The Apostle Paul

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The Apostle Paul – 30 July 2007

The Apostle Paul of the New Testament seems to be unpopular with some people who are advocates for non-human animals.

In reading The Longest Struggle – Animal Advocacy from Pythagoras to PETA – by Norm Phelps, I am finding similar blame-placing sentiments expressed about Paul whose dramatic conversion to Christianity, during his trip to Damascus, is legendary. Until his change of heart, Paul was driven by his desire to persecute believers in Jesus.

As any of us, Paul was far from perfect; and his personality appears to have been abrasive at times. I think we need to remember the difficult time that he was living in, and the rigid religious laws that the populace lived with. Animal sacrifices were rampant and Paul had to explain that sacrificing animals to idols is a demonic activity. He had to break down barriers, for example: the reluctance of Jews to enter homes of gentiles. People were far from ready to feel any concern toward non-human animals. Consider the uphill battle animal advocates face even two thousand years later.

In effect, Paul appears to have been trying to change people by little steps, much as so many animal advocates today are afraid to seem “holier than thou” or ”too pushy” about expressing what they know is the truth. Yet I am thankful for many of Paul’s teachings. I don’t want to “throw out the baby with the bathwater,” as the saying goes.

His passion for the work he felt driven to do, as well as his frustration, is evident in Romans 9:1-5 –

1. I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit.

2. that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart.

3. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,

4. who are Israelites, to whom belongs adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises,

5. whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.

Two of my favorites of the Apostle Paul’s sayings are as follows:

Romans 1:20

20. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

Galatians 5:22-23

22. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

23. gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
 


"Joyful Curmudgeon"
An oxymoron?
No! I see all the beauty of God's creation and I'm joyful.  At the same time, I see all the suffering and corruption going on in the world, and feel called to help expose and end it so that we may have true peace and compassion.

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