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undue deference to the authority of the
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 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 do any thinking.
Apparently, outside of some temporary humility after his emphatic denial in the courtyard, Peter never learned anything 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, 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 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 pressured for and solicited donations for the "Lord's" work and condemned and frightened 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 God needs. 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?
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 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:
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 as his foundation or cornerstone instead of Jesus. This is pathetic, pitiful, even outrageous!
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,
Here is how a young (and naive) philosophy major encountering Western theology for the first time characterizes it.
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?