Jesus teaching compared to Paul

Evangelical Christianity had been a very successful movement over the last 300 years. It is a rational faith based on personal acceptance of Christ and reasoned interpretation of the Bible. It has is a very good fit for interpreting the Bible. But it is an interpretation and not an absolute fact. Its operation appears to lie within the boundaries of the patriarchal society and relies very much on the bond of heterosexual marriage. The challenge for Evangelicals is that for many people are rejected by or fail in the Patriarchal society. They appear to have no answer to the social revolution of the 1960’s in England. Now I don’t for one instance believe that this successful interpretation will disappear, but the rigid application of their principles excludes many. People may be accepted into the Church with love, but there is usually an expectation that will change to be like them.

The problem could be historical, in that Luther encouraged people to make their own mind up about the Bible. This led to a number of different philosophies and religious wars. The 18th Century saw rejection of this by Enlightenment reason, desire for trade and the start of Evangelicalism under Wesley. The philosophy succeeded in their 19th Century as reformers, such as Wilberforce, managed to adjust the moral compass.

But no philosophy holds sway forever. Many Evangelicals concentrate on Paul’s letters to his missionary churches. There is excellent codification of the doctrine of Christianity, sensible instruction about the Holy Spirit and ethical instruction for the Church. My opinion is that the first two are inviolate, but the ethics are specific to those places at those times. These writings are meant specifically for full time Christian workers and are expected to live to a higher moral standard in a hostile environment.

Jesus teaching had a different emphasis. He developed many personal relationships where he demonstrated his radical love, truth and forgiveness. I believe that his ideas in the Sermon on the Mount were to get people to consider other options than merely self. He encouraged people to consider self-sacrificial agape love. It was not practical for people to stick to these ideas religiously, it was an idea to consider. He appears to be more a man of the people, turning water into wine for a wedding party and practicing socialist principles. He was not one of the religious elite. Paul was and taught his missionaries in that fashion.

There is a different emphasis between the two. The Bible allows people to find out for themselves what the principles are that guide their life. Having one true life path, being told what your doctrines and ethics should be, is acceptable for those that choose to be led. But it is not for all. The same applies to other belief structures. For me atheism is an elegant solution, but don’t force it on me. Political correctness is neither political nor correct. Neo-liberal capitalism is only about money. And don’t even get me started on Freud. Feminism that assumes superiority over men by lies and manipulation may be the worst of the lot.

People in this country seem to be fighting to force their principles on others. It is no better than religious wars. Whether you believe in God or not does not exclude you from this idiotic bitch fight over the soul of this country. We are supposed to be human and have the freedom to make our own decisions. What happened to freewill, our children are not educated to think for themselves, but are brainwashed into being part of the machine.

The country is supposed to be about the people. To be free to follow health, wealth and happiness as the American’s said. But there are many parts of this country that seek to serve themselves, not the people. It is not what you believe, but how you believe it that counts. If you give up any principle to justify your belief structure you have lost. Why fight to justify an idea. Debate to promote an idea.

My personal ideas are formed, my lifestyle is my own and will not be coerced by anyone. I see no point in following a church or a movement if it has been corrupted and refuses to accept me as I am. No other organisation is going to force me to be like them. My heart is free and I will follow it whatever the cost. If you seek power over people, you better take responsibility for managing that person properly. We are all different and some people cannot change and why should they.

Invest in the individual and empower them to live their life by their own principles. If anybody takes decisions for someone else without their consent, then they have dehumanised them. If a Christian organisation does it, it has given up the principles of Jesus, the Bible and the Protestant church.

If you can’t accept people the way they are, then leave them alone. The Bible has many different books and writers. It is dangerous to allow people to make their own mind up about it. But people have to have the choice to accept an interpretation or not. It is supposed to set you free not to imprison you in a religion you can’t accept. It is an attractive idea to believe in absolute truth. But if that truth is forced on others then you have become intolerant. If you can allow yourself some doubt that allows others the opportunity to be right in part. Christian doctrine and ethics can only come from debate and teaching. You cannot impose it on others.

Conway-Laird (2017)

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