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Thus Saith Paul

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The "nostalgia for research" article/thread prompted me to contemplate the significance of "inerrancy".

The Way Ministry focused primarily on study of The Pauline Epistles. This was a precedent that was established early in the PFAL class via the introduction of Biblical administrations (Dispensationalism), the concept of observing "To Whom It Is Written" and the idea behind all people belonging to three specific categories. ("Jew, Gentile or Church of God") In addition, it was established early in the PFAL class that what "Holy Men of God" spoke or wrote was tantamount to words directly from God, himself. Thus, we were to consider the contents of The Church Epistles to be equivalent to words from God (Holy Men Of God Spoke.), directly to us (To The Church of God), At one point during the course of the Fellow Laborer program, we were to read Ephesians a minimum of once a day. Then, we were to rehash it at our night twigs every night. Given the rigidness of the schedule we observed, this didn't last long nor were people very consistent in their diligence. That, however, is probably fodder for another topic.

Here is were it gets sticky. Using the aforementioned criteria, it became an accepted "given" that whatever Paul said in Ephesians, Corinthians, etc was the same thing as God saying it directly to us. Suppose for a moment, though, that Paul was, perhaps, the VPW of his day. (So often, people would put forth the inverse idea that VPW was the Apostle Paul of our day and time.) Even now, years after his death, with the advent of the internet and the plethora of information it puts at our fingertips, some people still aren't able to see that VPW was really a con-man. People in the first century did not have access to resources that could prove or disprove Paul's legitimacy.

We have heard people say that it's God's will we all speak in tongues (one example) because God said so in "His Word". Did He? Or, was it Paul who made that statement? Question five, of "listening with a purpose", in session eleven, poses the question, "Is it God's will that we all speak in tongues?" According to the answer key, the correct answer is "Yes". But think about it. Who really said "I would that ye all speak in tongues."? Wasn't it, in fact, Paul? Did he really say that "to us" or to a specific group of people two thousand years ago? There are many, many more examples of places where you could insert "Thus Saith Paul."

What if Paul was really a forerunner of what we now call "con men"? What if Paul was the VPWFHDAT? (VPW for his day and time) It certainly shines a very different light on the importance and "inerrancy" of The Epistles.

Edited by waysider
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That's a good set of questions, and proposes some good postulates. Thanks for posting those thoughts.

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I think THE major component of why people buy into religion is because it's HERE. It's been here a long time, it's widely accepted, seldom questioned, and just established in the fabric of culture. It's been around so long that we don't really ever entertain the notion that any of it should be questioned, we just accept.

Once one DOES step outside the bounds of accepted, established thought regarding church tenets, the logic of same often becomes something less than overwhelming...

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I think THE major component of why people buy into religion is because it's HERE. It's been here a long time, it's widely accepted, seldom questioned, and just established in the fabric of culture. It's been around so long that we don't really ever entertain the notion that any of it should be questioned, we just accept.

Once one DOES step outside the bounds of accepted, established thought regarding church tenets, the logic of same often becomes something less than overwhelming...

But George, WHY did religion become a part of human culture in the first place? I could expand on that, but believe I could ramble on almost endlessly. That question, however, is (IMO) quite poignant.

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Some good commentary here, for sure.

Here's the thing.

It's like the old circular logic exercise that proves the existence of God.

(ie: "The Bible says there is a God and since God wrote the Bible----there must be a God.")

What do we really know about this cat named Paul? I mean, he had a pretty lengthy rap sheet before he made the old switchola. Personal credibility does not work heavily in his favor. As far as that goes, what do we even know about the practice of writing letters to churches during his lifetime? Weren't these just letters that he wrote to particular churches and individuals, addressing specific problems and situations? Did he ever intend for them to serve any purpose beyond their original intent? If he did, why didn't he convey that intent to the recipients before they filed them away with the rest of their letters? Why is it that Ephesians, which TWI heralded as the greatest epistle of all, is considered by many scholars to be the product of an author other than Paul and dated later than the rest? If Paul was a flim-flam man on the order of VPW, maybe the comparisons are warranted.

