My Reply of December 10, 2016
Thank you for writing your question.
My Main Point
I teach in the NT Jesus is our "sole teacher" (Matt 23:8-11) and "sole pastor" (John 10:16). When Apostles are not quoting Jesus, I keep the priority on Jesus as He teaches in John 13:16: "the apostolos is not more important than the one who sent him."
OUR HIGHEST DUTY TO GOD
As an introduction to my response, please remember that the Bible said the greatest test whether you love God with your whole heart, mind and soul -- the command Jesus said was #1 -- was whether you would discern a true prophet from a false prophet even when the prophecies they give come true, and they have signs and wonders, but they try to "seduce you from following the Law" given at Sinai -- the 10 Commandments. (Deut. 13:1-5, quoted in paraphrase by Jesus in Mathew 7:23-24, and in Matthew 22:37.)
YOUR FIRST POINT
You begin with the following assumptions clearly laid out:
I read your article on The Angel of Blinding Light that Paul experienced which, I find misleading. In order to understand and appreciate Scriptures several factors apply:
1. Faith - accepting what God says in His Inspired Word
2. Unbiased approach - avoiding studying Scripture with a
3. Godly wisdom- Our academics should never dictate instead the illumination by the Holy Spirit is important. Worldly wisdom (philosophy) AND Godly wisdom are worlds apart.
4. Scripture must interpret Scripture - correct interpretation is
necessary. Lucifer (Satan) AND Christ may seem similar but they're NOT.
Dixon, I agree on issues 2-4 and hope you do so as well when we get to the end. However, the first issue is tripping you up. You say that to "understand…Scriptures" you have to "accept what God Says in His inspired word." Well, that assumes you know what is inspired scriptures. This is known as the bootstrap fallacy - it assumes your conclusion -- Scripture at issue is inspired -- before you can "understand" what you are reading.
But that is not Biblical. Instead, the Holy Scripture has a rule how to test scriptures. The church at no point was free to add to or subtract from the Bible one who contradicts / undermines what God added to it by means of a true prior prophet who is established by verifiable means. Deut. 4:2; 12:32; 13:1-5.
So because Jesus came before Paul, if we wish to consider Paul as scripture, then we must examine whether Paul inconsistently adds to or subtracts from Jesus or all prior prophets.
Incidentally, there has been no decision on what is canon in any church council of all Protestants, and the only prior decision was at the Roman Catholic Council of Trent in 1543. Hence, for us as protestants, the issue is open for discussion. See our article How the Canon was Formed.
Before Paul came along, Jesus came first. Thus, Jesus' words have priority over Paul's later words so if Paul adds or subtracts to what Jesus said, delivering a different gospel, then we must reject such changes. Paul even agrees with this -- twice:
If any man gives different teaching, not in agreement with the true words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the teaching which is in agreement with true religion, He has an over-high opinion of himself; being without knowledge, having only an unhealthy love of questionings and wars of words, from which come envy, fighting, cruel words, evil thoughts, (I Tim. 6:3-4, Basic Bible in English.)
8 Be watching-out that there will not be anyone taking you captive through philosophy and empty deception according-to[a] the tradition of humans, according to the elemental things[b] of the world, and not according to Christ (Col. 2:8, Disciples Literal New Testament.)
Thus, nothing Paul says has priority over Jesus. Paul even agrees.
JESUS' WARNINGS ABOUT DUPES OF A FALSE JESUS USING HIS NAME IN WILDERNESS
Jesus also warns us to not "listen" to those who come AFTER His Ascension who claim to have met Jesus in the wilderness or been His apostle when that is not possible.
First, Jesus in Matt 24:4-5, 24-27 and Luke 21:8 warns us that after His Ascension to "not listen" to those who claim to be speaking as Jesus who fit a specific pattern -- appear in the wilderness, and this "Jesus" is not seen universally (not seen in all points "east and west"). Jesus thus tells us not to make the assumption anyone claiming to be speaking as Himself in a physical appearance on earth after the Ascension in fact is the true Jesus doing so.
JESUS' COMMENDATION OF CASTING OUT FALSE NEW APOSTLE BEYOND THE 12
Jesus likewise commended the Ephesians for rejecting someone who "says he is an apostle" but is not telling the truth. Revelation 2:2. Jesus later in Revelation tells us there was only 12 for all eternity. Rev. 21:14. In Acts 19, the Ephesian synagogue where Paul won over many to Christ initially ended up repulsed by the "way" of salvation taught by Paul and expelled him. Hence, what Jesus refers to in Revel 2:2 is recorded in Acts 19!
