The #Bible’s New Testament: 1 Corinthians II- Changing Jesus’ Message

Teaching undergraduates can be both rewarding and frustrating.  Freshman can be particularly nerve-wracking in part because they tend to test their instructors more than other students.  I don’t know for sure why this is, but I bet it has something to do with adjusting to college and learning what the parameters are. So when setting up the dos and donts in my class—like the attendance policy—I make it clear: these aren’t just my rules; they are the department’s as well. And here’s why: we only allow you four absences because we feel—based on experience—that students who attend learn more. And since you have paid us (with your tuition) to do a job, this is one of the things we require of you to perform this job.

If it were just my policy, students would probably grumble—this is unfair; he’s mean, etc. But having the department’s backing adds some weight—oh, this applies to everyone. It also helps that I have properly represented the department policy.

Paul also relies on his backing when passing on his Christian ideas to the Corinthians: I’m just the messenger. These aren’t my rules; no, I’m just passing on what I’ve been instructed to by Jesus.  Paul stresses this when he states: Follow my message, for I follow Jesus (11:1). This supposedly means that what he’s saying is in the spirit of Jesus, not something he himself devised.

Now, this sounds great—Jesus had a lot to admire and respect.  Paul, however, seems to have learned a few things about Jesus that are not in line with the description of Jesus and his work contained in the Gospels. And since he is reaching out to people who might be unfamiliar with Jesus’ specific work, this is troubling: they’re not in a position to question this man’s authority.

For starters, Paul is trying to curb some of the bad behavior he knows about among the Corinthians.  One rule he wants them to follow: Don’t associate with really bad people. Don’t even EAT with them (5:11).  He’s worried bad behavior will spread.

Although I can understand why hanging out with an unsavory element is bad for business (and good to avoid in your personal life in general), Jesus believed (and practiced) the opposite. He even sought out bad people to eat with and was shunned. A number of people had problems with Jesus dining with those evil tax collectors, prostitutes, etc. as the Gospels show repeatedly, he believed that he would stand by these people whom society rejected.

So avoiding these people—and other “bad” people—is NOT something Jesus advocated.

Paul also has some issues with some contradictory points.  Respectably, Paul suggests that only God judges, so he and other humans should not.  But Paul does judge (5:3). He even says: I’m not judging these people… just expel them (5:12-13). Kicking people out of your organization sounds like a judgment—even if it is a rational decision.  However, you can’t levy this opinion without judging people as good or bad based on who they are or what they do. If he truly believed that only God judged, he would not pass judgment and wait and let God figure it out, right?

It’s great that he is passing on Jesus’ ideas; it would help if he represented all of them properly.

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About virgowriter

Brad Windhauser has a Master's in English from Rutgers University (Camden campus) and an MFA in creative writing from Queens University of Charlotte. He is an Associate Professor (Teaching/Instruction) in the English Department at Temple University. His short stories have appeared in The Baltimore Review, The Santa Fe Writer's Project Journal, Ray's Road Review, Philadelphia Review of Books, Northern Liberty Review, and Jonathan. His first novel, Regret (a gay-themed thriller set in Philadelphia) was published in 2007. You can read more about (and buy) it here: http://goo.gl/yvT24K His second novel, The Intersection, is being published by Black Rose Writing September 2016. He is one of five regular contributors to 5Writer.com. On his solo blog, he is chronicling his experience as a gay writer reading the Bible for the first time: www.BibleProjectBlog.com Follow his work at: www.BradWindhauser.com VirgoWriter@gmail.com
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