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Paul does have his own very miraculous conversion story. Actually I think Paul's conclusions and what he teaches deviate significantly from the gospel records, which is ironic given the order in which the NT books were written.

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Paul does have his own very miraculous conversion story.

Yeah, except there are at least weather records on file that refute Wierwille's gas pump Stowwwry. We don't even have any traffic logs for Damascus Road.

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God first

thanks waysider

Paul was learning like just the others

In Jew, Gentile or Church of God are just the group of then but would be how many more Sects

we all are just learning

the secret is live all Sects at the same time Jew, Gentile or Church of God and whatever Sect there is

with love and a holy kiss Roy

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Roy

Yes, we are all in a constant state of learning (hopefully) and it would, indeed, be a better world if there was harmony among the various and diverse "sects".

Consider this. There are people who are rocked to their very souls, steeped in denial and painfully hurt when they discover the man whose teachings they followed for decades (VPW) was, in fact, a self-centered, drunken, sexual predator and religious fraud. Remember how people would say "Dr. says this." or "Dr. said that."? It was as if it had to be "right on" if it came from "Dr.". Like a surrogate spokesperson for God. So, now, here, we have this man, Paul, whose words have been revered, not for decades, but, for millenia. So very many things we consider to be things that "God said", are really things that Paul said. (Refer to my example: "I would that ye all spake in tongues."------Thus saith Paul)

Edited by waysider

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. . .

What if Paul was really a forerunner of what we now call "con men"? What if Paul was the VPWFHDAT? (VPW for his day and time) It certainly shines a very different light on the importance and "inerrancy" of The Epistles.

We make life up as we go. There's good con men, and there's you and me.

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Well, why would one use the "aforementioned criteria" to draw a conclusion? That ship has sailed. I am confused? Is VP's standard for inerrancy what we use to evaluate Paul as a con man?

We are confronted with a collection of ancient documents. . . the most well preserved of ancient documents BTW. We use certain criteria to evaluate their validity . . . including, but not limited to what they say about themselves. We give them the benefit of doubt. That is not just given to scripture, but we do look to see what all ancient documents say about themselves. We also know a great deal about the practice of letter writing during his time and beyond. These things were not just put in a letters, these guys went around and preached at these churches. These things were known and believed on . . . . . .and by many who knew Jesus.

I am missing something here. . . . where does this hypothesis about Paul come from? What is the basis for the possible conclusion? "I would that ye all spake with tongues"? VP said that meant every Christian. . . so, Paul was a con man? VP was an a$..

The same "Rap sheet" we have on Paul which we conclude goes to his credibility is found in the same document which we learn of his conversion. So we accept one and not the other?

Setting the supernatural aside. . . . say Paul's rap sheet is true. He had some influence. . . . he spoke. . . people jumped. If his rap sheet is true, we can assume his pedigree is true. . . So, this con man gives up this kind of affluence and authority within his beloved faith. . . to be imprisoned, beaten, nearly stoned, and ultimately martyred because he gained . . . . what?

He was a very lousy con man. . . . He could have had a motor coach had he remained a Pharisee. Instead, he was on trial before the Sanhedrin. His head probably ended up on a chopping block.

The joke was on him if he was lying.

Just to add: Most gnostics adhere to the Pauline epistles to the exclusion of most everything else. Marcion for example. There might be a bigger picture here. The nature of what we were part of in TWI.

Edited by geisha779

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Well, why would one use the "aforementioned criteria" to draw a conclusion? That ship has sailed. I am confused? Is VP's standard for inerrancy what we use to evaluate Paul as a con man?

Here is the "aforementioned criteria" we (students of PFAL/Way theology) were taught to use.

"The Way Ministry focused primarily on study of The Pauline Epistles. This was a precedent that was established early in the PFAL class via the introduction of Biblical administrations (Dispensationalism), the concept of observing "To Whom It Is Written" and the idea behind all people belonging to three specific categories. ("Jew, Gentile or Church of God") In addition, it was established early in the PFAL class that what "Holy Men of God" spoke or wrote was tantamount to words directly from God, himself. Thus, we were to consider the contents of The Church Epistles to be equivalent to words from God (Holy Men Of God Spoke.), directly to us (To The Church of God)"

This is the criteria we used to evaluate scripture relevance. (not the same thing as whether or not Paul was a con-man) My apologies for not stating that in a clearer fashion.

