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Featured How Paul changed the course of Christianity

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by Trailblazer, Oct 13, 2018.

  1. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Veteran Member

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    This is an excerpt from the book entitled The Light Shineth in Darkness, Studies in revelation after Christ by Udo Schaefer. This section explains how Paul changed the Christianity of Jesus. It is important to note that the views expressed by this author reflect his individual perspective and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

    There is no link to this book and that is why I had to type up and post this section of the book. It took a long time. I am very interested in getting some feedback on this subject but I might not have much to say. Since I am not at all proficient in the Bible I learn from reading what others post and in discussions with others.

    PAUL

    This is not the place for an extensive exposition of the dubiousness of the doctrinal structure of the Protestant churches or the defectiveness of the premises from which some churchmen make their judgments. But I would like to explain as concisely as may be how the Baha’is, starting from their belief in the unity of religions, deal with the discrepancy between orthodox Church doctrine and Baha’u’llah’s mission.

    It is an indisputable fact that religions have always changed in the course of their long history. Religion, unless it has become a faith of the ‘dead letter’, is a living thing, and to be living means to assimilate, to absorb and incorporate foreign matter. All religions have done this, and the clear source of revelation has become a broad stream made up of many tributaries. In the course of their history all religions have incorporated beliefs and practices alien to them in essence and have thereby departed from their source, the revelation. The religious heritage has been constantly increased, while the revelation has been obscured by human misinterpretations and misunderstandings.

    This was also something realized by the leaders of the Reformation, who saw the Catholic Church as a falling away from the essential nature of Christianity, and tried to return to the pure teaching undistorted by human additions and misunderstandings. Such understanding has been the basis for the forming of all Christian sects and indeed for all the reformation in religious history. The question is whether the Reformers of Christianity attained their objective, whether they freed the pure teaching of Christ from its incrustations.

    Martin Luther thought he had rediscovered in Paul (Paulo reperi), and made the Pauline doctrine of man’s inability to keep the law (Romans 8:2 et seq.) the centre of Reformation theology. That was a double fatality within Christianity: that in the very early days a spiritual genius such as Paul should have taken God’s Cause out of the hands of the chose heirs and executors, the simple and uneducated apostles, and transformed it into an amalgam of Christian and pagan beliefs; and that Paul, of all men, who is responsible for the shift in emphasis, thus making way for an essential change in the Christian religion, should have been the man whose teaching the Reformation leaders took as guide-line and considered to be the message of Jesus. First then, there was the work of a usurper and the split he caused at the time of Christianity’s origin; second, Luther’s fatal mistake (and the mistake of his Christian successors) in finding the truth where in reality there was error.

    That the figure of the Nazarene, as delivered to us in Mark’s Gospel, is decisively different from the pre-existent risen Christ proclaimed by Paul, is something long recognized by thinkers like Kant, Fichte, Schelling, Herder and Goethe, to mention only a few. The distinction between ‘the religion of Christ’ and ‘the Christian religion’ goes back to Lessing. Critical theological research has now disputed the idea of an uninterrupted chain of historical succession: Luther’s belief that at all times a small handful of true Christians preserved the true apostolic faith. Walter Bauer (226) and Martin Werner (227) have brought evidence that there was conflict from the outset about the central questions of dogma. It has become clear that the beliefs of those who had seen and heard Jesus in the flesh --- the disciples and the original community--- were at odds to an extraordinary degree with the teaching of Paul, who claimed to have been not only called by a vision but instructed by the heavenly Christ. The conflict at Antioch between the apostles Peter and Paul, far more embittered as research has shown (228) than the Bible allows us to see, was the most fateful split in Christianity, which in the Acts of the Apostles was ‘theologically camouflaged’. (229)

    Paul, who had never seen Jesus, showed great reserve towards the Palestinian traditions regarding Jesus’ life. (230) The historical Jesus and his earthly life are without significance for Paul. In all his epistles the name ‘Jesus’ occurs only 15 times, the title ‘Christ’ 378 times. In Jesus’s actual teaching he shows extraordinarily little interest. It is disputed whether in all his epistles he makes two, three or four references to sayings by Jesus. (231) It is not Jesus’ teaching, which he cannot himself have heard at all (short of hearing it in a vision), that is central to his own mission, but the person of the Redeemer and His death on the Cross.

    Paul, however, did not pass on the revealed doctrine reflected in the glass of the intellectual categories of his time, as is often asserted; he transformed the ‘Faith of Jesus’ into ‘Faith in Jesus.’ He it was who gave baptism a mysterious significance, ‘so as to connect his mission with the experience of initiates in Hellenic mystery cults’, (232) he turned the last supper into a sacramental union with the Lord of those celebrating it; (233) he was responsible for the sacramentalization of the Christian religion, and took the phrase ‘Son of God’--- in the Jewish religion merely a title for the Messiah --- to be an ontological reality. The idea of the Son of God, come down from heaven to earth, hitherto inconceivable to Jewish thought, (234) was taken from Paul from the ancient religious syncretism of Asia Minor, to fit in with the need at the time for a general savior. It is generally accepted by critical scholarship that the godparents were the triad from the cult of Isia (Isis, Osiris and Horus) and also Attis, Adonis and Hercules. Jesus, who never claimed religious worship for himself was not worshipped in the original community, is for Paul the pre-existent risen Christ.

    The most essential and effective alteration of Jesus’s message carried out by Paul was in denying the Law’s power of salvation and replacing the idea of the Covenant, (235) the objective principle of the Jewish religion, with faith in Christ and the atoning power of his sacrificial death; the concrete mosaic law with a mystical doctrine of salvation. Here the Cause of God was robbed of its proper centre and transformed into a mixture of Judaism, Christianity and paganism. The original community recognized the devastating effect of the ‘Apostle to the Gentiles’ and did not watch it passively. The Jerusalem community sent teachers (‘false brethren’, Paul called them) to the new communities founded by Paul; they taught the true doctrine to the believers only just won for the Faith and opposed the doctrine taught by Paul. (236) Paul was such a controversial figure that Tertullian, in his pamphlet attacking Marcion, called him ‘Apostle to the Heretics’, and the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies declared him a false teacher, even indeed the anti-Christ.

