St Paul: The 13th Apostle

By Amtul Qudoos Farhat

 (The 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 wordings by His Holiness have been quoted in red)

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 in his life and death. They walked with him talked to him and practiced his true teachings. Unfortunately these original teachings of Jesus have not been described in the book. According to various biblical, historical, research and religious references they were twelve in number. Professor Karl Adam in his book ‘The Spirit of Catholicism’ writes: “they (apostles of Jesus) were 12: 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.”

History has added another apostle to this list. St Paul; the true, the brightest and original as described by His Holiness the Pope Benedict in his book: “Jesus, the Apostles and the early Church”.

His Holiness 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. —–.

St Paul: was he an Original Apostle?

St Paul was original in the sense that he pioneered a new religion which was not the religion of Jesus. He preached Trinitarian philosophy as opposed to monotheism; he abolished significance of Law and originated new guidelines for salvation. He simplified religion in to believing and confessing alone. He changed laws of diet, circumcision and sacrifices etc. For such reasons President Thomas Jefferson once wrote that Paul was the first corruptor of the doctrines of Jesus.

Jeffery Sheler, the 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”.[ii]

British biographer A. N. Wilson, in his 1997 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.” There was no quoting of Jesus’ parables or aphorisms in Paul’s writings, adds Gregory C. Jenks, rector at St. Matthew’s Anglican Church in Drayton, Australia. “The good news,” for Paul, says Jenks, “focused on what God did in Jesus on the cross, and on his imminent appearance as Christ, the exalted one.”

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, Paul “does not ascribe this to Jesus and, consequently, misses golden opportunities to say, ‘As Jesus taught . . .’ ”

“The evidence is overwhelmingly against St Paul being a genuine “apostle.” This can be conclusively proven from examining the Scriptures, and the writings of St Paul himself. Jesus warned his followers against false prophets and the “leaven” (i.e., doctrine) of the Pharisees, saying that many would be deceived, and the deception will be so strong that almost the “very elect” would be deceived[iii].

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

This is the most popular philosophy originated by St Paul. According to St Paul justification or being accepted by God is achieved through believing in Jesus (Faith) alone and Law has no role in justification. His Holiness the Pope Benedicts describes it as “St Paul’s new outlook” and writes as follows:

…… “[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). ……”

Paul has given repeated messages regarding an ‘easy fix’ for Justification and salvation and called it ‘Gospel’ or ‘Good News’: (Galatians 3:10-14, Romans—–, Ephesians 2:15).  According to him believing and confessing is enough for salvation: “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- Jesus will piggyback all the Christians to heaven!

Justification without law and accountability is very hard to conceive for a normal mind. Jesus 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.

Dr Michael S. Horton, Ph.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 grac and eternal life… let him be anathema.

Dr Michael S. Horton further 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 the Holy Quran a person is justified and is accounted by his deeds and actions and we quote here some of the testimonial verses:

  1. And when My servants ask thee about Me, say: ‘I am near. I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he prays to Me. So they should hearken to Me and believe in Me, that they may follow the right way.’ (2:187)
  2.  “Every soul is pledged for what it has earned; (74:39)”
  3. “And fear the day when you shall be made to return to Allah; then shall every soul be paid in full what it has earned; and they shall not be wronged.” (2:282).
  4. “….. all these shall be called to account. (17:37)”.
  5. “…..We are keeping full account of their doings. (19:85)”.
  6. “On the day when Allah will raise them all together, He will inform them of what they did. Allah has kept account of it, while they forgot it. And Allah is Witness over all things. (58:7)”.
  7. “And eschew open sins as well as secret ones. Surely, those who earn sin will be rewarded for that which they have earned.” (6:121).

According to the Holy Prophet, Allah says: Take one step towards me, I will take ten steps towards you. Walk towards me, I will run towards you.

 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. I actually…the choices you make in the present are more important than that.”[iv]

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. …………[v]

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”.

The New Oxford Annotated Bible, p. 1471 quotes:

“(The Book of) James discusses justification briefly but significantly, declaring that a faith that is apart from works cannot be a justifying faith, because faith is made perfect or completed by works. 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!”[vi] [7]

Norman Shepherd quoting from 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,” p.85. This indicates the strength of his rejection of this common way of speaking of justification[vii].

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”.[viii]

A question therefore is raised to His Holiness that how he resolves the contradiction between Paul’s teaching 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 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”.

