Two items appear below:

1    Dr Potter says "Like most fanatical celibates, Paul is frequently obsessed with sexual relationships."

2    Anonymous says "The Bible is the world's finest guide to ethical conduct" whereas Freud promoted irresponsibility and "denigration of women."



Thoughts on PAUL, CHRIST and LUTHER

(Investigator 149, 2013 March)


The "History's Truth" article (#147) intended no 'complaint' about Paul's 'ignorance' of the life events of Jesus – rather, his perceived 'disinterest' in the life and teaching of Christ, thus highlighting the most astounding aspect of Paul's writing; his letters contain not a single sentence regarding the life and teaching of Christ outside the last supper, the crucifixion and the ascension. Only one thing about Christ matters to Paul; Christ is not only the Son of God – but that Christ's death was 'a ransom', atoning for the crime of the first Adam.  (So far as we know, it was Paul who first declared this 'atonement' doctrine – which is arguably not accepted by most of today's Christians.)  

On several occasions, Paul met with disciples who had known Jesus, in person, who would have presumably been aware of the details that were to be written into the gospel accounts. He must therefore have had ample opportunity to hear their first-hand accounts – yet he surprisingly chooses to completely ignore the extraordinary details surrounding the conception and birth of Jesus, his ministry, his sayings, his miracles and parables — or any of the numerous other incidents filling the pages of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  

It would help if we had more information about Paul the man; there is little in today's Scriptures of much help, although possible clues can be found in extant gospels and epistles, suppressed by the Nicene Council. The Acts of St Paul and Thecla provides some source material – the eleven chapters present a portrait of Paul and his activities reminding one of the adventures of a celibate Casanova, possibly penned by Rabelais (?). [Thecla was a nubile nineteen year old, an object of lust to every male she encounters, frequently suffering public 'punishment' – frequently displaying her stunning nudity on her way to punishment – regularly (and reliably) rescued by Paul.] The various miracles involving Paul and Thecla are no more 'far-fetched' than comparative Biblical tales; however, its failure to find acceptance with the Nicene Bishops might have been anticipated by the late Mary Whitehouse!

In this rejected Gospel, Paul is described as "a man of little stature, thin-haired upon the head, crooked in the legs, of good state of body, with eye-brows joining and nose somewhat hooked". As we know, he was a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, living in Tarsus – he spoke Greek and Aramaic, described himself "a Hebrew of the Hebrews" while emphasizing his Roman citizenship, which he had from his birth.   The product of a very strict Jewish home, well read in history – probably going to Jerusalem to study in his teenage years.  In his earliest manuscript he boasts of his Jewish heritage.

If today, we treat his writings as data for a practicing psychiatrist, examining his description of his hystero-epileptic seizure on the road to Damascus, speaking "in an unknown tongue unto God", labelling his emotional disturbance as "a messenger of Satan" and "a  thorn in the flesh" -- describing his sufferings as 'tortures of the damned and terrors of annihilation, while enjoying visions given only to those called by the Lord', most practitioners would diagnose our patient as suffering from onerously frustrated sexual drives.

In his extensive writings, not only does he ignore the teachings of the Nazarine, he arguably traduces them. In place of the tolerant, gentle morality of Jesus, Paul erects the cruel and puritanical ethics of his own morose bigotry. While Christ could forgive the prostitute who showed herself capable of love and repentance; Paul recommends a man committing a technical infringement of the law against incest should be 'delivered to Satan'. Christ, who seems to have ascribed equal rights to men and women in the Kingdom of God, now has a propagandist who is a narrow-minded misogynist, holding that women should not speak in church and regard themselves as chattels of their husbands.

If we examine what Paul does say about Christ, as opposed to what he significantly does not, we discover the central idea of all his epistles is that sin is death while Christ is life and deliverance. Throughout the sixth and seventh chapters of his letter to the Romans, the theme of death equated with sin tolls like a bell:
"…. The wages of sin is death … while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions … were at work in our members to bear the fruit of death … I was once apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died; the very commandment which promised life proved to be death to me.  For sin…deceived me…and killed me.  It was sin, working death in me… Wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death?"
Those familiar with the detail of the texts will recall that Paul 'died' on the road to Damascus, very much as Dostoevsky described himself as 'dying' in his epileptic fits. Paul also was thrown down unconscious, blinded (symbolically castrated: think of Oedipus et al) by Christ.   Paul rationalized his mystical experience in terms of his personal theological 'hostility' to Christianity; that dying on the cross, Christ died for all mortals; his conception of the 'mystical body of Christ' (developed and elaborated in all his epistles) whereby all Christians form the 'body' of the Church as organs do in a body, "so we, though many, are one body in Christ".