    This was the ‘Fall’ of Christianity: that Paul with his ‘Gospel’, which became the core of Christian dogma formation, conquered the world, (237) while the historic basis of Christianity was declared a heresy, the preservers of the original branded as ‘Ebionites.’ As Schoeps puts it, the heresy-hunters ‘accused the Ebionites of a lapse or relapse into Judaism, whereas they were really only the Conservatives who could not go along with the Pauline-cum-Hellenistic elaborations’. (238) Schonfield comes to the same conclusion: ‘This Christianity in its teaching about Jesus continued in the tradition it had directly inherited, and could justifiably regard Pauline and catholic Christianity as heretical. It was not, as its opponents alleged, Jewish Christianity which debased the person of Jesus, but the Church in general which was misled into deifying him.’ (239) ‘Pauline heresy served as the basis for Christian orthodoxy, and the legitimate Church was outlawed as heretical’. (240) The ‘small handful of true Christians’ was Nazarene Christianity, which was already extinct in the fourth century.

    226. Rechtglaubigkert und Ketzerei im altesten Christentum.

    227. Die Geschichte des cristlichen Dogmas.

    228. Notably Schoeps, Theologie und Geshichte des Judenchristentums and Schonfield, Those Incredible Christians. 229. Acts 15:1 et seq.; also Galatians 2:11. See Stauffer, Kum Kalifat des Jakobus, p. 199.

    229. Acts 15:1 et seq.; also Galatians 2:11. See Stauffer, Kum Kalifat des Jakobus, p. 199.

    230. Schoeps, Paulus, p. 50.

    231. From Paul, we hear nothing, for example, of the Parables, the Sermon on the Mount or the Lord’s Prayer. See Albert Schweitzer, The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle.

    232. Schoeps, Paulus, p. 112.

    233. ibid., p. 110 ff.

    234. The idea that God in his essence was walking on earth is inconceivable also ion Islam (Qur’an, surahs 112; 2:110; 19:91-4; 5:76-8; 4:169, 170) and in the Baha’i Faith: ‘Beware, lest thou be led to join partners with the Lord, they God. He is and hath from everlasting been, one and alone, without peer pr equal, eternal in the past, eternal in the future. Detached from all things, ever-abiding, unchangeable, and self-subsisting. He hath assigned no associate unto Himself in His Kingdom, no counselor to counsel Him, none to compare unto Him, none to rival His glory.’ ‘Know thou of a certainty that the Unseen can in no way incarnate His Essence and reveal it unto men’ (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings, XCIV and XX).

    235. So far as the idea of the ‘New Covenant’ is at all expressed (e.g., I Corinthians 11:26 or Ephesians 2:11 et seq.), it comes about in the ‘Being in Christ’. This is the most profoundly Christian idea: ‘If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature’ (II Corinthians 5:17) but that is a quite different principle, not a covenant with God.

    236. E. Meyer, Ursprung and Anfange des Christentums, vol. III, p. 441; Schonfield, p. 179 ff.

    237. Not least because Paul ‘the allegorizing Midrash teacher expressly abolished the whole law of ritual and ceremonial . . . for the new religion’ and because ‘this religion with its belief in a Son of God and the atoning power of his martyr’s death could link up well with the ideas held and spread in the mystery cults of the time --- which was simply not possible from the premises of the Mosaic law and its ethical strictness’ (H.J. Schoeps, Judisch-christliches Religionsgesprach, p. 53).

    238. Theologie und Geschichte des Judenchristentums, p. 322, p. 322, f.n.1

    239. Schonfeld, op. cit., p. 118.

    240. ibid., p. 56.

    (Continued on next post...)
     
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  2. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Veteran Member

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    It is worthy of note that there were striking similarities between this Christianity and Islam. Above all in Christology: in the faith of the original community Jesus was the new Moses, the Son of God as ‘testified’ by the adoptive act of baptism. This Christology, which corresponds completely to that of the Qur’an, was considered by the Pauline Church, together with obedience to the ‘Jewish’ law, as characteristic of the Ebionite heresy. These similarities discovered by research are ambiguous, of course. The scholar inclined towards Church dogma, who cannot see Islam as anything but a mixture of Arab paganism, Judaism and Christianity, finds them evidence that Muhammad was ‘bred’ (Schlatter) on the Judeo-Christian tradition, that he had borrowed his creedal ideas from Judeo-Christian thought. On the other hand, the Baha’i, oriented towards the doctrine of cyclically recurring revelation and convinced of the mission of Islam, finds these results of research—in the light of the unity of religions—extremely instructive, because they are a sufficient explanation for the discrepancy between orthodox Church doctrine and the doctrine of the post-Biblical religions, and because they show where the original truth was preserved: not in the pagan Christian Greater Church base on Paul, but in the Jewish Christianity contemptuously branded as ‘Ebionism’. On this point, Islam, according to the divine plan for salvation, was among other things the authoritative new confirmation of the creedal truths preserved in Nazarene Christianity but lost to the Greater Church. (241)

    The syncretism which started in Paul’s doctrine (‘I have become all things to all men’) and grew on the soil of irrationality (credo quia absurdum), reached its full elaboration in the time of the Church Fathers and became perpetuated in the hybrid dogma of Nicaea, in which—as pointed out by the Jewish thinker Salomon Ludwig Steinheim— ‘with an amazing intellectual force but also with an almost terrifying stubbornness’, components of Jewish and pagan doctrine ‘were shaken together and combined to form a homogeneous mixture’. (242) The whole of Church history thereafter was, as Steinheim rightly observes, dependent on and decided by the conflict, continuing beneath the unity formula, between elements of the revelation and of paganism. ‘The Church took Paul as its spiritual guide, thereby becoming involved down the centuries in conflicts and schisms, enmity, persecution and bloodshed, as Christians wrestled with the implications and interpretation of Pauline doctrines.’ (243)

