I continue my examination and rebuttal of Ali Ataie’s article, “Can Paul Be Trusted?”Ataie has been alleging that Paul contradicted Jesus, and thus far, we have seen that in each instance, it is Ataie who is in error, not Jesus nor Paul. We continue with these assertions:
Jesus exhorts his followers to strictly adhere to the laws and commandments (Mark 10:18-19; Matt. 19:17; Luke 18:20) while Paul calls the law and commandments a curse and bondage (Gal. 2:16, 3:11, 24; Rom. 2:13).
As with the previous assertion, Ataie is ignoring the context of each of his citations, while at the same time ignoring counter citations that would refute his assertions. For example, Paul himself said “we establish the law” (Rom. 3:31), and that in a context that explains Ataie’s error. Further, Jesus, for example, declared all foods clean (Mark 7:19), and claimed the prerogative to heal on the Sabbath, basing His claim upon the fact that the Father likewise “works” on the Sabbath (John 5:17-18). In the specific texts cited, all we have is the abiding validity of God’s moral law on the one hand, affirmed by both Jesus and Paul, and the fact that no amount of law-keeping can make one righteous before God, for the standard for holiness is perfection itself. Hence, one must be justified by faith in the provision God has made in Christ Jesus. Ataie’s citations only demonstrate how it is possible to pick and choose citations while ignoring their context to create the false appearance of contradiction, which can be done just as easily to the text of the Qur’an, or any other written text, for that matter.
Jesus says that atonement through sacrifice in not necessary (Mark 12:28-29; Matt. 9:13) while Paul believes that only Jesus’ atonement blood sacrifice can save us (Eph 5:2; Gal 3:13; Heb. 9:26).
Once again, a quick glance at the texts documents that Mr. Ataie is context-challenged:
Mark 12:28-29 One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD;
Matthew 9:13 “But go and learn what this means: ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Ephesians 5:2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us– for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE “
Hebrews 9:26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
It is hard to imagine five more completely dis-connected contexts than these offered by Ataie. It truly does make one think that he is using a Bible search engine and simply looking for usable phrases without giving the first thought to the context in which they are used. The first context is in identifying the greatest commandment in the Shema.It has nothing to do with sacrifice. The second from the Lord Jesus does not make the sacrificial system “unnecessary” but it instead contrasts the attitude of the person who would sacrifice without changing his or her heart to the one who engages in sacrifice with the proper attitude, that of a broken heart, with compassion for others. This is the same Jesus who told the lepers He had healed to make the offerings found in the law of Moses. There are only two citations from Paul (evidently Ataie assumes Pauline authorship for Hebrews), the first speaks of Christ offering Himself up for us, and the second speaks of His becoming a curse, both completely consistent with the New Testament’s presentation of the intention of Christ to give Himself in our behalf. Nothing said hereis even slightly relevant to the citations from Jesus, for once again, Ataie seems to ignore the reality that all words in language take their meaning from the context in which they are used.
Yet after all of this, Paul still has the audacity to claim: Be my followers, as I am a follower of Christ (1 Cor. 11:1)!
As well he could do so, having given his life in the service ofChrist. The better question is whether Ataie has the audacity to claim any kind of facility in languages and in the fair reading of the Christian Scriptures after posting this kind of cavalier, a-contextual, and so easily refuted material? I wish I could say this is the end of his presentation, but alas, it is not. So we shall press forward as time allows during this very busy season of preparation for our conference and debate in providing a full response to Ataie’s claims.