Paul: Apostle of Jesus Christ

This past Easter, I watched for the first time the film Paul, Apostle of Christ. And while of course it dramatized historical events, the themes raised resonant strongly in our time, which eerily reflects the corruption and persecutions of Nero’s Rome that the film depicted. What I found especially powerful was that the film stayed true to Saint Paul’s central teachings and if nothing else, to direct those who follow Christ to once again recall his Way, the only true successful recourse against evil.

Recently, there were several horrible, haunting events, events that scar the soul, from the fire engulfing Notre Dame de Paris, the bloody Sri Lanka terror attacks that killed 253 people and the recent attack on a synagogue in San Diego. The Moon of Alabama website had a post on the synagogue shooting, with a link to the “manifesto,” which has since been taken down, written by the shooter. I was shocked to find that the murderer identifies himself as a Christian and below is a relevant chilling excerpt of his theology: NIV, Holy Bible, eBook Zondervan Check Amazon for Pricing.

“How can you call yourself a Christian and do this? Surely the Bible calls for you to love your enemies?”

Firstly, just because someone calls themselves a Christian does not make them one. Plenty of people wrongfully identify with being Christian. Beyond the scope of time the Father and the Son made a covenant in eternity—that the Son would bring a people to Him that He may be glorified through them. I did not choose to be a Christian. The Father chose me. The Son saved me. And the Spirit keeps me. Why me? I do not know. And my answer to loving my enemies? Trust yids and their puppet braindead lemming normalfags to take one quote from the Bible and grossly twist its meaning to serve their own evil purposes—meanwhile ignoring the encompassing history and context of the entire Bible and the wisdom it takes to apply God’s law in a broken world. Is it lawful to let a thief murder my friend instead of killing the thief to prevent the death of my friend? To ask such a question is to answer it. It is not loving towards your friend to let him be murdered. It is not loving towards your enemy—the thief—to let him murder. A child can understand the concept of self-defense. It is unlawful and cowardly to stand on the sidelines as the European people are genocided around you. I did not want to have to kill Jews. But they have given us no other option.

The mentality of the shooter is contrary to the central teachings of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace who never resorted to violence that harmed a single hair of any human being, let alone made a blanket condemnation against an entire people.

In my recent piece for Lew Rockwell, Holy Fire, I contrasted the true Way of Christ with the Evangelical Christian “way” promulgated by Americans in positions of power, such as Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and provided a video excerpt of Pat Robertson calling for “hellfire missile” drone strikes to murder President Maduro of Venezuela. Pompeo considers himself a committed Christian, but a recent interview sheds light on his central beliefs, which are diametrically opposed to Saint Paul’s:

I hope I’m not the only one to recoil at the words and deeds of individuals including Robertson, Pompeo and the Synagogue shooter, who all consider themselves to be Christian.

While I’ve never met to discuss and debate an Evangelical Christian or Christian Zionist like Pompeo, I was able to begin to understand his mentality thanks to a recent interview with someone who had for decades shared his theology through the following video posted by Israeli News Live:

Interviewed by the Christian son of a Sephardic Jew, Steven DeNoon, Pastor Chuck Baldwin, whose writings I discovered on LewRockwell.com, explained that he too for over thirty-five years thought very much like Pompeo and Bolton; he had studied “dispensational eschatology;” I didn’t listen to the full over one hour long interview but listened to its beginning minutes to learn that in 2007 Baldwin found “something wasn’t right in my spirit…a gnawing feeling in my soul that something wasn’t right” and then sat back in prayer and meditation seeking answers. He said, “Very clearly, the Holy Spirit led me to study the subject” and all the verses of the Bible that he studied prior to this moment were used to justify what he believed, as opposed to an objective study to seek and find the truth, and asking God to show him the truth: NIV Study Bible, Perso... Zondervan Best Price: $14.70 Buy New $20.88 (as of 05:45 EDT - Details)

“What he showed me shocked me. It’s really quite humbling to realize that at my age, at my station in life, I had taught a falsehood for over thirty-five years. And to realize that is a very humbling thing…[Baldwin had a taught] an egregious error with vast ramifications…unlearning something is much more difficult from learning. I had to start from scratch to learn truth [a seven year process].