Paul's 'mystical unity' arises because he, in a manner entirely in accordance with his dictatorial self-righteousness, assumes that, by definition, all other Christians must participate in a similar 'conversion experience' such as his own on the Damascus road.   If all identify with Christ, as Paul has done, all will die with Christ and all will rise with him ….

Like most fanatical celibates, Paul is frequently obsessed with sexual relationships, although it's difficult, sometimes, to follow his logic.    For example, we are told that "he who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one body with her…but he who is united with the Lord becomes one spirit with him…do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit within you". It is certainly not evident how joining oneself with a prostitute one becomes 'one body' with her… If we combine this assertion with, "as the Church is subject to Christ, so let wives be subject to their husbands", wives and husbands, using Paul's metaphor, are 'one body', and both, if members of the church (which is collectively, Christ's 'bride') we are left in a mire of fantasies of incestuous and homosexual self-prostitution. These, of course, are just some of the concerns that also faced Martin Luther; his 'conversion experience' was very similar to that of Paul on his Damascus Road – so a few words on the founder of Protestantism can be usefully added -–

It happened on the road to Erfurt – narrowly missed by lightning, the young Luther had a vision. Something in him made him pronounce a vow 'before the rest of him knew what he was saying' – the vow was to become a monk. The parallel with Paul is even closer when we learn that his 'thunderstorm experience' was associated with an earlier one, also on the road to Erfurt, where he accidentally ran a sword through his thigh, severed an artery and very nearly bled to death.  (do people generally wander around playing with swords? but the relationship between 'castration' and  'blinding'  seems obvious). Is it just a co-incidence Luther was later to be introduced to the nuns of the Muhlhausen convent as 'a second Paul'?!

Luther's taking of holy orders was strongly opposed by his father, although he grudgingly attended his son's first Mass, during which Martin was convinced he was 'alone with God', speaking to him directly – when he described his experience to the still-hostile parent, he was told it must have been Satan speaking to him – a remark that would remain indelibly impressed on the young convert's mind, for the remainder of his life.

There followed another 'celebrated incident' — Luther became 'possessed' during a Mass at Erfurt. The presiding priest was reading Mark's account of the Devil-possessed youth suffering from muteness and epileptic attacks," … a dumb spirit and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid." As the text was read, Luther fell to the ground, raving and roaring in a loud voice, "It isn't me!". 

Luther was convinced his dialogues were with the Heavenly Father; not, as his parent again suggested, with the Devil – his loud denial at Mass, of what perhaps he unconsciously 'half-believed' (?) was an attempt to prevent a second thunderbolt. God had revealed himself!   Arguably, his father's words, suggesting his revealing experiences came from Satan, set up a neurotic conflict within the young monk's mind -- eventually to be become a cause of the Reformation. His fit was the form his vehement denial of 'Devil-communication' took.

Throughout his life, Luther remained convinced of the ever-present Satan, never far distant. God's major opponent frequently 'appeared' at the writer's desk — Luther's writings offer many suggestions as to how one should irritate the unwelcome guest; ideally, "to fart in his face"…although, more convincingly, 'to shit in one's pants and hanging the defiled garment about the intruder's neck, wiping his mouth in the excrement'. All his life, Martin absorbed such superstitions (initially learned, in infancy, from his mother)…a few days before his death, Luther saw the Devil sitting on a rain-pipe outside his window, exposing his behind to him. Such 'reality' always existed for Martin Luther, alongside Aristotle, St Augustine, Paul and the Scriptures.

Of course, the point is frequently made that the contents of any text should be evaluated on the basis of the text itself rather than the 'personality' of the writer. Having said that, it's of interest to note the similarities between the 'mystical experiences' of Paul and Luther and the contents of their writings. Both believed they spoke with God, both believed they were 'in the Truth'.

I am reminded of Andre Gide's aphorism: "Believe those who are seeking the truth --- doubt those who have found it."

Bob Potter.




PAUL THE APOSTLE  VERSUS DR POTTER AND SIGMUND FREUD

Anonymous

(Investigator 151, 2013 July)


DUBIOUS

Dr Potter's article Thoughts on Paul, Christ and Luther (#149) has some dubious claims.

Was Paul the first to declare the atonement doctrine of Christ's death a "ransom"? No — Jesus said it earlier: "For the Son of Man came…to give his life a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45; Matthew 20:28)

Potter implies Paul disagrees with the four gospels since Paul "completely ignores the extraordinary details surrounding the conception and birth of Jesus, his ministry…" Paul, however, alludes to these "extraordinary details" in Philippians 2:5-8. 

It's true that most Bible books "ignore" most details in previous Bible books. Such "ignoring", however, occurs not just in the Bible. Every book in my library on World War II "ignores" most details about World War I. This is how things are — authors specialize and don't reproduce all previous knowledge. Potter implies that brief reference without repeating all details indicates ignorance, disagreement or fabrication. But he is wrong.


