Paul's Words Are Often Construed To Unwittingly Support A Blasphemy
Blasphemy is an insult of God, especially denying the goodness of God. Or to attribute the good God does to Satan. (Rives, DCMS:323-24.)
Paul says "many things difficult to understand" (Second Peter 3:14-17), and thus if what Paul says also sounds blasphemous, we were already warned. While we should try to find ways this is not true out of simple politeness, many mainstream Christian leaders take the blasphemous interpretation and promote it. They are completely insensitive that what they are doing is uttering and endorsing a blasphemy. Unaware of the definition of blasphemy, many Christians unwittingly utter blasphemies in reliance upon Paul's "difficult to understand words."
Thus, in reliance upon Paul, many Calvinists (in reliance upon Calvin who relied upon Paul) say God directs even moral evil in man (sin) -- unaware this is pure blasphemy. They likewise affirm God's Law incites us to sin (in reliance on Paul's words), and makes us do what we don't want to do. But it is blasphemy to say God's law arouses sin - a major insult on God's Word.
Incidentally, I assume Paul did not mean to promote blasphemy, but the fact his words easily are read to support blasphemy underscores the dangerousness of treating Paul as inspired.
Example #1: 'The Law from God Causes Sin'
The Bible reads: "The law of the LORD [is] perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD [is] sure, making wise the simple. (Psalms 19:7) But what does Paul say?
In many places, Paul says lust/concupiscence is stirred up by the Law (Romans 7:5; 1 Cor. 15:56) and without the Law stirring his lust, Paul would not have known to covet/lust. (Romans 7:7.) The Law by its prohibitions supposedly thereby made sin even more "exceedingly sinful." (Romans 7:13.)
Paul says that "by the law is the knowledge of sin." (Romans 3:20). He reiterates this later in the same epistle. In Romans 7:7, Paul says: "I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, "You shall not covet." Thus, in Paul's view, Adam and Eve would have never committed the sin of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil had God not issued a command not to eat from it. The command supposedly enticed them to think about doing so, and they would never have done so but for God's command to not do so. Hence, God's commands are entirely to blame, as Paul depicts the situation, for sin.
Paul's point is crystal clear elsewhere in Romans. He emphasizes in Romans 7:13 that the good law 'works me up to sin and death' by the mere fact of making prohibitions (Romans 7:7)--sowing the seed for sin: "But sin, that it might be shown to be sin, by working death to me through that which is good; --that through the commandment sin might become exceeding sinful."
The famous John Locke is troubled, but tries to put a good face on this. First, Locke mentions that the way Paul is interpreted some view Paul as saying
that the law excited men to sin, by forbidding it. A strange imputation on the law of God, such as, if it be true, must make the Jews more defiled,....
Works of John Locke (1823) Vol. 8 at 313.
But that is what Paul says, Mr. Locke. While Locke then says Paul surely could not mean this, Locke himself ends up explaining it the very same way.
First, Locke takes on Romans 7:5: "For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death."
Locke explains Romans 7:5 (while 7:7 looms out there as even worse), and confesses its meaning -- blasphemous as it is without Locke admitting it. Locke says Paul means:
nevertheless sin, persisting in its design to destroy me, took the opportunity of my being under the law, to stir up concupiscence in me; for without the law, which annexes death to transgression, sin is as good as dead, is not able to have its will on me, and bring death upon me. Conformable hereto, St. Paul says, 1 Cor. xv. 56, "the strength of sin is the law i.e. it is the law, that gives sin the strength and power to kill men. (Works of John Locke (1823) Vol. 8 at 316.)
What Paul does in Romans 7:5 and 7:7 is speak of the "sinful passions through the Law." Without it, Paul says we would have not been stirred to sin at all! This is very much like Paul said elsewhere in 1 Cor. 15:56 that the Law given Moses made sin to be wrought in our members. Tischendorf comments on Romans 7:5 that Paul in that verse means "the sinful passions...[are] coming into active exercise through the law" just as Paul said in 1 Cor. 15:56 about the Mosaic Law. (Tischendorf, at 57.)
Again, this underscores that Paul's words in Romans 7:5, 7:7 and 1 Cor. 15:56 can reasonably be read to support blasphemy. Locke with all his might did not want to see it. Yet, when Locke got around to summarizing Romans 7:5, Locke could not sugar-coat Paul's words enough to hide it there.
