St Paul: Founder of Christianity?


There are those that claim that St. Paul swooped in and hijacked the 1st Century ‘Jesus Movement’ and turned it into Christianity by turning it into a salvific mystery religion, instead of the slightly-altered Judaism it was ‘supposed’ to be… they even say he made up the Eucharist!

While I have not read these claims in-depth, it has caused me some concern, because it challenges the very root of our religious heritage.


I cannot emphasize this enough:

The burden of proof for these ‘claimants’ is on THEM, not on YOU.

Heck, I can claim that Christianity was started by anybody from John the Baptist to Emperor Constantine --the point is, I have to prove it. Saying it doesn’t cut it. Where is the documentation, how reliable is it (hint, websites like www.jesus-is-lord given as ‘documentation’ are not exactly reliable, whereas directing people to Catholic Answers, where there is an entire library filled with documents which are extensively footnoted and can be clearly backed up by reliable scholars is a much better idea).

Now if you go back to those early Church Fathers and see them calling St. Paul the founder. . .well, then you might start to wonder. But you won’t. Because the people calling St. Paul founder are the same people that are telling you that you can’t trust ‘anything’ you have ever read, or heard, or learned, because you weren’t there. The conspiracy theorists who will tell you that George Washington was having an affair, none of the founding fathers was “Christian”, that Abe Lincoln was really in favor of slavery, and that the U.S. is run by either the Jews or the Masons (who are in turn run by the Pope). The same people who try to explain away all religion, anyplace, any time, anywhere, as being nothing but ‘made up’ despite the fact that THEY THEMSELVES were never there and have absolutely NOTHING to SUPPORT their contention but their own personal view that, because THEY don’t believe in religion, nobody else ever did either.

Funny how the people who try to tell you that you can’t have faith in what you have been taught about Christianity because “what you were told and learned wasn’t really true and you can’t claim it is because you weren’t there” don’t see that they haven’t got a leg to stand on to prove their claims because, well, they weren’t there either.


[SIGN]I’m with TE all the way on this one.[/SIGN]


I thought Jesus started Christianity.

Don’t all Catholics believe that?


Most certainly it does not challenge the very root of our religious heritage.
These thoughts can not be backed up by the bible, so I assume you are not speaking to Christians that hold these views.

This sounds like a very common Muslim postition by the way. In addition to the above they also view the bible as corrupted and hold special contempt for Paul.:wink: Where you will sometimes even hear him be called a “Liar” by some Muslims.


That’s an old theory,I think. Jesus Christ is not a slight alteration of Judaism – he would not have been put to death if that were the case. How could belief in Jesus not turn into a salvific mystery religion? Jesus promised salvation and he was a mystery and his words were often mysterious. Paul did not hijack the faith – he had the approval of Peter and the other apostles and he and Peter worked in Rome together. It was Jesus who made up the Eucharist,so that his disciples would remain in communion with him. The only way that people can make such claims is if they
don’t believe the Biblical accounts of what happened.


The fact that St. Paul was persecuting Christians before he became one and was taught by them kind of throws a wrench in their theory that he founded Christianity…:rolleyes:


you weren’t there!:rotfl:


You need only show that Paul taught what the other apostles taught to refute their claim.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (New International Version)

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that** he was raised on the third day **according to the Scriptures,

Do you think you can find the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus in say the gospels? How about the deity of Christ? ( hint: John 1:1 ). Basically, the christology that Paul taught can be found in the writtings of the rest of the apostles. Generally, they use that claim to say that Paul turned Jesus into God. But, if one reads the writings of the other apostles carefully, one will see that they too believed that Jesus is God.

1 John 5:20
And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.



“Those” people are the Jesus Seminar and its like.

There is a long tradition of trying to remake Christ in one’s own image. It’s no surprise that the secularized scholars of the Jesus Seminar have created a Jesus who looks more like them. They do this by editing out any piece of Scripture or Tradition which does not fit their mold for Jesus.

For example, one of the better known of this stripe is Bart D. Ehrman, a professor who became disillusioned with Christianity once he learned that his fundamentalist belief in sola scriptura was not borne out by fact.

Ehrman’s been peddling the notion for years that the gnostic gospels and other apocrypha represent authentic Christianity and that these competing Christianities were little more than warmed-over paganism. This is a useful fiction for the 9% of Americans who do not believe in God for obvious reasons—Ehrman has uncovered the “conspiracy” at the heart of Christianity and so apparently confirmed both the materialists’ biases and granted them the insider status they crave.

How Ehrman works his sleight of mind is illustrative. His standard for the historical Jesus is that the gospels must agree. Therefore, any gospel account not confirmed by other unique extant sources (indeed, these have to be ones which in fact argue AGAINST Christianity, but that’s another point) are presumed invalid.

All of which is well and good except that:

  1. There is a paucity of ancient sources to begin with
  2. Applying this same approach would result in denying the existence of several Roman emperors, much less citizens of a subject people in a Roman backwater
  3. Where the sources do agree Ehrman claims they simply had a similar antecedent which was not itself unique

This is an historical standard applied in no other discipline than in the narrow focus of the Jesus Seminar and similar efforts.

If archaelogists worked this way, we’d claim to know precisely nothing about the ancient world, since our evidence after so many centuries is necessarily fragmentary. If biologists were held to this same standard, evolution and a number of other useful frameworks for scientific inquiry would have to be flushed down the toilet.

Think about it this way:

9/11 was an event experienced and seen by millions. Yet accounts of what happened that day vary significantly. Did 9/11 happen?

Of course it did.

Likewise, Christ’s birth, ministry, death, and resurrection were witnessed by many people at various points. It was the transforming event in many of their lives. Is it not natural that human recollection would be a bit different, or that even where it was the same the person recollecting would emphasize different aspects for different audiences?

One must never hesitate to apply common sense to scholarly-sounding claptrap.

The burden of proof is on Ehrman and his ilk, and despite repeated attempts to undermine the faith, they’ve failed to carry the day beyond the atheists who agreed with them before they wrote anything at all.

Such chicanery does little for me but to confirm the Truth of the Catholic Church, and I thus welcome such ham-handed efforts to embrace whatever pleasant fiction wallowing in one’s sins may require. “Let the dead bury the dead”, as Christ said.


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