|The Appostle Paul and the beginnings of Christianity|
|Thye Apostle Paul
The beginnings of an uneasy Roman - Jewish relationship
As most Christians already know, early in his life, Saul was a persecutor of Christians. As a Roman who followed the Jewish Laws, he felt that the Christian claim of Jesus as The Messiah was blasphemous. His about face or "conversion" happened, when he had a visionary experience of Jesus after Jesus' death, which convinced
him that Jesus was real and had been raised from the dead. Now, was this "vision" as a result of a hallucination, his meeting of Jesus who had actually survived his hasty hanging and burial or an epiphany? Regardless, whatever really happened, it changed his name, his views of life, Jesus and the Christian movement.
However, it should be stated that despite Paul's importance in establishing the basic doctrines of the church, there may be numerous questions raised, as one researches Paul's life and theology. To begin, it appears that several of the letters that have been claimed to be written by him in the New Testament were actually written by his later followers, rather than of by Paul himself. In addition, the Book of Acts, which was written long after his death, may not completely represent an accurate portrayal of his activities and/or his preachings.
Taking into account the questions and facts just stated, let us try to understand how Paul developed this new, radical, theology that stressed the importance of Jesus' death and Resurrection in a religion that proclaims Jesus rather than the philosophy of life, light, love and living that Jesus himself proclaimed.
To begin with, according to what he had been taught, Paul thought that death was a punishment, by God, for sins committed during one's lifetime. But, if Jesus was really raised from the dead, then he was obviously not the one cursed by God, but rather one chosen by God and thus his death was according to a plan of God. Thus, Jesus must have lived according to God's Plan so he would not die for his own sins. So, thought Paul, his death must have been for the sins of others.
It should be noted, here, that the Jewish Messiah was thought to be a great and powerful man who would overthrow the enemies of God and established (The Jewish) God's rule on Earth. And, this Messiah would not be a defenseless person executed for crimes against the state and hung upon a cross, as Jesus was. This was a dilemma for Paul.
Being a well educated and creative person, Paul found the answer by shifting and transforming the old idea of the Messiah into one who, according to God's plan, was supposed to suffer, die and then be raised from the dead as a sign that he is The Chosen One or The Messiah, after all.
Christian converts, with the help of Paul, found support for these views in several passages of the Jewish Scriptures that talk about a righteous man suffering for others. So, these passages were then taken to refer to Jesus as the Messiah, even though they had never been read this way before (i.e. Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22).
As he rethought his understanding of his own Jewish religion, in this way Paul came to think that Jesus' death and Resurrection must be the keys to salvation from one's own sins, rather than just keeping the many laborious Jewish laws as he had been taught to follow as a boy.
Paul also felt that everyone is condemned to sin by a cosmic power (original sin, if you wish) for this is an evil world, and thus no one is able to fulfill the righteous demands of the Law and live forever or be raised from the dead. Thus, there must be a better way - and this is it, since Jesus "cheated" death. Thus, as Jesus often talked of faith and belief, the key must be to have faith in this one who triumphed over evil.
So, this new outlook and philosophy emphasized that it is available to everyone, both Jew and Gentile, on equal terms. Thus, one's salvation unto God comes by faith in Jesus, rather than by joining the Jewish religion and keeping the Jewish Law.
Once Paul became convinced of all this, he became a missionary to spread this "good news" (the literal meaning of the word gospel) to others, believing that he himself was principally an apostle to the Gentiles, or "non-Jews".
Thus, it was that Paul sowed the seeds for both "original sin" and Christian evangelism ... neither of which were the gospel of oneness, love and peace that Jesus believed and taught. But thanks to Paul, this new religio0n was a simplification of Judaism, as Jesus came to do, and it has at least spread some hope around the world.
FIND OUT MORE: in "From Jesus to Constantine" by Prof. Bart Ehrman, from the Teaching Company
PAUL's CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE TRADITIONS OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
... and the many denominations that branched out from it
Let us begin by stating my view, at the outset, that much of what "Christianity" is today was created by the self appointed "Apostle" Paul of Tarsus, who grew up as a Roman-Jew.