Thus, many Christians unguarded to see the danger in Paul's "difficult to understand words" fall from "their steadfastness in Christ" by applying Paul to such blasphemous points about God and His Law. Here is an example of how someone has applied Paul to logical and blasphemous ends.
I know what is sin. The Ten Commandments were not given so it could help us become sinless. We are by nature sinful. The Scripture also says that the law was given so sin could increase. The law helps us to sin more; it stirs up our sinful nature to commit evil deeds. Why? So we would seek God's grace. (Takanot and Ma'asim of the Rabbis-YouTube, comment by Paulgem123.)
Many Christians unguarded to Paul's proximity to blasphemy actually say "religion" based upon the 10 Commandments is evil. So Robert Hamerton-Kelly writes:
Religion is a curse (Gal. 3:13)....The nub of Paul’s argument is that the Law of Moses, which is religion, cursed God’s messiah (Gal. 3:13, quoting Deuteronomy 21:23), and thus showed that religion is hostile to God....The truth is...the ethnically restrictive Law of Moses is merely one among many temporary religious phenomena in the history of the fulfillment of that promise. Now the promise of God beyond religion has come true and all the distinctions made by Judaism ...are passé.... You do not need Moses!
Hamerton-Kelly correctly perceives that Paul derogates the Law given Moses to an evil curse without any blessings, designed as a temporary phenomenon. However, this is blasphemy -- an insult on God and His Law. As explained in the Conclusion to Jesus' Words on Salvation, the Law given Moses was a "light" to attract Gentiles to its wisdom; was "eternal for all generations," and was the means of justification by obedience, whereby atonement provided the payment-condition for God's forgiveness, but not the mechanism -- which always relied upon individual repentance and obedience. See "Conclusion" to JWOS.
#2: Paul Implies The God of Jerusalem Is A False Idol
At least one time Paul inexcusably uttered a blasphemy. This time none of his words are 'hard to understand.' This is when Paul said "God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands." (Acts 17:24) (Greek cheiropoietois - hand-made).
Paul's point was to tell the Greeks that their gods in their temples were mere idols. However, Paul's words cannot be so limited. By the explicitness of Paul's words, as explained below, Paul thereby said Jews (who thought Yahweh was creator of the heavens and earth) also worshiped an idol at the Temple of Jerusalem. Jesus himself referred to the Temple at Jerusalem as a "Temple made with hands." (Mark 14:58)(Greek cheiropoieton, 'made with hands.') Paul's words literally said our Creator God does not live in such a Temple.
The truth was this Jerusalem Temple is where God's Shekinah presence was said in the Bible to reside. But if the Creator-God does not reside in temples made of human hands, as Paul says in Acts 17:24, and this proves the Greeks worship false gods and idols, then the Creator-God Yahweh worshipped at the Temple of Jerusalem also could only be a false god. Hence, Paul's words would constitute a blasphemy as it insults the God of the Bible as a false god.
Moreover, if Paul were correct, then who did the Jews worship at the Temple of Jerusalem where the Creator-God's Shekinah presence was said in the Bible to reside? It could not be the true Creator-God for Paul says the true Creator-God does not live in such temples. This was Paul's affirmation to prove to Greeks that their gods were nothing but false idols.
As James West in the Gospel and the Greek Philosophers correctly exposes, Paul's teachings about the Temple opposed that of the apostles (not to mention our Lord Jesus who spoke of it as "my Father's house" in Luke 2:41-52). On this verse in Acts 17:24, West correctly comments:
But like the Stoic philosophers, the writer of Acts has “Paul” agreeing with them that “God” does not dwell in temples as the superstitious pagans believed. It is notable that Paul, in his own words, admitted his opinion that the Jews worshipped an “idol” in the Temple at Jerusalem (even as the author of Acts portrayed the Jewish Christians as pious temple devotees; cf. Acts 2:46, 21:20–26; 1 Cor. 10:18–19).
Thus, Paul unwisely and impudently made a statement, which if true, allowed one to think the 12 apostles and James who still worshipped at the Temple [see verses here] were worshipping someone who could not be the true God. Paul instead says the Creator-God supposedly does not live in temples made of human hands. And Paul was saying the Creator-God does not live in such temples even though our Lord warned that Daniel's prophecy of a sacrilegious presence would soon defile the Holiness of the Temple. Its Holiness stemmed from the Shekinah-presence of God dwelling at the Jerusalem Temple.
