that St Paul was the first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus.[iv]

Jeffery Sheler, an eminent religious writer says, “Paul had not been among the original disciples of Jesus. Nor had he been converted by them. Consequently, he gave little deference to their views when they differed from what he believed Christ had revealed to him directly.”[v]

British biographer A. N. Wilson, in his book, Paul: the Mind of the Apostle, argues that Paul’s Risen Christ had little to do with the historical Jesus. Christ was for Paul “not so much the man (the disciples) remembered but a presence of divine love in the hearts of believers.[vi]

Gregory C. Jenks, Rector at St. Matthew’s Anglican Church in Drayton, Australia writes, “There was no quoting of Jesus’ parables or aphorisms in Paul’s writings. ‘The good news’ for Paul focused on what God did in Jesus on the cross, and on his imminent appearance as Christ, the exalted one.”[vii]

J. Leslie Houlden, Professor Emeritus of theology at King’s College in London argues that Paul simply may not have known of Jesus’ teachings. He notes that Paul tells no stories of Jesus other than that of the Last Supper. While there are allusions in Paul’s writings to some of Jesus’ teachings, he notes that Paul does not ascribe this to Jesus and, consequently, misses golden opportunities to say, ‘As Jesus taught.’[viii]  In other words, Paul is fairly removed from what Jesus, may peace be on him stood for!

St Paul’s New Outlook – Justification through Faith Alone:

“[M]an is not justified by works of the law but ONLY through faith in Jesus Christ;  even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by WORKS OF THE LAW SHALL NO ONE BE JUSTIFIED” (2: 16) … [We] are justified by his grace as a GIFT, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” (Rom 3: 24)[ix]
This is the most popular philosophy originated by St Paul. According to St Paul justification (salvation and acceptance by God) is achieved through believing in Jesus (Faith) alone and Law has no role in it. His Holiness Pope Benedict describes it as ‘St Paul’s New Outlook’ or ‘The Good News’ or ‘Gospel.’

St Paul has given repeated messages regarding an ‘easy fix’ for Justification and salvation. ‘Gospel’ or ‘Good News’ is quoted by him in: (Galatians 3:10-14, Ephesians 2:15).  “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.’ (Romans 10:9) This is called atonement –that Jesuswill ‘piggyback’ all the Christians to heaven!

Dr Michael S. Horton, PhD.D., University of Coventry and Wycliffe Hall, Oxford not only denies ‘Justification by Faith Alone’ but also describes how the concept was rejected by Council of Trent in 1563. He writes:

‘The ‘good news,’ which alone is ‘the power of God unto salvation’ was judged by Rome to be so erroneous that anyone who embraced it was to be regarded as condemned. In the final session of the Council of Trent in 1563, Rome had officially and, according to her own commitment down to the present moment, irreversibly, declared that the Gospel announced was actually heretical. The most relevant Canons are the following:

·        Canon 9. If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone…, let him be anathema.

·        Canon 11. If anyone says that men are justified either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ or by the sole remission of sins… let him be anathema.

·        Canon 12. If anyone says that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in divine mercy (supra, chapter 9), which remits sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is this confidence alone that justifies us, let him be anathema.

·        Canon 24. If anyone says that the justice received is not preserved and also not increased before God through good works but that those works are merely the fruits and signs of justification obtained, but not the cause of the increase, let him be anathema.

·        Canon 30. If anyone says that after the reception of the grace of justification the guilt is so remitted and the debt of eternal punishment so blotted out to every repentant sinner, that no debt of temporal punishment remains to be discharged either in this world or in purgatory before the gates of heaven can be opened, let him be anathema.

·        Canon 32. If anyone says that the good works of the one justified are in such manner the gifts of God that they are not also the good merits of him justified; or that the one justified by the good works that he performs by the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ…does not truly merit an increase of grace and eternal life… let him be anathema.”[x]

Practically we see that the easy formula for salvation has not worked over centuries.

