Based on the writings of David Berg
ST. PAUL was without doubt the GREATEST MISSIONARY in the Early Church, a man who won more eternal souls to the Lord than almost anyone who has ever lived! How did he do it? By TOTALLY DEDICATING his life to God and giving his ALL to preach the Gospel!–And GREAT is his reward in HEAVEN!
You can read the EXCITING LIFE STORY of St. Paul in the “BOOK OF ACTS,” written by LUKE, the same Apostle who also wrote “The GOSPEL of St. Luke”! And as you read Paul’s adventures, you will notice that he suffered a GREAT deal of PERSECUTION during his many missionary travels. In almost every city he went to preach the Good News about Jesus, there were bitter, jealous ENEMIES who opposed and persecuted him!
YOU and I realise, of course, that Paul was obeying GOD and doing GOOD in preaching the Gospel, and that it was his ENEMIES who were in the wrong. Yet, what if St. Paul were still alive TODAY and applied for MEMBERSHIP in certain MODERN-day churches, and the church leaders decided to make a careful investigation of his life before they accepted him! Imagine this investigator talking to Paul’s ENEMIES and reading their reports and getting THEIR opinions first!–And THEN, with a totally BIASED and PREJUDICED frame of mind, reading over St. Paul’s MISSIONARY ADVENTURES in the BIBLE!
How DIFFERENT these familiar and well-loved Bible stories would look if viewed from the CRITICAL and DISTORTED VIEWPOINT of Paul’s bitter enemies! What kind of a report would that investigator WRITE?! Well, it could very well look something like THIS …
To: Fredrick B. Goodie
Church of the Immaculate Reputation
You recently informed me that a certain “Apostle” Paul of Tarsus, had applied to become a missionary in our denomination. However, as you had a few RESERVATIONS about him, you asked me to make a FORMAL INVESTIGATION into his background.
I am sorry to say this, Sir, but what I have uncovered seems to entirely CONFIRM the suspicions that you had about him. To be frank, I am surprised that he has been able to “pass” as a bona fide missionary THIS far, as not only does he not meet ANY of OUR qualifications, but the information I have come across is an absolute PUBLIC SCANDAL!
It is true that I spent most of my time talking to his ENEMIES and getting THEIR side of the story, but I want to make it clear, Sir, that my investigation was entirely fair and unbiased. In fact, the most DAMAGING and SCANDALOUS information about Paul comes from one of his closest FRIENDS! I managed to get ahold of a personal letter that his associate LUKE had written, called the “Acts of the Apostles,” and I’d like to draw your attention to selected portions of this very revealing document:
First of all:
- Right after his conversion, he immediately began preaching in the Jewish synagogues!–WITHOUT having FIRST gone through the required YEARS of theological training! Imagine! “AND HE WENT AT ONCE TO THE SYNAGOGUE TO TELL EVERYONE THERE THE GOOD NEWS ABOUT JESUS, THAT HE IS INDEED THE SON OF GOD!” (Acts 9:2O)
- Because of this silly mistake, he nearly got himself KILLED in Damascus, and had to flee for his life like a common CRIMINAL in the most RIDICULOUS way you can possibly imagine: “THE JEWISH LEADERS DETERMINED TO KILL HIM, AND WATCHING THE GATES OF THE CITY DAY AND NIGHT, PREPARED TO MURDER HIM. SO DURING THE NIGHT SOME OF HIS CONVERTS LET HIM DOWN IN A BASKET OVER THE CITY WALL!” (Acts 9:23-25)
- Bent on causing MORE trouble for the church, Paul went to church HEADQUARTERS in Jerusalem where he got into an argument, stir red the crowds into a frenzy, nearly got himself killed and had to be sent back in disgrace to his hometown. Only then was there peace and calm again. “HE PREACHED BOLDLY (IN JERUSALEM) IN THE NAME OF THE LORD. BUT THEN SOME GREEK-SPEAKING JEWS WITH WHOM HE HAD ARGUED, PLOTTED TO MURDER HIM. WHEN THE OTHER BELIEVERS HEARD ABOUT HIS DANGER, THEY SENT HIM TO HIS HOMETOWN OF TARSUS. THEN THE CHURCH HAD PEACE THROUGHOUT ALL JUDEA AND SAMARIA.” (Acts 9:28-31)
- Paul was kicked out of–or had to flee from–one city after another! To give you just one such shocking example: “WHEN PAUL AND BARNABUS LEARNED OF A PLOT TO INCITE A MOB TO ATTACK AND STONE THEM, THEY FLED FOR THEIR LIVES, GOING TO THE CITIES OF LYCAONIA: LYSTRA AND DERBE.” (Acts 14:5,6) Now I ask you: WHY would Paul have fled unless he had done something WRONG?–Of course Jesus did say, “When they persecute you in THIS city, flee to ANOTHER!” (Matthew 10:23)–But that certainly makes you look GUILTY!