Example #3: The So-Called Sovereignty of God Doctrine
George Reber in The Christ of Paul (1876) chapter 1 said: "God himself, in the mind of Paul, is almost hideous. Some are given over to damnation before they are born; while others are destined to be saved before they have had a chance to sin."
This is known either as the Doctrine of Election, or the Sovereignty of God doctrine.
Calvin is the one who focused in the early Reformation in the 1500s upon this doctrine of election.
Calvin contended that Paul in Romans 11:8, 32 says God causes the lost to be lost by hardening them in unbelief. (Rives, DCMS: 451.) Satan supposedly acts on orders from God to cause the lost to be lost. (Calvin, Institutes, Ch. XVIII, Book 1, No. 1.) The main criticism of this is that it means that God makes a moral evil happen -- unbelief and a lost condition. Attributing moral evil to God is a quintessential example of blasphemy. As a result, many Swiss protestant pastors who were friends of Calvin personally told Calvin that he committed blasphemy by this doctrine. (Rives, DCMS: 433; 436) And the Lutheran party of Germany of the 16th Century were likewise adamant that Calvin taught a blasphemy in this doctrine. (Rives, DCMS: 446 et seq.)
Later Calvinists deflected criticism of Calvin's doctrine by placing it under the innocuous label of the "Sovereignty of God" doctrine. They defended the broader notion that God directs even moral evil by relying principally upon two other verses from Paul.
Ephesians 1:11 says “we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will....”
Calvin-defenders say this means God “brings about” all things. “Everything is brought about by God.” See The Sovereignty of God Over Evil by Matt Berman in PDF (5/21/08). They extend Paul to say God causes all morally evil things to happen.
In Romans 11:36 we likewise read: “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.” This same Calvinist voice rationalizes: “Thus, all things have their source in God’s eternal decrees, all things are brought to pass by God’s almighty power.” Id.
Berman, the writer of that piece, knows that the question necessarily will arise: how can God not thereby be the author of sin? Here is his answer, and you can plainly see a mind caught in a logical dilemma but who refuses to confess the error of the premise. He says: “[God] is behind good in a way that renders Him fully deserving of all of the credit for it, but He is behind evil in such a way that He deserves none of the blame for it.” Id. How so? “God is the ultimate cause of sin, but He is not the positive cause of sin.” Id. “He does not produce sin in people’s hearts, but directs it by means of negative causation.”Id.
Such is the gobbledy-gook that you end up with when you claim God is "behind evil."
The key question is this: is God leaving people alone or is God directing them to sin? Following Calvin (who in turn relied upon Paul), this author says the latter is true - God supposedly directs sin: “I am not saying that God simply leaves a person to their own sinful nature, and that is all there is to it. God also directs the degree of evil in a person's heart by hardening it by means of negative causation.” Id.
Besides Paul as proof, this author, like Calvin, cites 1 Kings 22:19-23 because it says God was “sending a deceiving spirit to ‘entice Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead.’” But Micaiah who uttered this was a false, not true prophet. Why? Because when so speaking his words violate the Law -- Numbers 23:19 which says "God is not a man that He should lie." (See S. Rives, Did Calvin Murder Servetus (2008) at 454.) A true prophet who contradicts the Law is, the Law says, then a false prophet. (Deut. 13:1-5.)
Example of Contemporary Presbyterian Adherence to View That God Lies
This is a contemporary problem, and not one long in the dust. In reliance on Calvin citing 1 Kings 22 in support of his reading of Paul that God ordains moral evil, we still hear this doctrine in the PCA. Similar to what I heard with astonishment in the Presbyterian Church of America which I attended for 10 plus years beginning in 1987, Robbins recounts in 2005 the following:
[At the] 2005 Christian Worldview Student Conference sponsored by the Calvary Reformed Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Hampton, Virginia...Steve Schlissel, who has been preaching...for years, emphatically claimed that his God lies, too. His exact words were:
"God freely chose to lie to Ahab [in 1 Kings 22] by an appointed surrogate. He did not wince, did not squeal, did not seek to shift responsibility. In fact, he boasted about it to Ahab and Ahab's colleagues.... Someone says, 'God lies.' Yes, He does."
Of the many PCA Elders who were present at this conference of several hundred students, apparently only one, Calvin Beisner of Knox Seminary, objected to Schlissel's [claim].
