Quick question: How much do you think Paul was like Muhammad?
Muslims claim that an angel gave the Words of God directly to Muhammad, so the Quran is infallible. Non-muslims deny this claim.
Christians especially like to emphasize that there religion is more “historical” than Islam. The Quran is the writing of one man—he could have been lying, misled, delusional, etc. But the Bible, they say, is history. It is an account by several witnesses of what really happened. This makes it more trustworthy.
But I’ve realized some things that would be very troubling to me if I were a believer. Specifically I notice how much of the New Testament was written by either Paul or someone pretending to be Paul. 13 of the 27 books claim Paul as their author, or about half.
How did Paul get his knowledge of Jesus? He explains in the first chapter of Galatians:
“I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus.
Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas[b] and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.
Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they praised God because of me.
“I did not receive it from any man,” he says. “Nor was I taught it.”
Paul didn’t base his teachings on the history of a human being named Jesus. He didn’t base his faith on what eyewitnesses who had seen Jesus told him. Instead, he was given all of his message through “revelation”.
It was handed to him through a supernatural power. Just like the angel bringing the Quran to Muhammad.
Paul’s writings are the oldest books in the New Testament. The gospels came much later. If Christianity was already established based on the writings of Paul, then what do you think the Church founders would chose as “true” gospels? They would choose things that agree with what Paul wrote, with what they already believe. That’s why there are so many ‘rejected’ gospels floating around out there.
Christianity claims to be a historical faith, but its own writing admits that it’s based on supernatural, unconfirmable revelation.
What do you think?