- To show you that Paul surely was doing something wrong, consider who Luke says his OPPONENTS were: “BUT THE JEWS STIRRED UP THE DEVOUT AND HONOURABLE WOMEN, AND THE CIVIC LEADERS OF THE CITY, AND INCITED A MOB AGAINST PAUL AND BARNABAS, AND RAN THEM OUT OF TOWN!” (Acts 13:50) So think about it: Could “DEVOUT and HONOURABLE women” and respected “civic leaders” be wrong?
- Time and again, Paul would enter a peaceful city and create such an UPROAR that the whole population would be DIVIDED and take sides either for or against Christ. “BUT THE POPULATION OF THE CITY WAS DIVIDED IN THEIR OPINION ABOUT THEM. SOME AGREED WITH THE JEWISH LEADERS, AND SOME BACKED THE APOSTLES.” (Acts 14:4)
- After being dragged out of one city, brutally STONED and left for DEAD, Paul miraculously got right up and went right back into the city to continue preaching! “A MOB STONED PAUL AND DRAGGED HIM OUT OF THE CITY, APPARENTLY DEAD. BUT AS THE BELIEVERS STOOD AROUND HIM, HE GOT UP AND WENT BACK INTO THE CITY!” (Acts 14:19,20) What a show-off! I’m sure he only did this as some kind of a publicity stunt! I’m also SHOCKED by his obvious lack of diplomacy. It is simply NOT in good taste for ministers and missionaries to allow themselves to be dragged out of city gates to be stoned or attacked by mobs!
- ANOTHER very bad habit that Paul has is that he is a constant DRIFTER with no permanent address, a VAGRANT who just goes from city to city and country to country. To give just ONE example of this: “THE NEXT DAY HE LEFT WITH BARNABAS FOR DERBE. AFTER PREACHING THE GOSPEL THERE AND MAKING MANY DISCIPLES, THEY RETURNED AGAIN TO LYSTRA, ICONIUM AND ANTIOCH, WHERE THEY HELPED THE BELIEVERS TO GROW IN LOVE FOR GOD. THEN THEY TRAVELLED BACK THROUGH PISIDIA TO PAMPHYLIA, PREACHED AGAIN IN PERGA, AND WENT ON TO ATTALIA. FINALLY THEY RETURNED BY SHIP TO ANTIOCH.” (Acts 14:20-24) How such an irresponsible bum can call himself a missionary, I don’t know!
- He was IMPRISONED and bound with CHAINS in three different countries: Israel, Greece and Italy. On one occasion, after being whipped and then chained in prison, he and his partners began SINGING HYMNS at MIDNIGHT! Imagine disturbing the peace at such a late hour! “AROUND MIDNIGHT, AS PAUL AND SILAS WERE PRAYING AND SINGING HYMNS TO THE LORD, AND THE OTHER PRISONERS HEARD THEM.” (Acts 16:25-26) There is NO record of him apologising for his singing, and disturbing the peace.
- He and his group were also accused of causing SOCIAL and POLITICAL UPHEAVALS in Thessalonica, and the Jews had to inform the city rulers that “PAUL AND SILAS WHO HAVE TURNED THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN ARE HERE DISTURBING OUR CITY ALSO!” (Acts 17:6b) What a reputation! But apparently Paul just glories in this kind of sensationalism and rowdy behaviour! You’ve got to admit that people certainly HEAR about him and his message!
- He’s also very FANATICAL! In Ephesus he convinced his new converts to BURN their expensive STUDY BOOKS! “MANY OF THE BELIEVERS WHO HAD BEEN PRACTICING BLACK MAGIC CONFESSED THEIR DEEDS AND BROUGHT THEIR INCANTATION BOOKS AND BURNED THEM AT A PUBLIC BONFIRE. SOMEONE ESTIMATED THE VALUE OF THE BOOKS AT 50,000 PIECES OF SILVER!” (Acts 19:19) Do you realise how much MONEY that is?–Well over $10,000 worth of books! It’s true they were disgusting, horrible, perverted books on black magic and witchcraft, but still, I think that burning them was going a little too far!
