The Faith of Paul
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

The Faith of Paul

To my reading, Paul’s theology included a conviction that Christian faith hinges on a belief that Jesus was obedient to God’s will to become a sacrifice to atone for human sinfulness, which the Resurrection validated. Those who have faith in the Resurrection are no longer burdened by their sins, and they become into “new creations” whose lives and beliefs mirror the “mind of Christ.” What was the basis of Paul’s faith?
Paul had a transforming experience on the road to Damascus, where he saw and heard the risen Christ. Many people, particularly non-Christians, are skeptical or even doubtful about the validity of this experience. Some might wonder whether Paul had a psychotic episode. Whether or not Paul actually interacted with the risen Christ, as best I can tell the experience was very real for Paul, and it had a profound effect on him.
For Paul, faith was not difficult – as long as Paul believed that his experience was valid, it was perfectly reasonable for him to conclude that Jesus had indeed arisen from the dead. It logically followed from such a miraculous event that Paul should radically change his life from a persecutor of followers of Jesus to a follower of Jesus.
 What about the rest of us, who have Paul’s report of his experience but who have not had such an experience ourselves?  On what should we ground our faith?  The faith of Paul was grounded in evidence, yet many people of faith today seem to regard faith and evidence-based conclusions (i.e., scientific approaches) as contrasting or even conflicting paths to truth. Many seem to disregard academic scholarship, which they evidently regard as a stumbling block to faith, indicating that they see faith and evidence-based truth-seeking as at odds.

Next essay, I will explore the faith of Christ, and then I will consider contemporary Christian faith. I will consider whether faith and science are partners or antagonists. I think this question has important implications for animal issues. 

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