Jesus disciples were certainly not practicing the dogmas initiated by St Paul. The true originals were truly monotheistic followers and Jesus was just a Messiah (Quote from Khalifa Rabey Hazrat Maseeh Maud)

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. …….”[ix]

In fact the Originals were at war with Paul for going against 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. Many characters in the Bible were called ‘Christ’ (anointed) but they were never divine ‘god-men’. Paul changed the original meaning of this title to make it conform to the Gentile thinking. The Romans considered their Emperors to be the ‘sons of God’, or personages of the sun. Similarly, the Hindus consider their heroes to be the ‘incarnations’ of God.

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”.

The Originals tried to compromise keeping within Law however Pauline sect became segregated due to its neo theologism.

“He was summoned to Jerusalem to explain himself to the “pillars” of the Jerusalem church: the Apostles James, Peter, and John. A compromise was reached that temporarily defused the issue: Circumcision would not be required of gentile converts, but following certain other Judaic rules would be expected.  …….  The split from Judaism was now assured. Christianity would become a separate faith shaped by Paul’s vision of salvation through the Risen Saviour, not by works under the old Mosaic Law.”[x]

Conversion at 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).

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. The Scripture says that “at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established” (Deuteronomy 19:15)

” —– 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!

Journey of Good News

Having received the ‘Gospel’ or ‘Good News’, Paul set forth to spread this news. His Holiness writes:

The point of departure for his travels was the Church of Antioch in Syria, where for the first time the Gospel was announced to the Greeks and where also the name “Christians” was coined (cf. Acts 11: 20, 26), believers in Christ.

From there he first went to Cyprus and then on different occasions to the regions of Asia Minor (Pisidia, Laconia, Galatia), and later to those of Europe (Macedonia, Greece). The most famous were the cities of Ephesus, Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth, without forgetting Berea, Athens and Miletus.

Paul’s first journey was to Arabia and then to Jerusalem. During this period he learned what Jesus followers had to offer before he set out with a new religion of his own. Professor Jimmy Dunn, former professor of New Testament, University of Durham discloses that:

“Paul gives us a brief description of what happens after his experience on the Damascus road. He says that he didn’t go to Jerusalem immediately but that he went off to Arabia. Arabia would be quite close to the northern part of Damascus, so he could have gone to reflect on what had happened.

When he goes to Jerusalem, it appears that he is accepted and is instructed in the basics of Christianity. He stays with Peter for two weeks and presumably learns a little about Jesus from him. Paul then disappears for a period and later re-emerges in Antioch in Syria which was the third biggest city in the Roman Empire and becomes the center of the movement to expand this new Christian sect”.

Paul and 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 to Christian at Baptism as a result of which he becomes God’s son. At the same time Christians unanimously believe that every human being inherits sin. Therefore a Christian is embodiment of Sin and spirit together.

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. …”

According to Islamic teachings every newborn has 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. “……..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). …  “…. 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. (42:23)”.

Don’t you feel this is true justice?

It is also interesting that when Islam talks of a Spirit it is the Spirit of God where as Paul’s spirit is that of Jesus Ah’s spirit. Paul according to His Holiness constantly maintains a central place for Jesus and not for God the 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 downpayment 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).

According to the Holy Quran: Spirit is a universal gift given to all newborns and that is justice: “So set thy face to the service of religion as one devoted to God. 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- Quran 30:31)

We nourish or perish the spirit due to our gift of having free will.

Universalism or Paganism:

His Holiness describes how 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.”

Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmadra in his book ‘Christianity Facts to Fiction’ explains how pagan were accommodated at the cost of totally 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[xi]”.

In actual fact Islam is the first universal religion to speak of equality of human being at birth and throughout life. Universal ban on slavery, marriage, divorce, education and inheritance rights for women makes the first universal manifesto of mankind. Mosque, prayer and Hajj are the practical venues to witness universalism and equailty. It is the level of virtuosity and piety which discriminate humans in the eyes of God. Allah 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 honourable amongst you in the sight of Allah, is he who is the most righteous among you. Surely Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.” (Holy Qur’an, 49:14). The ProphetSaw 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 (i.e. white tinged with 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 Church:

Amazingly church has consistently been seen as a place for an encounter with Jesus rather than a connection to God through prayer and supplication. His Holiness writes:

History shows us that one usually reaches Jesus by passing through the Church”.

This is in contrast to the ideology of mosque which is a place to worship and where everyone is equal. The Holy Quran says that “The mosques are for Allah”(72:18).

For the same reason a mosque unlike church is generally a simple and very clean place without unnecessary decorations, idols, pictures or symbols. Ibn ‘Abbāsrt quotes from the Holy Prophetpbuh: “I have not been commanded to decorate the mosques.” The Holy Prophetpbuh also said:” and for me the earth has been made a mosque and a means of purification”. This implies that any place where prayer is offered is a mosque no matter what it looks like! It is the purpose rather the place which stands tall and true.

