"But if we must focus on Paul's letters to establish the Christian faith, then truly the servant has become greater than his Master." (BercotTheologians (2010) at 40.)


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Pauline Based Divisions

Whether for good or ill, or right or wrong, how many denominations trace their basis of straying from early orthodoxy based upon doctrines of Paul?

Grace and Faith. The first adherents of "faith alone" construed from Paul were strictly Pauline Christians known as Marcionites from 140 AD to 400 AD, whom the early church universally regarded as heretics for this view. See Marcionites. Today, faith-alone remains a source of division between denominations -- with Lutherans and many evangelicals on one side, while on the other side are many who still adhere to Jesus' view of a tenuous salvation which can be lost by sin and a failure to repent (Mark 9:42-47), derided as Arminianism, such as Methodists hold.

Speaking in glossalia-based tongues. This is not mentioned outside Paul's letters in the early church. Thus it died until the modern Pentecostals separated from almost all other denominations on the pursuit of this 'gift.' Paul introduced this unique concept, which happens to not match the apostolic gift -- which was by apostolic speaking and being understood by foreigners in their tongue identified in Acts 1-2 (see Paul v James' Church: Who Was the Greater Evangelist?). By contrast, Paul identifies glossalia as the gift of 'tongues' -- meaning incomprehensible speech which another must interpret. This Pauline-glossalia exactly matches how the Python-priestess of Apollo would utter incomprehensible speech and need someone to translate her words for the listeners. See our article "Python Priestess Endorses Paul." Not coincidentally, this same priestess expressly endorsed Paul and in particular his "way of salvation" while still controlled by a demon, as Luke unwittingly reveals. Id.

Once saved always saved. Early Marcionites from 100-400 AD and Valentinus's followers of 160 AD held this view at odds with early church's orthodoxy that salvation was tenuous, as Jesus taught. Today, Baptists hold this previously heretical view of eternal security in contrast to so-called "Arminian" denominations such as Methodists and Pentecostals who follow Jesus' lessons on a tenuous salvation. See Valentinus and Marcionism.

Predestination. Calvinists (e.g., Presbyterians) since the 1500s have held this view, citing Paul as their principal support. By contrast, this doctrine was universally rejected as blasphemy in the first few hundred years of the church. See our article Early Church View of Paul Point #15.

Rapture of believers (Paul). This doctrine is held by modern Baptists and many evangelicals. However, Jesus taught in Revelation and in several parables that the rapture when He returns is of evildoers, leaving the righteous faithful who greet Him on earth to inherit the earth. On Jesus' earlier opposing view to Paul's view, see Paul on Rapture v. Jesus.

Replacement theology. In reliance upon Paul's abrogation of the Law, Catholics and almost all denominations today say that the "Christian" dispensation did away with the bonds to the Law, replacing Israel with Christians in an entirely new covenant divorced from the Law given Moses. However, they are at odds with earliest Christian leaders who said the Law given Moses was not abrogated by Christ's coming, as well as with God's depiction in Jeremiah that the New Covenant was with "Israel" whereby God would take Israel back as a "wife" previously abandoned.  See Early Church View on the Law.

Sunday as Sabbath. Roman Catholics separated in 363 AD from orthodoxy by making Sunday officially the new Sabbath, leaving the Eastern Orthodox and Middle East Christians behind (who  up until the present say the Sabbath is the Sabbath while worshipping on Sunday). The anti-Sabbatarians primarily justify themselves by the teachings of Paul. See Sabbath Command and Paul Abolished Sabbath.

Dispensationalism. The notion that the Jesus of the 12 is a different dispensation than the Jesus revealed to Paul is dispensationalism. This was first held by the Marcionites, and now is the view of most evangelicals and Calvinists, although differentiated as a Dispensation of Law v. of Grace.


This was a brief overview on what teachings of Paul (not from Jesus) which divided the church in the past from the earliest practices of the apostolic churches one to three generations after the twelve apostles died, as confirmed by early church records. 

Essentially, most major present divisions within the church are attributable to some passage in Paul that was given weight at various historical points in time which did not align with Jesus' teachings. Sometimes the view was rejected early on, and took a milennium to revive, such as faith alone and dispensationalism which Marcionites held in the 140-400 AD period, but which are now quite common in Protestantism.

This constant tug from Paulinism represents a threat to the purity of Christ's message. To the extent Paulinism permeates, the true church is sickened and weakened. To the extent that Paulinism is absent, and all follow Jesus' words alone in obedience to Deuteronomy 18, we are a pure and holy church. Chapter 18 of Deuteronomy is where Yahweh tells us to obey the promised special Prophet whose every word would be from Yahweh.

Some are disconcerted and fear confusion when we identify anything as error that has long acceptance. Indeed, we should never throw out tradition that is benign and harmless. But in the case of Paulinism, it is a rival master. And as we see above, it has created divisions that have weakened the true evangelism and the true message of salvation which Jesus taught. Paulinism even has largely eviscerated the salvation message of Jesus -- "heaven maimed or hell whole." (Matt 18:5-7; Mark 9:42-47.) When I quote those passages to most evangelical Christians, they are totally unaware they were spoken by Jesus. Thus, wherever Paulinism is in full bloom, Jesus' message is utterly absent, forgotten and lost.

Hence, this is not merely quibling over Paul's credentials. Neutralizing the cancer of Paulinism by calling people to follow Jesus' words alone makes perfect sense to most who finally hear this clarion call. We can never go wrong following just Jesus. It is such an obvious principle to guard the church. It came right from Jesus' mouth -- when He said He was the "sole teacher." It will take time, but that is the message to spread to counter-act the infection that Paulinism represents. Not anger. Not back-stabbing. Just a direct call to follow Jesus should be the only message we give Paulinists. If they truly love Jesus, we will find a new brother or sister.