A Fundamentalist Response to Paul

A Fundamentalist Response to Paul June 2, 2016

From Jacob Wright on Facebook comes this nice piece, imagining what a modern fundamentalist might be expected to say, if Paul said the kinds of things that he said in his time today:

“APOSTLE PAUL EXPOSED!” A fundamentalist response to Paul’s preaching to the Athenians in Acts 17:

In Acts 17, Paul is invited before the leading philosophical thinkers of the day to present the gospel to them. Keep in mind they are all idol worshipping pagans. Paul starts off with telling them that they worship God without even knowing it! Paul tells them God is not removed or distant from them, and in fact that they “live, move, and have their being in him.” Paul tells them that all of humanity is one blood with one origin: God. And that God is at work in history to cause all to feel after him and find him. Paul quotes one of their pagan authors and says of us all “we are indeed his offspring”! Paul tells them that God gives them life, breath, and everything, and satisfies their needs. Paul tells them that God is therefore not some inanimate object like their idols and therefore they should change their way of thinking to embrace the One universal Source of creation! Paul ends it with saying that God will bring the world to justice through a man that God raised from the dead.

Here is a fundamentalist response to Paul’s supposed “preaching of the gospel”:

“Paul there is so much heresy in this ear-tickling message you told the Athenians I don’t even know where to start. Why don’t you just stick with the simple gospel truth instead of this new agey existential stuff? Telling idol worshipping pagans that they are so close to God that they in fact live, move, and have their being in God? Paul, God is holy. He can’t look upon sin or be around it. You said ‘God is not far from you’ when in fact those idolaters could not be farther from God! Those pagans don’t live, move, and have their being in God, they are completely separated from him!

Also, quoting their own pagan author and saying they are Gods offspring? The fact that you agree with and are quoting a pagan author is evidence enough to me of how you have strayed from the pure truth of Gods Word. Preach the Word Paul, you don’t need to quote pagans to try to reach people for Christ. You’re mixing truth with error and coming up with a deadly mix. In fact there is barely any truth here at all! It’s 95% error! Paul repent! Quit watering down the gospel! The Word is clear, they aren’t Gods offspring, they are children of the devil. No one is a child of God until they are born again! You can’t just go and tell a bunch of pagans that they are children of God!

Last but not least, when you declared to them that they worshipped God without even knowing it, this was the last straw. You’re preaching a false gospel. Just because they have an altar to ‘the unknown God’ does not mean the altar is to God and that you can somehow tie this into some mystical idea that it points to God who is their origin, in whom they live, move, and have being, and of whom they are offspring. Your whole sermon did not even mention the name Jesus! How do you expect anyone to get saved! You are beyond anything resembling Gospel truth. Sure, you briefly mentioned that God will bring the world to justice, but didn’t specify that this justice was eternal conscious torment in hell for every unbeliever! There was nothing about wrath, hell, or torment.

Next time, Paul, tell them that the wrath of God burns against them because of their sin, that his justice demands being appeased by the shedding of innocent blood as well as eternal torment. Tell them that yes God loves them, but they need to accept the legal transaction of the atonement before God can forgive. Otherwise they cannot even approach Gods presence. Ask them if they’ve ever told a lie before, or if they’ve ever cursed, lusted, etc. Use the righteous Law of God to show them that they stand condemned to hell before a holy God. We have some tracts for you to use that help with this. Make sure you ask them where their soul would go if they died tonight. Preach the true gospel, Paul.”

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  • Phil Ledgerwood

    This is virtually not satire.

  • histrogeek

    Phil, I’ve found it is impossible to originally satire fundamentalists. Any satire of them has already been done in earnest by at least one fundie preacher.

  • John MacDonald

    Human beings, for Kant (according to Heidegger), are fundamentally moral (in a way that is grounded by human freedom). Human ethical action operates in agreement with what Kant calls the Categorical Imperative. The Categorical Imperative says ” Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.” This does not mean “If you want to be ethical, then do “x,” because that would be a “Hypothetical Imperative” (if-then). Rather, it means that the very foundation of the human Self, in its actions, are ethical because the self is “free” from artificial constraints, and “freely submits” itself to the Categorical Imperative as a rule. Kant illustrates this for humans in relation to animals. Whereas we shouldn’t get mad at a dog for chewing up the couch (since the animal doesn’t know any better), if a person takes out a knife and cuts up our couch, we will probably sue them. The difference is that, unlike animals, it is imprinted on humans as an innate idea that our actions, good, bad, and neutral, are linked to us in a way that we are responsible for them. This is somewhat analogous to what the apostle Paul says about The Law being written on the heart of the gentiles. Paul writes “For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus (Romans 2:15).”

  • TsukiNaito

    Eh, I don’t think this really sounds like them.

  • John MacDonald

    I think the gospel of the first Christians (a la the Corinthian Creed that Paul received from them) was that humankind had become reconciled to God through the atoning sacrifice of Christ. Maybe what made Jesus the anointed one for the first Christians was not that he was going to overthrow Roman rule, but that he had atoned for the sin debt of mankind and hence it was the end of the world and he was the “first fruits” of the general resurrection. Maybe after Jesus died some of his followers had visions of him, and searched scripture for what that meant. Maybe they came upon Isaiah 53 about the suffering servant and that “by his stripes we are healed,” and so thought this is what Jesus’ death meant – that his death paid for our sins. We know the first Christians thought Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection was prefigured in scriptures, since Paul said “3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,… (1 Cor 15:3-4).” We know that it may have been prefigured in scripture (or the first Christian thought it was prefigured in scripture) that there would be some suffering to overcome Satan, because scripture says ” He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel (Genesis 3:15).” We know that for the first Christians Jesus atoning death signalled the beginning of the end and the advent of the general resurrection, since Matthew said after Jesus died that “…51At that moment the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth quaked and the rocks were split. 52The tombs broke open, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 53After Jesus’ resurrection, when they had come out of the tombs, they entered the holy city and appeared to many people.… (Matthew 27:51-53).” Mark’s portrayal of the death of Jesus was one of reconciling humanity to God through atonement. Upon Jesus’ death, the tearing of the veil of the temple symbolized the removing of the barrier between people and God. The words of the Roman soldier that “Jesus was truly the son of God” symbolized the reconciling of the differences between Jews and Gentiles. The women being the witnesses to the empty tomb reflected the eroding of the inferior place of women and the unreliability of the testimony of women in the eyes of God. Hence, on this point, Paul also said “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:28).”

  • arcseconds

    I’ve always wondered exactly what the Athenian philosophers thought of Paul.

    I kind of imagine it might be like one of those situations where a crank amateur turns up to an academic seminar. Everyone is often very polite, and the amateur could easily walk away with the impression they’ve opened a few eyes and impressed a few people, when in fact everyone thinks they’ve talked utter rubbish, but aren’t mean enough to say so.

    For example, the assumption that the gods of the Athenians are lifeless statues is simply incorrect — that is certainly not the way 1st century Greek philosophers would have seen the matter, as they had been dealing with far more abstract notions of godhood for centuries (cf. Plato, Aristotle, or even Epicurus). So this sounds like poorly informed Judeo-Christian propaganda.

    (The notion that the gods need nothing from human beings was also a long-standing Greek philosophical idea, and they had also raised the idea that religious rituals as being more of a social convention than anything else.)

    I do like the idea that Athenians spend all their time discussing novel things, though 🙂