As a Gospel Preacher, (meaning that I, more than 95% of my pastoral and preaching ministry have used text from the four Gospels), I still believe that as Perrin suggests, Christianity must “re-discover the ‘Teachings of Jesus’.” I suspect that the Church has very deliberately built it’s foundation upon the ‘Teachings of Paul’. With two notable Pauline Theologians as advisors in my PhD work in New Testament, I discovered, what I think to be the most overlooked fact of the Gospel: Paul did not know Jesus! Read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to see if you find Paul’s name in them. He is simply not there. You do the math.
It is no small thing, this ‘re-discovering The Teachings of Jesus’ for you may find how radically different Jesus’ teachings are from Paul’s teachings. At times even contradictions exist. To be sure, it is the teachings of Paul that have lead to the historical oppression of life as it has been sanctioned and manifested in the Christian Church. The making and holding of slaves (by a Christian Nation) that must ‘obey a master’ based upon the color of skin; the making and establishing of the original, largest and most influential world Church that would not (even today) have a single woman present in it’s hierarchy because she must ‘be silent in the Church’;— all based upon the Teachings of Paul. Never the Teachings of Jesus! Did I say radical? I alone, have found that the schizophrenia of the Church, (as defined by ‘split personality’ and observed by the field of psychology to be the most common disease of modern man) might also be found in the teachings of Paul. The fact is this: The Church keeps splitting and splitting… And splitting and splitting… And splitting and splitting…
Don’t get this twisted. I am not among the ‘traditional bashers of Paul’. I am prepared to argue these things on a deeper level. I am convinced that we want persons to be ‘all things, to all people, at all times’ when these omnipotent and omnipresent and omniscient powers are reserved for The Most High God, ALONE. It is man who specializes! For me, Christology in Christianity begins with Paul! And, the power of The Holy Spirit, now we are talking about my love for Paul. But, that’s later in this course on faith when we reach the Pauline writings.
In 1935 while chairing a pilgrimage to India, Howard Thurman was confronted with this questioning: “More than 300 years ago your forefathers were taken from the western coast of Africa as slaves. The people who dealt in the slave traffic were Christians. One of your famous Christian hymn writers, Sir John Newton, made his money from the sale of slaves to the New World. He wrote, ‘How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds’ and ‘Amazing Grace’ The name of one of the famous British slave vessels was ‘Jesus.’ The men who bought the slaves were Christians. Christian ministers, gave the sanction of religion to the system of slavery. During all the period since then you have lived in a Christian nation in which you are segregated, lynched, and burned. Even in the church there is segregation. One of my students who went to your country sent me a clipping telling about a Christian church in which the regular Sunday worship was interrupted so that many could join in a mob against one of your fellows. When he had been caught and done to death, they came back to resume their worship of their Christian God. I do not wish to seem rude to you, But, sir, I think you are a traitor to all the darker peoples of the earth.”
In times when the young can be heard as “bashers of the Church— it is clear that the ‘Post Covid’ Church will have a very Real task ahead of ‘re-discovering The Teachings of Jesus’.
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