The Key Difference Between Paul and America’s Pseudo-Christians

Another verse that I highlighted in Romans 9 in my Sunday school class this past week is Paul’s statement in 9:3:

For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.

There seems to me to be a huge, stark difference between what Paul wrote there and the sort of outlook expressed by groups such as the Westboro Baptist Church, or more recently, the inaccurately-named “Christians for a Moral America” about whom I just learned by way of John Shore’s post about George Michael being hospitalized. Apparently someone named Keith tweeted the following:

I can’t imagine such despicable, hate-filled monsters wishing themselves to be cut off from Christ if it would save anyone that they believe are in danger of judgment.

And so I think that perhaps Romans 9:3 ought to become the new test for Christian identity. Anyone who takes delight in the doom they believe is coming upon others can safely be said to adhere to a different religion than either Jesus or Paul.

(Since mythicism is a non-issue for most people, we didn’t spend much time in my Sunday school class on Romans 9:5, which says that Paul’s kinsmen according to the flesh are also those from whom are the patriarchs and also the Christ, according to the flesh (ἐξ ὧν ὁ χριστὸς τὸ κατὰ σάρκα). Obviously that is a text which mythicists would prefer didn’t exist. Attempts to try to inject heavenly flesh or other such distractions into the discussion will not change Paul’s words in Romans 9:5 into something other than what they are – counter-evidence to mythicist claims regarding what Paul believed).


"Another Lukan imitation:1 Kings 17:9-24: 1. Elijah went to Sarepta. 2. Elijah saw a widow ..."

Historical Jesus: The Role Playing Game ..."
"I find it interesting that those who would think this a sign of God's wrath ..."

Hurricanes and Divine Wrath
"The way you write, it seems as though you are surprised that these ancient human ..."

Hurricanes and Divine Wrath
"I agree with James McGrath, Decay and Death Existed Since “The Beginning.”I used to be ..."

Hurricanes and Divine Wrath

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Coleman Glenn

    This puts me in mind of Ezekiel 33:11 (and the very similar Ezekiel 18:32): “As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?”  Any theology that has God taking pleasure in the death of the wicked – and thereby making it allowable for Christians to take pleasure in the death of the wicked – is in direct contradiction to these statements from Ezekiel, and needs to be re-examined.

  • Brian LePort

    Well said James. These types are disgusting. 

  • Michael Wilson

    And I think the guy has his gays confused, Another One Bites the Dust is a Freddy Mercury song. Any how I aways have to ask these guys, “for what sin are all the cancer patients dying for?”

  • Glowe

    Doesn’t Paul also say homosexuals will not get into the kingdom. He says that many pagans loved to make idols and become homosexuals so they deserve to die. The best I can understand is he only wishes his own people who keep the law would be saved. Some gentiles too who love Jesus.

  • Geoff Hudson

    Therefore is Paul being inconsistent in Rom. 1.22-27?

  • James F. McGrath

    Glowe, something Paul wrote has been translated as saying that about “homosexuals.” But there is no term that really carries that meaning, and so there is significant debate about what Paul meant, as well as why he held the view that he did.

    Geoff, In Romans 1 Paul only assumes that same-sex relations are shameful, and views them as a punishment rather than a crime. And the whole point of that passage is similar to what we find in Romans 9-11, i.e. getting Jewish readers to join in the condemnation of others so that Paul can then turn the tables on them and level the playing field.

    • Glowe

      So what did Paul mean then? If there is a debate about it it sounds like lots of others disagree with you. Why should I believe what you say Paul meant?

  • Chuck Grantham

    Reminiscent of the Jewish story that when the Egyptians were drowning in the Red Sea, the Angel Choir burst into song, only to hear God bellow from the throne, “Shut up! My children are dying!”

  • James F. McGrath

    Glowe, you shouldn’t simply believe things because I say them. I hope that, since I devote so much of my professional and personal time to investigating questions such as what Paul meant, you’ll consider what I have to say, and inform yourself from others with similar qualifications and professional experience, and use the information gathered to draw an informed conclusion.

    Here’s one popular online treatment of the topic that many find useful, as a way of raising the issues:

    Linguistically, the terms Paul uses do not mean “homosexual” since that term itself is a modern one. Culturally, the main form of same sex relationship in the Greco-Roman era was pederasty, and so not a close analogue to modern discussions about same sex marriage or the like, and the main reason some considered it unnatural was that it put a man into the passive role which was “natural” for women. Since we do not share ancient gender stereotypes, presumably we should not then simply adopt views on other topics which are built on those stereotypes.

    As I said, this is a topic about which much has been written. I don’t want anyone to simply read a blog post of mine and accept what I say on authority, but to look into the topic and inform themselves.

    • Glowe

      I don’t beleive Paul was a hypocrite. He would not condemn only half the homosexuals. He said God condemns everyone who have unnatural lusts.

  • James F. McGrath

    Glowe, I have no idea how what you wrote relates to anything that I wrote. Could you clarify what you are talking about?

    • Glowe

      You said Paul only condems the effeminate homosexuals and not all of them. Romans 1 condems all who burn in unnatural lusts to one another.

  • James F. McGrath

    When and where did I say that? I believe that what I pointed out is that the translation of “soft” as “effeminate” or as “homosexuals” is open to serious dispute.

    • Glowe

      What does it mean then?

  • James F. McGrath

    It means “soft”. What it denotes in the context is the question, and is far from clear, since “soft” is vague, which is precisely the point. But it is not an unambiguous reference to same-sex relations by any means.