Schlissel said that God lies, and God is responsible for his lies: "Consider the facts. God solicited the plan [to deceive Ahab], God had his choice of plans, God approved THIS specific plan, and authorized it, and commissioned the lying spirit. According to the Word of God, presiding judges are responsible for their decisions and commanding generals are directly responsible for their instructions." (T. Robbins, "Steve Schlissel: God lies.")
Now consider that Paul to the contrary taught in Titus 1:2: "God...cannot lie." But we know that Paul was construed by Calvin due to the 'difficult to understand' words of Paul to say the contrary. Again, we can see the opportunity Paul provided in his Pharaoh argument and predestination passages for controverting this, to support Calvin's view that God lies. Calvin found 1 Kings 22 to say God supposedly lies to prove Paul's point that God directs evil rather than Calvin carefully dissecting the passage to see a false prophet, not God, was being recorded in 1 Kings 22.
What about Paul's Example of God Hardening Pharaoh's heart?
God's hardening Pharaoah's heart in Genesis was to harden him to exert his lawful right as ruler to not let the Israelites go. "But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go." Exodus 4:21. See also Ex. 7:3.
Was this a sin?
All Pharaoh had was Moses's authority to believe God required it. Since Pharaoh's magicians could duplicate all the signs and wonders which Moses demonstrated, Pharaoah was not convinced that God had spoken. No authority yet existed in Moses's words. As a result, there was no sin in which God was hardening Pharaoh's heart. God merely hardened the ruler to hold onto his sovereign rights.
But Calvinists disagree, and cite Paul's use of this example in Romans 9 to blasphemously claim "God himself actually arranged for Pharaoh to sin." ChristianAnswers.net. But this is not true, for the reason just explained.
Incidentally, there is another alternative to the one I suggest. Some scholars point out that the idiom in Hebrew is consistent with permission, and not ordaining the hardening. See Kyle Butt, M.A., and Dave Miller, Ph.D., "Who Hardened Pharaoh's Heart?" Apologetics Press (accessed 7/31/2010.) But this will not suffice to answer Calvinism because these two scholars -- Butt and Miller -- do not address that Paul saw it as compulsion, and that was the basis of Paul's argument in favor of predestination. If Paul is inspired, Butt and Miller's explanation does not work.
Regardless, as you can see, the Sovereignty of God Over Evil doctrine blasphemes God by attributing to God the causation of all moral evil (sin) and hardening people in sin.
Hence, even if Paul's words did not mean what these Calvinists claim, their reading that Paul teaches God causes moral evil (sin) is plausible. This underscores the danger of Paul -- his difficult-to-comprehend words have caused many Christians to blaspheme God. (Contrast that nothing Jesus ever said remotely can be misconstrued to support a blasphemy on God's character for goodness.)
Incidentally, in Jesus' Words Only (2007) at 412 et seq., we discuss how the early church 125 A.D. to 325 A.D. universally regarded predestination doctrine as blasphemy because it made God the author of sin too, although none mention Paul's words. They simply ignore him as the source, and excoriate the notion.
The modern era has been poisoned by this doctrine, which has repelled people from embracing Christianity because it is now popularly combined with such a horrible blasphemy:
Since Calvinism has largely dominated the Protestant landscape for the last five centuries, most skeptics have dismissed Christianity as absurd, and have turned away in utter disgust in order to embrace atheism. The smug Calvinist declares, “So be it! You have the problem!” (Kyle Butt, M.A., and Dave Miller, Ph.D., "Who Hardened Pharaoh's Heart?" Apologetics Press (accessed 7/31/2010.)
#4 What About Paul's Claim God Will Bring A Delusion For Men To Believe A Lie?
Paul attributes moral evil once more to God when Paul says the following:
11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie,12 that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thess. 2:10-13 KJV-21st)
So Paul teaches God is the cause of a delusion so that men should believe a lie and be damned. Umm.... Really? Does that sound like the God who cannot lie, as God revealed to Moses in Numbers 23:19? Does that sound like the God who does not wish any to perish, as Peter says? Of course not.
I assume somehow Paul did not mean to blaspheme again, but the above words of Paul are surely pure and total blasphemy -- an insult on God's character for goodness. What if any of us said this about our earthly father? We would immediately recognize this as an insult on our earthly father. But Paul says it about our heavenly Father, and people instantly connive to claim it is true and holy writ. Oh what man cannot believe!
