"paul is misunderstood. i agree with you, though. i can remember
going to baptist vacation bible school as a kid and thinking that all they
talked about was paul and i thought this was all about jesus. the baptists
REALLY dont understand paul or jesus. martin luthers strength was not that he
understood the scriptures so much but that he understood what the church was
doing wasnt right. why have so many generations had to pass in order to arrive
at the truth? has anyone gotten it right since jesus? that is a rhetorical
question. i know that muslims think so."
I agree with most of what you have written. I don't think that Paul is so
misunderstood as he is followed through misunderstanding. Don't know if
that makes sense to you or not.
Jesus taught forgiveness. From what I can tell, he is the first to do
so. Paul taught atonement - straight from his background as a
Pharisee. The two concepts are in opposition to each other.
Yet I have to give a lot of credit to Paul. Both Jesus and Paul were in
the Roman Empire, a domineering and brutal overlord. The temples in
Palestine operated under the authority of the Romans. The temple in
Jerusalem had a Roman guard contingent on the Temple Mount of between 2 to 3,000
soldiers. Paul was a Roman citizen and understood what was required to
take Jesus' message to the gentiles - the common Roman people. He had to
make changes and adjustments from the law of the Sabbath to eating pork and many
other things. In the process he also intermingled his judgmental Pharisee
background into the pot. Yet it was that pot that the Romans eventually
bought and I doubt if they would have bought anything else. In fact, the
Roman Church did all sorts of cutting and pasting and destruction of books, in
order to come up with the New Testament. Besides that, they eventually
eliminated Gnostics and many other sects through murder. But Paul's
teachings along with fragments of Jesus' teachings survived.
It is my personal opinion that within what survived all of that manipulation
of Jesus' message - is the true message of Jesus - if you read Jesus. It's
there. It is inspirational.