SUPPRESSED "GOSPELS"

Potter seeks extra information about Paul from "suppressed…gospels". These extra "gospels" were written after the 1st century and do not match the criteria for canonicity I presented in New Testament Canon in Investigator 127.

Novelists and movie makers commonly attach fiction to historical persons. One recent movie makes America's 16th president a vampire hunter. But if a student presented Abraham Lincoln's vampire hunts as fact in an essay the teacher would "suppress" his viewpoint. Ancient authors, likewise, sometimes attached fiction to real persons and even presented such fiction as fact.

Early Christianity had criteria for accepting writings into the New Testament Canon. Canon means "measuring rod" and refers to the original writings that measure and limit what Christians accept as "inspired of God". I listed six criteria for "Canonicity" in #127 and therefore object to calling post-New-Testament writings "gospels" as if they are of equal validity.


EPILEPSY

Potter refers to Paul's vision on the Damascus Road as a "hystero-epileptic seizure". Epileptic attacks, however, tend to recur whereas the Damascus Road event occurred once.

Paul's writings include amazing predictions — for example that Christians would outnumber the Jews (Galatians 4:27) and Paul would be God's "witness to all the world". (Acts 22:15) Outnumbering the Jews took about 300 years, and Paul as "witness to all the world" looks like taking over 2000 years.

Unless it's normal for "hystero-epileptic seizures" to produce accurate, world-changing predictions Potter's hypothesis should be rejected. The Bible attributes its accurate predictions to God (Isaiah 46:9-10) rather than epilepsy and this is more plausible.
 

PAUL'S THORN

Potter says Paul labels his "emotional disturbance" a "thorn in the flesh". However, "thorn" and "flesh" suggest a physical affliction rather than emotional.

Paul experienced many physical stresses — floggings, whippings, imprisonments, three shipwrecks, malnourishment, dehydration, an attempt to kill him by stoning, sleepless nights outdoors, three beatings with rods, and "often near death". (II Corinthians 11)

Any of these could have left Paul with permanent physical problems.


PSYCHOANALYSIS

In accusing Paul of an "onerously frustrated sexual drive" and "symbolically castrated" Potter apparently relies on Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) and Freudian psychoanalysis.

Bockner (1998) writes: "Psychoanalysis is based on Freudian dogma and doctrine. There was no scientific studies, no critical analysis, no rigorous testing… Psychoanalysis became more akin to religion, with Freud being the God-like figure."

Horgan (1996) writes: "Every year yields more books, such as Why Freud Was Wrong and Freudian Fraud."

Johnson (1996) notes: "Freud kept swapping his theoretical foundation stones every five years — drifting aimlessly among genitals, breasts, mouths, anuses and so on. Worse, he excommunicated anyone who…wanted to criticise parents. John Bowlby bitterly complained about being prevented from examining child abuse…"

Freud knew about child sexual abuse but dismissed his patients' testimonies as fantasy. (Masson 1985; Schatzman 1992) He invented the "oedipus complex" whereby children sexually desire the parent of opposite sex and fantasize being seduced. Florence Rush (1980) estimated that 25% of girls and 9% of boys suffer sexual abuse and wrote: "the world listened to Freud and paid little heed to the sexual abuse of the young." Psychoanalysts with vested interests denied Freud's error and 1000 million 20th-century children suffered sexual abuse, many by parents.

"God-like" Freud is disconfirmed — a false idol.

MORALITY

Self-control in sexual matters is not "frustration" just as self-control in other areas need not be frustrating. Self-control implies success whereas "frustration" implies failure.

Potter correctly mentions Christ's "tolerant, gentle morality" but falsely calls Paul's ethics "cruel and puritanical".

Committing a man who had sex with his mother "to Satan" (I Corinthians 5:1-5) implies excommunication. To tolerate immoralities that even "pagans" don't tolerate would belie everything Christianity stands for. The Bible says "a little leaven ferments the whole lump", meaning that evil can spread and corrupt everyone. Persistent offenders should therefore be removed from church, or ignored until they "repent" and can be welcomed back. (II Corinthians 2:5-11)

Should women, as Potter claims, "regard themselves as chattels of their husbands"?

No. Paul states: "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies." (Ephesians 5:25-33) In other words a man's wife should be more precious to him than his life.

Gerrand (1994) reviews Torrey's (1992) book and lists some "liabilities" of Freudian theory:
One of the most important is Freud's contribution to the "Me" generation, one's own happiness is the greatest good. Another major liability has been its promotion of irresponsibility. Men and women are seen as puppets of their psyches. The corollary of "don't blame me" is "blame my parents". A third deleterious effect has been its denigration of women…Freud's view of women was to have as their main function to be ministering angels to the needs and comforts of men. This has led to an epidemic of mother-blaming and women-bashing among health professionals…
Paul taught that people can change:
•    "And this is what some of you used to be…" (I Corinthians 6:11)
•    "These are the ways you once followed…" (Colossians 3:7-8)
Paul, therefore, promotes responsible conduct not "irresponsibility".

