Punching St. Paul in the head…

Yes, a strange thing to say, but it comes from the lyrics of this song.

From Jeff’s website,

Jeff Simmonds has a PhD in Religious Studies, and has specialized in the study of first century Judaism, early Christianity and the teachings of Jesus in their social context. He is currently writing a book called Judas Moved the Stone that outlines his conclusions and his point of view.

The Christian church, Jeff says, has fundamentally misunderstood the teachings of Jesus which were about the injustice and oppression that the Jews were then experiencing under tyrannical Roman occupation and rule. Jesus’ message was essentially revolutionary and called for an overthrow of the existing world order in which the poor would be rewarded and the rich would be dispossessed.

Jesus did not claim to be divine, nor did he imagine that he was going to die for the sins of the world, rather, Jesus believed that God would intervene in human history to overthrow the Romans and re-establish self-rule in Palestine for the oppressed people of God: the poor, the widows and orphans, tax-collectors, prostitutes, outcasts and “sinners”.

As an observant Jew, Jesus called people to Torah observance and both he and his followers observed Jewish Law. The Apostle Paul, however, misrepresented Jesus and created a new religion that was actually diametrically opposed to Jesus’ revolutionary teachings. Paul transformed the Jewish Jesus into a pagan deity. The Jewish followers of Jesus, led by James the brother of Jesus in Jerusalem, rejected Paul and his Gentile innovations. Later, the Jewish followers of Jesus, the Ebionites, regarded Paul as the Anti-Christ.

While Jesus’ message was about liberation for the oppressed, Paul’s new religion supported the status quo. While Jesus proclaimed “liberation for the captives”, Paul commanded slaves to obey their masters. While Jesus denounced the ruling authorities and warmed them of their imminent destruction, Paul told his followers to submit to the Roman rulers, for they had been put there by God.

Christianity, which has, with few exceptions, followed the teachings of Paul rather than the teachings of Jesus, has more often than not supported oppression and injustice – as today with conservative American Christianity’s support of George Bush and the war in Iraq. Jesus of Nazareth certainly would not recognize the religion that claims to follow him, and neither would be agree with what Christianity teaches.

This is the end result of focusing too much on the ‘positives’, or social justice concerns, while ignoring the Word of God – the Doctrine and Tradition of the Church.

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