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah, may peace be on him, writes:

“They have unreasonably taken a humble person to be their God, but are no closer to achieving their purpose which was to attain salvation. If belief in the crucifixion of Christ was the only remedy for getting rid of sin, why has it failed in the case of the Europeans who indulge in such sinful acts that one is even ashamed to speak of them? They have advanced in sin and transgression to an extraordinary degree, and we cannot say that they are any less immoral than the Asians. In view of all this, why has this obsolete remedy not been replaced? Even in this short life, every doctor and patient sees to it that if a cure fails to produce the desired result within a week or so, it has to be replaced by a better alternative. Why then has this remedy [of Crucifixion] not been replaced to this day, even though its ineffectiveness has been categorically shown? After nineteen hundred futile years, is it still worth believing that faith in the Crucifixion can bring about true salvation? Despite the fact that no such signs have hitherto appeared, is it still wise to hold out in the hope that a time will come when Christians shall refrain from evil and intemperance more than the people of other faiths” [xi]

The remedy offered by the Holy Qur’an:  Accordingly everyone is justified by deeds and actions and is accountable for what one does. One’s actions speak louder than faith. [For reference see Al-Qur’an Verses: (2:187), (2:282), (74:39), (17:37), (19:85), (58:7), (6:121)]. We have free will and can nourish or perish our salvation. “No one can bear the burden of another.” (Al-Qur’an 35:19) And: “God requires not of any one that which is beyond his capacity.” (Al-Qur’an: 2:287)

God loves everyone and rewards their efforts. According to the Holy Prophet Saw, Allah says: Take one step towards me, I will take ten steps towards you. Walk to me, I will run towards you.

For scholarly information on the topic read following online books by the Promised Messiah:

1.      http://www.alislam.org/library/browse/book/The_Essence_of_Islam/?l=English&p=2#page/249/mode/1up

2.      http://www.alislam.org/library/books/christianity_facts_to_fiction/chapter_2.html

 

Paul’s philosophy of Justification has been criticized by many scholars:

Dr N T Wright, Bishop of Durham in his book, Justification, says: “I think the human choices in this life really matter. We are not just playing a game of chess where tomorrow morning God will put the pieces back on the board and say, ok that was just a game. Now we are doing something different. The choices we make here really do matter. There is part of me that would love to be a Universalist, and say, it will be alright. Everyone will get there in the end.   … The choices you make in the present are more important than that.”[xii] He further says:

“Whatever the apostle Paul might mean by his insistence that justification is by faith and not by works of the law, it cannot be that sinners (whether Jew or Gentile) are unable to obtain favor with God on the basis of their obedience to the law. ……. this doctrine, though an essential, albeit subordinate theme in Paul’s preaching, does not address the issue of how guilty sinners can find favor or standing with God.[xiii]

Dr Michael S. Horton writes:“In one fell swoop, Paul destroys every plank in the Roman doctrine of justification. Rome says that justification is merited; Paul says it is a gift. Rome says that it is given to those who work for it; Paul says it is given to those who do not work for it. Rome says that God only justifies those who are truly holy inherently; Paul says that God only justifies those who are truly wicked inherently. Rome says that justification is a process of attaining righteousness; Paul says that justification is a declaration of imputed or ‘credited’ righteousness.”

According to Wikipedia: “In the early church, justification was a work of God leading to righteousness, and saving us from God’s wrath; justification definitely requires the work of God in us.”[xiv]

Let me also quote from the Book of James, from the New Oxford Annotated Bible:

“Indeed, works are required for justification because “man is justified by works and not by faith alone  …   Faith without works is counterfeit. The faith must produce good fruit as a sign lest it become the occasion for self justification.”

D. Kennedy explains: “Over, and over again … people will say they have faith and they don’t have works, and James is saying that real faith always produces works as a result … The question is, ‘A man may say that he has faith, but will that faith justify him?’ If it is just a ‘said’ faith’—no, it won’t!”[xv]

Norman Shepherd in his book, Justification by Faith Alone, writes:

“The precise wording ‘justified by faith alone’ does not appear anywhere in the Westminster Standards. One might think by this observation that such words would not appear because they express a dogma the Confession rejects. Underlining this neutral fact creates an impression that there might be substantial reason why the Confession does not say we are ‘justified by faith alone’ …  By not using the formula, justification by faith alone, the Westminster Standards avoid a serious misunderstanding of the gospel.” [xvi] This indicates the strength of his rejection of this common way of speaking of justification.

