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-Apostle Paul was a Fake and a Spy?

by Dr. D ~ December 6th, 2008

International Spy Museum

(Picture of Spy Museum via Wikipedia)

LEXINGTON, Va.: – The head of the history department at Virginia Military Institute suggests that the Apostle Paul faked his conversion and was really a spy for the Romans.

Col. Rose Mary Sheldon of VMI, presented her thesis last week at the International Spy Museum in Washington DC. It was based upon research that she did as co-author of “Operation Messiah: St. Paul, Roman Intelligence and the Birth of Christianity“.

According to her theory, Paul faked his conversion on the road to Damascus so he could infiltrate Christian congregations and report to Rome on the suspicious new group. She notes that Paul’s interaction with Roman officials was remarkably friendly, and that in his letter to the Romans, he urges Christians to obey the authorities.

Response: This comes from the ‘head’ of the VMI history department?  Wow, VMI has a storied and respected past but this research does nothing for its current credibility.

Col. Sheldon may know something about the history and procedures of spying, but is woefully ignorant about New Testament scholarship and the writings of Paul. She will not be able to find even one NT scholar or student who will agree with her theories.  They are crack-pot to say the least.

One major hole in the theory is in the timing of it all. When Paul went to Jerusalem following his conversion he was not well received by the Christian community–In fact, the Apostles sent him packing. After that, Paul spent 9 years making tents for a living in Tarsus before Barnabus brought him to Antioch and another couple of years before he was recognized and sent with Barnabus on their first missionary trip.

Nine years is a very long time, a fake would have gone back to his old job with the Sanhedrin or teaching in the Temple–lots better for a scholar than making tents.

Also, a fake would never be able to write Romans, I Corinthians, Galatians, or any of the genuine Pauline corpus. These writings are part of the very foundation of the Christian religion and loaded with genuine theological teaching, and innovation that continues to inspire Christian scholars 1,900+ years later.

One of his earliest writings totally contradicts Roman thought and culture which divided the world between Roman citizens and slaves. Paul writes in Galatians 3:26–28:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

That one passage ended up being the basis for transforming all of Western culture and society. It was contrary to the traditions and thinking of the Jewish culture that Paul was raised in and was in definite opposition to the 1st century Roman world view. So much for 007 Paul. Anyway you shake it or stir it– it makes no sense.            *Top

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18 Responses to -Apostle Paul was a Fake and a Spy?

  1. Was The Apostle Paul a Spy? | CHARISMATICA

    […] <<Read my response to this ridiculous theory>>           *Top […]

  2. -Was The Apostle Paul a fake and a Spy? | ANSWERS For The Faith

    […] <<Read my response to this ridiculous theory>>             *Top […]

  3. -Was the Apostle Paul Really a Spy? | BIBLE Q & A

    […] <<Here’s my response to her ridiculous theory>>            *Top […]

  4. Steve Orr

    I am a 1974 graduate of VMI. I must tell you that I am absolutely disgusted to see any “professor”, much less the head of the history department put forth such a ridiculous assertion. As you rightly point out, her “facts” are questionable at best and likely an accumulation of piecemeal information taken out of context in order to provide another means of attack on the Christian faith. As Christians, it is time to stand up to these people; I am glad to see that you have. Thank you.

  5. Dr. D

    Steve: Thanks for visiting and for your comments, I appreciate it.

  6. -Apostle Paul was a Fake and a Spy? | BIBLE Study

    […] LEXINGTON, Va.: – The head of the history department at Virginia Military Institute suggests that the Apostle Paul faked his conversion and was really a spy for the Romans.   <<Read the Rest>> […]

  7. kenny

    When paul told people to fear the romans because they carry the sword and pay heavy taxes to ceaser he lost ALL creadability… since when did the Romans become Gods avengers! We are told in scripture that Govenmental rule is Satanic (the wild beast of Revelation) so why adhere to it… would you worship Ceaser as a Christian just because you lived in Rome? so why tell others to? I agree, Paul was a spy, his convertion is just to neat and tidy. Wake up people the whole Canon of the Bible is suspect to say the least!!! I Follow Jesus whole heartedly and can see flaws in the whole Canon… Kenny.

  8. kenny

    Im confused, I love Jesus Christ but find my self questioning the Bible?

  9. Dan Brown

    The teachings of Paul form the basis of much of modern Christianity. But they are not the teachings of Jesus. Nor do they typically clarify or even echo the teachings of Jesus. They do, however, serve to create a theology by which believers may readily aqcuiesce to being peacefully governed.

  10. san mcnellis

    Paul was the deception which Jesus warned. Jesus said if anyone said I returned, do not believe it. Paul said Jesus returned as one unnaturally born. Paul says in 1 Cor 10 to eat meat sacrificed to idols. The apostles for bid it in Acts chapters 15 and 21. Jesus IDs Paul in Revelations and disapproves of Paul’s eating idol meat. …no doubt Paul is a false apostle.

  11. Dr. D

    san mcnellis,
    You are entirely wrong. Paul is not a false prophet. Jesus did not name him or imply that he was in Revelation (2:2). Paul did not teach that Jesus had returned ‘as one unnaturally born’ -Paul was referring in context to himself (I Cor. 5-9) verse 9 continues the thought and shows Paul himself is the subject of that phrase and not Jesus.