    The centerpiece then, of Christian creedal doctrine, that of Redemption, is something of which—in the judgment of the theologian E. Grimm (244) --- Jesus himself knew nothing; and it goes back to Paul. This is even admitted by some Catholics: ‘Christianity today mostly means Paul.’ (245) And Wilhelm Nestle stated—as noted also by Sabet—‘Christianity is the religion founded by Paul who replaces the Gospel of Jesus by a gospel about Jesus.’ (246) So also Schonfield: ‘Paul produced an amalgamation of ideas which, however unintentionally, did give rise to a new religion.’ (247)

    Jesus conferred authority on Peter, (248) Paul usurped it. The so-called ‘throne of Peter’ is in fact the throne of Paul. (249) And except for the fact that the Papacy claims Matthew 16:18 for itself, what part does the Prince of the Apostles play in Christianity today? He is the janitor at the gates of Heaven, the subject of many jokes. No one makes jokes about Paul! And who is Jesus?— the babe in the cradle and the Redeemer on the Cross! These two images, which come to the Christian’s mind when he thinks of Jesus, show the subordinate part played for him by Jesus’s preaching, teaching and ethics. Another sign demonstrating the deviation of the Christian religion from its Palestinian origins is that Rome, the metropolis of the pagan world at the time, became the seat of the Church; the languages of the pagans, Greek and Latin became the languages of the Church; pagan Roman law became the basis of Church law.

    The ‘message of Jesus’ with which conservative theologians confront the Baha’is is not the teaching of Jesus but the message of Paul, ‘the preaching of the Cross’, as he called his Gospel. (250) And if they say that the basic questions of our existence are only grasped in their true depth in ‘the preaching of the Cross’, I reply with Steinbeim who said: ‘It may be a good philosophical idea, a thoughtful myth, a comfortable emotional religion—that I can accept. Only don’t let it be called the teaching and revelation of Christ, but a decline from it—its opposite, in fact. It leads to the gods . . . of Olympus, not to Him who revealed Himself to Moses at Sinai, of whom Christ and the apostles taught the pagans’, (251) nor—I will complete the response—to Him Who speaks in the Quran and Who is proclaimed by Baha’u’llah.

    Some may object that I have picked a few results which suit my purpose from the vast amount of recent theological research and have arbitrarily played these cards against the orthodox doctrine. This objection would be a misunderstanding of the situation. The starting-point for my discussion is not a scientific thesis, however formed, but my conviction and faith: if, as Baha’u’llah teaches, all the revealed religions are of divine origin and there is therefore an essential unity between the religions, if the purpose of revelation has always been the same, the education of the human race, (252) then there can be no essential contradictions between the religions on questions about the purpose of their revelations. For God does not contradict Himself.

    If religions contradict each other on questions independent of the turn of events on earth and the development of man and society, the contradictions go back to the individual centrifugal developments which all religions have been through, to the erosions of history. The criterion of judgment will always be the most recent revelation of God. For the purification of the past religions is one reason, among others, why whenever it has pleased God, ‘the gates of mercy have been opened’ ‘till the end which has no end’, God Himself reforms, by speaking again to mankind at the end of a cycle of revelation. That is why the revelation of Baha’u’llah is at the same time a judgment on the old religions. It is, as he testifies, ‘the right path’ whereby ‘truth shall be distinguished from error and the wisdom of every command shall be tested’. (253) It separates the thorns and thistles from the grain, the true and authentic from the untrue and false, the pure divine teaching from the human additions and misunderstandings: ‘Verily, the day of ingathering is come, and all things have been separated from each other. He hath stored away that which He chose in the vessels of justice, and cast into fire that which befitteth it.’ (254)

    Measured by the standard of Baha’u’llah revelation, the Pauline doctrine of Justification, the doctrine of Original Sin, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, the sacramentalisation of the Christian religion, the whole Church plan of salvation — which not only contradicts the Jewish understanding of God (255) but was also strongly repudiated by the revelation of God which succeeded Christianity (256) — these are a deformation of Jesus’s teaching. Some critical theological scholars have confirmed that these deformations in Christianity started very early, in fact with Paul, and that the arch-apostle, without whom Marcion would not have been possible, was the arch-heretic in Christianity—as Tertullian very rightly saw. (257) Years ago, when I became acquainted with the founder of the Christian religion in the faith of the original community through H. J. Schoep’s Theologie und Geschichte des Judenchristentums, (258) the standard work on the subject, I was deeply impressed. Here Jesus was not the only-begotten Son of God come down from Heaven, crucified and resurrected, nor the unique Saviour, but the messenger of God to whom the Quran testifies and who is glorified by Baha’u’llah. (259)

    241. On the whole subject, see also Adolf von Harnack, Lehrbuch der Dogmengeschichte, vol. I, p. 331 and vol. II, p. 534 ff.; A. Schlatter, Die Entwicklung des judischen Christentums zum Islam, p. 251 ff.; Schoeps, Theologie and Geschichte des Judenchristentums, pp. 71 and 304 ff.; Leonhard Goppelt, Christentum und Judentum im ersten und zweiten Jahrhundert, p. 175. It becomes very clear in this context how heavily Christian theology is based on Paul, not Jesus. Schlatter writes: ‘We tried to understand what the Christianity was like from which Islam grew. What kind of Christianity is superior to Islam and can therefore help it? It must know Paul. With a Christianity based on the formula ‘Not Paul but Jesus, not the Epistle to the Romans but the Sermon on the Mount’, we cannot help Islam. Legalism is not overcome by legalism. The God of might is eclipsed only by the God of Mercy, and the justice which corrupts us [!] is healed only by the justice of Faith. If Christianity knows Paul, then it partakes of the gift of Jesus redeemed from the weakness of mere dependence on laws . . . Thus it has also risen above the opposition between the historical and the eternal Christ, and so the historical Christ sinks into the past and into oblivion . . .’ (op. cit., p. 236)

    242. Die Offenbarung nach dem Lehrbegriff der Synagogue, vol. III, p. 243.

    243. Schonfield, op. cit., p. 89.

    244. Die Ethik Jesu, p. 180.

    245. Go. Ricciotti, Paulus, p. 590.

    246. Krisis des Christentums, p. 89.

    247. Those Incredible Christians, p. 93.

    248. Peter’s station is also confirmed by Bahaullah: God caused ‘the mysteries of wisdom and of utterance to flow out of his mouth’ (Quoted by Shoghi Effendi. The Promised Day is Come, p. 114).

