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Messianic Dilemma Over Paul

Laura Question on How One Can Refute Messianics That Paul was Law Adherent

I would like to see some articles written rebutting the Messianic explanations of how Paul is simply misunderstood and was really a Torah-lover, by Brad Scott, for example (wildbranch.org). (12/24/2013)


My Reply 12/25/2013

 Laura

I would not wholly rebut them, for I agree with them that Paul affirms the Law and says he practices it.

The question is not the plausibility of their case, but whether their verses prove the insincerity / guile / deception of Paul when compared to other verses.  

First, in the book of Acts, Paul is Torah obedient (Acts 21 -- performs the ritual of Numbers 6 when James requests Paul to do so to prove Paul is not guilty of "apostasia" - abandoning Torah). Paul also affirms all the Torah in Acts 24:14 before Felix. But in his letters, Paul is totally contradictory, especially in Romans 7:1-7. 

What explains the different impression one gets reading Acts (Torah obedient) and Paul's letters (Torah negating)?  

Well, the author of Acts was Luke. In Luke 16, he quotes Jesus affirming the Torah continues, and is not abrogated. Luke quotes Jesus affirming the Law in many contexts, and faults the Pharisees for negating it. See my article Luke is a Non-Pauline Gospel

So Paul behaved around Luke who knew Jesus' position on the Law as one who adhered to it and perpetuated it. Luke was never made aware Paul did not truly believe the Law continued. Luke only heard Paul teach the Law continued.

So Paul spoke one way around Luke who knew Jesus affirmed the Law continues, and Paul spoke contrarily around others whom Paul knew they did not care whether the Law continues.   

This is not mere surmise, for Paul confesses this behavioral tactic.

This is what explains Paul's epistle to the Romans and many other places where Paul clearly negates the Law's ongoing validity.

Paul blatantly confesses that he pretends to be Law-compliant around those who think the Law  is still in effect, but around those who are not Law-compliant, Paul will live like the Law does not apply but still lives by the Law of Christ, i.e., apparently a euphemism for his conscience. I wrote an article on this: Guile in Paul

So I agree with the Messianics that the Paul from Acts appears law-compliant. I wish they could convince people Paul was sincerely Torah-observant, and did not obey from pretense. But when the crush of opposing verses comes upon them, there is only one solution that explains the self-contradiction: Paul openly avows he practiced "guile" -- a nice word for 'deception.'  Hence, the passages in Luke's Acts reflect what Paul allowed Luke to see. 

Pious Fraud Doctrine / Casuistry Doctrine in Roman Catholic Church

Paul is the basis of the "pious fraud" doctrine in the Catholic Church. This doctrine teaches, based upon Paul, that it is proper to use a so-called "pious" fraud to advance the gospel ... for the end justifies the means. See Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology (1871) at 448.

Paul many times affirms "all things are permissible, but not all things are expedient." Thus, based upon a morality of expedience, combined with Paul's view on using deception for Christ (see Guile in Paul), we see the pious fraud doctrine -- taught as the subject of Casuistry in Jesuit colleges until the modern era -- has a firm foundation in Paul's teachings. But for one who follows Christ, this must be repugnant. For Peter says, in Him was found "no guile." Jesus, not Paul, must be our example. 

And this same tactic appears often in Paul's epistle to the Romans where Paul begins by affirming the Law is good and no one will be justified who does not follow the Law. However, then Paul undercuts these statements by teaching the Law's nullification, and teaching justification is by faith imputing the Law's righteousness. See Roman's 4:3-5. This allows all the prior concessions -- which give the appearance of Law-adherence -- to fade into oblivion. The anti-Torah Paulinists are the ones reading Paul correctly. Yet, the Messianics are correct Paul speaks and acts in the opposite position often, especially in the book of Acts.

The truth is the Messianics are deluded by Paul's crafty deception -- a skill Paul encouraged and praised as his own practice -- incredibly enough.

Shalom and blessings,

Doug

 Laura's Response 12/25/2013

Thank you for your in depth response. In my experience, most people moving into Torah Observance are under the impression that the only problem with Paul is his views on the Law as portrayed by the church, and so when these Law verses are explained away satisfactorily, they cling to Paul as inspired.


 My Reply 12/25/2013

Hi Laura

In a sense, if they convince people to follow what Yahshua / Jesus truly taught, then they have achieved an important step. The problem then is how to explain the many blasphemies -- some unintended but others inexplicable -- that appear in Paul's words. See my article Paul and Blasphemy. A blasphemy is any insult on God -- attributing evil to God even unwittingly, as the Pharisees did by claiming Yahshua's / Jesus' miracles were by Satan. 

In that article, I summarize the top 5 blasphemies in Paul's writings:

Paul's words are easily and commonly construed to support the following blasphemies:

1. The Law of God stirs and causes sin (Romans 3:20Romans 7:5Romans 7:71 Cor. 15:56);

2. God causes morally evil behavior (Romans 11:8, 32Ephesians 1:11); 

3. God does not live in temples made of human hands, implying that the God 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 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.

So if the Messianics believe they have kept Paul as inspired, and won over hearts to be Torah observant despite Paul, kudos to them in part. However, then they have created a bigger dilemma: how do they teach these pupils to answer each one of these major blasphemies found in Paul's writings? I believe repeating a blaphemy is a salvation negating circumstance. It can also be the 'unpardonable sin' -- at least if it is exactly like the sin the Pharisees committed with Jesus / Yahshua -- attributing a miracle of God through Jesus as a work of Satan.  

To prevent this, I believe the messianics should instead teach the truth about Paul as the best protection of the Member from blasphemy.  But otherwise, all the messianic leaders have accomplished is they have helped keep the members as Torah Obedient.  Yet, they do so at the risk that the member might actually depart from a Torah-obedient life,  and accept dispensationalism in the majority churches.  

Blessings and Shalom,

Doug