And notice "denigration of women" by Freud!

BODY

Potter says: "Like most fanatical celibates, Paul is frequently obsessed with sexual relationships…" Potter notes Paul uses the term "one body" for union with prostitutes, and unity in the church, and that Christians are "one spirit" with Christ, and sees "a mire of fantasies of incestuous and homosexual self-prostitution."

Far from being "obsessed" Paul is consistent with Proverbs which teaches that God's standards including morality, promote health, prosperity, security, good relationships and life. (Proverbs 13:14; 18; 12:28; 6:23-35; 4:22; 2:1-22; 1:33)

Potter needs to remember that the 20th century saw billions of cases of sexually transmitted disease of whom 200 million died. Other aspects of immorality are AIDS (about 30 million deaths), child sexual abuse (about 1000 million victims), abortions (possibly 2000 million), rape (hundreds of millions), child marriages, sexual slavery, and polygamy. Immorality and sexual jealousy are also motives behind millions of murders. Immorality demonstrates "The wages of sin is death."

On prostitution Paul wrote:
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For it is said, "The two shall be one flesh." But anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Shun fornication! Every sin that a man commits is outside the body: but the fornicator sins against the body itself. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body. (I Corinthians 6:15-20)
There are no "incestuous fantasies" here. Becoming "one body" with a prostitute refers to sexual intercourse, the same as "one flesh". Such conduct contradicts being "members of Christ", "bought with a price", and one's body being a "temple of the Holy Spirit" — three comparisons emphasizing closeness to God. Avoiding sex with prostitutes is a specific example of "whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God."(10:31)


WHISTLEBLOWER PAUL

Communist governments used accusations of mental instability and forced-detention in asylums against dissidents.

Julian Cribb (1993) writes: "Madness is one of society's most feared afflictions. If you can establish that someone is unbalanced, his credibility is forever damaged, his opinions rendered worthless…"

Cribb argued that it's sometimes similar in Australia:
The president of Whistleblowers Anonymous, psychologist Dr Jean Lenane, claims psychology and psychiatry are systematically misused by governments in all states to rid themselves of whistleblowers. She knows of at least 25 cases… government departments use two main tactics… a "tame psychiatrist" who can be relied on to produce an unfavourable report on the patient, and a string of referrals aimed at eventually procuring a bad report and the suppression of any good reports.
Dr Potter by accusing Paul of mental instability employed Communist tactics to create prejudice.

Psychology has demonstrated that feeling and acknowledging gratitude promotes mental health. And gratitude was part of Paul's psychological makeup. He taught "thankfulness" and advocated: "give thanks to God the father at all times…" (Ephesians 5:20)

Paul was a "whistleblower" — he "blew the whistle" on idolatry, immorality, slavery, prostitution and much more. His concern for the poor is a basis of countless Christian ministries; his chapter on "love" guides millions of people.


CONCLUSION

Dr. Potter's misinformed attacks on the Bible denigrate the world's finest guide to ethical conduct — guidance that has empowered millions of people to give up personal demons and inspired countless helping ministries worldwide.

I remind Dr Potter, the Bible is The Book That Made Your World (Mangalwadi 2011). It inspired opposition to infanticide, slaughter in Roman amphitheatres, mutilating of children for careers as beggars, torture, and religious prostitution. It inspired the start of universities, modern science and medicine, and numerous social reforms.

For objective ethics, better health and "renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2) reject Freud and take counsel from Paul:
Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, immorality, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warming you: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. (Galatians 5)


REFERENCES:

Bockner, S. The rise and demise of psychoanalysis, The Skeptic, 1998, Volume 18, Number 1

Cribb, J. Committed To Truth, The Australian, September 8, 1993, p. 11

Gerrand, J. No Scientific Basis for Freud's Theory, The Skeptic, 1994, Volume 14, Number 2

Gray, P. The Assault On Freud, Time, November 29, 1993, 57-67

Horgan, J. Why Freud Isn't Dead, Scientific American, December 1996, 74-79

Johnson, B. Collected works, New Scientist, 27 April, 1996, p. 49

Mangalwadi, V. 2011 The Book That Made Your World, Thomas Nelson

Masson, J.M. 1985 Assault on Truth, Penguin

Masson, J.M. 1990 Final Analysis, Addison-Wesley

Rush, F. 1980 The Best Kept Secret, Prentice-Hall

Schatzman, M. Freud: who seduced whom? New Scientist, 21 March, 1982, 28-31

Torrey, E.F. 1992 Freudian Fraud: The Malignant Effect of Freud's Theory, Harper Collins

Torrey, E.F. (1974) The Death of Psychiatry, Chilton.

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