    249. ‘The church at Rome built on Pauline foundation’ (Schonfield, op. cit., p. 144).

    250. I Corinthians 1:18; 2:2.

    251. op. cit., vol II, p. xii ff.

    252. ‘The purpose of the one true God in manifesting Himself is to summon all mankind to truthfulness and sincerity, to piety and trustworthiness, to resignation and submissiveness to the Will of God, to forbearance and kindliness, to uprightness and wisdom’ (Gleanings, CXXXVII).

    253. Baha’u’llah, Tablet of Ahmad.

    254. Baha’u’llah, Tablet to Pope Pius IX, The Proclamation of Baha’u’llah, p. 86. See also Matthew 13:24-9, 40-43.

    255. It is understandable that the Jews could never accept Christianity in the completely different from produced by Paul, the form that triumphed in the greater Church.

    256. See Qur’an 112; 19:88-94; 2:116; 5:72 et seq.; 4:171-2; 5:116; 3:58.

    257. Quoted by Deschner, pp. 116 and 629.

    258. Theology and History of Jewish Christianity.

    259. ‘Know thou that when the Son of Man yielded up His breath to God, the whole creation wept with a great weeping. By sacrificing Himself, however, a fresh capacity was infused into all created things’ (Quoted by Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, p. 114). The idea of sacrifice confronts us in every religion, for every messenger of God has ‘offered up His life as a ransom for the redemption of the world’ (Gleanings, CXLVI).
     
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  3. adrian009

    adrian009 Veteran Member
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    Hi @Trailblazer
    You have probably read this paper on how the Baha'is writings address the topic of Biblical authenticity and what our attitudes towards the Bible should be as Baha'is.

    A Bahá'í View of the Bible

    You will find an abundance to those who criticise Paul on the forum for all sorts of reasons with a variety of agenda. I'm a strong advocate for the Apostleship of Paul and the postive role he played in strengthening Christianity and teaching it to the Gentiles.

    Udo Schaeffer's paper is interesting, though I wonder to what extent his thinking is influenced by his background as an Islamic scholar and Catholicism having been an important part of his families/nations traditions.

    Do you know what year the paper was written?
     
  4. wizanda

    wizanda One Accepts All Religious Texts
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    Part of the problem is we're not addressing Bible authenticity; we shouldn't remove theologically accepted textual evidence, just understand them as contradictory, and not use them in a house of religious theological cards.

    What Paul does is purposely prophesied to be upside down, thus turning light into dark (Isaiah 5:20)... So to not recognize the contradictions, is part of the problem.
    Paul & Simon the stone (peter) established Christianity in Antioch (Acts 11:25-26); it is their Gospel about Christ's death, not life. :(
    It never was the Law that had the power of Salvation, in Hebrew the word Yeshua has always been Salvation from God.... With many events taking place using that specific word to imply God separated the red sea (Exodus 14:13), physically won battles against other nations, and scared them (2 Chronicles 20:17), etc.

    The covenants were nullified by the prophetic coming of Yeshua, where the Leaders rejected him, then paid 30 pieces of silver, and put it into the Potter's field in the House of Israel (Zechariah 11). - Paul is writing to cover up this divorce decree taking place; he does a great job.

    Isaiah 5:3 “Now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, please judge between me and my vineyard.

    Yeshua was their Lord (YHVH); they chose badly, and still continue to do so, as none are advanced enough in exegesis.... Yet we do not put faith in Yeshua the being; yet the God Most High (El Elyon) his father, which is the manifestor of reality like a CPU.

    Paul's whole ideas on gaining atonement from Yeshua's death, is what Yeshua cut them all off for (Matthew 23:27-38). - So establishing a religion about Yeshua on what Yeshua stood against, is a great test for finding hypocrites.

    Moses's Laws stand according to Yeshua as a testimony against all the hypocrites (Matthew 5:17-20), so we can educate them with it, and Salvation (Yeshua) is still found prophesied within it.

    In my opinion.
    :innocent:
     
    #4 wizanda, Oct 14, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2018
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  5. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Veteran Member

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    Yes, I have that saved in my directory and I have read it. There certainly is no consensus as to how Baha'is are to view the Bible. There are many differing opinions all of which can be supported by quotes from the Writings.
    Again, I am not criticizing Paul. I am only saying that he changed the course of Christianity and that what He taught does not reflect what Jesus said, according to the Gospels. Clearly, the doctrines of the Church which Paul stands behind changed the essential meaning of the Gospel message. That was clearly pointed out by Hand of the Cause, George Townshend. Shoghi Effendi spoke highly of the work of George Townshend, who wrote several books about Baha'u'llah, Christ and Christianity.

    Chapter Four: THE FALSE PROPHETS

    As Jesus prophesied, the false prophets contrived to change the essential meaning of the Gospel so that it became quite different from that which the Bible recorded or Jesus taught. (Matt. Vii 15-23 and see pp. 11, 12).

    It has long been generally believed that Jesus Christ was a unique incarnation of God such as had never before appeared in religious history and would never appear again. This tenet made the acceptance of any later Prophet impossible to a Christian. Yet there is nothing in Christ’s own statements, as recorded in the Gospel, to support this view, and it was not generally held during His lifetime.