Thus, anyone who adds himself as an apostle after Matthias replaced Judas in Acts 1 is a false apostle. Jesus commended the Ephesians for expelling him.
Hence, our Lord says we must not be gullible in these two areas. We must test those who vie to be treated as a 13th apostle or as a prophet speaking on behalf of Jesus who appeared to him and only two others in a wilderness.
ANGEL OF LIGHT ARTICLE IS SUB-PAGE TO THE DAMASCUS EXPERIENCE OF PAUL
You found the webpage on Angel of Blinding Light. This was a sub-page to Who Did Paul Meet On the Road To Damascus?
In that main article, we thoroughly examined all arguments whether Paul satisfies the warning of Jesus about a dupe who will be fooled by signs and wonders in a wilderness place, and believe they met the true risen Christ there despite Christ's prior Ascension to heaven. We concluded that, among other things, because Paul's companions heard the voice and saw the light but saw no one in the light on that wilderness road but Paul says he saw the resurrected Christ on earth in the light, that this matches Jesus' filter in Matthew 24:4-5, 23-27 for a dupe who lacks Jesus' warning. Jesus warned that you will know whether it was truly himself because his physical appearance on earth was not universally seen. Since Paul's companions did not see anyone in the light (perhaps due to its blinding intensity), this makes Paul's experience fit Matt 24:4-5, 23-27 to a tee. Yet, Paul, having been a murderer and blasphemer to this point, by his own admission (1 Tim. 1:13; Acts 26:11), had no exposure to Jesus' protective warning about such a false Jesus.
ANGEL OF LIGHT: WHO WAS THIS OUTSIDE DAMASCUS?
Was the Jesus of Damascus actually Lucifer? We must wonder as Paul even says that Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light. See 2 Cor. 11:14. This is not crucial to knowing whether we must not LISTEN to Paul -- for we know enough to reject Paul based upon Jesus' warning in Matt 24:4-5 and 23-27. Yet, it is intriguing if we find evidence about who this was speaking to Paul.
So the subarticle you came across discusses this issue, and concludes it likely was Lucifer.
As I mentioned in the article on Angel of Blinding light, I set forth doctrinal conflicts between Jesus and Paul that support that the light that appeared to Paul and blinded him is likely the angel of blinding light -- the meaning of Lucifer's name in Isaiah. This is because the messages from Paul in many respects contradict Jesus, e.g.,
- Paul teaches us to obey Roman rulers (Romans 13:1-2), treating their words as from God Himself -- Paul says they are God's agents, and thus Paul says our conscience must afflict us if we disobey. Yet, Jesus says the worlds' rulers are part of Satan's domain, not God's.
- Paul three times teaches it is acceptable to eat meat sacrificed to idols, which Jesus three times condemns in the Book of Revelation. See ourlink discussion.
But you ask: "Regarding Paul's encounter with "the Light" - could it not be a Theophany?"
I would say no, not likely. I thoroughly researched whether God's presence ever blinded anyone, and there is no example. A glory light fell on Moses' face by proximity to God. No blindness. Jesus' glory was visible to John and Peter at the transfiguration. No blindness. Only Lucifer's light was ever regarded as "blinding" and this is where the idea of "Hell" came from. One is in "darkness" because Lucifer's light is so blinding.
You also have to address these very blatant contradictions between Paul and Jesus. You did not attempt to do so.
You also ask:
And what about the clear specifics regarding Ananias? Do you suppose Satan orchestrated Paul's visit to Ananias for direction, the healing of his blindness and the direction to Preach Christ? Why would SATAN instruct Paul to Preach Christ?
As to the healing, yes, this is "signs and wonders" that indeed happened. How did they happen? By God or Lucifer? We learn in Moses' battle with the sorcerers of Egypt that they could replicate all the signs and wonders of Moses… And Deut 13:1-5 tells us to be beware false prophets with signs and wonders and words that come to pass. Jesus says the same thing in Matt 7:21-23- - beware false prophets to seduce you by means of signs and wonders. Paul gave Luke a favorable picture of Ananias. But given what is truly going on, either Ananias too was a dupe, or Paul embellished under influence of his new Lord -- the "Jesus of Damascus."
But you also question whether Satan would instruct Paul to preach Christ.
Jesus tells us that is exactly what will happen, and is the aim of the false Jesus. "Do not follow them" -- the dupes of the false Jesus. (Luke 21:8.) For mixing truth with error would be the only way to battle Christ -- as true Christians would prefer martyrdom to denial of the true Christ.