- Paul also carries the reputation of being a revolutionist and a rabble-rouser. His accusers said, “FOR WE HAVE FOUND HIM TO BE A TROUBLEMAKER, A MAN WHO IS CONSTANTLY INCITING THE JEWS THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE WORLD TO RIOTS AND REBELLIONS AGAINST THE ROMAN GOVERNMENT! HE IS A RINGLEADER OF THE SECT OF THE NAZARENES!” (Acts 24:5) You will notice that according to his enemies’ accusations, Paul belongs to some very unpopular weird “sect”, and is obviously not part of one of OUR well- established and recognised churches. Of COURSE his sect is “SPOKEN AGAINST EVERYWHERE”! (Acts 28:22) What else could he EXPECT considering the way he carries on!?
- He finally did come back to church headquarters in Jerusalem, where some of the more sensible brethren tried to get him to straighten up so that “EVERYONE WILL KNOW THAT THOSE RUMOURS THAT THEY HEARD ABOUT YOU ARE NOTHING; BUT THAT YOU ALSO OBEY OUR CUSTOMS AND KEEP THE MOSAIC LAW.” (Acts 21:24) As far as I can see, that was really his last chance to conform to normality, but he blew it this one last time and started such a RIOT and UPROAR in the city that the military had to be called in to stop it!
- His enemies there accused him, saying, “THIS IS THE MAN THAT TEACHES ALL MEN EVERYWHERE AGAINST OUR PEOPLE AND OUR RELIGIOUS LAWS! HE EVEN TALKS AGAINST OUR TEMPLE!” (Acts 21:28) Paul began to deny these charges, but fortunately he was thrown into PRISON before he could cause any more trouble! (See Acts 21:26-33)
- Later, while on TRIAL, standing in CHAINS, he had the audacity to try to convert King Agrippa who was judging him. “PAUL SAID, ‘I PRAY TO GOD THAT BOTH YOU AND EVERYONE HERE IN THIS AUDIENCE MIGHT BECOME THE SAME AS I AM, EXCEPT FOR THESE CHAINS.'” (Acts 26:27-28) The OTHER King, King Festus, who was sitting there listening, realised that Paul was obviously mentally UNSTABLE! “AND AS HE SPOKE, FESTUS SHOUTED, ‘PAUL, YOU ARE CRAZY! YOUR LONG STUDYING HAS DRIVEN YOU INSANE!'” (Acts 26:24) A very accurate judgement, I would say, from OUR traditional viewpoint! Too bad for that to happen to such an intelligent and educated man! So much for these lurid facts from LUKE’S letter! Even MORE revealing are personal letters that Paul has written HIMSELF! Here are but a few examples:
- Listen to this personal confession he makes: “ON FIVE SEPARATE OCCASIONS, THE JEWS GAVE ME A BEATING OF 39 LASHES!” (2Corinthians 11:24)–In other words, altogether he was WHIPPED on the back 195 times! Now let’s be honest, why would God have ALLOWED him to be beaten so BADLY and so OFTEN if he was really a good Christian? Well, it should be obvious to anyone who holds OUR views that he could NOT be!
- His confession continues: “THREE TIMES I WAS BEATEN WITH RODS, ONCE WAS I STONED, THREE TIMES I WAS SHIPWRECKED.” (2Corinthians 11:25) As you know, Sir, all of OUR preachers and missionaries are quiet, settled- down members of society, and have NEVER exposed themselves to any foolish danger of this sort! Jesus PROMISED that Christians would suffer persecution for His Name’s sake (Matthew 5:1O-12), but just between you and me, Mr. Goodie, that is ONE time when I think our Lord was WRONG. But… er…don’t tell anyone I said that.
- I understand that Paul is given to FANTASIES and DREAMS. First, he said a “BRIGHT LIGHT FROM HEAVEN” caused him to fall to the earth, then he heard “A VOICE CALLING HIS NAME”. And at Troas, he “SAW A MAN OF MACEDONIA” in a dream, and at another time he was “TAKEN UP TO THE THIRD HEAVEN”, and even claimed “THE LORD STOOD BESIDE HIM”! In MY opinion, more REALISTIC and PRACTICAL minds are needed in the task of World evangelisation. (See Acts 22:6-10; 16:9-10; 2Corinthians 12:1-7)
- And why, might I ask, did he find it necessary to CHANGE his NAME and take on an ALIAS? It may shock you to know that his REAL name is NOT “PAUL” at all, but actually “SAUL”! (See Acts 13:2,9,13.)
- Finally, here is the most SHOCKING discovery that I made while investigating Paul. Did you know that Paul’s personal letters and teachings have been gathered together and published in a BOOK, and that this book is on sale in bookstores ALL OVER THE WORLD?! I almost became sick when I realised that MILLIONS of fine church-goers, believing them to be good Christian teachings, have COPIES of this book in their very HOMES! No doubt you have heard of it; it’s called the “NEW TESTAMENT”!