    Jesus emphatically claimed to reveal God, Whom He called Father, but continually differentiated Himself from the Father. In many such references as “Him that sent me,” “my Father is greater than I,” (John xiv 28). “I go to the Father,” (John xvi 16). “I will pray the Father,” (John xiv 16). “I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me,” (John vii 28). He made this abundantly clear, and even stated specifically that the Father had knowledge which was not possessed by the Son. “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” (Mark xiii 32). He referred to Himself as the Son, and as a Prophet, (Matt. Xiii 57, Luke xiii 33) and was so regarded, (Matt. xxi 11, Luke vii 16) and related His Mission to those of Moses and Abraham before Him, and to others to come after Him, specifically “he, the Spirit of truth, “who would reveal the things which Jesus did not. (John xvi 12,13).

    The followers of every world religion have invented for themselves a similar belief in the uniqueness and finality of their own Prophet. The result has been that no religion has acknowledged a Prophet of a later religion. The Hindus do not acknowledge Buddha, the Buddhists to not acknowledge Christ, nor yet do the Zoroastrians. The result of this delusive belief has been that the world religions have not tended to the unifying of mankind but rather to its further division.

    Another opinion which Christians universally hold about Christ is that His teaching was absolute and final. They believe that if the Truth were partly withheld from them for a time because they could not bear it, it was divulged at Pentecost in its fullness and that now nothing remains to be revealed. But there is nothing in the account of Pentecost to suggest such an interpretation and there is no one who will believe that Jesus would have named the false prophets as characteristic of His age if this warning was to be followed by an immediate release of all Truth to the Church. What the Bible shows is rather a succession of teachers—Abraham, Moses and Christ, each measuring His Revelation to the needs and maturity of His authors: Jesus, for example, changes the divorce law and says, “Moses gave you this because of the hardness of your hearts but from the beginning it was not so.” Many times He says, Ye have heard it said by them of old time . . . but I say unto you . . .”

    Another universal opinion among the Christians is that Christ was the Lord of Hosts of the Old Testament. Yet the Jewish Prophets had foretold that when the Lord of Hosts came He would not find the Jews in the Holy Land, all would have been scattered among the nations and would have been living in misery and degradation for centuries; but when Jesus came Palestine was full of Jews and their expulsion did not begin until the year 70 A.D.; it may be said to have continued till the year 1844.

    To confirm orthodox Christian opinion it is customary in all churches to read on Christmas morning, as if it referred to Jesus, the passage which Isaiah wrote about the Lord of Hosts (Isaiah ix 6-7).

    “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”

    Yet the descriptive titles given do not belong exclusively to Christ, while some of them He specifically repudiated as if to make such a mistaken reference to Himself impossible. He disclaimed being the Mighty God when He called Himself “the Son of God;” (John v 18-47) where Jesus repudiates the charge that He claimed equality with God, disclaimed being the Father when He said, “my Father is greater than I;” (John xviii 36) and being the Prince of Peace when He said, “I came not to send peace, but a sword.” (Matt. x 34). He disclaimed bearing the government upon His shoulder or that it would be His judgment and justice forever when He said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John xviii 36).

    Many of these false interpretations involve repudiation of the Word of God in favor of the word of man. This impious act is so craftily performed, with such an air of humility, that it might escape the notice of the most sincere and devout of worshippers. Probably few churchgoers realize today that the Gospel of Christ as known to the few in the pulpit is wholly different from the Gospel which Christ preached in Galilee as recorded in the Bible.

    In spite of Christ’s promise of further revelation of Truth, through the Comforter, through His own return, through the Spirit of Truth, the Christian Church regards His revelation as final, and itself as the sole trustee of true religion. There is no room for the Supreme Redeemer of the Bible to bring in great changes for the establishment of the Kingdom of God. In fact this Kingdom is often described as a world-wide Church.

    Having thus closed God’s Covenant with the Bible, sacred history—God-directed—came to an end, and secular history, having no sense of divine destiny nor unity, began.

    Jesus’ revelation was purely spiritual. He taught that “My kingdom is not of this world” and that the “Kingdom of heaven is within you.” His great gift to man was the knowledge of eternal life. He told men that they might be physically in perfect health and yet spiritually sick or even dead. But this was a difficult truth to communicate and Jesus had to help men to realize it. He would say that He was a spiritual physician and that men whom He cured of a spiritual disability were cured of blindness, deafness, lameness, leprosy and so on. This was the real meaning of His remark at the end of a discourse, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” For a hearer might hear the physical word of Jesus and yet fail to comprehend the spiritual meaning. Jesus, in other words, was forever trying to heal spiritual infirmities. He thus would be understood by His disciples as a healer of spiritual ailments but by others He might be taken as relieving physical ills only.

    Doubtless Jesus could, and often did, heal bodily ills by spiritual means, but this was nothing to do with His real work as a Redeemer. On the other handthese spiritual cures which he effected might be misinterpreted as physical miracles, and so were little stressed by Him. (“See that no man know it.” Matt ix 30.

    Christ’s spiritual mission was, at an early date, materialized, specifically in regard to such things as the miracles, curing the blind and deaf, raising the dead. Even His own resurrection was made physical, missing the point entirely. Moreover, none of the complex order, of the ceremonies, rituals and litanies of the Church can be attributed to Christ. All are man-made, by inference or invention.

    Well might Christ warn His followers that false prophets would arise and misinterpret His teachings so as to delude even the most earnest and intelligent of His believers: from early times Christians have disputed about Christian truth in councils, in sects, in wars.

    To sum up, if Christians say “our acts may be wrong,” they say truly. If they say “however our Gospel is right” they are quite wrong. The false prophets have corrupted the Gospel as successfully as they have the deeds and lives of Christian people.

    (George Townshend, Christ and Baha'u'llah, pp. 25-30)

    Christ and Baha'u'llah
    The book was first published in 1977, republished in 1979.
     
  6. IndigoChild5559

    IndigoChild5559 Loving God and my neighbor as myself.

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    I think Paul is thoroughly misunderstood by Protestants, who yank him out of the cultural context of the time.

