Responses to Jamal Badawi's "Radio Al-Islam Channel RA 200"

Deification of Jesus : Its Evolution III - Paul's Role


In this segment, Dr. Badawi continues his assault on Paul and his teachings. Dr. Badawi does this by using a series of passages written by Paul, which he quotes out of the context in which they were written. He also throws in a great deal of conjecture in an attempt to discredit Paul.

Host: Why would you say that the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas is more serious than the Book of Acts describes?

Jamal Badawi: After Jesus, there was some disagreement over whether the teachings of Jesus should be spread to the Gentiles or only to the Jews. Peter was the head of the disciples who saw Jesus as the revival of the same guidance that was given to the Jews, and his basis in Matthew 15:24 Jesus said that He was sent to Israel and this is the way that Peter saw the mission of Jesus. Paul held the view that it should be spread to all and he was given these instructions by Jesus. Galatians 1:10-12:

Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

In other words he says that he is not teaching what he learned from other men but a revelation from Jesus. Barnabas took a moderate approach that it should be spread to all but what Jesus taught should not be compromised for the Gentiles. Barnabas hoped that Paul would moderate his views and teach only what Christ taught but Paul was much more inclined to compromise.

Where do I begin?

Issue 1 What evidence does Dr. Badawi have that suggests the split between Paul and Barnabas involved issues other than Paul's objection to John Mark going on another missions trip?

Issue 2 Did Peter and the other Apostles object to the idea of preaching the Gospel of Jesus to non Jews? No, they did not object!

Peter, James and Barnabas agreed with Paul:

Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, "The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses." The apostles and elders met to consider this question. After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: "Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are." The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. When they finished, James spoke up: "Brothers, listen to me. Simon has described to us how God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself. The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: "`After this I will return and rebuild David's fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things'"

Issue 3 How did the teachings of Jesus and Paul differ? What views did Paul need to "moderate" according to your information concerning Barnabas? Does Dr. Badawi have any proof, or does he rely only on insinuation?

Acts 14:11-15:

When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have come down to us in human form!" Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: "Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.

Gives a background of the people that Paul attempted to attract. A rumor spread in Greece that these were gods in human form and they prepared a sacrifice. That story indicates that the Greeks believed that gods came in human form. The way in which Paul spoke about Jesus is close to this.

What? Clearly Paul and Barnabas denied that they were gods! Why does Dr. Badawi object to Paul preaching to the Pagans? Muhammad also preached his message to the Pagans of Arabia! The difference is that Paul did not change the message of Jesus to appeal to the Pagans. For a comparison, Dr. Badawi should consider Muhammad's near compromise with Paganism in the incident of the Satanic Verses.

Another difference between Barnabas and Paul was the law. Barnabas was a practicing Jew and did see a cancellation of the law but a spiritualization of the law Matthew 5:18:

I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

Paul however, did not want to change the customs of people, he wanted to accommodate the Greek Roman background and knew that these people would have a hard time following the dietary laws and circumcision. His teachings were easy. Paul needed Barnabas because he was not an eye witness and Barnabas gave him credibility with the Gentiles. After the first missionary trip, it appears that Paul gained ground and did not need Barnabas and that is why some wonder that Paul did not agree to take John Mark on the second trip. Barnabas could not contradict Paul. Paul became well established and founded Pauline Christianity.

Paul was also a devote Jew who observed the law. The problem is a matter of definition. According to the Old Testament, the law consists of two parts: The moral law, and the ritual law.

The moral law deals with the nature of man: his mind and soul. In the moral law, God is concerned about our relationship with Him and our relationships with our fellow humans. relationships.

While the moral law is concerned with our relationship with God and our fellow humans, the ritual law prescribes a set of symbolic rituals that reminds us of Gods's moral law. The ritual law is totally dependant on the moral law and without the moral law, the ritual the ritual law is empty. For example, does it do any good for me to bath before I pray while I have sin in my heart? By itself, the ritual has no power to bring me closer to God, and that is not its function. Incidentally, Muslims may not know that there is much more to the law than circumcision and abstaining from pork. The Book of Leviticus is full of other dietary and hygienic regulations.

Jesus said in Matthew 22: 35-40 :

"Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

In other words, Jesus said that every law, moral law or ritual law, hangs on the law of love. In fact, any act that keeps to the letter of the law, but not to the law of love is a sin! What about Jesus and the ritual law? At times, it appeared that Jesus broke the ritual law. For example, in Matthew 12:1-8, Jesus appeared to break the law of the Sabbath by picking grain and feeding His followers. Did Jesus sin? No way! Jesus was obedient to the law of Love, and in the light of the law of Love, Jesus interpreted the law of the Sabbath. It was simple, His friends were hungry, so he gave them something to eat. Another beautiful example occurs in Matthew 12:9-15 where Jesus appears to break the law of the Sabbath when he healed a man with a withered arm. The religious officials immediately pointed out the Jesus broke the law. Jesus answered them:

What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.

Once again, Jesus teaches the same lesson that all of the laws are derived from the law of love. Jesus demonstrated the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. These men were extremely diligent in keeping the letter of the law, but they did not love their fellow man - in this case a man who had a withered arm.