As to "Why would Paul have disingenuous motives"? (paraphrased)

Who knows? I don't think we could have candidly answered that question a mere 40 years ago, had it been asked of us regarding Wierwille. In fact, when we were confronted with it, we had ready made rationalization near at hand to fire back. Then again, even if Paul's motives were altruistic, that doesn't guarantee they were wrought in a sane mind. When you accept that Paul's admonition regarding speaking in tongues is Theopneustos, you are making a huge assumption that is based, once again, on another facet of the "aforementioned criteria".

Edited by waysider

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The "nostalgia for research" article/thread prompted me to contemplate the significance of "inerrancy".

The Way Ministry focused primarily on study of The Pauline Epistles. This was a precedent that was established early in the PFAL class via the introduction of Biblical administrations (Dispensationalism), the concept of observing "To Whom It Is Written" and the idea behind all people belonging to three specific categories. ("Jew, Gentile or Church of God") In addition, it was established early in the PFAL class that what "Holy Men of God" spoke or wrote was tantamount to words directly from God, himself. Thus, we were to consider the contents of The Church Epistles to be equivalent to words from God (Holy Men Of God Spoke.), directly to us (To The Church of God),

Here is were it gets sticky. Using the aforementioned criteria, it became an accepted "given" that whatever Paul said in Ephesians, Corinthians, etc was the same thing as God saying it directly to us. Suppose for a moment, though, that Paul was, perhaps, the VPW of his day. (So often, people would put forth the inverse idea that VPW was the Apostle Paul of our day and time.)

Well, I'll just say a lot of Waysider's thoughts I've entertained, too, although I steer away from suspecting that Paul's motives were less than sincere or like a con man's. Maybe, maybe not.

What does interest me, though, is the historical approach to the Scriptures that Waysider is bringing attention to in this post. I think VPW deliberately steered us away from asking these sorts of questions because he had already made up his own mind that an historical-critical approach was bad, that it meant the person thinking like this was a God rejector, etc. He repeatedly made statements like that in the PFAL class and in public meetings.

Anyhow, I for one have come to accept that those letters were written for specific reasons to specific people about specific situations and not to me...

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But George, WHY did religion become a part of human culture in the first place? I could expand on that, but believe I could ramble on almost endlessly. That question, however, is (IMO) quite poignant.

I see it as a sorta forerunner to science and the scientific method. Life was a short and brutal affair when most religions came about. Real knowledge about how the earth worked was very sparse and so superstition immediately filled the void.

Your brother got eaten by a lion on his way to work one day, so you, in a desperate attempt to avoid a similar fate, devised some code to help minimize your exposure to that danger. You noticed that when you wore a garland of garlic, or your chartreuse toga, or paid homage to The Lion King, that you DIDN'T get eaten, so you start doing that every time you need to travel near lion country. Pretty soon it becomes mandatory for you and yours to do it all the time. And so it goes. Then you have to devise a regimen to avoid poisonous food, diseases, and dangerous sociopaths. Some of it may even have a trace or two of wisdom in it.

Before too long you and your decendants have cooked up a whole plethora of rituals and beliefs to subscribe to. Then it's a matter of which clan has the most power and influence or maybe just writes the most eloquent mantras to have your particular mythologies carried on.

That's how I imagine it having happened anyway. Maybe not quite poignant, but I think it makes sense...

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It does make sense, Mr. Aar, even the part about The Lion King, which, in fact, draws parallels from the Biblical records concerning Moses and Joseph.

(I wouldn't be surprised to find that, a 1,000 years from now, Hakuna Matata has found its way into the canon.)