In the words of Bishop Alexander (editor) The Orthodox Church:

“Justification is a word used in the Scriptures to mean that in Christ we are forgiven and actually made righteous in our living. Justification is not a once-for-all, instantaneous pronouncement guaranteeing eternal salvation, regardless of how wickedly a person might live from that point on. Neither is it merely a legal declaration that an unrighteous person is righteous. Rather, justification is a living, dynamic, day-to-day reality for the one who follows Christ. The Christian actively pursues a righteous life in the grace and power of God granted to all who continue to believe in Him.”[xvii]

Above all Jesus himself never proposed this doctrine and neither of ‘vicarious atonement.’ Instead his message was, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil the law.” (Matthew 5:17-20)

According to Deuteronomy 24:16, Ezekiel 18:20-21, and Micah 6:7-8, a man is responsible for his own sin.

A question therefore is raised to His Holiness that how he resolves the contradiction between Paul’s teachings and Jesus’ original teachings?

Did the Original Apostles believe in Justification without Law?

His Holiness describes that Paul learned this message from the Disciples of Jesus who placed Jesus rather than God in the centre of their lives:
Through them he came to know a new faith – a new ‘way,’ as it was called – that places not so much the Law of God at the centre but rather the person of Jesus, Crucified and Risen, to whom was now linked the remission of sins.[xviii]
Jesus’ disciples were Jewish in stock and as such believed and practiced Law for salvation and justification. Theywere truly monotheistic followers and Jesus was just a Messiah to them.

Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmadwrites:

“The disciples of Jesus who learnt and understood Christianity directly from Jesus and witnessed it in the form of his life belonged to this stock (Jewish Monotheistic). They were the primary custodians of Christianity with deeply embedded roots in the holy soil of Jesus’ instructions and way of life. It was they who witnessed the Crucifixion and had seen Jesus survive from his attempted murder.”[xix]  He further explains:

“The Ebionites regarded Jesus as mortal and esteemed him as righteous through the growth of his character. As Jews, they observed the Sabbath; every detail of the Law, and did not accept the Pauline idea of salvation through faith alone.” [xx]

BBC Official website on Christianity talking about early followers of Jesus writes:

“These earliest followers of Jesus were devout Jews who continued to offer sacrifice at the Temple and to observe the whole Jewish Law. Essentially, they were a small sect within Judaism.”[xxi]

In fact the Originals were at war with Paul for going against the Law as it is seen in following verses, “When they saw him in the temple… laid hands on him, Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men everywhere against the people, and the law, and this place.” (Acts 21:27-29)

Abdullah Smith writes, “The Jewish Christians reacted strongly to Paul, they rejected his pagan ideas of the ‘divinity of Christ,” and they rejected the concept of the ‘divine sonship’ of Jesus, whom they regarded as a Prophet and Messenger. The Jewish Christians rejected Paul’s version of ‘Christ,’ to them the ‘Christ’ was anointed and fully human.” [xxii]

Robert S. McElvaine, Professor of Arts and Letters and Chair of the Department of History at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, writes, “They have aborted Jesus from the womb of Christianity. … Far from conserving the teachings of Jesus—which, it is plain from a reading of the Gospels, were socially progressive, calling for nonviolence, cooperation, and helping the poor —these self-styled ‘conservatives’ have ripped those sacred teachings apart and thrown them away, replacing them with a radical doctrine that is on almost all counts the opposite of what Jesus said. They like to quote Scripture, but their Scriptures should be called Scriptures, because they have stripped the messages of Jesus from their religion.”[xxiii]

Conversion on the Road to Damascus:

Paul claimed to have received his apostolate directly from God while travelling on Road to Damascus. His Holiness writes:

It was precisely on the road to Damascus at the beginning of the 30s A.D. that, according to his words, “Christ made me his own” (Phil 3: 12). While Luke recounts the fact with abundant detail – like how the light of the Risen One touched him and fundamentally changed his whole life -, in his Letters he goes directly to the essential and speaks not only of a vision (cf. I Cor 9: 1), but of an illumination (cf. II Cor 4: 6), and above all of a revelation and of a vocation in the encounter with the Risen One (cf. Gal 1: 15-16). [xxiv]

As it is stated above there are three separate accounts of this “conversion event” in the Book of Acts, and there is disparity in them which means at least one of them is not correct.

