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The undue deference to the authority of the so-called
"Apostles" and the Bible is nothing short of idolatry.

The Twin Pillars of Christendom

The structure and theology of institutionalized Christianity are not founded upon the teachings and message of Jesus, but are based primarily upon the thinking and understanding of Peter and Paul with a great deal of Judaistic tradition and mysticism mixed in. This largest of the world's religions uses Jesus as the masthead, but the ship is built and powered by the dogmas and doctrines laid down by these two men and carries a load of misunderstanding as cargo. No wonder it has never delivered much more than being just another oppressive coping mechanism.


Peter is the disciple most often rebuked by Jesus and the one Jesus called Satan—Blocker or Adversary.  Peter is the disciple who was afraid to admit that he even knew Jesus and publicly lied three times about it.  Peter was probably the oldest and most ignorant disciple, the most set in his ways and thinking.  He is probably correctly portrayed as ebullient, a take charge guy, least prone to contemplate and do any thinking.

Apparently, outside of some temporary humility after his emphatic denial in the courtyard, Peter never learned anything very significant from his time and closeness to Jesus, This is clearly indicated by his course of action before and after the resurrection.  He was so far out of sync with Jesus' agenda, message, mission and power that he drew a sword and hacked off the ear of one of the men that came to arrest Jesus in the garden.

Peter is the disciple who led six others back to their "wonderful" and "rewarding", albeit smelly, slimy occupation of fishing naked at night, when they had the authority from Jesus to enter the kingship and receive the power of God.  Peter was the one jealously concerned with John's relationship and destiny instead of his own.  Peter is the one who violated the example and good advice of Jesus in going out and publicly condemning the Jews and "converting" masses of people. But converted to what? Obviously not to the truth!  And he got tossed in prison and had to be rescued for doing it.

Peter is the one who supported a formal, hierarchal authority system—in contrast to the explicit instructions of Jesus—by "electing" a twelfth "apostle" to replace Judas Iscariot.  He is the one who set himself up with James and Andrew as religious rulers in Jerusalem and established a powerful triumvirate which began to pass new rules concerning believer's behavior while focusing on a mundane organization.

Peter is the one who solicited and pressured for donations for the "Lord's" work, and wound up condemning and frightening to death the two superstitious but reluctant pledgers, Ananias and Sapphira. The result was, "Great fear came upon the whole congregation." This is a good result? Sure, this is what we all including God need? More fear and less adoration for his compassion and good news? Not!!!

After watching Jesus breaking Jewish laws and talking and ministering to Romans, Phoenicians, Samaritans, Greeks, lepers, prostitutes and thieves, Peter was so far out of sync with Jesus' values that he was not even willing to go with some Gentiles to share information about Jesus until he had a special "vision".  This, in spite of the fact that Jesus' last words were to the effect that they could now go to any "nation, kindred, tongue, and people" and invite them into the Kingship of the heavens. Apparently, this thick-headed fisherman was singularly unsuited to be a leader of the ecclesia, and we can question whether he ever learned a thing except to be temporarily humble when canvassed by Jesus later concerning the quality of his love. But he has been made into the first Pope. You can't make this stuff up!

Peter may be the cornerstone of the world's oldest formal Christian organization, but it is a proven system of tyranny if left unchecked.  The religion of Peter, pitifully obtuse and focused on sacraments and the mundane, is one of the primary cornerstones for all of what is called Christianity. Not so good, is it?


Paul's debt to Gnosticism is shown in his vocabulary and
basic framework of concepts: for example, in his distinction
between 'spiritual' man (pneumatikos) and 'natural' man
(psychikos); and in his terms for cosmic powers of evil, such as
‘principality' (arche), 'power' (exousia) and 'might' (dunamis).[*]

It has been justly said that there is more of Paul than Jesus in orthodox Christianity.  Just as the hierarchal, dark, ignorant, superstitious side of Christianity is much based on Peter, the zealous, fanatical, proselytizing, pretentious theological side is represented by Paul and his thinking. So, let's take a critical look at this devout Pharisee claimed to be a prophet and spokesman for God:

  • Paul was an extremist, a fanatic: He thought of himself as the Pharisee of Pharisees, and had made a career out of actively prosecuting Christians to be put to death.

  • His conversion process: While on the road to Damascus he had a "conversion" experience, the basis for this conversion being a private, unverifiable supernatural visit from Jesus who struck him blind. Not only is this something that Jesus would never do, but we only have Paul's word for it that this really happened.

  • His relationship with the other disciples: Paul was not initially nor probably ever completely accepted by the Disciples, but he became such a strong factor in the early church community that they didn't bother to have a power struggle when he allied himself with the existing power structure.

  • He was legalistic: Despite his vaunted reputation for being the great promoter of salvation by grace, he couldn't get rid of all traces of legalism. Paul really believed in fiat law—even though he chafed under it—so much that he invented a pretentious way around it. After taking his position of righteousness based upon this pretension, including some pretended mystical transaction whereby claiming the merits of Jesus would negate it, he put his stamp of approval on some of the new fiat rules adopted by the early Christian community.

  • He allowed mere cultural conventions to become part of the congregational code for good behavior, such as the demand for women to cover their hair.

  • For over 22 years he roamed the world like a madman proselytizing. Standing in the temples and on street corners he argued with the Jews and Greeks alike, despite Jesus advice not to "cast your pearls".

  • He demonstrated weakness of conviction: After taking a valid position on the Old Testament sacraments, rites, and ceremonies, he allowed other people to manipulate him into observing the old cleansing sacrament when he "knew" better.

