Unless you are an accomplished student and a discerning reader of Paul's letters you might never notice that Paul's epistles reveal many anomalies and contradictions. These contradictions lie in many areas but in this article I wish to address the tension between tolerance and bigotry and between love and hate which is evident in his writings. Rom. 14 is a case in point. Paul devoted several verses in Rom. 14 (verses 1-21) to an eloquent appeal for tolerance in his adherents. He urged them not to judge others if their customs were different in the foods they abstained from or the holidays they celebrated. Some of his most liberal and broad-minded statements are found in this passage:
Why do you look down on your brother? For we all stand before God's judgment seat (14:10). Let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way (14:13).
Yet the Pauline epistles reveal to us that Paul did not follow his own advice. After preaching tolerance for others and advising his listeners not to judge others, he reversed himself in the very last line of the chapter by saying, "Everything which does not come from faith is sin."
Answer for yourself: Now, who is judging? The last line is clearly judgment of others. When push came to shove, Paul's non-judgmental attitude did not extend to brothers who were not of his brotherhood.
The same inconsistency is manifest between the apostle's avowals of love for humanity, on the one hand, and the expressions of animosity for a large segment of it, on the other. He spoke of love in the abstract for all mankind but did not apply it to an entire people. He called for accepting differences in others but could not tolerate any deviation from his beliefs. For those who disagreed with him, Paul had neither love nor tolerance.
One of the most beautiful and oft-repeated passages in the New Testament is contained in Paul's epistle, 1 Cor. 13. Here are its (justifiably) most famous verses:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves. Love never fails (1-8). ... And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love (13).
What a tragedy for mankind, what a catastrophe for Jewry, that these magnificent thoughts did not pervade all of Paul's letters or, constitute a dominant part of them as they have come down to us.
How different the history of the human race might have been if these ideas had prevailed as Paul's legacy to his religious descendants. Instead, his angry attacks, unrestrained loathing, and uninhibited aggression against Jews, Judaism, and their sympathizers set an unfortunate pattern and precedent for his followers to emulate. "Pauline anti-Judaism does not arise as the left-hand of his christology but rather as a right-handed dart aimed straight at the heart of Judaism, viz., Torah. The common understanding of Paul's relation to Judaism in most Christian circles is the complete elimination of an Israel faithful to the Torah...According to the most universal interpretation of Paul wittingly, or unwittingly, his theology has become a major source of Christian anti-Judaism." Paul's lip service to brotherly love was translated by his spiritual followers into vicious assaults on Jews as easily discerned by any cursory reading of the Gentile Fathers of the Church which were heavily influenced by Paulinism. One only needs to read Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Luther to get what I mean.