    Basically one must remember two things:
    1. The church was founded by Jewish believers who continued to follow Judaism--including Paul (he testified in court that he never broke any Jewish law).
    2. When Gentiles became believers, it was ruled by the Jerusalem council that they did not need to become circumcised and observe the 613 (become Jews).
    Paul, although he himself was a Jew and continued to keep Jewish laws, was a missionary to the Gentiles, and all his epistles spoke to Gentile believers, who had a very different set of criteria to follow than Jews.

    Protestants do not have this historical context.

    This whole area of how Christianity began as a Jewish sect and came to separate and become a Gentile religion is something I have studied at length.
     
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  7. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Veteran Member

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    Thanks for your feedback.

    Please forgive my ignorance, I am just trying to understand what happened to Christianity as the result of Paul. Unfortunately, I have a paltry background in religious history because i was not raised in any religion and I was not that interested in religion until recently.

    So what you are saying is that the Jews who recognized Jesus as the Messiah continued to follow Judaism and Paul. But would you say that Paul taught something different from what Jesus had taught and thus changed the course of Christianity such that there was a Jewish version and a Gentile version of Christianity?

    Maybe what I need to understand first is the difference between the Jews and the Gentiles. Was anyone who was not a Jew referred to as a Gentile?

    As an aside, is the only reason some Jews rejected Jesus because He did not fulfill the Messianic prophecies? Why couldn't Jews view Jesus simply as a Prophet? Jesus claimed to be a Prophet, not God and not the Messiah, so Jesus did not lie. It was the Christian Church that made Jesus into what He never claimed to be.
     
  8. IndigoChild5559

    IndigoChild5559 Loving God and my neighbor as myself.

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    Paul is a controversial figure, because it is his writings that led to Christianity as we know it today, which is a Gentile religion. Different scholars have different takes. I'm making a case for the view which is most sensible to me given the texts and the nature of Judaism.

    Yes, Jews who followed Jesus continued to practice Judaism, even continued to make offerings at the Temple (even Paul did this). I did some googling for you and found the following verse: "You see how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the Law" (The Torah) I suppose I should bookmark that since I'll b talking to a lot of folks about this issue in here.

    But yes, you read me right -- Paul was not writing to Jews, but to Gentile believers. Acts 15 records the Council of Jerusalem which decided that Gentile believers did not have to become Jews and follow the 613 laws of the Torah. Whenever you read Paul's epistles, you will see his repeated message to them that they are not obligated to be under the Law. In other words, to get proper context we must remember who he is writing to.

    And finally, you are correct once more. Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah simply because he did not do the things the Messiah is supposed to do. He did not rule from Jerusalem. He did not bring all the Jews out of diaspora back to the Land. He did not bring world peace. Although he did not claim to be the messiah in his sermons, his disciples believed it and taught it. To be a follower of Jesus meant then, as now, that you believe him to be the Messiah. As to Jesus' claims, if you believe the Gospels are accurate, Jesus encouraged the disciple's belief that he was the messiah.

    At that time in history, there were many contenders for the title of Messiah, but they all failed. Probably the one who came closest was Bar Kochba, who led the fight against the Romans. Indeed, Rabbi Akiva went so far as to declare him the Messiah. Certainly he was a better candidate than Jesus. But since ultimately he failed, he obviously wasn't.
     
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  9. wizanda

    wizanda One Accepts All Religious Texts
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    This goes back much further, Moses prophesied in the Curse Deuteronomy 28-30, that those false prophets who go around teaching they have peace instead, will be condemned and removed (Deuteronomy 29:19-20).

    Yeshua being the Lord came to place this Curse on our people (Malachi 4:4-6); they've rejected all the concepts of it, and instead pretend it isn't happening as they've been Blinded to it (Deuteronomy 28:28-29) as the Curse states (Zechariah 12:4).

    The Messianic prophecies they're hoping for, is all the ones about the final reward of the Messianic Age, and they miss out all the ones contextually before it.

    Since Paul, and John purposely rewrite the Messianic prophecies of Zechariah 11 for Judah/Israel not to be divorced, and the Abrahamic Covenant not nullified; it is clear they're purposely trying to pretend it hasn't happened, even tho all the prophecy surrounding it are still there.

    In other words Judah wants a savoir messiah, and regardless if God said he will be avenging force against unrighteousness, they will rewrite it to what they want instead.
    Yeshua claimed to be the Lord of David, where he has the Name which the Children of Israel cast out demons by, and he said it was his House of Prayer...

    Yeshua was claiming to be YHVH, with the flesh of David, who would ultimately be their King in the Messianic Age.
    The problem with John, Paul and Simon is they claimed the Messianic Age had come by Yeshua's first coming, which is plain stupid, as Yeshua and the prophets taught it was to come after the Abomination of Desolation had stood for a time.

    Yeshua claimed to be the Messiah, just that first there would be a Snare to catch out all the ravenous beings, before the coming of the Age of Godliness.

    In my opinion. :innocent:
     
    #9 wizanda, Oct 15, 2018
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  10. Desert Snake

    Desert Snake Veteran Member

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    Far too much supposition in these theories, in general. In other words, these theories are not arguing Scripture, they argue what some churches teach.

    Paul was traditionally considered a 'Judaizer', by some, and this ironically has been changed to some idea, of the 'opposite', though by those who aren't familiar with religion of the era.

    So, by Scripture, I notice no change, in the Epistles, except perhaps a personal perspective that itself is or can be arguable.
     
  11. Desert Snake

    Desert Snake Veteran Member

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    It's interesting that when I argue what is considered by some, 'Epistle' religion, contextually, the opposing arguments are mixed with what seems to be anti'Israelitish religious beliefs, as well. Why the parrallel? The parrallel signifies something else, besides the theories presented, it signifies some sort of overall anti-Israelite religion perception, that got redirected towards traditional Christianity. Noted this is quite abstract, as actually the arguments or theories, seem to represent, a certain type of gnostic belief, and not traditional Israelite related belief, [even though presented as such.

