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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
     Wednesday, October 1 2003 

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

St. Paul's Gospel (Gospel and politics, 3)

I've now finished reading Anglican Bishop N. T. Wright's book, What Saint Paul Really Said: Was Paul of Tarsus the Real Founder of Christianity? An Oxford University scholar and one of the newest bishops in the Church of England, Wright challenges all those who propose that the real (what they call the "historical") Jesus, unlike the Jesus presented in the New Testament, has been hidden by the church, which would surely make that scheme the most successful and far-reaching conspiracy in history.

The "Jesus of History," depending on which "theological history" book claiming to present him you read, took the prostitute Mary Magdalene as his wife or was the gay lover of "John the beloved," or perhaps both, or was a magician, a political zealot, or any of myriad other variations, except the one that the New Testament claims, the Messiah of Israel who fulfilled all the law and the prophets. Though such claims have been made since the first century (by "gnostics," some of whose claims are even confronted in the New Testament itself), the preponderance of scientific (unlike "theological") historical studies hold that the evidence for the New Testament accounts of Jesus is as reliable as any historical proof of anything that happened so long ago. Not only are the New Testament texts as well documented and carefully transmitted over the millenia as any other ancient texts, there are also numerous "secular" references to Jesus and the early Christians that support the church's account, either incidentally or intentionally, like those of the Roman/Jewish historian Josephus.

Wright's answer to the question in his title is, "No, Jesus Christ, not Paul, is the founder of Christianity." Paul, though the most eloquent and prolific of the New Testament authors, says nothing inconsistent with the authors of the gospels, Acts, and the other epistles that make up that book, no matter how imaginative and creative the revisionist interpretations of Paul and the other writers made by "theological historians" may be.

It is heartening to find such an affirmation of the unbroken testimony and the consensus of the church in a communion (Anglican) that is beset by modernist attempts to upset the standards and pull up the anchors. It seems that every Easter the British press publish results of another survey of Anglican clergy men and women that finds many of them disbelieve in the resurrection of Christ and, by extension, His deity. This year, the British state church has been beset by the appointment of a self-proclaimed gay man as a bishop, and just weeks after his appointment was upset in a church higher court, its American counterpart, the Episcopal church, followed suit, except that the American appointment has been confirmed rather than overturned (though it has not yet become final as of this writing).

Those of us who believe that the faith of the apostles and teachings of Christ have been preserved most faithfully in Greek (Orthodox) or Roman (Catholic) communions can still appreciate that on the broad scope of Christian teachings and traditions, even those who profess the faith but depart from our traditions preserve and are willing to take risks and ridicule to stand for truth. This is the case, though sad to say in some denominations only among minorities, not only of some in Anglicanism like Wright, but in Lutheranism and most of the other Protestant denominations.

Next time I'll take up the questions left with you in Monday's Jonal.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Think about it (but not too long)

A man walks into a bar with a slab of asphalt under his arm and says: "A beer please, and one for the road."

—Sent by Bill Dalrymple 

Thought for today

What is morally right can never be politically wrong, and what is morally wrong can never be politically right.

— Lord Shaftsbury, English social reformer, 19th century 

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