There are many efforts at escape. Some say we need to read that God permits a delusion. But it does not say that. As the Christian Intelligencer article "Things Hard to be Understood Illustrated" (1821) says, 2 Thess 2:10-13 reads that God the Father is the "sender of strong and damning delusions," and one "cannot become an accessor to deception" by "sliding off by equivocations, and say God permitted the delusions." (Christian Intelligencer (1821) at 59.) No, Christian Intelligencer says the text is too direct for Paul says God "sends" the delusion that men should believe a damning lie. So Christian Intelligencer correctly asks:
If they are damned for believing a lie, and believe the lie, because God sent the delusion, and sufficiently strong to produce its effects, in what character does it present the God of truth and love?" Id., at 59.
The author asks: "who loves the character of the deluder?" Id., at 60. The author correctly answers: "deceivers love him whom they say deceives or deludes men to their eternal damnation." Id. Then properly the author asks:
"Because, if the God we adore, send strong delusions, where, beneath these heavens, shall we look for safety?" Id., at 60.
Then the author makes a most revealing yet clearly unwitting reference that includes Paul:
"Shall we call upon the reverend clergy? But how do we know they are not sent by Him with strong delusions? They surely profess to be in His service; and who knows but they are sent on that inglorious errand?...If we do not have a better opinion of them than they have of their God, they would lose all their influence and strength, and salaries likewise!" Id., at 60.
The implied effect of the words when read literally is that the preacher of such words implies he is a superior source of truth than God Himself. Listen to this witty assertion which applies more to Paul than the normal clergy:
For who would employ a man to preach, believing he would bring a great delusion, that his hearers might believe a lie, and be damned? In whom do people repose the most confidence, while they believe their God will send strong deceptions, but that the preacher, whom He has sent, will not deceive them? If this is not worshipping the creature more than the Creator, what is?" Id., at 60.
I would add that Paul's audience had to understand likewise that Paul was saying 'I will bring you truth,' but our God will bring delusion so many will believe a lie. For the non-Christian listening to Paul, he could only develop a trust higher for Paul than the God whom Paul portrayed as a lying deceiver.
The author of Christian Intelligencer then opines that the common reading, which takes this passage literally is obviously absurd as it ascribes evil to God. So he insists that the common literal meaning must be wrong, and thus one must strive to find an insert of some words to prevent it from being blasphemous. As I have said before, with an inspired voice this should never be necessary. This is another text proving once more the danger of treating Paul as inspired.
The author of the Christian Intelligencer article then says this passage is among the "most enigmatical and perplexing of any found in the letters of Paul." Id., at 60-61.
Then dear Reader, this author is going to expose another blasphemy in the same text to make it even more necessary to add words to fix the text. This blasphemy is that Jesus will come again by the working of Satan with lying deceptions. To see the author's point, we need to back up and print for you a couple of more verses from the same passage:
8 And then shall that wicked one be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming—9 even him, whose coming is according to the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders (2 Thess 2:8-9 21st Cent KJV) 10 and with all deceivableness and delusion." [Author's version of v. 10.]
This author of the Christian Intelligencer article then points out that "even him" in the above quote was added by the KJV. The KJV editors identified these words were interpolated by putting them in italics. The KJV editors' intention in doing so, the author explains, was to deflect, if possible, that Paul literally means Jesus will come with deceptive signs and lying wonders. This will become an example the author hopes to convince us to add more words elsewhere to deflect the blasphemy by Paul in 2 Thess. 2:10-13 as he identified above. The author writes:
And who is it that is thus described? Open your Bible reader and know whether the answer be correct. We assert, that omitting the first two words, in the ninth verse -- even him -- which are printed in italic, to designate an interpolation, or that they were added by the translators, the literal reading is that the Lord Jesus is the personage spoken of! Look for yourself. Unless we supply some words, Jesus is the character spoken of, whose coming is after the working of Satan, with lying wonders and all delusions. To read and understand it without an addition would be deemed by many as blasphemous, because it ascribes the deception to the Son of God!" Id., at 61.
To justify adding words to change the sense, this author continues to expose the literal meaning of the passage as currently written. He ties verses 10 and 11 together by rendering the same word in Greek by the same word in English of "delusion" so Paul's parallelism is more clear. (The KJV obscured the parallelism evident in the Greek original by using different English nouns.) The author then explains that the delusion God supposedly brings in verse 11 ties back to the delusion that Jesus as God's agent will bring in verse 9:
But, look for a moment. Is it worse to suppose that he whom the Father has sent is a deceiver, than that his God sends strong delusion? The same word that is rendered deceivableness [in the KJV of v. 10] is rendered delusion in the 11th. These words are perfectly synonymous....We think it will appear evident to those who are not fettered by education and prejudice, that the same character and the same deception is intended in both cases. We mean that he who is coming is with all deceivableness or delusion, sends the same in its strength, to make men believe a lie. If the God spoken about in verse 11 means our Father in heaven, we should honor the Son as we honor the Father, in calling Him the agent by which it was effected; and the literal, unaltered words will support us in so doing....We are told that it is God who sends the delusion." Id., at 61.
