John R. Donahue | Sep 27 2007 - 9:49am | 2 comments
The pillars of the Jerusalem church are continuing their investigation of the teaching of Paul of Tarsus. His statements on abandoning circumcision, the irrelevance of the Jewish law for new Christians, his practice of traveling with women co-workers, and allowing men and women to pray together in public, have long roused our suspicion of his understanding of the faith. Paul has been suspect from the time he insulted Cephas at Antioch and made fun of our vigilance committee by calling them "superapostles." Recently, however, especially serious problems have arisen. On, of all places, the hill of Mars in Athens he went beyond the bounds of true inter-religious dialogue by calling Athenian idol worshippers "religious," and suggesting that the altar to some nameless god was a way of worshipping, the Lord, the creator God of our ancestors, and he capped it off by "baptizing" a quote by some Stoic author named Aratus ("in him we live and move and have our being") and concludes "we are all God’s children!"--even idolaters? Now we have just received a copy of his most inflammatory writing, which he gave to some deacon named Phoebe to carry to Rome. He says that Jesus died for "the ungodly" and goes on "Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all." We have written to Paul and asked him to define more carefully just who are these "all." Later in the same letter he insults traditional teaching by calling Christ, "the end of the law" even though Jesus himself said not a jot or a tittle of the law will pass away. If such opinions are allowed to continue unchecked the simple faithful may be confused and scandalized. John R. Donahue, S.J.