    Paul did not say in 1 Cor 10 to eat meat sacrificed to idols. He taught that Christians should not knowingly eat meat dedicated to idols- far different than what you imply. Plus I will not give any PR to the heretical book you want to link to I am already conversant with most of the issues expressed there.

    I will say this, there is merit to the idea that the teaching of Jesus needs to receive more attention and primacy in the church. However, the writings of Paul are inspired and a necessary part of the Christian canon of scripture and still valid today and forever.

  12. Chris

    For those claiming Paul somehow teaches things counter to the teachings of Christ…where do you get your proof?

    Paul did say that there was nothing wrong with eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols, but he went on to say that this “liberty” was between you and God, and should not be acted on around those who didn’t have the faith to believe it was okay.

    Nowhere do the teachings of Paul go against the teachings of Christ. Not one single time.

    As regards the statement that, somehow, Governmental rule is satanic and that said rule is the “beast” described in Revelation? I honestly am unsure if I should weep or laugh. “Render unto Caeser what is Caeser’s and unto God what is God’s.” Does that sound familiar at all? That’s right. Those are the words of Jesus. Doesn’t sound like He’s condemning governmental rule. (That would be extremely ironic, since it was YHWH who INSTITUTED it!)

  13. Dr. D

    Thanks Chris. Right on.

  14. rey

    Paul faked his conversion so he could introduce the bloody eucharist of eating Jesus’ body and blood and effect the goal that the Pharisees hired him to achieve — i.e. the final separation of Christianity from Judaism and the rendering of Christianity impotent as far as converting Jews is concerned. Prior to Paul’s conversion, Christianity was good at converting Jews. After Paul’s conversion, what’s the conversion rate of Jews to Christianity? 10 per century?

  15. Dr. D

    rey,
    The idea that Paul introduced the Eucharist has no historical or scriptural support. The idea that Paul faked his conversion makes no sense. If so, he could have avoided numerous beatings, times in prison, and eventual death. Also, Jewish conversions continued way past Paul’s lifetime and basically ended when the church became the state religion (4th century)and unfortunately started to persecute Jews.

    Up to the 4th century there were a considerable number of people who identified themselves as both Jewish and Christian. John Chrysostom (347–407) Archbishop of Constantinople in particular persecuted Jewish Christians that wanted to maintain their Jewish identity and forced thousands to drop their connection with the Jewish community and choose between Christianity or Judaism. After that, Jewish conversions naturally fell.

  16. mike

    “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

    meanwhile he said that women should keep their mouths shut.

    the only person to teach lawless salvation was paul.

    why would somebody swear that they weren’t lying if they weren’t being accused of being a liar??

    didn’t Paul say the church of Ephesus rejected him? And Yeshua commended them for rejecting Paul in rev 2:2

    only those to weak to follow the commandments are jumping to paul’s defense. I’ll be Yashua’s wheat; you can be Paul’s tares

  17. sir joseph

    For a long time, I didn’t find any interest nor the energy to go past beyond the four Gospels. It seemed something is trying earnestly to prevent me from doing so, or I was just satisfied with Our Lord’s words in the Gospels. Now that I’ve tried, I finally found why.
    Reading through the end of Acts I did find the words of Saul of Tarsus quite disturbing, and particularly when I got deep into Romans. As I am well versed in the four Gospels, I found my guts disagreeing to Saul of Tarsus’ preaching. He seems to complicate the teachings of Jesus into a confusing mess, and it was sickening.
    These made me browsing through the internet, and I was amazed to find lots of people already in this issue. In about ten hours of browsing, I am here in this site reading all these great responses.

  18. John Hobbs

    To say that Paul encouraged lawlessness is a downright lie. In fact, he said something along the lines of “So, being saved by grace, should we rely on it for our spiritual health? Certainly not! Good works are the evidence of our faith in Jesus Christ.” Not an exact quote, but the gist of it. Also, yes, Paul’s teaching can be confusing to sift through at first, but his teaching never disagreed with themselves or with Jesus’ teachings. He was trying to convey an exact message from varying viewpoints. Also, when did Paul tell women to be silent? The only thing I can think of that might be interpreted that way is his telling women to respect their husbands. In the same breath, though, he turns around and tells husbands to love their wives like they love themselves, with everything they have dedicated to their wife’s well being and happiness. To me, that would include listening to her opinions. Also, to suggest that someone would fake a conversion, wait 9 years upon rejection, and to follow this cause to his death by crucifixion just to pass some intelligence along is incredibly far-fetched. Sounds to me like the deception is what these people are saying.

    @kenny. Jesus told his disciples to render unto Caesar what was Caesar’s. Governments are used by God, to (theoretically) protect people from petty criminals and roving warriors and brigands that emerge in a power vacuum.

    @sir joseph. Don’t give up just because its confusing. We live in a confusing world, where the difference between divide between light and dark is thinner than a hair. Paul was preaching for the people to follow the law of Moses, love each other, but, above all, to follow Jesus. If something is confusing you, talk with a pastor (although the one at your church should have already been teaching from the NT). Non-denominational pastors typically preach directly from the Bible, not from theology devised by self-proclaimed “saints.”