Bible Questions and Spiritual Discussion

Paul is so scatter brained!
Someone remind me again why we should consider the letters of Paul as the inerrant and infallible word of God? Is it because our mommies and daddies told us to? Maybe it leads us down a road of "picking and choosing" which scriptures we will apply to our lives? Maybe subconsciously we don’t consider all that Paul teaches as inerrant.

But Paul even says some of his statements are not from the Lord but from himself. Why does he get to pick and choose the things to say that come from his own experiences and not directly from God? So, is this part of the Bible still considered infallible and inerrant? Case in point, what was that all that about from today’s reading in 1 Corinthians 7:12-16? Is he mixing Jewish theology with New Covenant theology?

12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

Craig from Illinois 08/11/2012 11:12

Catholica 08/11/2012 13:39
It is a good question, Craig. When I read this, from my perspective, Paul chose to enumerate that he was explaining a discipline of the Church rather than something he received from the Lord directly. In the Catholic Church we call this discipline the "Pauline privilege" and it can be special grounds for divorce, IIRC.

To me this is one demonstration on the authority given to the apostles to rule juridically and authoritatively on certain special circumstances that arise that are not covered directly by divine revelation. Another way to say this is that the apostles had the authority to "bind" and "loose". This example is Paul binding and his decision is still binding on Christians even though it is not divine revelation.
Ray 08/11/2012 17:32
Forgive me, what is the error in the text?
Craig from Illinois 08/12/2012 08:36

Perhaps I am confused by the meaning of the text. I am seeing concepts being taught like, children are unclean by the acts of their unbelieving parents and unbelieving spouses are "sanctified" by their believing spouses. What is he referring too? Is there some teaching of Christ parallels this concept? If so, let's explore it.

Jesus was pretty clear on divorce in Matthew 5:28. But Paul adds to that teaching with a very broad loophole. "16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?" Exactly! Who knows the heart? Who knows the future plans of God? Anyone can say that their spouse is not a "true believer" and get a divorce. It seems that this is the case today with divorce rates as high as the secular world in the US.

Now for some outrageous opinions from Craig within the safety of anonymity and with the love of my DAB brothers and sisters...

My overall perspective on Paul's letters is that he thinks with two minds. One, he loves Jesus and the Grace message. But he still can not let go of what life should look like in that life of grace. So he comes up with guidelines and outright new law. I am convinced that Paul is a changed man in his heart but the "renewing of the mind" hasn't fully developed yet.

Isn't that what we experience too? We experience a changed heart then we think others should act the way we act within our own experiences? Is Paul exempt from sanctification? Sure he had a huge heart change at the time of his conversion. But was his mind renewed all in one shot too? I believe his writings are proof that he is still in process. Yet we take his letters as "words from God" and therefore "inerrant" even though he says he is not being told by God what to say. May Paul is wrong. I can't think of one single believer who hasn't been wrong once or twice.

Catholica 08/12/2012 18:55
Craig, something that might interest you is a recent Protestant scholarship known as "the new perspective on Paul". I read it awhile back. I believe that the difficulties you note are better explained by the new perspective, and you would probably find it interesting.

Ray 08/12/2012 21:12
I see your point, Craig. I guess I just try not to look at the book that way anymore. It's not a rule book and Paul isn't the type to go yoking people like that, right? It's out of character in my opinion. "…we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code." Why would a guy who was so inspired start making up new code? It doesn't make sense to me. So, lets say Paul is not stating new code with, "the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife.." What if he meant SOME spouses who do not believe have been helped in the way by their believing SO. That we know IS possible. I've see it happen.

We don't have a sense that Paul is a Judaizer since he dukes it out with Peter in Gal 2 over this kind of approach to life. We do know he is mighty in the spirit. So, maybe his use of unclean wrt the kids is not the ceremonial sense? G169, akathartos, could be "b) in a moral sense: unclean in thought and life." We do know that broken homes do all sorts of evil in the lives of children, right? There is a lot of use of G169 having to do with evil spirits, Mat 10:1 "He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil (G169) spirits and to heal every disease and sickness." I'd say he was on target about the long term effects of the break down of families. All sorts of evil enters there.

The above are just guesses. Sure, Paul is just a man like us. Maybe God did let Paul write stupid stuff sometimes so we would be more compelled to learn to walk with the spirit as our primary way of life. The guys in Acts didn't have these words, but were they ever rockin' the world without them and I think we (Jesus and us) can also. The book says he's alive and he is with us to the end of the age. That changes everything. The book is helpful in that it displays God's character and points us to Jesus, but Jesus is primary and He's right here with us. The thoughts are ended with the question, "16 How do you know.." You know in your heart, where Jesus lives.
TRWord 08/13/2012 09:42
Is the problem Paul’s writings or the present state of the Christian faith.

All this is due to the fact that most of us believe that the scriptures should be interpreted through our human intellect and without the assistance of the spirit; in other words literally.

Christianity is the teaching of Jesus Christ, and it’s not Paul’s writings that is misleading us, it’s our belief in doctrine that is. We cannot understand the scriptures without the teaching of Jesus Christ. We are misled from the very first verse because without it we do not know what “the heaven” and “the earth” mean.

Gen. 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

The old testament represents our understanding before the coming of Jesus Christ....notice the confusion.

Paul’s writing assumes that we have accepted the prerequisite of the faith:

Ye must be born again.

Unfortunately today’s Christian believes that being born again is believing the doctrine of substitutionary atonement. This is the problem.
Craig from Illinois 08/13/2012 21:45
Ray, this has been a good conversation. Thanks for your input. Your points are well received and they have helped my consider my source of frustration. I hear a lot of Paul saying "don't do this, but do that". To me that is new law. Let's see if your point holds up when we read some of his other letters.

TRWord, .... I just don't know how to respond to your comments. I am intrigued but bewildered.

Andre, thanks for your resources to material that are relevant to the discussion. BTW, I am still listening to Fr. Barron on a regular basis. It's one of my new favs.

TRWord 08/17/2012 16:35

You said:

“Someone remind me again why we should consider the letters of Paul as the inerrant and infallible word of God?”

We err terrible when we look to Paul for the inerrant and infallible word of God. We should look to no other but Jesus Christ for God’s Word. The problem is most Christians today read the old testament then they leap frog the gospels to Paul’s letters because they seem to support whatever doctrine they believe.

Paul letters were written to the newly converted and they were meant to support the teaching of Jesus Christ.

The prophet Isaiah said:

Is. 28:9 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.

Is. 28:10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:

Isaiah is saying first of all that we have to be weaned from the milk. What does he mean by this? This we must understand first. He’s also saying that what we believe must not come from one consideration here or there but from the totality of the scriptures.

Notice Paul isn’t saying anything different:

Heb. 5:13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

The problem is we have to understand what Christianity is about before you read Paul’s letters. Then we’ll be able to discern when he is supporting the faith and when he is merely giving human counsel.
John T 08/31/2012 16:30
Very interesting discussion. I'm going to read it through again soon. A related side note: The movie "No Greater Love" deals with some of the concepts of believer/non-believer in marriage in an interesting situation. Good movie.

Be blessed!
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