Edited by waysider

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ah.. the parallels..

so.. da great manogawd, was born into greatness.. a silver spoon in his mouth so to speak *spiritually* speaking..

he abandons whatever *greatness* he might have achieved in Pharisee-dom (Phillipians)

he receives *revelation* about truth, as it hath not been known since the world began..

amasses a great number of followers.

his mistake.. maybe names an *enemy* to the flock which happens to be *real*..

in *persecution* and imprisonment.. complains how da ministry as a whole has somehow forsaken him.. (Timothy, church in *ruin*)

I dunno. The scenario seems all too familiar..

perhaps.. with "all they which are in asia have turned away from me".. maybe that's how all of us perceive the end of life.. I dunno..

I hope not..

yes, I've thought this as well. At least once..

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Is there anything in history.. besides Paul's "revelations" that bear witness to any of this?

Just a question..

We have luke the "physician"'s accounts.. but what is that..

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Is there anything in history.. besides Paul's "revelations" that bear witness to any of this?

Just a question..

We have luke the "physician"'s accounts.. but what is that..

Some scholars believe it was actually Paul who wrote Luke, as well as Acts.

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I see it as a sorta forerunner to science and the scientific method...

Your brother got eaten by a lion on his way to work one day, so you, in a desperate attempt to avoid a similar fate, devised some code to help minimize your exposure to that danger. You noticed that when you wore a garland of garlic, or your chartreuse toga, or paid homage to The Lion King, that you DIDN'T get eaten, so you start doing that every time you need to travel near lion country.

You're attributing religion to superstitious behavior and, from a behavioral viewpoint, that hypothesis is hard to dismiss.

Superstitious behavior comes about when a reinforcement or punishment for a particular behavior occurs very close to (temporally or spatially) to the behavior itself. The organism (animals engage in superstitious bevavior, too) may then continue to respond in a similar fashion (repeating the behavior) to the reinforcing/punishing stimulus.

Edited by soul searcher

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This is for me a challenging comparison Waysider, comparing VPW and Paul from the other end as if instead of the TWI view of them both being Men of God they were both actually con-men.

My initial reaction is that Paul was genuine and Wierwille was the con-man. But perhaps for me your provocative comparison for the purpose of discussion is really no more challenging than taking a hard look at creationism vs. evolution or even a real consideration of the atheistic viewpoint. But nevertheless, it is a thought provoking comparison.

For me, the acceptance of God's direct involvement in and with all the men and women of the bible is paramount. Because without a real and genuine calling of God it seems to me that every record in the bible including Paul's recorded conversion is actually the result of some sort of personality disorder or delusion. And while I do consider these types of things I don't bother at all admitting that they are challenging things to consider.

I think historically speaking my view is that if Paul had been as evilly minded and as corrupt as Wierwille, first century Christianity would have pettered away into nothing as many other organizations and empires have. And hopefully TWI will too, and soon. :B)

(Edited for the sake of clarity)

Edited by JeffSjo

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I would consider the comparison more cogent had Wierwille been beaten, whipped, stoned, and imprisoned, and then continued to preach his beliefs. Other than having some bad press, he didn't really suffer for his convictions.

George

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It's not my intent to impugn Paul's character. Maybe he was a con-man, maybe he wasn't. I don't know. All that we really know about him is what he, himself, revealed in his letters.

My point is simply this: We took what Paul said in letters to specific people, regarding specific circumstances, and equated that with God speaking specifically to us. I used speaking in tongues as a representative example. But, there are probably hundreds, or even thousands, of similar examples, as well.

Here is that particular "speaking in tongues" example again.

"I would that ye all spake in tongues"

(Here is the "listening with a purpose" question that deals with that subject.)

Session #11/Question #5

Q.Is it God's will that we all speak in tongues?

A.Yes.

What we are really looking at in that statement, in I Cor. 14:5, is Paul addressing a specific group regarding a specific subject. Yet, somehow, that has been changed in our thinking to mean that God (not Paul) told us (not the people in Corinth) we should all speak in tongues.

In order to consider that directive to be addressed to us, you must first accept the basic premises of Biblical interpretation, as set forth in PFAL. (ie: to whom it is written/ administrations/ Jew, Gentile, Church of God/ Theopneustos, etc.)