Of course, it also depends in what manner Paul taught Christ. If Paul taught Jesus died and resurrected, and fulfilled the prophecies in Isaiah, etc., then someone can accept Jesus as the Messiah (Prince ruler), because there is nothing unusual in those messages. However, Satan would want this message to be given if the WAY of salvation that is added to this pulls people away from Jesus' teachings on salvation.
Jesus most frequently taught the principle of salvation was cutting off body parts ensnaring you in sin or go to hell whole having failed to do so (Mark 9:42-49; Matt 5:29-30; Matt 18:6-9) - a metaphor for stern repentance. Paul taught the opposite -- that faith alone in some credal facts about Jesus' death and resurrection (1 Cor. 15:1-10) saves you; and that calling on Jesus name (apparently during baptism) saves you (Romans 10:8-9.) Paul was the source of credal and sacramental Christianity without repentance. For Paul taught that belief for Abraham made Abraham "justified" while supposedly still a "wicked man" -- hence without repentance, as most Protestants today construe Romans 4:3-5 to be consistent with Ephesians 2:8-9.
If that latter message pulls you away from Jesus' emphasis on stern repentance from sin, as it certainly does among most modern Protestants, yes, Satan wants that false message of cheap grace to reach the whole world.
Furthermore, there is actual proof during Acts that Lucifer strongly endorsed Paul's preaching. Lucifer did so through his most prominent and well-known prophetess of the ancient world. But you would never know that because her name is not apparent in most translations -- rendered as "a damsel with a spirit of divination" (King James). But in Greek, you would read her true name. She was the Python Priestess who told every one of Philippi for "many days" to listen to Paul for he "teaches us a way of salvation." (Acts 16:16-17.) See my article The Python Priestess Endorses Paul. She did not endorse Jesus, but the way to be saved that Paul taught… That salvation message was what Satan was using Paul to spread.
So you see Lucifer used his greatest weapon of that era -- the Python Priestess -- to make people follow Paul. For Lucifer would not promote Paul through the Python Priestess if Paul was truly laboring to destroy Lucifer's empire. Only because Paul was clearly a dupe - laboring unwittingly to destroy Jesus' kingdom -- did Lucifer's highest agent on earth promote Paul.
PAUL's ONLY QUOTE OF THE DAMASCUS JESUS IN ALL HIS EPISTLES
Finally, do you know that in all of Paul's epistles he only quotes one revelation given him personally by the Jesus of Damascus? Do you know what it is? Has your church told you? Why not celebrate and focus upon this single solitary passage?
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Cor. 12:9 ESV.
What is this about? The “Jesus of Damascus” is explaining to Paul why he will not release Paul from a torment by an “Angel of Satan” who uses a “thorn in the flesh” to afflict Paul spiritually (to keep him "humble").
So we are to believe our Lord let a demonic possession continue to afflict Paul to keep Paul humble? There are better ways, so I don't think so. The obvious issue becomes: who other than Satan could truly have refused Paul's request to be relieved of an "Angel of Satan" of such spiritual torment?
Why haven't you been told this?
As Dickason says, this can be read that Paul’s “apostolic mission [is cast] under suspicion.” (C. Fred Dickason, Demon Possession and the Christian (Crossway, 1989) at 120.) So what are we to believe?
Christian scholars simply lament that “12:7 is notoriously difficult, prompting Barrett to write ‘it can hardly be in the form Paul intended it....’” (David L. Barr, The Reality of the Apocalypse (Society of Biblical Lit, 2006) at 105.)
Now Dixon put aside your biases, as you told me to do. Also, Dixon ignore the world's wisdom of how to preach the gospel differently than Jesus did. Now use Jesus' words to TEST Paul's words. You will see your tests produce the result that Jesus must become your "sole teacher" and "sole pastor," as He even said.
Thereby you will fulfill the most important command to love your God with your whole heart, mind and soul -- by the ejection of false prophets with true signs and wonders and prophecy but who seduce you from following the Way God truly previously taught. (Deut 13:1-5.)
Specifically, here are my comments on points 2-4 in your letter:
2. Unbiased approach - avoiding studying Scripture with a
pre-conditioned mind-set. [Don't presume Paul is inspired or an apostle; test him.]
3. Godly wisdom- Our academics should never dictate instead the illumination by the Holy Spirit is important. Worldly wisdom (philosophy) AND Godly wisdom are worlds apart. [Don't listen to all the Doctors of Divinity, but go right to scripture, and test Jesus versus Paul, as even Paul ordains you should.]
4. Scripture must interpret Scripture - correct interpretation is
necessary. Lucifer (Satan) AND Christ may seem similar but they're NOT. [Scripture that is validated as prophetic prior to Paul is properly used to test Paul's validity.]
May the Holy Spirit bless you and guide you.