    This, actually, is cross religion, as some Jewish perspective can be similar to these theories.
    What I believe concerning this,
    Anti-epistles
    • not Sadducee origin
    • not polytheistic heathen origin, [except as relates to general anti'scripture, usually abstract in that context
    • not original Gnostic[ism origin
     
    #11 Desert Snake, Oct 15, 2018
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  12. Desert Snake

    Desert Snake Veteran Member

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    In other words, it's nonsense. The Epistles follow a religious paradigm that we notice with Jesus.
     
  13. Tomas Kindahl

    Tomas Kindahl ... out on my Odyssé — again!

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    I would like to answer, but the post is excruciatingly verbose, and not to the point. So instead I'm asking for clarification:
    1. Is it that Bahai regards the dismissal of hundreds of halakhik rules as a heresy from the true-eternal-faith-something, claimed by Bahaullah?
    2. What is Bahaullah's agenda? Is it a return to hundreds of halakhik rules? If so, what rules? (A Christian would regard the return to hundreds of halakhik rules as a total failure to get the essence of Jesus's message).
    3. Is it that Bahai blames Paul for all this?
    4. Is it that Bahai regards the Ebionites to be the true Christianity and the still surviving Christianity as a false Christianity?
    5. Is it that Bahais must regard Bahaullah's words and rules, without studying the sources themselves and draw their own conclusions?
     
  14. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Veteran Member

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    I do not know if this post is for me, and I only happened to see that you posted it because I looked at your profile.
    Anyhow, I do not know what you mean by halakhik rules and the true-eternal-faith. Can you clarify that?

    Baha'u'llah does not blame Paul for anything. To my knowledge, he does not even mention Paul.
    Baha'is do not regard the Ebionites to be the true Christianity. That "might" be the position of the author of the book I cited in the OP, but it is not an official Baha'i position.

    Many Baha'is believe that Christianity veered away from the teachings of Jesus and became a new and different religion, but that is not an official Baha'i position. The official Baha'i position on Christianity is contained in the Writings of the Baha'i Faith, what would be considered our scriptures. For now, let's just say that Baha'is do not believe in the doctrines of the Church such as the bodily resurrection, the ascension, or the return of Jesus Christ in the same body. We do not believe that Jesus was God incarnate. We do not believe that we are saved by the blood of Jesus, or that we are saved by grace. We believe obedience to the Laws of God and good deeds are necessary to get to heaven, which means nearness to God.

    Baha'is believe in the cross sacrifice but we do not believe it was necessary to remove original sin because we do not believe in original sin. We believe humans are born good but they have a propensity to sin because we all have a higher spiritual nature that is noble and a lower material nature that is selfish.

    It was the teachings of Jesus that saved humanity from their lower material nature, not the act of dying on the cross. However we believe there was a significance to the cross sacrifice. By sacrificing Himself, Jesus infused a fresh capacity into all created things... Through Jesus, the unchaste and wayward were healed, the eyes of the blind were opened, and the soul of the sinner was sanctified.

    How much of the change in the course of Christianity is due to Paul I cannot say because I do not know a lot about history, but I think much of it is due to Paul.

    Baha'is believe that Baha'u'llah was a Manifestation of God (Prophet, Messenger of God) and that He was the return of Christ promised by Jesus and the Messiah promised in the Old Testament. His primary message was oneness of the human race and the unity of mankind. I guess you could call that His agenda.

    Baha'is do not believe in just blindly following anyone. The first principle of the Bahai Faith is independent investigation of truth. We are enjoined to study the scriptures and draw our own conclusions.
     
    #14 Trailblazer, Oct 15, 2018
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  15. adrian009

    adrian009 Veteran Member
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    Not at all.

    Abdu'l-Baha, the successor of Baha'u'llah was clear the apostles including Paul and Peter had the authority to abrogate Mosaic law and were right to do so.

    ...in the time of Moses, His Law was conformed and adapted to the conditions of the time; but in the days of Christ these conditions had changed and altered to such an extent that the Mosaic Law was no longer suited and adapted to the needs of mankind; and it was, therefore, abrogated. Thus it was that Christ broke the Sabbath and forbade divorce. After Christ four disciples, among whom were Peter and Paul, permitted the use of animal food forbidden by the Bible, except the eating of those animals which had been strangled, or which were sacrificed to idols, and of blood. They also forbade fornication. They maintained these four commandments. Afterward, Paul permitted even the eating of strangled animals, those sacrificed to idols, and blood, and only maintained the prohibition of fornication. So in chapter 14, verse 14 of his Epistle to the Romans, Paul writes: “I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.”

    Also in the Epistle of Paul to Titus, chapter 1, verse 15: “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.”

    Now this change, these alterations and this abrogation are due to the impossibility of comparing the time of Christ with that of Moses. The conditions and requirements in the later period were entirely changed and altered. The former laws were, therefore, abrogated.

    Bahá'í Reference Library - Some Answered Questions, Pages 93-96

    as above, Baha'u'llah's agenda was the fulfilment of prophecy in both the Hebrew Bible and New Testament as to the coming of a universal educator. So as answered above Baha'is believe Baha'u'llah to be the return of Christ who has brought new Teachings and laws for humanity that are required for today. As many of the Halahik rules were no longer suited to the age in which Christ came, and the apostles were right to abrogate such rules as affirmed by the Baha'i writings, Baha'u'llah has brought Teachings suited to this age.

    The Baha'i writings affirm the apostleship of Paul.

    No.

    Baha'is are encouraged to learn about both their own writings and those of other faiths, then draw conclusions.
     
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  16. adrian009

    adrian009 Veteran Member
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    The author of this paper concluded:

    My own conclusion drawn from this "debate" is that Bahá'ís recognise Paul as an Apostle and ought to hold him in very high esteem, but that there is no substantive evidence that his writings have the authority of the Word of God. As one of the writers stated: "Paul's writings do not constitute divine revelation for a Bahá'í."[14]

    To understand what is wrong with Christianity we need to understand it, much like a physician who diagnoses the disease. The problem is Christian’s misunderstand the New Testament including Paul. Paul didn’t write doctrines. The church invented doctrines around their human and very fallible understanding of what Christ and the Apostles were saying.

