In Praise of the Non-Paulists

bible02Don’t get the wrong impression from the title. I’m not one of those folks who spits on Paul and claims he co-opted the early church to espouse his own doctrine and shape Christianity to his vision and will.

However, Paul gets a lot of play, and so he often overshadows the other writers in the New Testament (outside of the gospel writers, that is), even when what he says supports, complements and otherwise fits like a glove with other of the writers’ spiritual insights and guidance for us.

(By the way, click here for an earlier post I did on Paul the Apostle, titled “St. Paul the Prickly.”)

Each writer highlighted in the New Testament provides an important piece to our overall education in faith and proper action. Each is important, and Paul is no more important than any other just because he gets more words. His was a special ministry and mission and it put him in a position to have to write a lot and talk about doctrine.

No particularly deep thoughts with this post. Just an encouragement not to be mad at Paul for all his face time (nor to misunderstand him and brand him too quickly as a jerk…modern translations don’t always do him justice as to his intent)…nor to push aside the other writers by assuming that their teachings are any lesser.

As the body has many parts, each with its own purpose, and all of them necessary for proper functioning, so do all the writers of the New Testament serve an important role that should never be minimized.


4 Responses to “In Praise of the Non-Paulists”

  1. 1 societyvs
    February 3, 2009 at 11:45 am

    I think most people’s problem isn’t Paul so much as it is what people put in Paul’s mouth as saying. I like Paul’s writings on a personal level – but I hate how some people use him to mean something we are not sure he meant. Also he becomes the foundation versus the teachings of the gospels – when he is only writing letters (maybe it’s just me but that just seems misguided).

  2. 2 Deacon Blue
    February 3, 2009 at 11:50 am

    No, I agree with you…and I have learned more and more with some of the commentary on the original Greek just how off-base some of the word choices and translations are. I mean, they are right, and yet often they are not. Seems sometimes like making the Bible a few pages longer so that you could truly capture the meaning of the writers would have been a good thing.

    I still do think Paul was a bit of a hard-ass…but that’s also not an altogether bad thing when you’re trying to wrangle a bunch of half-confused churches that are surrounded by people trying to either co-opt their gig or turn them aside from their faith.

  3. February 3, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Paul was an interesting dude. He carried over a lot his Jewish was of thinking to Christ. I appreciate his devotion and typically, whenever he espoused his own thoughts he was clear about what he was doing. I like that. It makes me trust him more actually, because it highlights that most of the time he was writing under the direct influence of the Holy Spirit, or relating things he learned from the Spirit. But, since God doesn’t always speak to us that directly, sometimes he had to go on his own earthly wisdom. If people think Paul was a hard ass, they haven’t really paid attention to the book of James.

  4. 4 Deacon Blue
    February 3, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    True, James was pretty hard-core too, especially in reminding us we need to do more than simply have faith.

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Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

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February 2009

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