Otherwise, what you really have is exactly what you see, Paul addressing a specific group regarding a specific subject.

Thus, what we often times thought of as being something God told us to do or something The Word told us to do, is really more on the order of "Thus saith Paul."

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I think that there is also the concept that God is no respecter of persons. Why would He want one particular subset of Christianity to speak in tongues, and not everyone else? Similarly, the desire for prosperity in 3 John 2 is addressed to a particular individual; but why would God want Gaius to prosper, and not other believers?

George

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Paul does have his own very miraculous conversion story. Actually I think Paul's conclusions and what he teaches deviate significantly from the gospel records, which is ironic given the order in which the NT books were written.

If you are referring to the the order of the NT books, VP's claim that the 7 Church Epistles were always in a particular order was a complete fabrication. It was years, like a least a hundred years, before teachers started to put any of the writings together in what is called a "codex". If my understanding is correct, codices were the precursor to books. The letters, or epistles were separate writings as you know. I believe it was a man named Marcion that introduced the first codex, and I'm not sure which writings he included. I'm writing this from memory. Anyway, this flap that Wierwille taught that Romans was doctrinal, I and II Corinthians were reproof and Galatians was correction is simply false since the church in fact did not have the books in that order to begin with.

I'm not at all sure what you mean when you say Paul's teachings deviated from the gospel records.

Edited by erkjohn
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Some good commentary here, for sure.

Here's the thing.

It's like the old circular logic exercise that proves the existence of God.

(ie: "The Bible says there is a God and since God wrote the Bible----there must be a God.")

What do we really know about this cat named Paul? I mean, he had a pretty lengthy rap sheet before he made the old switchola. Personal credibility does not work heavily in his favor. As far as that goes, what do we even know about the practice of writing letters to churches during his lifetime? Weren't these just letters that he wrote to particular churches and individuals, addressing specific problems and situations? Did he ever intend for them to serve any purpose beyond their original intent? If he did, why didn't he convey that intent to the recipients before they filed them away with the rest of their letters? Why is it that Ephesians, which TWI heralded as the greatest epistle of all, is considered by many scholars to be the product of an author other than Paul and dated later than the rest? If Paul was a flim-flam man on the order of VPW, maybe the comparisons are warranted.

I think I get what you're trying to do here as far as getting people to think through something that may have simply been accepted blindly. I'm not going to offer a lengthy defense as to the authenticity of the Pauline Epistles because frankly, I'll doubt that I'll put forth anything you haven't heard yourself hundreds of times.

A cursory study of church history will shed some definite light on these questions. Church history is fairly easy to study. I believe you will find there are others who give testimony as to the authenticity of Paul's writings. Not the least of which is the Apostle Peter who refers to Paul's writings as "scripture". The very fact that the early Christians valued Paul's writings enough to protect them is also testament as to how his writings were regarded. It was Luke who wrote Acts and gave testimony as to conduct of Paul and speaks loudly to his "personal credibility". How? By example to be sure, but it's clearly stated the Apostles respected him and offered him the "right hand of fellowship".

Ya gotta drop all the rot in TWI about "The Rise and Expansion of the Christian Church" which IMO is an assassination on the characters of the other Apostles.

You're correct about there being scholars out there who now believe that Ephesians was actually written in the 4th century. My only answer to that is that it's a "Johnny-come-lately" theory.

This whole concept of "Man of God for Our Day and Time" is rubbish. Wierwille wanted to be considered that so he could fleece the flock and he claimed Paul was the MOG for his day and time. He wasn't. Paul postulated over and over again that Jesus Christ was the center of Christianity. I say all that to say that there is no evidence to suggest that Paul was the Wierwille of his day and time. He was held in high regard by the established church leadership and the church followers. The early Christian church was not a Way Tree. There were different areas like Asia, Galatia, and Rome, and Antioch and they pretty much stood on their own. They didn't get SNS tapes from Paul or from Jerusalem. If Paul had been a "loose cannon" and a womanizer he would have simply been rejected and run out of town on a rail.

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