I recently heard a preacher from a non-denominational church. He touched on a point I totally disagreed with, but it will take me some time to research as I read through the gospels and mark out verses. But in the meantime, I was wondering about your opinion.
He made a statement that what is most important in the Bible is the gospels. They come first with importance, then the letters after, then remaining books in the New Testament. He said what Jesus said is the most important, and then what Paul said is secondary, even though he is inspired by God.
I don't understand this point of view. He talked about homosexuality because he likes using hot issues. He stated that two women became Christians who were lesbians. They stopped having sex, have adopted kids, are buying a house, and living together, but not having sex. He says he does believe it is right because the Bible only talks about having sex and not about living together. This point I could totally wreck his argument apart. But that's not why I mentioned homosexuality. The thing is he says homosexuality wasn't mentioned in the gospels, so, therefore, it is not one of the most important things to God, such as divorce, adultery, etc.
The problem is he likes to talk of context and culture. Yet he doesn't use his reasoning here. If we were to do context and culture, Jesus came to talk to the Jews, and not so much the Gentiles even though he had different people follow him. The Jewish culture didn't accept homosexuality but did accept divorce because they had a misconception about what God wanted. I know Jesus was there to save all mankind, but he concentrated his ministry on the Jews; there were few exceptions to this. His mission was to get the Jews ready for the kingdom of God. This culture because they didn't have a misconception about homosexuality. Jesus didn't need to change their view on it. He did change the way they treated people, which would include homosexuals who are not Christians or I should say don't claim to be Christian.
We see Paul's letters were for Jews and Gentiles alike. A lot of them grew up not knowing who God was and had no foundation whatsoever. The basics needed to be repeated because salvation was no longer just for the Jews but for the Gentiles also. This opened a lot of theological doors on things unanswered by Jesus while he was on earth. So Paul addressed them. The Gentiles might have had a pretty good idea what the right thing to do, but they were infants and had no idea that, let's say, saying bad words were wrong. It would be seen as a normal thing because they grew up with it. A Gentile would think little about going to the temple and have sex with prostitutes because sex is just sex and it's a normal thing in their society. This was the Gentile way of life. I'm not saying everyone was this way, but they lived in societies that were morally bad in every form.
In context, Jesus came to save all, but his ministry was mostly Jews so he didn't need to lay the foundation of all the basics, just the basics people had misconceptions about and a few other things that were changing with the coming kingdom. Paul addresses such topics as homosexuality because he's in a different culture who doesn't know about the Old Testament or God, so they were babies morally where the Jews had a nice foundation.
I know it not a very good written argument. It's not meant to be but I don't see how someone can claim the gospels are more important than Paul's letters. I know we need the resurrection and stuff but the other New Testament books hit on the same thing. They are just as much important because Paul says "thus says the Lord" or "I say, not the Lord." This guy puts the resurrection as the most important thing, which I don't disagree if you can't have that then everything is worthless. But to say gospels take priority when looking at theology and for what's important the gospels come first, I think that's taking it out of context. Maybe he is right, but as I read I know Jews had a better understanding than the Gentiles and Jesus came to first save the Jews and the whole world but first to the Jews then to the Gentiles.
I was wondering about your thoughts.
You are correct in your conclusion that the man is a false teacher. Notice that his argument is based on what isn't said, not what the Bible actually states. In the case of homosexuality, he knows that Paul had clear things to state against it, so he artificially narrowed the scope down to the gospel. Since homosexuality isn't directly addressed in these four books, it gives him the ambiguity he needs to teach whatever he feels like teaching. The ironic thing is that homosexuality is indirectly mentioned because Jesus confirmed in several places that Sodom and Gomorrah were wicked cities destroyed by God (Matthew 10:15; 11:24; Luke 17:28-32; Mark 6:11). When one looks at "why," we have confirmation that homosexuality is condemned (Jude 1:7-8). Jesus also condemned homosexuality by stating an exclusive position: "And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?" (Matthew 19:4-5). Sex is only to take place in marriage (Hebrews 13:4). But marriage is only for a man and a woman; therefore, homosexuality is excluded and condemned. Of course, Jesus is God (John 1:1-2). The Bible is God's book and there are multiple condemnations of homosexuality both in the Old and New Testament. God has consistently said that homosexuality is a sin, which means Jesus has consistently said that homosexuality is a sin.
I've seen this done before. I had someone argue that baptism isn't necessary because it wasn't mentioned in the Gospel of John. Who made the rule that all binding teachings can only come from John? But what got him really upset was when I showed him that baptism was mentioned in John (in chapters 3 and 4).
The other thing is that he isn't applying his own rules to his teachings. He states that the Gospels are primary and Paul's letters are secondary. Since he didn't find information in the primary source but did in the secondary, he should have conformed his teachings to those of Paul. "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ" (I Corinthians 11:1). What he did instead was to take a lack of information as permission to contradict Paul.
Your observation is correct that Jesus' focused on converting the Jews and thus the issues he mostly addressed were those the Jews had difficulties with following.
But the real problem is that this false teacher has no concept of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Jesus made it clear that his teaching is exactly that of the Father, "For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak" (John 12:49). In turn, Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to the disciples. "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you" (John 16:13-14). Notice that again, the teachings of the Spirit will be exactly that of the Father and the Son. He will not alter or add to them in any way. We understand why this is, God is one. The Godhead has no disagreement and any one of the Godhead teaches exactly like the others.
The point is that the inspired apostles did not speak their own truths. "But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ" (Galatians 1:11-12). Paul claimed to have his teachings direct from Jesus Christ. Peter said this was true of every prophet: "And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (II Peter 1:19-21).
The accuracy of the teaching was guaranteed by the Spirit "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you" (John 14:26). In regards to this Paul stated, "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (I Corinthians 2:12-13). Please note that Paul states that the very words selected were those of the Holy Spirit.
This is why Paul scolded the Corinthians for dividing over teachers. "Now I say this, that each of you says, "I am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos," or "I am of Cephas," or "I am of Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?" (I Corinthians 1:12-13). Their teachings weren't different. They all came from Jesus Christ. "For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one?" (I Corinthians 3:4-5). They didn't alter or add anything to what was given to them. They were servants of the Lord, not masters of men.
Therefore, any teaching of Paul, Peter, John, James, or Jude can be treated as exactly what the Lord taught because it is exactly the Lord's words. This man degrades the Holy Spirit to say that the Spirits teaching is not equal to the teaching of the Son or of the Father.