"The Spirit of the Apostles is not a guide equal or greater than the Lord, thus Paul within his letters does not have as much authority as has Christ." (Carlstadt, Canonicis Scripturis (1520))

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Do We Really Have to Endure Persecution & Isolation for these Views?

C wrote me on July 15th 2012 a heartfelt complaint after suffering persecution for holding to her guns on the issue of Jesus' Words Only:

Hi Douglas,
My hubbie and I just got blasted from a friend regarding the Paul issue this afternoon on Shabbat.  Told us we were going away from truth! Oh brother!  We really need some others who are on the same page to share and talk.  What is the use of sharing this info, if in the end you keep getting ostracized and blasted to pieces?  Only to find yourself further away from any kind of fellowship.  This is not good.  We are to have fellowship with like minded believers.  Where are they?  No one puts their email out there, or phone numbers for good reason.  However........
You must have emails of others who are in the same boat.  I know that others write to you, and all I am asking again and again is please help us with others to have at the very least a phone conversation via conference type call.  No Paulinists allowed, only for us who are totally over the
fence with the truth on Paul of T.  A place to fellowship.  There is a type of conference that you can delete someone out if they are unacceptable.  Can't remember the name right now, but let know if you are interested, and I will hunt it down.
You say you are a Pastor.................a pastor hears the sheep and responds!  I am bleeping hard!!!  Baaaaah......
Thanks and Shalom once again,
Chelsea

My Reply

C.

I outlined how to have a church starting in your own home with your spouse, and spreading it out to others. See our page Jesus on Church Structure. I explained how you could attend Paulinist oriented churches to fellowship with those who also share a love for Christ (even though often misdirected). See our page How to Treat Paulinist Tares.  

Due to privacy laws and common decency, I cannot give out other people's information. Sorry. 

Turning to your problem, persecution is clearly unpleasant. Jesus endured it and it did not end well in terms of this earthly existence. All His friends abandoned him. His closest apostles denied knowing Him, i.e., Peter. Even a friend betrayed him unto death, i.e., Jesus called Judas "friend."

One way to feel less alone and bear persecution for following Jesus is to read the books of those who think like us and endured persecution too.

I recommend you read Dietrich Bonhoeffer Cost of Discipleship and another of his works -- which directly answers your  question -- called "Life Together."  (Bonhoeffer ignored Paul in Cost of Discleship, and Bonhoeffer was obviously influenced by Kierkegaard who criticized any further attention on Paul's writings. See my page.)

As Bonhoeffer suffered imprisonment at the end, he says that a Christian life is not supposed to be necessarily one in fellowship with fellow believers. If you have any fellowship with fellow believers, it is solely a gift of grace. "Not all enjoy this blessing" of fellowship, Bonhoeffer said. Instead, Bonhoeffer in Life Together (NY: Harper 1954) written circa 1943 quoted Martin Luther from 1525:

"The kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ. He wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lillies, not with the bad people but the devout people. Oh your blasphemers and betrayers of Christ. If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared?" (Luther) 

Indeed, the Reformation would never have succeeded unless a few were willing to suffer persecution and isolation. Their original numbers were just 2 -- Luther and Carlstadt. Now there are millions whom they spawned.  

Bonhoeffer says Jesus' remark that His followers are to be joined from the four winds in Matt 24:31 implies we are scattered. Bonhoeffer writes:

"Until then, God's people remain scattered, held together solely in Jesus Christ, having become one in the fact that, dispersed among unbelievers, they remember Him in far countries." 

After saying that it is only a grace of God that gives us any fellowship and many do not have such a blessing, Bonhoeffer says:

"The imprisoned, the sick, the scattered lonely, the proclaimers of the gospel in heathen lands, stand alone. They know the visible fellowship is a blessing...but they remain alone in far countries, a scattered seed according to God's will." (Id., at 18-19.)  

Thus, if you are suffering persecution, count it all joy, as James says. It is a sign you are on the right track. And a servant is not above His master, and since Jesus suffered persecution, so will all those who follow Christ. Jesus however taught us to dust off our shoes and move to the next town. Not that we are weak, but then the pearls you have will no longer be trampled unworthily.

I hope this helps. Blessings and Shalom,

Doug

PS Incidentally, I refuse to call myself a pastor. Instead, I say Jesus is the pastor. I am trying to teach what Jesus taught, elevating Him back to His rightful position of Pastor over us. I gather comfort from those like Bonhoeffer who share this special attachment to Jesus, and rely only upon Jesus for doctrine. Bonhoeffer went ahead of us into persecution, so I gain strength from knowing this.