The Faith and Gospel of St. Paul

A number of modern scholars have attempted to discredit Traditional Church teachings about Jesus Christ, especially those proclaimed in the Nicene Creed.  Their motivations and methods vary but these scholars often rely on documents that were marginalized by the early Church and by the Church through history.  These scholars  attempt to form an alternative history based on minority opinions or opinions which were rejected by the Church as being false or distortions.  Sometimes they distort the evidence by giving it greater priority or authority then those texts deserve or ever received in their own day.   NEW YORK TIMES columnist Ross Douthat points out that what puts a huge crimp in the speculation of modern scholars is the historical fact that St. Paul’s version of Christianity is in fact the oldest and most reliable witness we have from the early church.  And the theories of many modern scholars who reject Christian Tradition relies on discrediting the ideas of St. Paul.  Douthat writes:

“The inconvenient truth is that nearly all scholars identify the letters of Saint Paul as the oldest extant Christian documents, the earliest dating from the 50s A.D., two decades after the crucifixion. It’s possible to draw different conclusions from Paul’s Christology than later Church fathers did. But what would become basic premises of orthodoxy are clearly affirmed, while the basic premises of, say, the Gnostics or the Marcionites or the Ebionites or the hypothetical ‘Q Community’ are implicitly or explicitly ruled out. For Paul, Christian faith means worshipping Jesus Christ rather than just emulating him. It means regarding the crucifixion as an atonement for human sins. It means believing in a physical resurrection rather than some sort of ‘spiritual’ or psychological event. It means seeing Jesus’ life and death as the fulfillment of Jewish prophecy as well as a witness to the Gentiles. It means celebrating the Eucharist as a memorial of Christ’s passion. It means…well, let Paul himself tell it:

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you – unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.” (Bad Religion, p 164)

One thought on “The Faith and Gospel of St. Paul

  1. Pingback: Commonplace Holiness Blog

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