Saturday 15 November 2014

Paul's mission to the Gentiles, A response to Ijaz Ahmad

Recently, on the 14th of November 2014, Ijaz Ahmad posted the following about Paul. I hope to the best of my ability that this response will be addressed.

Ijaz Ahmad runs the site by the name of Calling Christians.

"Why Did Paul Preach to the Gentiles?
by Ijaz Ahmad

At Paul’s time there were two primary groups of which he could have targeted to preach his new self developed brand of soteriology to; the Jews and the Gentiles. However, as history dictates, Paul chose the gentiles and quickly won favour among their peoples. So much so, that he eventually entitled himself with the position of the ‘Apostle of the Gentiles‘:

For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office – Romans 11:13.

The question therefore begs itself, why did Paul choose to preach to the gentiles over the Jews? After all, he was a Pharisee and would have been familiar with the knowledge, teachings, methodologies and mistakes of his Pharasaic brothers. Thus, he would have been the best person to preach to them his interpretation of soteriology. Yet he did not do so. He left the task to James, Peter and the rest, dubbing them as the ‘super apostles’.

The real reason Paul preached to the gentiles is because they were ignorant. They did not know the Torah. They did not possess intimate knowledge of Judaism, its scripture or its doctrine. Therefore Paul was not presenting his new religion to his own brethren because they would be able to debunk him. Due to this, logically speaking, he preached to those who would find his new faith appealing. The gentiles would not argue about Christ’s deity, or about the new doctrine of salvation, but the Jews would and vehemently so. Thus the path of least resistance is among the gentiles who would eventually see him as an authoritative figure, as opposed to the Jews who would see him as a heretic and shame him. Yet with the gentiles, he is able to avoid these problems and ascend to power and authority very quickly.

Wa Allaahu ‘Alam."

The Jews of Jesus' day argued against Jesus for a reason, namely he had exposed their leaders and their leaders had coerced them to hate Jesus and not respond to the Gospel. Ahmad also fails to mention to his audience that there were Jew and Gentile congregations in the days of the apostles.

Furthermore, Ahmad shoots his own point in the foot. If Paul himself was a Pharisee and thus was familiar with the methodologies, teachings etc, He could if he was called by Jesus to do so, speak with the Jews without any fear of refuting him.

"Acts 13:42 As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. 43 When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.

44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him.

46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us:

“‘I have made you[f] a light for the Gentiles,
    that you[g] may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’[h]”
48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.

49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit."

Notice what I have underlined, There were Jews in the audience who heard what Paul had to say and even encouraged Paul to carry on with his preaching. It is clear in the context that there were some Jews who accepted the message that Paul gave about Jesus. You can argue whether or not the individuals all were learned in Torah, but it is likely that the Jews in the context were familiar with the TANAKH as a whole and the methodologies of their teachers.

While later some of the Jews may changed their minds in this particular time, You are stuck with the fact you had a mostly positive reception to the Gospel to begin with.

Also, Jesus himself was responsible for sending Paul to the Gentiles and as a Muslim, surely Ahmad accepts the words of Jesus right?

Let's read Acts 9
"10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”

“Yes, Lord,” he answered.

11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”

13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”

15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength."

Jesus is telling Ananias to go to Paul to baptize him and fill him with the Holy Spirit, so that he can prepare Paul for his ministry.

The reason Paul was sent to the Gentile people was not because he could get away with swaying ignorant Gentiles to his cause, but because Jesus himself sent Paul as a vessel to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles.

I am pretty sure Ahmad wouldn't dare charge Jesus with endorsing falsehood unless he wants to say he doesn't actually love Jesus as the Muslims all claim.

Why would Jesus endorse Paul, if Paul could getaway with swaying ignorant Gentiles, rather than bring well learned Jews into the fold.

Also, Considering the fact Jesus was with Paul, if it was in the Lord's will, Paul could go to his people boldly and give the Gospel TO the Jews. Yes there are some who would reject him, but what about those who consider his proposal?

Ahmad also fails to mention to his audience, that the Paul's letters have an anti-Gnostic pollemic, as well as John's, which shows that there were Gentiles who certainly would argue against the Deity of Christ. As James White points out in the Forgotten Trinity:
"We begin with the good, pure spiritual God at the top of the diagram. From this one true God flows a long series of "emanations" known to the Gnostics as "aeons". These aeons are godlike creatures, often identified as angels when Gnosticism encountered Jewish or Christian beliefs possiblity alluded to in Colossians 2:18). All of the aeons, taken as group, comprised the "pleroma" , the Greek word for "fulness". Each of these aeons along the line of emanation from God is a little less "pure," a little further away from the one true God. Eventually, the line extends far enough that encounter the "Demiurge", a divine being who has capacity to create is sufficiently "less pure" than the true God so as to create, and come in context with, matter. In the second century of the church's history, some Gnostic teachers identified this evil Demiurge with the God of the Old Testament, Yahweh." James White, The Forgotten Trinity Pg. 108-109.

As Ahmad should be aware, the Trinity teaches that though Jesus is YHWH God, he is not the Father or the Spirit. The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit and the Spirit is not the Father.

There were Gentiles outside of the faith that contended that Jesus himself was not the true God and contended that the God of the OT was NOT the true God, a teaching which is apostate.

If there were Gentiles that did have objections to Jesus being YHWH, the Gnostics are certainly are a candidate, considering Paul's letter to the Colossians is especially a first century Gnostic polemic. It is demonstrably false to claim that the Gentiles would not argue about the Deity of Christ.

Not only did Paul have a hard time from some from his own people, he had hardships from Gentiles and heretics who even opposed the faith that he and the apostles sought to uphold and proclaim.

Even if Ahmad's claim that Paul with respect to the Jews went to the Gentiles because he"is able to avoid these problems and ascend to power and authority very quickly" had weight, his statement is invalid, because is claim isn't the reason why Paul went to the Gentiles and not to the Jewish leaders. Besides, the Jewish leaders would not listen to him and any further scuffle would have been a waste of time on Paul's part, After all if someone be they Jew or Gentile rejects the Gospel, Jesus tells us "not to cast pearls before swine" and if Paul continued speaking to the leaders, his efforts would be fruitless because the Jews wouldn't listen to his message.

Hope this article has been of help.

Answering Judaism.

No comments:

Post a Comment