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 Post subject: PAUL'S EPISTLES
PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 3:27 am 
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I recently decided to become reacquainted with the writings of the Apostle Paul. My objective was to read with deliberate detachment from what I had imbibed from my EB background.

I began by reading the lofty epistle to the Ephesians. After reading chapters one and two I was beginning to wonder if I had much idea of what he was really getting at. It all seemed too ethereal. I decided I needed fresh guidance so I drew from my bookshelf two books which I had purchased some years back, and had skimmed through. I opened one of them and was immediately gripped by the insights. The books were "The Authentic Letters of Paul", authors Dewey, Hoover, McGaughy, Schmidt; and "In Search of Paul", Crossan and Reed. I recommend them, firstly for those who feel they have had enough of all things religious and want to move on; secondly, for those who insist that the Holy Bible is the very word of God, to be believed literally and quoted authoritatively.

The first jolt for me was that Ephesians and Colossians are not included among those regarded as 'genuine'. There is even less support for the letters to Timothy and to Titus. These letters were written by others in a Pauline style. "There is no extant manuscript evidence of letters of Paul until the third century. To presume that the original letters of Paul that survived did so without any editing or insertions is naïve."

But why should we think these scholars are right over against what we have been taught and believed? Each must answer that question for himself but I feel responsible to weigh the evidence. Their research gives context and current relevance to writings which have shaped Western society. As an EB I would dismiss these scholars with a quip such as 'what would they know, their probably not even believers, Why go past JND'! The 'Word of God' foundation has a huge superstructure but lacks stability and I find no basis for absolute trust. I think of God as reasonable and expecting us to evaluate insights.

Following is an observation by Pamela M Eisenbaum from the back cover; "In search of Paul is much more than a book on Paul: it is an inspiring synthesis of history and theology, politics and religion. Making intelligent and creative use of an unusually broad spectrum of historical evidence, Crossan and Reed bring Paul's world to life and in so doing they help modern readers to see the relevance of Paul's message for today." Personally I have long felt that since the 1960s the EB fellowship has progressively developed along the pattern of Roman culture rather than the Kingdom of God proclaimed by Jesus the Christ.

I feel deeply indebted to modern scholarship for a better understanding of Paul and indeed of all of the New Testament, to Christianity and indeed other enlightened religious followings, giving new and vital meaning to our paradoxical existence on this planet.


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 Post subject: Re: PAUL'S EPISTLES
PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 6:46 am 
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Peter,
It seems fairly clear from the Apostle Peter's second epistle , that what Paul wrote in all his epistles was regarded as Scripture. And was to have the same authority as the rest of Scripture. see 2 Peter 3 v 15 - 16. I would be glad of your comments.


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 Post subject: Re: PAUL'S EPISTLES
PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 6:55 am 
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I saw a fascinating documentry on the journeys of Paul and it covered some of the topics Peter mentioned.It also made the point that had it not been for Paul's journeys and writings Christianity might never have developed as it did,as the remaining disciples had already begun to disperse.

I think what concerns me most is not so much what is written or who actually wrote the epistles, but how the EB/PBCC have cherry picked the parts of 'Pauls Ministry ' that suited their purposes and totally ignored everything that didn't or even condemned them....if we truely were 'guided by Paul',the brethren could never have existed as they have...and likely avoided the debacle they became in disgracing the Christian testimony.Remember, people have been named as 'evil' and withdrawn from for merely quoting Pauls ministry...


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 Post subject: Re: PAUL'S EPISTLES
PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:25 am 
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Worth recalling that when Paul wrote about all scripture being divinely inspired he NT did not exist.


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 Post subject: Re: PAUL'S EPISTLES
PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 2:51 pm 
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As Arfur points out, the author of 2 Peter refers to Paul’s epistles and then mentions “the other scriptures” implying that Paul’s writings were “scriptures.” The word translated “scriptures” there is γραφας (pronounced graphas), which does not necessarily imply anything authoritative or canonical. In other Greek texts the word simply means “writings”. The works of Plato, Aristotle, Epimenides and Xenophon would be graphas too.

The author clearly recommends Paul’s writings, saying that he wrote with the wisdom given to him, but there is no special significance in the word graphas: he is not saying that Paul’s writings are infallible.

Added to that, we don’t know who the author of 2 Peter was. Various clues show that the epistle was written in the second century, long after Peter’s martyrdom. If you want more details, try googling “authorship of 2 Peter”.


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 Post subject: Re: PAUL'S EPISTLES
PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 6:40 pm 
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It is a reasonable assumption that the epistles we have that make up the bible are just a SAMPLING of MANY such letters( it would be facinating to see some of these letters,if they could be authenticated) ....but they do provide guidance for a emerging church that was quite apart from Judaism -how it should be set up( qualifications for oversight,teaching etc and accountability to elders and deacons, local autonomy, plurality of leadership etc) interestingly enough,most of these cults(EB included) have reverted to the authoritarianism of Judaism-precisely what Paul warned the Galatians would happen..

Admonitions on getting along ,the importance of having a good testimony , deal with local issues, ministering to those in need were all included in these letters.