Fortunately, almost NONE of the members of OUR fine church ever READ this book, so I doubt if they have been perverted by his erroneous teachings.–I certainly haven’t! And now that I am aware of the worthless kind of ruffians that have written it, I am thankful that I never bothered to take the time to read it! I certainly would not want MY Christianity to be guided by the teachings of such madmen and charlatans!
It hurts me to tell you this, Mr. Goodie, but in all of my 25 years of investigating missionary applicants, I have NEVER come across a man so directly OPPOSITE of what WE require of OUR foreign missionaries! If we accepted Paul, we would break every rule that we have followed for years!
In closing, I would like to recommend that
- Paul be rejected from being a missionary (It’s too bad we can’t use him!–He HAS won more people to his cause than anyone I’ve ever heard of!), and FURTHER, that
- we immediately publish a church bulletin or a paper warning all good Christians to have nothing whatsoever to do with him! I feel it is our duty before God to expose such corruption and to spare our people the embarrassment of having any connection with such a disreputable character! I am sure that when his true nature is known, none of our noble congregation would dare risk their reputation by being seen in his company!
The Right Reverend Pious Platitudes
Orthodox Investigations Dept.
The Church of Empty Blab
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
In SUMMARY, the main charges that St. Paul’s ENEMIES and CRITICS levelled against him were: That he continually created riots, disturbed church services, undermined society, that he was constantly engaged in illegal activities which resulted in repeated imprisonment, and was some kind of a criminal always on the run from the legal authorities.–All LIES!
All these accusations levelled against ST. PAUL sound STRANGELY FAMILIAR to the accusations and lies that are sometimes told about US christians, don’t they? We have been accused of being “a menace to society”, of being “fanatics” who are opposed to the government, the church and educational institutions. We’ve been called “an illegal sect” which seeks to undermine the moral values of society!–Exactly what PAUL’S AND JESUS’ accusers said about THEM!–All LIES of the Devil!
On and on go their ridiculous accusations: According to them, we are criminals who are trying to evade the law, rebels bent on disturbing the peace and creating disorder. Because some missionaries have at times been imprisoned for preaching the Gospel in “closed countries”, they howl that we must have been doing something illegal! They even go so far as to say that we don’t even believe in God or the Bible! Can you IMAGINE such an accusation?! Nothing could be FURTHER from the truth, as you who know us WELL can certainly testify!–These are all DEVILISH LIES!
As we say, all of these accusations against US CHRISTIANS sound like the same lies that PAUL’S enemies brought against HIM!–And the REASON for this is because WE’RE doing the same thing as PAUL did: We are FULL-TIME, ACTIVE missionaries who have dedicated our lives to winning the World with the Love of Jesus, just like Paul did! So of course, we suffer the SAME kind of persecution that HE suffered from the SAME kind of bitter, jealous, hypocritical enemies! Jesus said, “A STUDENT is not greater than his TEACHER. A SERVANT is not above his MASTER. The student shares his teacher’s fate. The servant shares his master’s! And since I, the Master of the household, have been called ‘Satan’, how much more will YOU! But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when the Truth will be revealed: Their secret plots will become public information.” (Matthew 10:24-26)
St. Paul, along with St. Peter, were the two greatest Apostles and founding fathers of the Christian Church! Could it be wrong then to follow their examples? NO! In fact, Paul even SAID, “Be ye followers of ME, even as I also am of CHRIST!” (1Corinthians 11:1)–So we are following Paul’s example!–And with the SAME motives and for the SAME reasons: To share God’s Love with others! It should hardly be surprising then, that our enemies lie about US just like the Apostles’ enemies lied about THEM. Jesus said, “BLESSED are you when you are REVILED and PERSECUTED and LIED about for My sake! Remember, the PROPHETS were persecuted TOO!” (Matthew 5:11)–Are YOU persecuted for Jesus’ sake?
* * *
I stood on the streets of a busy town,
Watching men tearing a building down:
With a “Ho, heave ho!” and a lusty yell
They swung a beam and a building fell.
I asked the foreman of the crew,
“Are these men here WRECKING just as SKILLED
As those you’d hire if you wanted to BUILD?
“Ah no,” he said, “oh no indeed!
Just COMMON labour is all I need.
I could tear down as much in ONE DAY, if I willed,
As would take SKILLED men a YEAR to BUILD!”
And then I thought as I went on my way,
Just which of these roles do I really play?
Have I walked along life’s road with CARE?
Are my words about others TRUE and FAIR?
Or am I a WRECKER who roams the town,
Enjoying the labour of tearing men down?
A good thing to remember, and a better thing to do;
Is to work with the CONSTRUCTION gang and NOT the WRECKING crew!
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