Sunday, July 25, 2010

Don't Acts, Don't Tell, Part VIII: Acts, Chapters 15 - 16

Part VIII of my "Don't Acts, Don't Tell" Series.

Chapter 15
  • Verse 12: The assembly of believers seem impressed by the stories of Barnabas and Paul, the miraculous signs and wonders God had done through them. So if someone is able to perform MSWs, it's an indicator that he really is sent by God? Why can't any modern religious leaders perform MSWs?
  • Verses 24 - 29: The assembly of believers send a letter to the Gentile believers. Note that this letter is approved by Peter, to whom Jesus said, "on this rock I will build my church...whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." And that's only if you take Matthew's word for it in 16:18 - 19 of his gospel. If, instead, you subscribe to the suspicious partial repetition of this proclamation in Matthew 18:18, it seems that Jesus extended this binding and loosing authority to everyone who observes the proper protocol in challenging and ultimately disowning his unrepentant brother. But just sticking with the first one, it's clear that what Peter says goes. What does the letter, under Peter's authority, have to say to the Gentiles about how they should live? "...abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality." Seems like the brothers have come back to the fold, as now they sound like Jesus again, focusing on eating and sex habits, while saying absolutely nothing about slavery, child molestation, rape, environmental irresponsibility, etc. God obviously doesn't care about the same things that humans care about.
  • Verse 39: Paul and Barnabas had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. See, even Jesus' prayers don't always get answered in the way one might hope. I'm thinking specifically of Jesus' drug-induced prayer back in John 17:20 - 21, where he prays that everyone who believes in him may be one, just as Yahweh is in Jesus and Jesus is in Yahweh. I guess if even Jesus has to accept "no" as an answer to his prayers, the rest of us have to suck it up when our loved ones die of cancer in spite of our prayers.
Chapter 16
  • Verse 3: In direct violation of Peter's decree from not even 20 verses back, Paul circumcises Timothy, who is obviously a Gentile because his father is Greek. Luke tries to gloss this a bit by mentioning that Timothy's mother is Jewish, but I'm not having any of it. Since when does the mother's ancestry have anything to do with anything among these backward sexists? Luke makes it worse by admitting Paul's shallow reason for circumcising Timothy: "because of the Jews who lived in that area."Seems like Paul is really blowing it here, at least in the opinion of John, given the criticism that John levels against the believers in 12:42 - 43 of his gospel: they loved praise from men more than priase from God. If Paul is just as bad as they are, not to mention directly violating a directive straight from Peter, then why should we listen to Paul's crazed bastardization of Jesus' message?
  • Verse 14: "The Lord opened [Lydia's] heart to respond to Paul's message." That's disgusting.
  • Verse 37: Paul, upon his release from prison, says, "They beat us publicly without a trial. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out." So much for turning the other cheek. At least he was consistent, making up his own flavor of Jesusianism rather than obeying either Peter or Jesus. Maybe he didn't have the Gospel of Matthew handy? But surely the Holy Spirit would have shown him the right way to behave?

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