Last Updated on 11th October 2019
Pauline Influence Over Christian Doctrine
Farhan Iqbal, Missionary, Canada
The New Testament contains 27 books, the first four of which are called the Gospels. The word Gospel means “good news” and is only refers to the first four books because they contain the good news about Jesusas. They have historical information about who Jesusas was, what miracles he performed, what sermons he gave, what he predicted, what happened up to his crucifixion and some appearances afterwards.
In the previous article of this series, I discussed some examples of differences in the Gospel accounts. The evidence helps us conclude that the Gospels – in their entirety – are not revealed books of God Almighty.
The Promised Messiahas explains this when he writes:
“…it has not been proven that these Scriptures are revealed. Their writers have not made the claim anywhere that these books have been written based on revelation. Instead, some among them have stated clearly that these are just human books. It is true that the Holy Quran affirms that a book named Injil was revealed to Jesusas. However, the Quran does not say that Matthew or John or someone else were recipients of revelation and that that revelation was named Injil. That is why Muslims cannot consider these books as books of God the Exalted in any way. The Gospels say that Jesusas used to receive revelation from God the Exalted and used to name his revelation Injil. Hence, Christians should present that Injil. It is amazing that these people do not even mention it and the reason is that they have lost it.” (Kitabul Bariyyah, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 13, p. 76)
The truly historical, original words of Jesusas may have been lost forever. This may partly be the reason why Christians rely on a whole range of other books in the New Testament to define their theology.
Other than the four books of the Gospels, there are 13 letters attributed to Paul, and this fact itself indicates the level of importance Paul has in Christianity. Most scholars agree that only 7 of these letters were actually written by Paul. (An Introduction to the Bible, D M Carr & C M Conway, p. 248)
The other letters were written pseudonymously, meaning that other anonymous persons (possibly Paul’s followers) wrote these letters and attributed them to Paul in order to benefit from his popularity.
The letters that were written by Paul for sure include Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon. According to Carr and Conway, the date of original composition of these letters seems to fit “within a span of about ten years beginning around 49-50 CE”. (An Introduction to the Bible, p. 248)
So great is the influence of Paul on Christianity that the Promised Messiahas writes, “It is important to realize that the religion which is championed as ‘Christianity’ is, in fact, the religion of Paul and not that of Christ, for the latter never taught the doctrine of the Trinity”. (Fountain of Christianity, p. 52)
In other words, most of the things that are said about the Divinity of Jesusas are based in the writings of Paul. Paul on the other hand does not quote Jesusas at all, especially when it comes to his divinity.
Some argue that Paul lived very close to the time of Jesusas which is why we can accept what he says about him to be true. However, the problem is that Paul was an enemy of Jesusas and his followers prior to Jesus’as crucifixion, and he did not meet Jesusas in person.
Paul himself says, “To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law” (1 Corinthians, 9:20).
The question is: How can a person who is so loose in his preaching be fully trusted, especially in a matter as important as the divinity of Jesusas?
Furthermore, the Promised Messiahas has noted that we cannot trust Paul as an “Apostle” of Jesusas because there is no prophecy of Jesusas about Paul. This is significant for two main reasons. First, Paul was an enemy of Jesusas prior to the crucifixion of Jesusas and it is hard to trust an enemy who has a conversion and starts preaching at a time when the teacher is not present to confirm his teachings.
Second, Paul argued against the application of some of the teachings of the Torah, which is something that Jesusas did not do. For instance, Paul comments on circumcision in Romans 2:28-29, as follows:
“For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical. Rather, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart – it is spiritual and not literal. Such a person receives praise not from others but from God.”
This is comparable to the fact that Jesusas himself was circumcised (Luke 2:21). Similarly, Paul argued that the law is a curse (Galatians 3:10-13), while Jesusas said that he come to fulfil the law, and not to abolish it (Matthew 5:17).
If Paul is the true Apostle, the evidence for that has to be provided. Otherwise, it is not possible to just take his word for it and ignore anything in his teachings that contradicts the teachings of Jesus Christas.
Explaining the necessity of a prophecy of Jesusas about Paul, the Promised Messiahas notes:
“It was … essential that some prophecy should have been made regarding this person who played such havoc with the Mosaic Law. But in the absence of any such prophecy in the Gospel, and in view of his hostility towards Jesusas and his opposition to the timeless commandments of the Torah, is there any reason at all why he should be accepted as a sage?” (Fountain of Christianity, p. 56)
As a result, Muslims do not deem Paul to be a reliable source on the teachings of Jesusas. If Jesusas claimed to be God, evidence of such a claim from the words of Jesusas himself should be provided. It is not enough to rely on Paul, or anyone else for that matter.