The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Comparing Jesus and Paul

Aaron, these differences in how folk read sacred texts are fascinating. You say “well, continuity requires discontinuity,” and maybe I say, yes, and vice versa too?? Even seeing the Sadduccees as endorsing “continuity” concerning the nature of our existence beyond the grave sounds like a word game. Yet you do appear to move from “no” Scriptural usefulness in thinking in terms of analogy to “some essential continuity between this life and the next,” or at least undeniable “minimalist” continuity, that still doesn’t “insure” that “every aspect” will be the same. But of course I agree that there are “breaks.” I.e. we agree that there is both continuity and discontinuity in the texts, and thus seem to be quibbling over how much continuity it would be reasonable to expect.

You grant that there are elements of continuity, if “only in a sense.” But don’t folk read texts so differently because they pick up on different “senses” and their importance? I am struck that Jesus doesn’t appeal to revelatory Scripture, or to a fresh revelation, but urges that we we take what we understand in the now as a clue to our future experience with God. But for you there is clear revelation that leads to another way of thinking. You repeatedly speak of the OT as clearly defining your view of the afterlife. I’d find it more objective to find that the clariity of its’ view is at best much debated by its’ most devoted readers. And theological assumptions circularly affect what we pick up on in the text.

I’m NOT saying that we can assume ‘analogy’ guarantees the specifics of any future existence! I’m only saying that how one reads supposed Biblical clues, e.g. that there may be development, or perversity, beyond this world, will be influenced by one’s bias’ about what we already know. When much of what I see seems to reveal that God values a process that facilitates growth in our character and choices, it seems reasonable to me to think that the burden is on those who assert that they’ve been told by a revelation that in the big picture there can be no place for such dynamics.

Hi Aaron, Here’s my simplistic perception of our main exchange:

Bob’s posts: God pursues a process that forms obedient character (and may do that beyond death).

Aaron (5/2): I agree! But this dynamic can’t go on beyond our physical death.

Bob: An understandable expectation of “some” continuity (or partial similarities) in the realities of existence, and of God’s ways (in all ages) will influence how we perceive the Biblical data.

Aaron (5/3): No! Contra Sadduccees, Jesus posits radical discontinuity, and for our understanding "no" Scripture uses any “analogy between our present and future states of existence.”

Bob: What? The main texts look precisely to an analogy (and partial continuities) to understand this relationship! Contra Sadduccees (and closer to Pharisees), Jesus insists there is a most fundamental continuity in the nature of our existence beyond death (and that we should expect e.g. Moses’ relationship later is similar and analogous to what we experience in this life). Also 1 Cor. 15: There is continuity analogous to a seed and the future reality that will be coherent with it.

Aaron (5/4): We agree there are discontinuities, and I agree there are indications of some continuities. Indeed, Paul does use “analogy” to support his interpretation of the relationship between our existence in the 2 ages. But that is “no precedent” for thinking there could be any other analogies(!), because these are only used to develop what God has already been revealing about similarities. (Or, ?? it’s unfair to think anything else else could be analogous because Scripture appeals to analogy for our understanding only to reinforce what it reveals??)

Bob: It seems apparent that Balfour(?) was simply incorrect. Paul wants us to think of a “spiritual body” as being analogous (similar and different) to our present bodies. And he is simply not at all discrediting the possibility that there could be other analogies. Indeed, it appears to me that he bolsters my original premise.

Hi Bob,

To help keep the discussion on this thread more on-topic and relevant to your original post, I decided to continue our discussion on a new thread: viewtopic.php?f=14&t=888&start=0&st=0&sk=t&sd=a

Hope that’s ok!

Aaron, yes I think that’s appropriate since we are really addressing a major contention of yours, which is at most tangential to the points for which I was laying a case in my paper.


I’ve been listening to the audio files of the discussion and have really enjoyed them… I’m on the last one though, and it is the same as the previous. The file is named differently, but it’s the same audio as the next to last. I’m hoping you can post the conclusion! I’m anxious to hear the finale!

I hope to have time to comment at some point, but at this point, I’ll just say that I’ve really appreciated your thoughts… I have some difficulties with some things, but I should probably hear the end before I comment :).




Thanks for the reactions. Auggy will have to address the repetition in the audios, though I think a few were missing. I’m not sure there’ll be great closure, but I hope to complete the discussion in June.

Frankly, I haven’t listened to the audios, but would imagine that they’re a bit chaotic, and would include ideas not well thought out. What I would stand by is the introductory essay, which is what is simply under disjointed discussion in the audios. I’d welcome any critiques of the soteriological balance that I was trying to pursue in the written study.

Basically, you’re trying to answer Tertullian’s question: ‘What does Athen’s have to do with Jerusalem?’ in reconciling the messages (of the one Gospel) of Jesus and Paul.

The apostle to the gentiles (Paul) lifted some ideas straight from Plato. For example, God is Love. and… Actions done in faith are intrinsically good - the same actions by unbelief are intrinsically bad. Yes, there are some cross overs to Christ’s message - but Christ cannot be said to be a Platonist - but, rather, Plato’s Lord as that Greek pursued the truth…and, indeed, found that God is Love.

Not to be simplistic, but the Jews pursued the Law the way the Greeks pursued the truth. In that regard, I think Paul was the perfect messenger. ‘New wine in new wine-skins’ applied to both cultures or, should we say, mindsets.

If one is passionate (and honest) in the pursuit of truth, sooner or later the reward will come - the freedom of faith.

I took and loved many philosophy classes, but I have little confidence in my intellectual grasp of Plato. So you may be right about certain Pauline correspondences with Graeco-Roman thought, but I was only conscious of textually comparing Paul with Jesus’ approach to what God pursues in soteriology, as well as both with the Old Testament’s orientation to what God seeks and requires.

When considering approaches - one has to understand how different their two missions were. Christ came bearing a sword against His audience (the Jews) and Paul the Gospel to his audience - the gentiles. If one takes away the terrible warnings Christ gave to that generation - their messages align pretty well - God loves you.