virus: Paul and James

Eric Boyd (
Thu, 25 Mar 1999 15:41:52 -0500


Snow Leopard <> writes: <<
>Well, you've summed up what *Paul* said Christianity was. Now do you
>care to find out what *Jesus* said it was? Or *James*?

I don't quite understand what you're getting at. Jesus said follow me and I will make you fishers of men. Well, guess what? I agree, and this is a lovely fishing hole. I don't happen to have anything for James, but the pont is, it's one doctrine told diferent ways, like the light of a prism.

Well, I think you should go back and read the gospels again. While it is true that Jesus was fishing for men, why was he motivated to do this? What was the message that Jesus sent his disciples out to say? Another good way to check on Jesus's beliefs is to read his *very first* speech to a crowd -- what does he say first, even before he says "I will make you fishers of men"?

As to James, he is famous for being in utter contradiction to Paul, to the extent that Martin Luther wanted to rip the book of James from the Bible. Perhaps you would benefit by reading it, as I certainly find James to be a voice of reason and sense.

>Or how about -- horror of horrors -- what *you* personally have found
>of value in Christianity?

Personally? I've found that Christianity is, for me, a driving force. My time talking with all of the people who are don't have phaith in Christ, but have sharp intellects, is the best time I have. In a way, it's like military service- while I'm doing my duty to tell what I believe to be truth, to defend Christianity and uphold morality as best as I can (wish me luck) I get to see interesting things and look in on many fascinating perspectives.

That's a good response. In my experience, one doesn't need luck to uphold morality; one need courage.

I generally approach these situations hoping to learn something -- what do you know that I should?

That's nice, but I can disprove Santa Claus a lot easier than you can disprove the God of the Bible.

You'd think so, but I've seen at least four iron-clad arguments against the usual conception of the Christian god, and only one against santa claus. But even that aside, I don't see why an argument should have to be made against either of their existences. The burden of proof rests on those who believe. Otherwise, I'd have to come up with arguments disproving the existence of anything anybody ever thought up... including the IPU (PBuH), Eris, Thor, Tinkerbell, Mythras, Vishnu, Allah, Kali, the Buddha, the X-files aliens, leprechauns, and all fictional characters ever created.

The right god? Pardon me, Eric, but it occurs to me that I may have the bases covered. I have a working set of beliefs, and in charity to whatever may be out there, I check out everything else.

Really? Well, can you tell me why each of the gods (those that are gods) above are "not the right god" then? Once you're finished with them, I can supply you with hundreds more. You know what's really interesting about being a Christian? You're only *one* god (or perhaps three, on a bad day :-) away from being an atheist.

(it's too bad that irrationality doesn't reduce linearly with the number of gods believed in; the world would be such a nicer place)

The funny thing is, every Biblical *discrepancy* I've heard of so far can be explained, if one looks though the Biblical world view. I challenge anyone reading this to point out a few, I'll show you what I mean.

OK. Why I should have to point them out to you is beyond me, but you can try your hand at the conflict between James and Paul.

Paul -- Romans 3:28, 5:1, Gala 2:15-16 (which actually comes out a whole section on the feud between Paul and James's supporters), Ephe 2:8-9

James -- James 2:14-17, 2:24.

If you want me to quote the verses, tell me first which version of the Bible we are going to use, as we want to be consistent. (I would prefer the NIV, the KJV, or the GoodNews Bible, since I own them, but would not be adverse to the RSV, or YLT)

"Many sweat to reconcile St. Paul and St. James, but in vain. 'Faith justifies' and 'faith does not justify' contradict each other flatly. If any one can harmonize them I will give him my doctor's hood and let him call me a fool." -- Martin Luther

Ironically, I think that Jesus would have agreed more with James than Paul -- as witnessed by his responses to questions like "what must I do to enter the kingdom of heaven?" (he invariably answers with "works", and sometimes also with "love", but never -- to my knowledge -- with "have faith")

If you do manage this, I have another nasty surprise ready just in time for easter... :-)

On the other hand, I have invested an incredible amount of time trying to understand the viewpoints of otherr religions. I see the discrepancies, ask around, and then the members of *whatever* think that I'm being spiteful. So, it looks like they're being sore losers. I keep checking. If God is not what I think he is, and he is powerful enoughto do anything, and caring enough to think of humans as more than giga-pets, then He'll make the truth known to me. He knows I'm listening.

He can only tell you if he exists -- i.e. in exactly the situation you should be concerned about (his non-existence), your above point is moot. I know you can do better than that!


... on an unrelated note, can anybody tell me the bible version in which the Lord's prayer contains "and forgive us for our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us"? I said that thousands of times as a child, and am now unable to find the Bible version from which it came! Most versions have "wrong doings" or "debts" in the place of "trespasses". It has become something of a minor mystery for me.