    The most common misunderstandings ironically are from when the gospels themselves are quoted, not Paul. Consider John 14:6 misinterpreted as the exclusivity of Christianity, or the logos in John 1:1 to mean Christ is literally God.

    There is nothing in the excerpt you provided that criticises Paul. All the Apostles changed the course of Christianity because that was what was required. Christianity could not have survived without the work of the Apostles.
     
  17. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Veteran Member

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    True, but that does not mean that Christianity represents what Jesus stood for or what Jesus would have wanted. Imagine if the Baha'i Faith survived but did not represent what Baha'u'llah stood for and wanted. What would be the point?
     
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  18. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Veteran Member

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    Thanks for explaining that. I had never made the distinction who Paul was addressing. It was my impression that Paul said that no Christians (be they Jews or Gentiles) were under the Law anymore because faith in Jesus Christ ended the Law.

    Galatians 3:21-26 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

    I guess it would have been the choice of the Jews to continue to obey the Law, but Paul was saying it is no longer necessary because Christ became the end of the Law by virtue of what He did on earth through His sinless life and His sacrifice on the cross. I find that belief offensive because as a Baha’i I believe the Law is very important. In the following quote, the end of all things Baha’u’llah is referring to strict observance of the Law.

    “The beginning of all things is the knowledge of God, and the end of all things is strict observance of whatsoever hath been sent down from the empyrean of the Divine Will that pervadeth all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth.” Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 5

    In the same book I quoted in the OP, Udo Scaefer quoted a Jewish Rabbi regarding the argument for the Law and I plan to start a new thread quoting that section of the book followed by the Baha’i understanding of the Law.

    Just to let you know, Baha’is do not believe in original sin and we do not believe in any of the doctrines of the Church. I disagree with everything on the following website, and that is putting it mildly.

    Question: "What does it mean that Christians are not under the law?"

    Answer:
    An exposition of Romans 10:4, which says: "Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes," will help in understanding what is means that Christians are not under the law. The apostle Paul clarifies the effects of original sin in Romans 2:12, stating "All who sin apart from the law will perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law." All men stand condemned before God, whether they are Jews or not, or to put it another way, whether they have the Law of God or not. Paul also states "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

    If we are without Christ, we are justly condemned in God’s sight by the Law that was given to His servant Moses. However, we might argue that those who are not Jewish and therefore do not benefit from the knowledge of the Mosaic Law (including the moral and ceremonial laws), should not be condemned in the same way. This is dealt with by the Apostle in Romans 2:14-15, where he states that the Gentiles have the essence of God’s legal requirements already ingrained and so are just as much without excuse.

    The Law is the issue that has to be dealt with in order to bring us into a right relationship with God. "Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified" (Galatians 2:16). This passage reveals that the Law cannot justify or make righteous any man in God’s sight, which is why God sent His Son to completely fulfil the requirements of the Law for all those who would ever believe in Him.

    Christ Jesus redeemed us from the curse that has been brought through the law by becoming a curse for us (Galatians 3:13). He substituted Himself in our place and upon the cross took the punishment that is justly ours so that we are no longer under the curse of the Law. In doing so, He fulfilled and upheld the requirements of the Law. This does not mean that Christians are to be lawless, as some advocate today—a teaching called antinomianism. Rather, it means that we are free from the Mosaic Law and instead under the law of Christ, which is to love God with all of our being and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

    Christ became the end of the Law by virtue of what He did on earth through His sinless life and His sacrifice on the cross. So, the Law no longer has any bearing over us because its demands have been fully met in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith in Christ who satisfied the righteous demands of the Law restores us into a pleasing relationship with God and keeps us there. No longer under the penalty of the Law, we now live under the law of grace in the love of God.


    What does it mean that Christians are not under the law?
     
  19. adrian009

    adrian009 Veteran Member
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    It doesn’t mean it didn’t either.

    Islam unravelled early in the piece with differences of opinion as to who who would be leader after Muhammad. The rightful successors Ali and the Imams lost out to other family members who formed the caliphate that wasn’t based on Muhammad’s wishes. This lead to the brutal and corrupted Umayyad Caliphate in 661 AD. Consider that Christ was most likely born between 4-6 BC and we have this dynasty established 666 years after the birth of Christ. This is where the reference to the book of Revelation is important along with the multiheaded beast that represented this empire according to Abdul-Baha. So Islam became corrupted soon after Muhammad passed away.

    Not so with Christianity. Jesus had appointed Peter who later affirmed Paul. It wasn’t really until the Emperor of Rome Constantinople became a Christian and Christendom tasted real power during the 4th century that corruption set in. That’s when the Ncene Creed was established.

    Some Baha’is wanted to create in Christianity a similar narrative to Islam. That’s probably where this anti-Paul sentiment originated. But the Universal House of Justice when asked did Paul corrupt Christianity were clear he didn’t.

    Apostle Paul, a "False Teacher"?
     
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  20. wizanda

    wizanda One Accepts All Religious Texts
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    Yeshua prophesied by calling Simon the stone (Zechariah 3:9), that Peter would be the stony ground that people fall away on.

    Plus in the Parable of the Wheat and Tares, the Tares are there from the beginning, as when the son of man is lifted up the corruption already exists.

    The Corruption is that Yeshua challenged the Sanhedrin for murdering the prophets as atoning sacrifices in Matthew 23:27-38, Mark 7:1-13, and the Parable of the Wicked Husbandman (Matthew 21:33-46, Mark 12:1-12, and Luke 20:9-19)...

    So the idea that a religion has been established that Yeshua came to be murdered as a human sacrifice, when that is what he stood against, is sick on a mass scale, and we can realize how Christianity (John, Paul, Simon) its self is Anti-Christ.
    Christ clearly stated "not one jot or tittle shall be removed from the Law until all things are fulfilled". (Matthew 5:17-20)

    It is sad the idea that Baha'i build upon all this evil, have no clue it is prophesied to remove all the hypocrites, and workers of iniquity (Lawless ones) from down near Hell.

    In my opinion. :innocent:
     
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