St. Paul Letters, helpful or hurtful to unity?


Recently I reflected that perhaps St Paul’s letters had inadvertantly contributed to disunity among Christians more than maybe any other source. In short, protestants seem to get their best material from the Epistles. It is like the nucleus of their reformed doctrine, almost like this or that quote from St Paul is taken to the complete exclusion of so much other apparently contradictory material in the Bible! And who can blame them, since they already don’t accept apostolicity vis-a-vis the magesterial Church.

It’s a hard thought to reconcile, because the Bible is all true, and the Word of God.

But, still, I think protestants get most of their objections from epistles. And I don’t like the fact that 1 Romans and 2 Romans are so different. First he says it is Works, then next chapter he says it is Faith. And I think his writing style was one where he got carried away, and wrote emphatically from different points of view, not having carbons to refer to later, and probably not imaginining the future of the Church and the Bible and how that would all get put together like this.

I supppose he was writing to specific communities at specific times, to address their problems. All fine and well, but in the modern era, who can blame mankind for being confused by this? Would we be better off without the Epistles? Ouch.

Ok, maybe this is running the risk of being a criticism on St Paul and the Bible, but I have been troubled by this, and would like some honest reflection on this. I am already aware of the canoncial status of sacred scripture and its inerrant nature. I am looking for serious reflection on this topic all the same.


It is not the Epistles that introduced disunity; it is erroneous interpretation of those Epistles. St Peter warns us:

[] 2 Peter 3:15… our most dear brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, hath written to you: 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are certain things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 You therefore, brethren, knowing these things before, take heed, lest being led aside by the error of the unwise, you fall from your own steadfastness. 18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and unto the day of eternity. Amen.

Many people have ignored St Peters warning and paved their own paths.

The “works” Paul is referring to are “Works” of the Law. Works of the Law are those things required of someone to be a good Jew. Paul is 100% correct you do not need “works” of the Law to follow Christ. He is NOT talking about “works” of Christian unity. Read ALL of the writings of Paul, when he speaks of “works” it is always works of the Law. Completely different from works of Christian unity. This is one of the problems Peter is warning you of.

Who can blame mankind? God can! He warns us in the words of Peter. Paul explains he is talking about works of the Law. His major disagreement with the other Apostles is if Christians first needed to become Jewish, he said no, the works of the Law were not required. He was right. Take his argument away and we’d all have to become Jewish prior to becoming Christian. Would we be better off without the Epistles? Absolutely not.


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