The author then alludes to Paul's responsibility for these words: "But the mysterious iniquities of the god of whom Paul wrote, had already began their operation." Id., at 62.
The author's solution is to say Paul's reference to God means instead Satan. It is the 'that god' (of this world, which words he proposes to add to 'fix' the text) who brings a strong delusion.
Thus, Paul is blasphemous unless we read into the text of verse 11 "that god" / satan -- words not there and a meaning betrayed by the passage itself. For even this change does not solve v. 9 because it still says Jesus comes with lying wonders. The KJV adding "even him" actually did not alter that meaning; "even him" just separated the thought a bit to break up the clarity of the verse. So it is not resolved by adding "that god" (small 'g') to verse 11.
We conclude that rewriting Paul's words in v. 11 may help a Paulinist save their hero for purposes of verse 11. But I would say the literal words stand too clear in the opposing direction that it spells again we are listening to an uninspired man who cannot articulate himself at all. Also, that does not solve v. 9 which cannot be fixed in any conceivable way. The KJV just adds words to make it less intelligible. (The KJV did the same in verses 10 and 11, rendering the same Greek word for "delusion" in two different ways, thereby obscuring the parallelism which points to God's intended delusion in verse 11 is to send Jesus back with lying delusions referenced in verse 9!)
Thus, Paul in the passage at issue clearly points to Jesus' coming with lying wonders and delusions at God's command! It proves again we cannot believe Paul is inspired. I trust Paul did not mean to utter such blasphemies. But there they are in black-and-white.
#5 Attributing To God The Murder Sacrifice of Jesus
Jesus submitted himself unto murder by the religious leaders. They killed Jesus. Jesus' death is thereby a sacrifice for sin that God accepts because Jesus was sinless.
At the same time, God did not murder Jesus and sacrifice His own son. Had God done so, God would be a sinner, as God commanded against killing your son to appease God as wrong and evil, as it would violate God's law against one killing a human as a sacrifice to appease God. (Lev. 18:21; Deut. 12:31.)
But Paul says God presented his own son as a sacrifice to Himself to atone for sin. In Romans 3:25-26, Paul writes:
25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:25-26 NIV.)
Other versions have God "put forward [Jesus] as an expiation" (RSV); "presented Jesus as a sacrifice for sin" (NLT); etc.
Thus, as worded by Paul, God killed Jesus as a sacrifice to atone His own wrath at our sin, when God said this is an unacceptable sacrifice. Hence, Paul attributes evil to God as the mechanism that triggers our salvation... another apparent blasphemy.
The truth is God accepted the death of Jesus as the death of an innocent life to atone for our sins. However, God did not Himself kill Jesus so as to present Jesus as a sacrifice, which is how Paul's words sound.
What Explains All These Apparent Blasphemies?
What explains this and many of the prior apparent blasphemies? This is most easily explained by realizing it proves Paul is being fed messages from the imposter Jesus whom we contend Paul saw on the road to Damascus. (See our webpage proof that Paul's 'Jesus' vision outside Damascus fulfills Jesus' warning of someone coming in His name in the wilderness as a false Christ and whom we should not listen to.)
Paul's words come out horribly, and sound blasphemous. The imposter Jesus whom Paul met is evidently calling the second coming a lying-wonder event so that many Christians will reject as false a Christ who returns without lying wonders, and instead only embrace as Christ one who returns with them. The imposter Jesus is attributing the evil murder of Jesus to God to accomplish a sacrifice, rather than the truth -- God accepted the death of Christ as an innocent who was killed by evil men. Thus, in all these cases, an imposter "Jesus" is insulting our God through a man who is sincere (Paul), but also who is sincerely deceived.
Our sins before meeting Jesus often stay with us, and we must strenuously repent where we have weaknesses. Paul had a problem with blasphemy before his Damascus experience with a light and voice who said "I am Jesus." Later, Paul described his behavior prior to the Damascus experience was to blaspheme and make Christians blaspheme. In 1 Timothy 1:13 Paul says that he was "once a blasphemer." Then Paul in Acts 26:11 testifies in Court about his life as a persecutor as follows:
And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. KJV.