·        Account #1: shows that there were other men travelling with him who became speechless. Yet he never gave names of these witnesses to his conversion. ” And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.” (Acts 9:1-7)

·        Account #2: “And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spoke to me.” (Acts22:1-9)

·        Account# 3: “And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”(Acts 26:12-18)

Here, Paul claims that the voice told him what to do. This is a clear departure from the other accounts of the event. If the stories cannot be reconciled then at least one of them is not true!

Universalism or Paganism:

His Holiness describes that St Paul felt the need to accommodate Gentiles who were pagans. He writes:

Another fundamental lesson offered by Paul is the universal breadth that characterizes his apostolate. Acutely feeling the problem of the Gentiles, of the pagans, to know God, who in Jesus Christ Crucified and Risen offers salvation to all without exception, he dedicates himself to make this Gospel – literally, “good news” – known, to announce the grace destined to reconcile men with God, self and others. From the first moment he understood that this is a reality that did not concern only the Jews or a certain group of men, but one that had a universal value and concerned everyone, because God is the God of everyone.[xxv]

Surprisingly Jesus himself did not see himself as a universal messenger.  Matthew verse 15:24 quotes him, “But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah, may peace be on him writes:

The religions which appeared before Islam and the Prophets and Messengers who came were confined to the reformation of their own respective nation and country; whatever they did for their moral uplift was all aimed for the benefit of their own people. This is why Jesus, may peace be on him, unambiguously admitted that his teachings were for the House of Israel alone. It is reported that when a woman who did not belong to the Israelites beseeched him with humility for him to show her ‘the way’, he rejected her plea. The poor woman even went to the extent of likening herself to a dog to evoke pity, and implored guidance. He again rejected her plea on the ground that he was sent only for the sheep of the House of Israel. Finally, she was silenced. But our Prophet saw nowhere pronounced that he had been sent only for the Arabs. On the contrary, the Holy Qur’an commands him to say:

Say ‘O Mankind! Truly I am a messenger to you all from Allah.’  (Al-Qur’an 7:159)

The Promised Messiah continues:

“It should be remembered that it was no fault of Jesus that he gave such a curt answer to the woman. The time had not yet come for a universal teaching. This was the teaching vouchsafed to Jesus by God: You are specifically sent for the House of Israel. You have no concern with others. As I mentioned above, the moral teachings of Jesus were confined to the Jewish people.  …  the moral teaching found in the Gospels is specifically for the Jewish people and not for the whole world as Jesus had no concern with other people.

The teachings which Jesus brought did not only have the drawback of not being addressed to all mankind, but it also had another shortcoming. As the Torah overemphasizes revenge to one extreme, the Gospels, turn to the other extreme as regards the teaching of forgiveness.”[xxvi]

Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad in his book, Christianity a Journey from Facts to Fiction, explains why pagans were accommodated at the cost of ameliorating the monotheistic religion of Jesus in the name of universalism. He writes:

“Apparently there were two options available to St. Paul, either to fight the strenuous battles against a world of superstitions, myths and legends prevalent in the lands of the Roman Empire from times immemorial or to give in to them and let Christianity change to suit their requirements and ambitions. This gave them the message that Christianity was not essentially different from their legends and myths. He found the adoption of the second option far more profitable and convenient and let Christianity change to suit the ambitions and philosophies popular in the gentile world.

