A Tale of Two Missions
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Most Christians, simple believers and scholars alike, have held that there was one, virgin, early church which was later imperilled by false teachings. The New Testament was the developing statement of this church, and from it grew the whole structure of Christian belief: as Cardinal Newman so memorably put it, as an oak out of an acorn. Michael Goulder here sets out to demonstrate that this theory is an error.
From as far back as we can trace it (to the 40s of our era) there never was a single, united church. There were (in fact from the 30s), two missions: one run from Jerusalem by Peter and James, and one run from various other centres, by Paul.
The two missions agreed on the supreme significance of Jesus but disagreed on almost everything else: the validity of the Bible, whether the kingdom of God had come olr not, sex, money, work, tongues, visions, healings, Jesus' divinity and the resurrection of the dead.
The New Testament makes the impression it does because it was selected by the winning mission, that of Paul, but it is historically misleading.
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