This apparently explains why Paul still had a penchant for words that are blasphemous even if Paul did not intend to blaspheme.
From the evidence above, we saw that Paul's words are easily and commonly construed to support the following blasphemies:
1. The Law of God stirs and causes sin (Romans 3:20; Romans 7:5; Romans 7:7; 1 Cor. 15:56);
2. God causes morally evil behavior (Romans 11:8, 32; Ephesians 1:11);
3. God does not live in temples made of human hands, inadvertently implying that the God-Yahweh in the Temple at Jerusalem at that time was as invalid a god as a pagan god (Acts 17:24);
4. God will send a "delusion" on all people who do not love the truth to believe a lie so they are damned (2 Thess. 2:10-13); and
5. Jesus's brightness at His coming will be "according to the working of Satan," with "all power, signs and delusions" (2 Thess 2:8-9) -- to accomplish the delusions God will bring which are spoken about in #4.
One does not have to agree Paul actually blasphemed to reject Paul as an inspired voice. The fact Paul's words perilously lead many to blaspheme -- unaware what is the definition of blasphemy (i.e., an insult on God's goodness, including equating Him to a pagan god), should put us all on guard whether to trust Paul as inspired. That's enough wisdom to take away from this topic.
However, I would not dispute with anyone who claims they see that Paul indeed blasphemed. I think, sadly, it is unquestionable. It is sad because Paul I believe was a devout person (although misguided to trust the 'blinding light' he met on the Road to Damascus. For more on that, see our link). But blasphemy does not require any malicious intent to commit. Jesus told this to the Pharisees whom He accused of blasphemy by attributing His miracles to Satan. The Pharisees were not maliciously insulting God; instead they were simply wrong in their statement but it had the unwitting affect of insulting the Holy Spirit. Thus mere words that have the affect of insulting God's goodness / or equating Him to a pagan idol, whether spoken maliciously or unwittingly, are blasphemy.
Reissuing the New Testament?
Hence, if one agrees Paul blasphemed God / Yahweh, not only is Paul clearly not inspired, but also his writings without any insulating material are a highly toxic agent inside our modern bound New Testament. This is a further clear ground to support considering whether it is imperative to now issue future New Testaments which recognize this reality.
Prior to the 300s, Paul's writings were not connected to canon. They circulated as a separate book. The early church may have done this for good reason. Maybe they did so because of the concern over the blasphemies that jump off the page of Paul's writings, whether intentional or not. Paul's writings were adjoined physically to the gospels for the first time in 340 AD when Rome was trying to stop rest on Sabbath, and make everyone worship on the Day to worship the Sun -- Sunday. See Constantine's Damage to Christianity.
One day Christians must be reminded that blasphemy of Yahweh-God is the Unpardonable Sin. This is in Exodus 20:7 where it says about such a sin against God that God "will not hold [one] guiltless." Jesus reaffirms this -- speaking of "blasphemy of the Holy Spirit" as the unpardonable sin. (Matt 12:31.)
Is Jesus talking of something different than Exodus 20:7 when he says blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is unpardonable? No.
Modern Christians need also to be told that Christian scribes in the 300s followed the Ineffable Name Doctrine, and would substitutes the "Holy Spirit" or "Lord" or "Power" for Yahweh whenever Jesus spoke the Name. They did so as to avoid blasphemy themselves (so they thought) if during copying they had to throw away a sheet that had Yahweh's name on it, which they thought would insult Yahweh. See Ineffable Name Doctrine. Moreover, Jesus' intent is clear. Jewish scholars to this day concur that blasphemy of God in Exodus 20:7 is the unpardonable sin. So our Savior simply repeated what was well-known in Judaism at that time, and continues today. See Paul Contradicted Jesus By Saying Blasphemy is a Pardonable Sin.
Thus, we see the consequence of leaving Paul in canon is a serious risk to let continue. It jeapardizes the innocent who may fall into an unpardonable sin if they sincerely ingest and repeat what are clearly insults on Yahweh's name, reputation, and his dwelling at the glorious Temple of Jerusalem, whether Paul meant them as insults or not.