This strategy worked well in as much as it gained a great number of converts to the new faith which otherwise would not have been easily available. But at what cost? Unfortunately, it ended up only in an unholy competition between noble Christian values and pagan myths. What St. Paul changed was only the names of the pagan gods and replaced them with Jesus, God the Father and the Holy Ghost. It was not him in fact who invented the myth of Trinity and introduced it to the pagan world in the name of Christianity; on the contrary he borrowed the myth of the Trinity from pagan mythology and bonded it to Christianity. From then on it was the same old paganism but with new names and new faces.

Pauline Christianity, therefore, did not succeed in changing the doctrines, myths and superstitions of the pagan world but only ended in changing Christianity in accordance with them. If the mountain did not respond to his call, he decided to go to the mountain.”[xxvii]

Islam is the first universal religion to speak of universal values such as equality, justice, rights of women and weak.   The Holy Prophet Saw never claimed to be the prophet of Arabs. His message was that “I have been sent to you ALL”. Islamic teachings on slavery and women rights of marriage, divorce, education and inheritance are the first universal manifesto of human rights.  Mosque, prayer and Hajj are the practical venues to witness universalism and equality. It is the level of virtuosity and piety which discriminate humans in the eyes of God. For scholarly information read online book by Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad: Islam’s Response to Contemporary Issues:  http://www.alislam.org/library/books/IslamsResponseToContemporaryIssues.pdf

The Holy Quran says:

“O mankind, We have created you from a male and a female; and We have made you tribes and sub-tribes that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable amongst you in the sight of Allah, is he who is the most righteous among you. Surely Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.” (Al Quran, 49:14)

The Holy Prophet Saw said: O people!  Your God is one and your forefather (Adam) is one.  An Arab is not better than a non-Arab and a non-Arab is not better than an Arab, and a red person is not better than a black person and a black person is not better than a red person, except in piety.

St Paul and The Spirit:

According to St Paul the spirit is an integral part of every Christian and it makes Christian identity. It is a ‘down payment’ made for Christian at Baptism as a result of which he becomes God’s son.  His Holiness writes:

“The Christian already possesses a rich and fruitful interiority, given to him in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, an interiority which establishes him in an objective and original relationship of sonship with God. This is our greatest dignity: to be not merely images but also children of God. And it is an invitation to live our sonship, to be increasingly aware that we are adoptive sons in God’s great family.  … God considers us his children, having raised us to a similar if not equal dignity to that of Jesus himself, the one true Son in the full sense. Our filial condition and trusting freedom in our relationship with the Father is given or restored to us in him.”[xxviii]

According to Islamic teachings every newborn is given beautiful interiority whether a child is baptized or not. None of us inherits sin and every one of us is born at the nature of God which is the Holy Spirit. God is The Creator and therefore we all are children of God. Allah says, “For them is what they earned, and for you shall be what you earn; and you shall not be questioned as to what they did.” (2:135, 2:142)  And again, “But those who believe and do good works will be in the meadows of the Gardens. They shall have with their Lord whatever they will desire. That is the great bounty of God.” (Al Qur’an 42:23)

Don’t we all feel this is true justice?

It is also interesting that when Islam talks of a Spirit it is the Spirit from God where as St Paul’s spirit is that from Jesus. St Paul according to His Holiness constantly maintains a central place for Jesus and not for God Almighty. Even if you believe for a moment that God is triune, Father still is superior of three and His Spirit is bound to prevail above His son’s. His Holiness writes:

The Spirit is no longer only the “Spirit of God”, as he is usually described in the Old Testament and as people continue to repeat in Christian language (cf. Gn 41: 38; Ex 31: 3; I Cor 2: 11, 12; Phil 3: 3; etc.). Nor is he any longer simply a “Holy Spirit” generically understood, in the manner of the Old Testament (cf. Is 63: 10, 11; Ps 51[50]: 13), and of Judaism itself in its writings (Qumran, rabbinism). …. St Paul spoke directly of the “Spirit of Christ” (Rom 8: 9), of the “Spirit of his Son” (cf. Gal 4: 6) or of the “Spirit of Jesus Christ (Phil 1: 19).