The result was that for Baldwin “The Bible comes alive as it never has done before…I was able to see the Scripture clearly…The common denominator and the focus of the…Christian Zionists’ faith is not Jesus Christ, it is Israel…When you look at what they believe and the way they implement what they believe, if you were to take Israel out of their theology, they would not have a theology. If you take Israel out of their faith, they do not have a faith. Their entire faith system depends on Israel and the support for Israel. It is the central tenet to their theology. So that means that Christ is not the central tenet, Christ is not the common denominator; Christ is not the foundation of their eschatology or their theology. But Israel is. That’s why so many of these Christian Zionists will fight to the death to defend Israel.”

Pastor Baldwin explained that his understanding of Christ has not changed; but no longer being a Christian Zionist has cost him friendships. I found this part of the interview I listened to invaluable to understand the mentality of a Pompeo or a Vice-President Pence. And even the synagogue shooter’s perverted theology does not have Christ and his Way as central to it. In some respects, their fanaticism in the service of evil that they believe is in the service of God resembles Saul, the persecutor of Christians before he experienced Jesus Christ on the road to the Damascus to become transformed into the first and greatest theologian of the church, the man with perhaps the most profound understanding of the nature and purpose of Jesus Christ. And those scenes of his conversion and transformation are powerfully depicted in the film.

Of course, to Saint Paul, Jesus Christ is central to his theology. So I pray that the ones who think themselves Christian who embrace violence in service of their theology are taken to the truth and are blessed with their own Damascus moment by the Holy Spirit, just as Saul was, just as Chuck Baldwin was, and just as the writer and director of the film was, as he revealed in an interview that was included in the Blu-Ray disc I purchased.

And in this time of persecution and murder of Christians that will only increase, met with a response of indifference by too many in the world, I believe Christians must return now more than ever to Paul’s Holy Words, to hear the enormous power of the truth.

When I wrote the sonnet on Notre Dame, was I not informed and inspired in my purpose by Paul’s teaching, his divinely inspired wisdom?

(Here I am using Biblica’s New International Version of the Bible for all quotations of scripture; the film uses another modern translation as well.)

1 Corinthians 3:16-17:

16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.

Lew Rockwell recently posted this article, Where’s the Solidarity for Sri Lanka’s Christians?; the author, a Muslim, shows far more concern towards Christian victims than do Christian communities and public figures in the West, including of course America. He writes:

Affectionate expressions of solidarity with persecuted Christian communities have been missing. The Christians killed in their own churches have been referred to by Clinton and Obama as ‘Easter worshippers’. Despite the clearly sophisticated, well-planned nature of the terrorist attacks, which very much had the aim of killing a large number of Christians, the British PM – a vicar’s daughter – referred to them as ‘acts of violence’.

The differences in tone and nature between the condemnations of the Christchurch and Sri Lanka terrorist attacks are striking. After Christchurch, there was no hesitation about stating the religious backgrounds of the victims and directing emotion and affection towards Muslim communities. Politicians took no issue with categorising the events in Christchurch as terrorism.

In contrast, the words ‘terrorism’ and ‘Christianity’, along with their associated terms, have so far failed to feature in much of the reaction to the attacks in Sri Lanka.

What is evident is not only a clear reluctance to specify the religious background of Christians who were killed in Sri Lanka, but also an absence of heartfelt solidarity with Christian communities across the world, which continue to suffer grave forms of persecution on the grounds of their faith.