I strongly urge we place Paul's epistles in a separate volume -- just as the early church did - solely to demonstrate the prophetic prowess of Jesus about the false Christ duping with signs and wonders (Matt 24) and the ravening wolf in sheep's clothing which Jesus mentioned in Matthew 5. At the same time, we must footnote clear warnings about Paul's false and blasphemous-sounding statements to insulate the reader from ingesting the toxic aspect of Paul's writings.
It might also be preferable to black out apparently blasphemous statements in the main text. But then it is possible that the clarity of Jesus' prophecies' accuracy to aim at Paul might be lessened. If the consensus concurs that is an important reason to continue such blasphemous statements, then at least these verses identified above should be footnoted.
How To Reissue The NT To Protect Readers From Blasphemy
Thus, in a reissue of the NT, here are the following verses which we must as a community insulate believers from falling prey to -either by black-outs or by footnotes, as God's wisdom may show us:
1. "by the law is the knowledge of sin." (Romans 3:20).
2. Romans 7:7, Paul says: "I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, "You shall not covet."
3. Romans 7:13, "But sin, that it might be shown to be sin, by working death to me through that which is good; --that through the commandment sin might become exceeding sinful."
4. Paul says in 1 Cor. xv. 56, "the strength of sin is the law," i.e., the law gives sin the strength and power to kill men. (Works of John Locke(1823) Vol. 8 at 316.)
5. Romans 7:5 and 7:7 speak of the "sinful passions through the Law."
6. To prove occupants of temples are mere idols, Paul once falsely generalized (which has no exception for Jerusalem's Temple): "God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands." (Acts 17:24).
7. Paul says: "11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie,12 that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thess. 2:10-13 KJV-21st)
8. Paul speaks of Jesus' return as with lying wonders - which the KJV tries to obscure by adding the 2 words in bold italic in this quote: "8 And then shall that wicked one be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming—9 even him, whose coming is according to the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders (2 Thess 2:8-9 KJV) 10 and with all deceivableness and delusion."
9. Paul attributes to God the sacrifice murder of Jesus as atonement in Romans 3:21-24, rather than say God accepted the murder of an innocent Jesus caused by evil men as atonement.
10. All Paul's predestination verses are apparent blasphemy.
Delusion. "Something that is falsely believed or delusively propagated." Webster's Online.
Pastor Anthony Buzzard who accepts Paul as inspired is an example of someone who unwittingly quotes the blasphemy from Paul's mouth that God engages in deluding people to believe a lie, and gives it not a second thought. This proves our point how dangerous it is to keep Paul within the true Bible. Pastor Buzzard writes:
"The Apostle Paul never one moment conceded that someone else's error carried the same value as his truth. His somber warning to the church at Thessalonica about a great deception coming upon the world, which would cause the ruin of those who did not love truth, should not go unheeded. He clearly states that it is God Himself who will send upon them a strong delusion to make them believe a lie 'because they did not love of the truth in order to be saved.' (2 Thess. 2:10, 11.)" (Anthony Buzzard, The Doctrine of the Trinity (International Scholars Publication, 1998) at 314.)
Anthony Buzzard seems to excuse God this crime of deceiving people so they believe a lie by saying God will do this to those who already do not love the truth. However, this view of God contradicts 2 Peter which says God does not "desire that any should perish" (2 Peter 3:9) and Ezekiel 18:23 that God "does not delight in the death of the wicked." It contradicts Jesus' lesson on God's will is to go bring back the lost sheep, not delude the lost to never find their way back to Him.
But by Paul's view, God desires their lost condition to continue and never cease, and delights in their eternal separation from Him. In fact, per Paul, God is willing to use delusions to make people believe a lie rather than lead them to salvation.
Those who are true to Paul's words here cannot have love for the lost because the God whom Paul serves actually wants to thwart the lost from finding Him by means of delusion. That is certainly not love, but hatred coupled with dishonesty and deception. The way Paul depicts God, why would anyone want to find that kind of god? Surely, Paul does not serve the true God of the Bible.
Discussion Thread on This Topic
Several contributors on a thread quote from our page on Paul and Blasphemy, and ask for input. See link. You will note that no one ever responds to the precise issue raised in two separate posts quoting from this page above.
Why do you think this happens?
I think when people first hear this, they are dumbfounded anyone questions Paul. However, it is becoming more common that followers of Jesus are realizing Paul represents a different spirit -- when you look at verses like those above.
Let's pray for the correspondents to study and then comment, so we can all learn is there any error in how we have analyzed the evidence above.