According to St Paul, the Spirit is a generous down-payment given to us by God himself as a deposit and at the same time, a guarantee of our future inheritance (cf. II Cor 1: 22; 5: 5; Eph 1: 13-14). [xxix]

According to the Holy Qur’an: Spirit is a universal gift given to all newborns and that is justice: “And follow the nature made by Allah — the nature in which He has created mankind. There is no altering the creation of Allah. That is the right religion. But most men know not.” (Al Qur’an 30:31)
We nourish or perish the spirit due to our gift of having free will.
St Paul and Church:
Amazingly the church has consistently been seen as a place for an encounter with Jesus rather than a connection with God through worship, prayer and supplication.  His Holiness writes:History shows us that one usually reaches Jesus by passing through the Church.

Paul also illustrates for us in his Letters his teaching on the Church as such. Thus, his original definition of the Church as the “Body of Christ”, which we do not find in other Christian authors of the first century, is well known (cf. I Cor 12: 27; Eph 4: 12; 5: 30; Col 1: 24).

A Pauline Letter presents the Church as Christ’s Bride (cf. Eph 5: 21-33).[xxx]

So what is a church?

St Paul says: Church is the ‘Bride of Jesus!’ Church is the ‘Body of Jesus!’ Above statement of His Holiness admits that Church was never called Body of Christ by originals.

Compare it with Islamic teaching: “The mosques are for Allah.”(Al Quran 72:18). This definition is like music to the soul. Not only this; the Holy Prophet saw said: “And for me the earth has been made a mosque and a means of purification.” It is the purpose rather the place which stands tall and true in Islamic ideology.

A mosque therefore, unlike church, is generally a simple clean place without unnecessary decorations, idols, pictures or symbols. Ibn ‘Abbāsrt quotes from the Holy Prophet saw: “I have not been commanded to decorate the mosques.”

The role of church was directed to a man (Jesus) rather to One God. The papal powers modified the church role further.

Professor Karl Adam in his book the Roots of the Reformation writes:

”Pope a direct authority even over secular affairs, with the right to depose unworthy princes and release their subjects from their oath of allegiance, inspired papal policy all through the Middle Ages.”[xxxi]

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has also spoken about adversity of church: 

“The Church no longer offered certainty of salvation; she had become questionable in her whole objective form–the true Church, the true pledge of salvation, had to be sought outside the institution. It is against this background of a profoundly shaken ecclesial consciousness that we are to understand that Luther, in the conflict between his search for salvation and the tradition of the Church, ultimately came to experience the Church, not as the guarantor, but as the adversary (opponent) of salvation.”[xxxii]

The worldly role of church has been reported in various parts of the world:

Ndahiro Tom, a commissioner of Human Rights in Rwanda reported following:

“Church authorities contributed to the spread of racist theories mainly through the schools and seminaries over which they exercised control. The elite who ruled the country after independence trained in these schools. According to Church historian Paul Rutayisire, the stereotypes used by the Hutu-dominated Rwandan government to dehumanise Tutsis, were also spread by some influential clergymen, bishops and priests, before and after the genocide. The Catholic Church and colonial powers worked together in organizing racist political groups like the Party for the Emancipation of the Hutu.”[xxxiii]

He further writes:

“The leadership of the Christian churches, especially that of the Catholic Church, played a central role in the creation and furtherance of racist ideology. They fostered a system which Europeans introduced and they encouraged. The building blocks of this ideology were numerous, but one can mention a few – first, the racist vision of Rwandan society that the missionaries and colonialists imposed by developing the thesis about which groups came first and last to populate the country; second, by rigidly controlling historical and anthropological research; third, by reconfiguring Rwandan society through the manipulation of ethnic identities. From the late 1950s, some concepts became distorted: thus democracy became numerical democracy or demographic.[xxxiv]

Dr Jim Harris, Associate Rector at Emmanuel Church, Wynberg, Cape Town goes on to legalize such role of the church. He writes:

