Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Why believe 1. Saul of Tarsus

I will begin my entries on evidence for faith with witness accounts. Today I will use Saul of Tarsus as an example.
Saul was a Pharisee trained by a rabbi named Gamaliel who was a member of the Sanhedrin (like the supreme court of Judaism). He was moving up the ladder and would've likely become part of the Sanhedrin himself. Before his conversion he was famous for hunting down christians and arresting them. he would take them to the Sanhedrin and they would be tortured and executed. (needless to say he wasn't Jesus's biggest fan)
One day while he was on a road leading to Damascus with a load of warrants for various Christians he was spoken to directly by Jesus and struck blind. He was led by those traveling with him to Aninias of Damascus (who's name was more than likely on one of the warrants). Aninias healed Saul's blindness, baptized him, and took him in while he was comming to terms with what he had done.
Saul changed his name to Paul after his conversion to do away with his old name while doing away with his old life. He became "an apostle out of season" and the spread of christianity throughout the known world was mostly due to his personal work.
Why is all of this important?
(I hate to Godwin my own blog, but) If Saul was a high ranking general in Nazi Germany sent by Hitler himself to arrest known Jews in a certain area, but when he got to the city where his enemy was he converted to Judaism, was circumsised, and began to live as an orthodox Jew it would be about as drastic and impacting on his life. He would have to be pretty heavily convinced.
What did he have to gain from such a conversion? Money? No, he was fairly wealthy as a Pharisee, but as a Christian he was homeless and peniless. He only owned the clothes on his back and had to keep on the move to evade arrest.
Fame? A hight position? As I mentioned earlier he was on his way to becoming a member of the Sanhedrin. He was well respected as an authority in the Jewish faith. While he did become an apostle when he became a christian if he had wanted status he could've gotten it easier if he remained in the Jewish faith. As a christian he lost his home, his friends, and any chance at an easy stable life.
Remember, at this time the Jews were not messed with by the Roman Government. Christians on the other hand were arrested and executed by the Jews and later the Roman Government as well. For his trouble Paul was beaten, shipwrecked, imprisoned for most of his life, dragged to the edge of the city stoned and left for dead, and eventually beheaded.
Why would someone go through all of that unless they had a real reason to believe?

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