Paul Started The Evangelical Movement: Working from his belief that Jesus would like to have his message of God's love for all spread to all people, Paul became the first Evangelical Christian, as he set about convert Jews, Pagans and even Christians that did not think like him to his beliefs and way of thinking. Along the way, he came up with many of the ideas that are thought to come from Jesus, but likely did not.
Original Sin: In Paul's belief system, disease and death were evil and thus were the result of the evils of "sin". In his time the belief that bad spirits in people, were what caused disease. In particular, for Jews, the cause would likely be disobeying The Law.
Everlasting Life: Paul, took Jesus' message of everlasting life and turned it into a choice of either 1) everlasting life in heaven or, 2) everlasting life in hell, with no way to go from Hell to Heaven, except by believing in the resurrection of the dead Jesus, while you are still alive in this life and body. To Paul, the choice was between living forever in the light of Christ or in the light of the everlasting fires of a Devil; a concept borrowed from Plato and Zoroastrianism.
Salvation: According to Paul's reading of the Jewish scriptures, there would be a righteous man who would die for others. And since Jesus was the Man who rose from the dead, he must be righteous and thus one chosen by God (A Messiah, meaning "Anointed one" in Hebrew), even though most Jews would not interpret their scriptures this way. So, since everybody else in Paul's world seemed to be born into an evil world, they must have sinned sometime. Thus, Jesus, who rose from the dead, must be that righteous man and one must choose now, to continue in the ways of evil, sin, disease and death or find Salvation" (from sin and death) by professing belief in this Man-God, Jesus, who became the Christ (meaning "Anointed one" in Greek).
The One and Only Way: Paul did not give anybody any choices, beyond his visions of "good" and "evil". Thus, since he had the only way to "salvation", all other religions must be "false" or "evil". So it was that, though he persecuted the People of The Way (as early Christians called themselves) early in life, later in his life he criticized any Jew who would not believe that he (Paul) had found the Jewish Messiah. Thus his religion became one of exclusivity, rather than one that could embrace all in love, as the man Jesus did ... and as God does.
The Apocalypse or End of Days: In Paul's understanding of Jesus' words about "the kingdom is at hand", he expected a Judgment Day that would condemn and remove the oppressors, wicked and sinful people and establish the "Kingdom on earth, as " ruled by the Messiah forever and ever. However, Paul felt that these views, among those disciples who had gone to Egypt, were just flat out "wrong". Thus these views became "heretical (non Orthodox or not approved of) in the Roman Catholic traditions that Paul, a Roman Jew, established.
The Resurrection: On the day of his death, Paul finally understood Death as being a part of Everlasting Life, and then he found himself Resurrected in spirit, ready for an even greater experience within All-That-Is.
A NEW AGE INTERPRETATION: in the light of the new dispensations of 2012 and beyond.
Here we are 2000 years later than Paul and still following Paul, when he missed the greatest message of all; "God Is Love". Jesus taught Jews and others about the love and compassion of God and Creation; instead of judgment and condemnation that was so much talked of in those days. It was time for a change of message, and is again, today, for 2012 and beyond.
And as far as the End of Days, have we seen Paul's "end of days", yet? Have we seen chariots of fiery Judgment descending from the skies? Certainly, Paul saw the end of his own days as he died and ascended from his human body into the Forever Now, just as Jesus did. Thus, there is a more esoteric interpretation of many Biblical passages that hold that as we each make our transition from this life to the next, (into another of the many mansions of the Kingdom ... that we and God build together) we shall see our world with new eyes and become aware of much more (not less) than our limited present 3D world and its perceived limitations.
"And, the truth shall be made known unto you". Indeed, your soul, your core spiritual energy that is not of this world, never dies ... as Jesus told us. This is everlasting life in a nut shell; the very one that Jesus spoke of and is still living, now.
So, how are Paul's beliefs viewed by one who has gone beyond the limited words and beliefs of the Roman Catholic Bible; a book that was created by men with both political and religious agendas? (Learn of history!)
