Besides Jesus himself, there is no more central character to the Christian faith than the Apostle Paul. Considered “the great interpretor of Jesus’ mission,” his writings significantly defined Christianity, and, in view of his proselytizing mission to the gentiles, instrumental in the religion’s ultimate success. But there’s something that’s always bothered me about Paul. His role seems to suggest that Jesus didn’t get things properly across the first time.
It’s not quite clear, if Christianity is true, why Jesus needed to return decades after his death and resurrection to appoint a new apostle. Were the original disciples simply not up to the task of carrying on the faith? True, the gospels depict them as dunces, but Jesus personally chose them, with the keen eye of someone who knows exactly what he’s looking for. Jesus even called one of them, Peter, the rock upon which the church would be built (Matthew 16:18). If they failed, is there anyone to blame but Jesus?
Even more puzzling, Paul’s epistles make clear there were major theological disputes between him on the one side, and Peter and James (Jesus’s brother) on the other. Was Jesus insufficiently clear on certain matters, and used Paul to “set the record straight”? But wouldn’t that undermine the authority of the original disciples, who had actually, you know, been personally instructed by none other than the master himself? God is not the author of confusion, we are told (1 Cor. 14:33), but with some of his chosen spokesmen saying this, and others saying that, how could one not be confused?
Perhaps I’m missing something here, but the fact that Paul turned out to be Jesus’ “great interpretor” and font of much of Christian theology doesn’t speak well of Jesus’ teaching or tutelage.