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Is One Who Removes The Epistles of Paul From Canon Any Longer A Christian?

Email Question June 23, 2013

Then are you Christians if you reject the Pauline letters to Jesus church?

My Reply June 23, 2013


Thank you for asking whether removing Paul makes one not a Christian.
A Christian is a follower of Jesus Christ. Is acceptance of Paul's letters essential to being a Christian? History provides an answer. Many books once accepted are now gone yet their removal did not change the church from following Christ because those works do not involve any words of Jesus being removed.

For example, some Christians today still accept the Apocrypha -- 7 books that once were part of the King James Bible in 1611. This was Edras, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon etc. See this link.  But these 7 books were removed in 1885 from the King James. See this link. Yet, we Christians all remained followers of everything Jesus taught because none of these books contained a quote by Jesus that was lost.

Likewise, the New Testament used to have the Shepherd of Hermas and the Epistle of Barnabas -- found in the oldest complete New Testament - the Sinaiticus -- from 340 AD. See this link. But we all remained Christians when removed because there is not a single quote of Jesus in either work that was lost.

The Apostolic Constitutions was regarded as truly from the apostles until in 692 AD it was rejected as containing heretical material. See this link. Yet, none of this contained a single quote of Jesus, and hence nothing about Jesus was subtracted or lost. We all remained Christians after it too was removed from Canon within the Syrian Church.

Similarly, Paul too does not have a single unique quotation of Jesus. His only quotes of Jesus in his epistles is the communion liturgy lifted from Luke's Gospel  and possibly another quote of Jesus that matches Luke's Gospel about the worker is worth his wage. Paul otherwise has no single unique quotation of  a teaching from Jesus in his epistles other than his "Lord" rejecting Paul's request to be free of torment by an "Angel of Satan." (2Cor. 12:7.) That "Lord" refuses, saying "my grace is sufficient for you." This is so anomalously different than JESUS' approach which would be to cast out demonic influence. This is so insulting of our Master that even Paul fans believe something is wrong or unreliable in Paul attributing this response to Paul's "Lord." Paulinists in effect ask us to ignore this response from the "Lord" to Paul in 2 Cor. 12:7 -- the only unique quote by Paul of Jesus in Paul's epistles.

If we remove Paul as recognized "inspired" canon, just as Paulinists ask us to ignore 2 Cor 12:7 as truly inspired from Jesus, we remain just as much a Christian when the church removed after 340 AD and by 396 AD the Sherpherd of Hermas and the Epistle of Barnabas from the NT Canon. We remain just as much a Christian when we removed the Apostolic Constitutions. Or when the King James Bible in 1885 removed seven books our forefathers read for centuries as holy writ.

In summary, a Christian is someone who follows Jesus, and His teachings. Who accepts Him as their Master -- Messiah and Son of God. Since nothing from Paul's epistles purports to be a unique teaching by Jesus at all (at least not reliably so in the sole quote in 2 Cor. 12:7), the removal of Paul's epistles from canon cannot effect one's status of being a true Christian.

Thank you for asking,