I suggest the big problem is when a cult decides to go off on its own, ignore the checks and balances in these letters and instead use them to forward their own agenda,and if that's not bad enough, come up with their OWN 'epistles ' which are deemed 'authoritative' telling you how to interpret them...it's not the scriptures fault,it's how they are used...funny,you don't find 'humility and grace ' emphacised nearly as much as 'obediance' is...


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 Post subject: Re: PAUL'S EPISTLES
PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 11:29 am 
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Posts: 263
fisherman wrote:
It is a reasonable assumption that the epistles we have that make up the bible are just a SAMPLING of MANY such letters( it would be facinating to see some of these letters,if they could be authenticated) ....but they do provide guidance for a emerging church that was quite apart from Judaism -how it should be set up( qualifications for oversight,teaching etc and accountability to elders and deacons, local autonomy, plurality of leadership etc) interestingly enough,most of these cults(EB included) have reverted to the authoritarianism of Judaism-precisely what Paul warned the Galatians would happen..

Admonitions on getting along ,the importance of having a good testimony , deal with local issues, ministering to those in need were all included in these letters.

I suggest the big problem is when a cult decides to go off on its own, ignore the checks and balances in these letters and instead use them to forward their own agenda,and if that's not bad enough, come up with their OWN 'epistles ' which are deemed 'authoritative' telling you how to interpret them...it's not the scriptures fault,it's how they are used...funny,you don't find 'humility and grace ' emphacised nearly as much as 'obediance' is...


So when did it become Christianity and Cathocisim or was it the same in the first century? JSH also had an affinity with the Roman Catholic system ascwell as Hitler.

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PETER F


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 Post subject: Re: PAUL'S EPISTLES
PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 11:56 am 
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Some of Paul’s epistles appear to have been lost. In 1 Cor. 5:9 he refers to a previous letter that he wrote to the Corinthians,
Quote:
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral persons — not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since you would then need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother or sister who is sexually immoral or greedy, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber.
and in 2 Cor. 2:1-9 he seems to refer to another epistle that we don’t have.

In Colossians 4:16 he refers to a letter he wrote to Laodicea. This could be a third example of a missing epistle, or it might actually be a reference the so-called Epistle to the Ephesians, which some scholars think was not in fact addressed to the Ephesians at all.

So either 2 or 3 of Paul’s epistles have probably been lost.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 3:41 pm 
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The conclusion that some of his letters had been lost is not speculation,Paul admitted it.( appearently the mail service was bad even back then) But even so,I doubt very much any undelivered letters resurfacing today discovered in a mail bag would indicate he reversed his opinion that we should not socialise with those 'with us' who were guilty of ongoing immorality affecting the Christian testimony-people like JTjr for example. Such behaviour was not to be glossed over and definately not to be justified...( no,we're NOT '100% behind our Brother') regardless of who says what..

In the absence of any evidence otherwise it is also reasonable to conclude that any other letters he wrote would tend to be along the same line and corroborate his existing letters,I doubt very much Paul would dismiss his qualifications for leadership he explicitly detailed to Timothy or go back on what he told the Corintheans about taking their brother to court(quote JTjr- 'sue the bastards') I also doubt very much he would tell the Galatians to give up their freedom in Christ and willingly put themselves under a yoke of bondage again...And until I see any letters purportedly written by Paul stating he was franchising his tent making business( 5 employees minimum please) in exchange for 'gifts' I will probably not change my mind on setting up a 'commercial system in the Assemby'...if Paul had any reservations about setting up local assembles with the checks and balances of qualified elders and deacons,plurality of leadership he certainly never gave any indication he was thinking along those lines ,and I see no indication he suggested that he was the 'last missionary' ,notwithstanding that JTsr said 'the day of the missionary ended with Paul'and unless someone can find one of these long lost epistles,I'm going with what we already have.

I do agree however,that any other letters would be facinating and give us a window on what it was like to be an early Christian in those perilous times when 'everyone was against us' and the 'attack' was very real...


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 Post subject: Re: PAUL'S EPISTLES
PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2017 10:12 am 
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Posts: 113
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Quote:
Peter,
It seems fairly clear from the Apostle Peter's second epistle , that what Paul wrote in all his epistles was regarded as Scripture. And was to have the same authority as the rest of Scripture. see 2 Peter 3 v 15 - 16. I would be glad of your comments.


Arfur, I hoped for Ian McKay to respond to your post. I personally feel conscientiously in agreement with his response. In earlier years I felt threatened by anything which disturbed my trust in the Holy Bible as the 'very word of God'. We can't help craving for certainty while faced with the possibility of spending eternity in the wrong place. This terrifying question prompted honest daring search as to whether I had a sound basis to think of God and indeed of all reality in this way. Is this really what God is like? And then, does the Bible have to be understood in this way? In my youth I read JND's long essay entitled Do We Have a Revelation from God? I emerged unconvinced. Then I was told that one of the 'three great men' had said of Hell that 'the love of God required it'! This explanation wore thin in time.

These questions of eternal destiny, final authority and certainty are fundamental and formative. They mould our understanding of God, our meaning of life and the quality of our relationships for better or for worse. The HEB system illustrates the point.

I continue to think of heaven and hell as realities of some kind and regard the Bible as hugely significant. I also feel responsible to give due attention to the wonderful and sincere scholarship presented for our enlightenment. And yes we need faith, but not blind faith.


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