His Holiness further writes:

“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). “

This statement itself speaks for the fact that St Paul changed the original concepts related to church and teachings of Jesus. Church was never called Body of Christ by originals. The concept allows everyone to become ‘Jesus’ once he enters church and thus atoned without personal efforts.

St Paul also calls Church as ‘Bride of Christ’ and this is the explanation which is offered for it:

“…. a Pauline Letter presents the Church as Christ’s Bride (cf. Eph 5: 21-33). With this, Paul borrowed an ancient prophetic metaphor which made the People of Israel the Bride of the God of the Covenant (cf. Hos 2: 4, 21; Is 54: 5-8). He did so to express the intimacy of the relationship between Christ and his Church, both in the sense that she is the object of the most tender love on the part of her Lord, and also in the sense that love must be mutual and that we too therefore, as members of the Church, must show him passionate faithfulness. “

Respected Sir, the ‘easy prescription for salvation could only give illegitimate roles to Church and I would like to quote your own writing at this point:

“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.[xii]

The adverse 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 (Parmehutu)”[xiii].

He further writes: “…. in Rwanda, 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 (the Hamitic and Bantu myths); second, by rigidly controlling historical and anthropological research; third, by reconfiguring Rwandan society through the manipulation of ethnic identities (from their vague socio-political nature in the pre-colonial period, these identities gradually became racial). From the late 1950s, some concepts became distorted: thus democracy became numerical democracy or demographic[xiv]

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”.[xv]

It was political involvement of church which 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.

Paul’s view on Christian Identity:

His Holiness writes:

“— This Christian identity is composed of precisely two elements: this restraint from seeking oneself by oneself but instead receiving oneself from Christ….

“[A]ll of us… were baptized into his death… we were buried therefore with him… we have been united with him…. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom 6: 3, 4, 5, 11).”

In other words Jesus Ah will piggyback all the Christians to Heaven. They do not have to try for themselves. The Holy Quran warns clearly in this respect: “And fear the day when no soul shall serve as a substitute for another soul at all, nor shall intercession be accepted for it; nor shall ransom be taken from it; nor shall they be helped” (Al Quran 2:49).

The question arises what special science operates at Baptism which makes a Christian child dead to sin no matter what his deeds and actions and conduct in later life may

Christian life also has an element that we might describe as “mystical”, since it entails an identification of ourselves with Christ and of Christ with us.”

The concept invites hardliners jurisdiction and unlawful freedom. No wonder the definition of Christian Identity is so different today.

According to Wikipedia the Christian Identity is a label applied to a wide variety of loosely-affiliated groups and churches with a radicalized theology. Most of them promote a militant white supremacist and neo Nazi version of Christianity. Their key commonality is British Israelism theology, which teaches that white Europeans are the literal descendants of the Israelites, and that the Israelites are still God’s “Chosen People”.

According to Professor Michael Barkun, one of the leading experts in the Christian Identity movement, “This virulent racist and anti-Semitic theology, which is practiced by over 50,000 people in the United States alone, is prevalent among many right wing extremist groups and has been called the ‘glue’ of the racist right.”

Paul was the first one to claim Jesus son of God:

In Damascus, according to the text, he was miraculously “filled with the Holy Spirit” and regained his sight, was baptized, and immediately began proclaiming Jesus as “the Son of God.” Prof. According to Professor Richard Horsley and historian Neil Asher Silberman, Paul became convinced that Jesus’ earlier incarnation as a poor Galilean peasant was “merely a prelude to his revelation as Israel’s messianic redeemer,” spoken of in the Hebrew Scriptures. According to Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad ra in his book “Christianity Facts to Fiction” writes: Miracles are not seen in Islam as unnatural occurrences, but as natural phenomena that are concealed from human knowledge at that period of time. Otherwise, there would be many questions raised against the wisdom of God. If God created the laws of nature Himself, He should have made some provisions whereby without breaking them, He could bring about desired solutions to a problem.[xvi]


[i] Reassessing an Apostle by Jeffery L. Sheler

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

[xii] Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology, trans. by Sister Mary Frances McCarthy, S.N.D. (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1989) p.196.

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

[xv] The Church’s Role in Politics by Dr Jim Harris. Associate Rector, Emmanuel Church, Wynberg, Cape Town:  http://thebigpicture.homestead.com/ChurchinPolitics.html

 

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

 

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