I want you to imagine your local pastor or church leader. It can be a he or a she but for the sake of redundancy I will be using a he. He must be a devout, pious follower of Christ. Some one you have known to be trustworthy and honest your whole church life. Now one Sunday morning your pastor comes up to the pulpit and anounces he will be leaving you. And sure enough to your surprise he is gone the next day.
Now imagine three years later your pastor returning to only stay with you for 15 days. During this time he vaguely talks about having visions. He expresses doubt and concern for his faith for reasons he did not reveal. Then he up and leaves once again.
Fourteen years have now gone by with no word of your pastor; only rumors. Then out of no where really your pastor shows up one Sunday morning at your church. Surprised to see your pastor you quickly go and interrogate him. This is what he tells you what he has been up to all these long years...
One morning on the way into church your pastor was in his car at a stop light. It was just after six in the morning. Then all of a sudden in a radiant bright white flash of light he was thrown straight to the floor of the car. Temporarily blinded he could not see what was causing the light to illuminate so brightly. Then it was like it was straight out of the movies. A voice was speaking to him. It had explained to him that Jesus wasn't God afterall but Allah was. He went on to say how he and Allah had a conversation about the prophet Muhammed and how Muhammed had been right all along and that Christians had got it wrong.
If you do not see the parallels yet, I advise you to read Paul's letter to the Galatians. What devout, pious Christian in their right mind would ever believe a story like this? Im venturing out on a limb but my guess is close to nil. Christians know for a fact that God/Jesus/Holy Spirit is the only God. There can be no other God than him, right? So with out a doubt they would reject this pastor's story. So why, pray tell, do Christians accept Paul at all? I do at some length go into why I think Paul should be rejected on grounds of common sense in one of my older posts but I think this topic bares repeating.
I'll try to make this simple. I will bullet point out my points why I think Christians should reject Paul and his message.
- Paul's knowledge about Jesus and his message came from a revelation God gave to him on the road to Damascus. There were only a few witnesses to this event but for some reason none of these witnesses could understand what God was saying. They also could not see God but only a bright light. So in all actuality they saw and heard nothing but a light. This is not sufficient enough evidence to make the claim Paul saw and heard from God. Plus this information comes out of the book of Acts and that book time and time again proves to be historically unreliable.
- For argument sake say Paul did see a "vision" from God and did not learn it from man. How do you test his claims? Well one way would be to see if any of his knowledge conflicts with people who were close to Jesus. Well we do have one instance where Paul has a conflict with Peter, the rock, one of Jesus' disciples. Of course for some reason Paul comes out victorious in his rebuking of Peter but that does not mean Paul's knowledge is right. He could have bullied Peter into it as it seems likely to me by reading Paul's account of the story in Galatians 2.
- It think it is worth noting also that Paul is sometimes at odds with the Gospels. Take Matthew 5 for instance where Jesus explicitly says that not even the smallest part of the law is to be disregarded. But as we all know Paul has a strong disdain towards the Law.
- In all reality Paul has no other evidence to his claims than his own word of it happening. He has no evidence just like the pastor in my story had no evidence. And I am almost certain that most Christians would be quick to rebuke and reject such claims besides it not conforming to what they regard as truth.
- Let us think about it with our critical thinking caps on. Paul was an extremely pious Jew and a persecutor of Christians. He would have to have some knowledge of what a Christian was. You can't just look at a person and know they are a Christian. He would have to know what they believe to persecute them because he would almost certianly have to infiltrate into their groups. Plus being a Jew he would reject Jesus outright and was most likely briefed on the story of Jesus. Most people I know don't reject something they don't know. They most of the time at least have a small incling of what they are rejecting.