“Many Christians struggle with the church’s involvement in socio-political-economic issues. Yet Scripture and history clearly support the church’s place in these concerns. Daniel becomes a leader in Babylon, Amos and other prophets speak into political and social matters in Israel, Judah and the surrounding nations. Both John the Baptist and Jesus refer to the political concerns of their day. In both the Old and New Testament God’s representatives spoke out against abuse of political power and sought just use of power. This surely, is what being “salt and light” means. Hence participation in politics does not detract from spirituality; in fact a spirituality that is unrelated to politics is questionable.”[xxxv]

It was misuse of power by church that led to amendment of the constitution of United States. Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States demanded separation of church and state. He wrote:

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”[xxxvi]


[i] Reassessing an Apostle by Jeffery L. Sheler

[ii] “Jesus The Apostle and the early Church” by Pope Benedict xvi; ch:23; p:109: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2006/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20061025_en.html

[vi] Paul (1997) The Mind of the Apostle by A. N. Nelson

[vii] What did Paul know about Jesus? By Gregory C. Jenk:  http://www.faithfutures.org/Jesus/Jesus_Paul.pdf

[ix] “Jesus The Apostle and the early Church” by Pope Benedict xvi; ch:24; p:115: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2006/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20061108_en.html

[x] Are We Justified By Faith Alone? by Michael S. Horton http://www.mountainretreatorg.net/articles/are_we_justified_by_faith_alone.shtml

[xi] :How to free from Sin” by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani Page:19

Click to access How-to-be-Free-from-Sin-20080806MN.pdf

[xiii]The New Perspective on Paul; The Contribution of N. T. Wright: The Outlook, January 2003 issue Volume 53, No.1

[xvi] “Justification by Faith Alone” by Norman Shepherd, Reformation and Revival journal Vol: 2 Number: 2 Spring 2002.  p.85.

[xviii] “Jesus The Apostle and the early Church” by Pope Benedict xvi; ch:23; p:110: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2006/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20061025_en.html

[xix]  Christianity: facts to Fiction by Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Ch:7 (The Role of St Paul) http://www.alislam.org/library/books/christianity_facts_to_fiction/chapter_7.html

[xx] Christianity: facts to Fiction by Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Ch:7: (The Evolution of Christianity)

[xxiii] Grand Theft Jesus: The Hijacking of Religion in America by Robert S. McElvaine P: 3

[xxiv] “Jesus The Apostle and the early Church” by Pope Benedict xvi; ch:23; p:110: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2006/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20061025_en.html

[xxv] “Jesus The Apostle and the early Church” by Pope Benedict xvi; ch:23; p:111: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2006/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20061025_en.html

[xxvi] ‘A Message of Peace’ by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani Page: 42-43

[xxviii] “Jesus The Apostle and the early Church” by Pope Benedict xvi; ch:25; p:120: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2006/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20061115_en.html

[xxix] “Jesus The Apostle and the early Church” by Pope Benedict xvi; ch:25; p:120, 121, 123: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2006/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20061025_en.html

[xxx] “Jesus The Apostle and the early Church” by Pope Benedict xvi; ch:26; p:124,125,126: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2006/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20061122_en.html

[xxxi] The Roots of the Reformation; by Karl Adam, translated by Cecily Hastings, Ch:1 (Weaknesses of Church: http://www.ewtn.com/library/chistory/rtref.txt

[xxxii] Principles of Catholic theology: building stones for a fundamental theology By Pope Benedict XVI; p: 196

[xxxiii] “Genocide and the role of the Church in Rwanda” by Ndahiro Tom (A Commissioner of Human Rights in Rwanda. 16 April 2005

[xxxiv] PAMBAZUKA http://www.pambazuka.org/

[xxxv] Jefferson’s Wall of Separation Letter: http://www.usconstitution.net/jeffwall.html.

[xxxvi] Jefferson’s Wall of Separation Letter: http://www.usconstitution.net/jeffwall.html

writing here.

Source:

http://knol.google.com/k/anonymous/st-paul-the-13th-apostle/2ue5rfjrjflg4/2#

 

Categories: CHRISTIANITY, Religion

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