  • He showed appalling judgment in human affairs: One time he listened to people from a distant church community give just their one side of a dispute and then pronounced judgment without even hearing the other side. No wise person would do this.

  • He was legalistically judgmental: He even took upon himself the authority to "excommunicate" a man because of who he was living with.

  • He is the promoter of the pretentious dogma of "substitution righteousness": This is a pretentious system based on legalistic, nonsense righteousness, where a person can exonerate himself legally with an acceptance of the righteousness of Jesus standing in as his substitute. Right out of the Old Testament sacrificial system! Easy, and if you say the right words, talk yourself into it, or have the last rights administered before you have a chance to sin again, you're saved—someday!

  • His theology and belief system were NOT grounded in the life and message of Jesus: To the end his thinking was still based on wrong concepts of God from the Old Testament.

  • He was focused on behavior, and not on the truth about God as demonstrated by Jesus: So much so that he despaired for himself. It is the truth that will set us free, not focus on and despair over our own behavior. This shows an appalling lack of understanding human nature! The cornerstone or anchor of our "will" is what we believe, not fervor.

  • He helped institutionalize the church: He fostered and became an apologist for hierarchal and authoritarian organization.

  • He was irascible: He was a man who apparently could not get along even with those close to him, who never came into unity with anyone.

  • He became a self-appointed martyr: The Romans were reluctant to execute him but he forced the issue and needlessly died, cold, alone and complaining about it, in prison. This is not the good news from Jesus, yet he had the audacity to suggest that other people emulate him.

  • Lastly, Paul clearly did NOT understand the imminent salvation and immortality that are the real substance that Jesus offered to us. He didn't even deal with these ultimately most meaningful dimensions of the Gospel.

For additional insight and information see Christianity and Hellenism

Given the a priori assumption that the Bible, especially the New Testament, is the word of God, Christianity continues to give Paul free reign to interpret and make "clear" the "esoteric" issues dealt with by Jesus in the Gospels.  While Paul—in his magnum opus of the letter to the  Romans—reiterates in his own way a few of the exhortations given by Jesus, only once ("You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Matt 22:39) does Paul ever quote Jesus; and yet, he overwhelmingly quotes the Old Testament for support of his theological and soteriological positions.  This, in spite of the fact that among other examples or passages in his letters, the spirit or meaning of his little doxology of Romans 11:33-36 is in sharp contrast and mutually exclusive with the message of Jesus recorded later by the disciple John (John 1:18, 6:40, 8:19,47, 12:48, 14:7,9,26, 15:24, 16:13, 17:3,26). It should be clear that Paul uses the Old Testament and thereby Judaism as his foundation or cornerstone instead of Jesus. This is pathetic, pitiful, even outrageous! Christians should be ashamed of themselves for "deifying" Paul and his thinking.

Here is what scholar Gerd Ludemann has to say about Paul and the other non-Gospel contributing authors of the New Testament:

"That the apostle to the Gentiles was a towering figure in primitive Christianity—indeed the real founder of the Church—is certain. But the view that his letters and the rest of the New Testament scriptures represent God's word is a crime against reason and humanity. Studying them today should make us recognize that such thinking offers no useful key to the future. Their image of God cannot claim the respect of nonbelievers..." Gerd Ludemann, Free Inquiry, April-May, 2007 p. 31

Here is the position of Thomas Jefferson on Judaism and the "apostle" Paul:

The Old Testament was of no interest to Jefferson, who regarded Jesus as a reformer of "the depraved religion of his own country." He further repudiated the writings of the Apostle Paul, whom he considered the "first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus." See: The Jefferson Bible  Jeferson's Rationalist Bible,
Richard Ostling,- The Associated Press

Here is how a young (and naive) philosophy major encountering Western theology for the first time characterizes it.

"Even more disturbing to me at the time was the curious fact that those who seemed to have the greatest respect for, and the most intimate knowledge of, the Bible—those who actually knew Greek for example!—were precisely those whose theology I found most appalling. I'll probably never forget the time, after a long and heated argument with the pastor of a Calvinistic church, that I read carefully Romans 9 for the first time. I was not only shocked; I fell into a deep depression as well. This was as bad as Gordon Clark! Of course it never occurred to me at the time that I was simply reading Clark into the text, or that my naive view of revelation needed considerable modification. What did occur to me was that the message of the text seemed clear: According to Paul, God loved Jacob but hated Esau; and not only that, God has divided the entire human race into vessels of mercy, or objects of his love, and vessels of wrath, or objects of his hatred. Concerning such teaching, moreover, the Apostle seemed to ask exactly the right questions (first about justice and then about finding fault), but his answers seemed utterly absurd in the first case and not a real answer at all in the second. In the end, I decided I could no longer be a Christian in any orthodox sense.

"If Paul really taught, as Augustine and many of the Protestant Reformers insist he did, that God restricts his mercy to a chosen few, then Paul was, if not an outright fraud, just another confused and small-minded religious zealot. I believed that then, and I continue to believe it today."

Twin Pillars never decoupled

The bottom line is that these two men—so lionized and sanctified by Christendom—obviously never decoupled themselves adequately from their old religion, and yet they and their concepts have been made into the twin pillars of Christian thinking and practice. Nobody even seems to notice how outrageous this really is! Not so good, is it?

[*]  Hyam Maccoby, "Chapter Nine", The Sacred Executioner, Thames & Hudson, 1982

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