Thursday, May 26, 2011


I had never fully read through the book of Romans.  There are certain sections which I have read multiple times; the popular ones for preachers and skeptics.  My recent debate with David prompted me to give the whole book a good read.  I've posted my summary of Romans on the Wise Fool site, which cuts down the 16 chapters to roughly four pages worth of text without (I think) sacrificing Paul's message.

Let me first say that there is some really good stuff in there.  Chapter 12, in particular, is my favorite.  (Naturally I would not agree about being zealous for God and other things like that, but the essence of the chapter is excellent.)  Some of the verses in the chapters after that are also good.

But Paul, poor Paul, is not quite right on everything.  Many people already know of the controversial commands to obey each and every authority figure, because they are placed there by God according to Chapter 13.  On the other hand, not many people seem to speak of some of the deeper issues with Paul's theology as presented in Romans.

This is not my blog to go deeply into Scriptural affairs, but let me whet your appetite for deeper study with some teasers.  Paul believed that:
  • After Adam, everybody died despite the fact that nobody was held accountable for their sins until the Law had been given.
  • God was making the Jews not believe in the grace through Jesus by making them stumble over the Law.
  • God will eventually save all of the Jews living at a particular time, when they get jealous of the Salvation by faith of the Gentiles.  That will occur after all of the necessary Gentiles have become believers.
  • Judgement Day was near.
Paul's use of quotes from the Bible tend to be ripped out of all context.  It is astounding!  Even the ones where he somewhat preserves the local context, the way in which he uses them tears it from the larger context of the Bible.  The foundation of half of this letter is such a case, where he quotes Genesis 15:6:
“Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” NIV
Yet Paul seemed to have missed Genesis 26:3-5, where God tells Isaac:
“Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham.  I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because Abraham obeyed me and did everything I required of him, keeping my commands, my decrees and my instructions.” NIV
So yes Paul, Abraham's belief was credited as righteousness, but the Promise was given and was being kept by God because of Abraham's works!

And the arguments Paul gives in Chapters 3-7 about righteousness through faith instead of by the Law made me think of "The Princess Bride;" the scene where there is a battle of wits between Westley and Vizzini.  Westley pours poison into some wine, arranges two cups, tells Vizzini to choose a cup, then they will both drink, and one of them will die.  Vizzini starts going though a stream of ridiculous logic about which cup to choose, to which Westley sarcastically replies "Truly, you have a dizzying intellect."

Well, Paul, truly, you have a dizzying intellect.  It is no wonder that in Romans he pleaded for believers to set aside differences of scriptural opinion, and also pleaded that they should stay away from anyone teaching anything contrary to what Paul had taught them.


  1. I've also wondered about that passage because Paul says that Abraham's belief in the Promise was credited to him as righteousness. I always thought it was the belief that all nations would be blessed through his lineage with Sarah(i.e. Jesus). He was so righteous and had so much faith that he gave in to Sarah's idea about having a child with her handmaiden, Hagar. That's some kinda faith.

  2. I know what you mean, D'Ma. And not only that, but a scant 2 verses down from Abraham's righteous belief, in Genesis 15:8 Abraham essentially asks God "How do I know you are telling the truth?" Such great faith! ;-)