Paul's view of the law was exactly the same. In 1 Corinthians 13:1 Paul said:

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

Compare the words of Paul and Jesus concerning the moral law:

Paul said: (Romans 13:8-10)

"Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."

Jesus said (Matthew 22:37-40):

"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

Where is the difference Dr. Badawi?

Now compare the words of Paul and Jesus concerning the ritual law:

Paul said (Romans 2:28-29):

" For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God."

Jesus said:

" There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man."

Host: After the split, did Paul seek the support of the other disciples?

Jamal Badawi: Yes, after the split with Barnabas, Barnabas went back to Cyprus and Paul had gathered many followers and had credibility. He still needed someone who was an eye witness of Christ for authority. Paul convinced Peter to go with him to preach to the Gentiles. This is interesting because Peter originally opposed Paul. Even in his approach, Peter believed that the message should be directed to the Israelites as Jesus instructed. Peter was the right person for Paul's purpose because he was a fearful person. This was a time of great persecution and Peter felt that if he fell in line and compromised with Paul's teachings, there would be less persecution if they altered the teachings of Christ. I Peter 3:13-18 where Peter says that you should submit to the rulers. Peter was not really as strong minded as Barnabas and he compromised.

Peter was a "fearful person"? He was put to death for preaching God's word!

Paul became much more bold with his ideas. Romans 15:20-21:

It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else's foundation. Rather, as it is written: "Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand."

He claims that he is teaching according to his own revelation and understanding. Is he referring to himself or did he mean the Gentiles can understand what they did not see? The only way the Gentiles heard about Jesus was through Paul, they had no other sources.

Dr. Badawi, in his never ending attempt to insult Paul, fails to realized that Paul is referring to Isaiah 52:15:

so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.

Paul was criticized for introducing innovations and he replied that he received this directly because Jesus did not say that. Paul also contradicted the law in Romans 7:1-4:

Do you not know, brothers--for I am speaking to men who know the law--that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives? For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man. So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.

What is the other law, his own teaching. He shifted emphasis from Jesus as a Prophet to a mythical figure which the Greeks and Roman assimilated into their mythology and incorporate Greek terms. Paul did not directly preached the divinity of Christ or the Trinity. But the way that he preached, opened the door to these misconceptions. Paul became even bolder as his popularity increased.

First, what were Paul's innovations? Second, Dr. Badawi, once again, quotes Paul out of context. Let us continue to read this passage (verses 5-12 ):

For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, "Do not covet." But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead. Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.

It is amazing how quickly Dr. Badawi's arguments [actually the Jehovah's Witness' arguments] disappear when the passage is quoted in context.

Host: Please explain, it appears that he has been bold enough, how can he be bolder?

Jamal Badawi: 1 Corinthians 6:12:

"Everything is permissible for me"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"--but I will not be mastered by anything.

I have no obligation to follow the law, I am a law by myself. In apparent response people objected,

Once again, we see Dr. Badawi taking a passage out of context. Let's read verses 9-15 and ask ourselves if Paul is saying that he is a law by himself:

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. "Everything is permissible for me"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"--but I will not be mastered by anything. "Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"--but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!

Once again, Dr. Badawi's interpretation is not supported by the text!

Romans 3:7-8

Someone might argue, "If my falsehood enhances God's truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?" Why not say--as we are being slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say--"Let us do evil that good may result"? Their condemnation is deserved.

This is very important and reflect Paul's methodology. Paul is talking about his falsehood or lies that God's truth abounds. Was Paul aware that what he was teaching was not true but some good may come out of it? If you say that good may come out of evil, the ends justify the means. Another question is did Paul apply the same approach when he claimed that Jesus appeared to him? Did he use the same approach? Many historians have been critical of Paul.

Are you suggesting that Paul was distorting the truth to make his point? First we need to see how Dr. Badawi distorts the words of Paul!

In this passage, Paul is discussing a hypothetical argument that someone might use in order to justify lying: having quoted this argument he then refutes it! There is no way in which, having read the quotation in context, you could honestly accuse Paul of deception by teaching Christians to says things that were not true.

Host: Could you give us a few examples?

Jamal Badawi: The Jesus Report edited by Johannes Lehmann, he quotes Werge - the discontinuity between Jesus and the Jesus of the church makes them scarcely recognizable. Schonfield said that the Pauline heresy became a foundation of Christian orthodoxy and the legitimate church was called heretical. Paul's role was to destroy the teachings of Jesus according to a Christian historian. Both versions of Christianity exist, the absolute monotheistic and the wider Pauline doctrine.

I have never heard of this book, nor have I read it. It appears to be out of print, therefore, I cannot honestly comment on it. However, there have been some scholars who have questioned the origins of Christianity and have attempted to discredit the teachings of the Bible and the Church. To date, none have shown adequate evidence, in my mind, to support their opinions. Many, like Dr. Badawi use conjecture to construct theories which are not supported by historical evidence.

Andrew Vargo

Responses to Jamal Badawi's "Radio Al-Islam Channel RA 200"
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