Thus, a man of Muslim faith speaks truth to power while Christian voices are silent or dissemble. What is to be done? The film shows the two paths that we can choose: the Way of Christ or the way of violence. The latest news, in this analysis by Alistaire Crooke, indicates the path America has taken and will continue to take. True Christians can and must follow and endeavor, I believe, to show others the true Way and not this abomination:

With the US decision to end the eight waivers issued in respect to the import of oil and gas from Iran on 2 May, the Trump Administration effectively is taking its first steps along the path of undeclared war on Iran: An attempt to break the morale of the Iranian people (by pushing a greater proportion of the population towards absolute poverty), and to acquiesce to terms (Pompeo’s 12 conditions), which would amount to abject (and improbable) Iranian capitulation. It is a narrow path, bordered on all sides by lurking unforeseen, unforeseeable disasters – thorny thickets, in which Bolton and Pompeo may well find themselves painfully entangled. Will these steps then inevitably lead to grave escalation? They might; but also, Iran knows that if it can wriggle around these formidable impediments, and still remain standing, then Iran will stand victorious. To survive is to win. To survive will turn from Iran’s to America’s hurt.

Why should they take these steps? Why take the risk? All American foreign policy ultimately is domestic politics. Vice-President Pence at the Munich Security Conference earlier this year lauded Trump’s hard-nosed, shoot-from-the-hip decision-making. He commended ‘tough government’ as a quality that the EU too should try to emulate. This clearly will be the Trump platform for 2020: ‘I am the man who makes tough decisions and who then just ‘does it’’. The entrepreneur translated into politics.

But this is not what US Iran policy is about. It may be true that Washington is disappointed that its pressures on Iran, so far, have achieved no results – in terms of changing the Iranian polity. But this waiver declaration is more about attending to Trump’s Evangelical base. It is a particularly loyal base which wholly concurs with the Israeli Right that Revolutionary Iran stands as an impediment to the coming into being of the prophesied ‘Greater Israel’ – and concomitantly, with the return of the Messiah. This ‘base’ (25% of Americans profess Evangelism), has turned a collective blind eye to all Trump’s moral failings, and totally disdained the Russiagate allegations. Unmoved by either, they just have come to believe that Trump is the amoral, secular, flawed – yet somehow ‘chosen’ – instrument who can lead Christians in the Cosmic war of good versus evil – with Iran cast as the cosmic evil. And, behind in the shadows, lies ring-master, Sheldon Adelson and his billions, fusing together the (non-Evangelical) Bolton to Netanyahu’s Greater Israel project with the whole sitting atop Trump’s extraordinary loyal Evangelical base on which his continuance in office beyond 2020 may one day hang. The point here, is that this base is pressing for progress towards Rapture; the Bolton neoconservative base is pressing to settle old scores with Revolutionary Iran; the Israeli Right is pressing to take advantage of the ‘serendipidity’ of the Trump Presidency – and Trump wants to project his political muscularity as a campaign platform.

This path is anti-Christ, anti-life and will lead to destruction, not only of the “enemy;” of that I have no doubt. Do not the Zionist Christians see they cannot force God’s hand by any nuclear holocaust they bring into being?

Matthew 24:

The Day and Hour Unknown

36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[f] but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

There is the other way that is not Christian Zionism, the true Way as written in Scripture; Christians must find their way back to the path taken by Saint Paul. There are several powerful scenes in the film, some excerpted by the studio and posted to YouTube. I hope they encourage readers to seek out the film. The Shakespearean actor who portrays Saint Paul also recorded not only in the film but for the film’s website from the letters of Saint Paul. What better way to end my meditations on Christ’s way and the faith other than to quote Saint Paul and for those seeking the truth to hear his holy words spoken resounding with truth and beauty and goodness all these centuries later? Paul, Apostle of Christ Best Price: $3.58 Buy New $9.49 (as of 06:05 EDT - Details)

1 Corinthians 13

1If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b]but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Romans 12

A Living Sacrifice

1Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Humble Service in the Body of Christ

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Love in Action

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited. Paul, Apostle of Chris... Best Price: $4.00 Buy New $10.00 (as of 05:45 EDT - Details)

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[e]

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Footnotes

a.     Romans 12:6 Or the

b.     Romans 12:8 Or to provide for others

c.     Romans 12:16 Or willing to do menial work

d.     Romans 12:19 Deut. 32:35

e.     Romans 12:20 Prov. 25:21,22


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