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Some of you may not be aware, but I write a lot on God, Jesus, the Bible, and things of that sort. I also find—as do others—that every once in a teensy weensy while I get criticized for what I say, which, as I never grow tired of saying, is par for the course. If you take on every criticism, don’t write. And definitely don’t write about faith.

So criticism is fair game, but one type of criticism is quite annoying to me: “Enns wrote about X, but he is wrong because he did not mention the following items that I think should always be mentioned every time one writes about X, namely A-L, Q, U-W, and, to be on the safe side, Z. Enns therefore is a closet-atheist-wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing-liberal-lukewarm-tool-of-Satan.”

apostle paul

Well, I’ll have you know that I’ve been reading the Bible lately (finally getting around to it), and I’ve begun to wonder what would happen if the same criticism were leveled at biblical writers, like Paul.

Though given ample opportunity to so do, Paul never mentioned that Jesus is born of a virgin. I mean, right there in Romans Paul had a golden opportunity to preach the true gospel, but he failed. I’m talking about Romans 1:3-4. There, at the very outset of his letter, where one would expect him to have been extra careful, Paul says of Jesus that he,

descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Hmm. Is that all he’s got? “David according to the flesh”?

How about, “David according to the flesh on his mother’s side” to remove all possible misunderstanding? And to make matters worse, Paul leaves the door wide open for the heresy of adoptionism by suggesting that at his resurrection Jesus became “Son of God.” Of course, we’re all happy Paul affirms the resurrection, but his wording is confusing at best: wasn’t Jesus Son of God before then?

It’s almost as if the Apostle Paul had never read the Gospels. What a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

First Corinthians is a minefield of potential confusion for what Paul leaves out. Here is a church that is divided into bickering factions, practices sexual immorality, takes other members to court over stupid things, gets hammered at the Lord’s supper—and they are even confused about the resurrection.

This is a messed up church, so how about not starting the letter with:

To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:2-3)

Paul gets critical later on, but by failing to be consistent and unwavering in his condemnation of sin, Paul is leaving the door open for all sorts of misunderstandings.

Hey Paul, how about not calling these losers the “church of God,” “sanctified,” or “saints”? Do a little more of what you did in Galatians, where you took no prisoners and ate heretics alive. Those were the good old days. What happened to you, Paul? Where is your zeal? You got soft on us. You’re going liberal.

I’m just not sure what to do about all this. Someone help me.

Comments are moderated and it may take me several hours or as much as a day to get to yours. If you don’t have a sense of humor, or if you think one should never have a sense of humor about faith, or if you are put off by my sense of humor in particular, try to remember that the God loves us both, you’re not going to change me, and the world will continue spinning even if you don’t write a comment like you’re one of the angels to the seven churches and I am the embodiment of the church in Sardis. Look it up.

Pete Enns, Ph.D.

Peter Enns (Ph.D., Harvard University) is Abram S. Clemens professor of biblical studies at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He has written numerous books, including The Bible Tells Me So, The Sin of Certainty, and How the Bible Actually Works. Tweets at @peteenns.