Jesus was one of the greatest mystics and psychics this world is aware of today, for these very qualities come from the "psyche" (a Greek word, meaning soul), which is an individualized projection of spirit, or All-That-Is. As Jesus taught, the living spirit is in all things ... and in all people, none above or below another, for each is a creation of and a part of God-Goddess and All-That-Is, discovering self.
The Evangelical Movement: Jesus said, "let the little children come to me". As the Master that he was, he knew that he was always in the right place at the right time, so those who wanted or needed to experience his energy and message of healing hearts and bodies with love would be drawn to him. He trusted God and thus livingly allowed what his disciples were afraid if. He knew that he was light and light dissolves darkness. Paul, however, being a driven "man with a mission", never exhibited the loving charisma of The Master and so he had to resort to manipulation of minds and hearts to get people to go his way. Thus, some have said that Paul was a good Salesmen.
Original Sin: Jesus never believed in or taught "sin"; for he knew that we all have the power of God-Goddess within us and thus are never "stuck" or limited by the past. We can, and do, change our futures, despite what our past was. This is the Hope and Grace of God in action, working in and through human lives! The man Jesus just told people to change their perspective, believe is positive outcomes, and through the workings of our natural human links with the universal energies, that would change their life for a better future.
Everlasting Life: Though Paul preached a world of sin, darkness and judgment, Jesus taught from his heart. This was the "light" which knows that all souls have everlasting life, in Gods many mansions of the soul. He taught "ascension" for all, sending no one to "hell", knowing that each soul is ever progressing in a timeless environment, without beginning or end ... in a life that is boundless.
Salvation: Though Paul thought that people needed salvation, Jesus knew that the seeming weak force that we call "the love of God" was so long lasting that no soul would ever be "lost". Further, within the light of each and every soul, there is no darkness. Thus, we may all shine God's light, which is also ours, as we travel the high roads and low roads along our way through life And the point of this journey? So that we may each discover love given and received, or the lack thereof, along our way. Love is the Great Attractor!\
Exclusivity: Contrary to the teachings of Paul, Jesus never taught exclusivity. Instead, he acted, lived and taught that we all live within the everlasting love, grace and forgiveness of God; a beingness that embraces us all in love, no matter what! For, how could a "parent" (or The Creator of ALL) hate a part of Himself/Herself/Oneself/Themselves or Us? Thus, Jesus advised us to "Love your neighbor as yourself", realizing that you are a part of them and they are a part of you ... and God. "In God we are One".
Ye are Gods: Jesus, knew of our physical connections with both the physical universe and our spiritual souls that exist within the quantum soup of God and spirit. He even quoted the Jewish Law that verified this. You may want to read some places in the Old Jewish text, such as that one known as Psalm 82:6, where it says, "I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High."
To read something similar, as the words of Jesus in the New Testament, you may want to check Matthew 22:36-40, Luke 17: 20-21 or John 10:34 in the New Testament. These are not the writings of Paul and thus do not reflect his ideas of judgment about who goes to heaven or hell.
The End of Days: Jesus and his disciples, those that actually walked and talked with him, rather than any apostles, believed that when Jesus talked of the Kingdom being near, he spoke of " those who have eyes to see and ears to hear". He was speaking of a spiritual awareness for those people aware of God's love and the Loving Realities in the here and now, that our limited 3D judgments and earthly ideas have blinded us to. Yes, this awareness is available in the here and now ... whenever that might be ... and it will be increasing during the next 10 to 15 years ... as we find that because of "Everlasting Life", there is no "End of Days" or nights. Science will support this and we will discover that Life is open ended and that it is created from within, (from a center of God-Consciousness). Thus, we too act as Gods. And, we are here to rediscover that (again). Paul fimally umderstood on his day of resurresction - the day that from a purely perspective, we say he died.
FINALLY - Contrary to Paul's story ... Jesus did not come to fulfill the law, he came to change it ... to simplify them!
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." - Matthew 22:34-40
And ... the word salvation in the Bible meant perfect health, harmony, and freedom, with all life, including your own.