Pauline Christianity  

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Pauline Christianity is a term used to refer to the Christianity associated with the beliefs and doctrines espoused by Paul of Tarsus through his writings. Most of orthodox Christianity relies heavily on these teachings and considers them to be amplifications and explanations of the teachings of Jesus. Others perceive in Paul's writings teachings that are radically different from the original teachings of Jesus documented in the canonical gospels, early Acts and the rest of the New Testament, such as the Epistle of James. The term is generally considered a pejorative by Restorationist Christians as it carries the implication that Christianity as it is known is a corruption of the original teachings of Jesus, as for example in the belief of a Great Apostasy.

Proponents of the perceived Pauline distinctive include Marcion of Sinope, the 2nd century theologian, an excommunicated heretic who asserted that Paul was the only apostle who had rightly understood the new message of salvation as delivered by Christ. Opponents of the same era include the Ebionites and Nazarenes, Jewish Christians who rejected Paul for straying from "normative" Judaism, see also List of events in early Christianity. Pauline Christianity, as an expression, first came into use in the twentieth century among those scholars who proposed different strands of thought within Early Christianity, wherein Paul was a powerful influence. It has come into widespread use among non-Christian scholars and depends on the claim, advanced in different ages, that the form of the faith found in the writings of Paul is radically different from that found elsewhere in the New Testament, but also that his influence came to predominate. Reference is also made to the large number of non-canonical texts, some of which have been discovered during the last hundred years, and which show the many movements and strands of thought emanating from Jesus's life and teaching or which may be contemporary with them, some of which can be contrasted with Paul's thought. Of the more significant are Ebionism and Gnosticism (see below). However, there is no universal agreement as to Gnosticism's relationship either to Christianity in general or the writings of Paul in particular, see Paul and Gnosticism.

The expression is also used by modern Christian scholars, such as Ziesler and Mount, whose interest is in the recovery of Christian origins and the contribution made by Paul to Christian doctrine, see also Paleo-orthodoxy, Christian Reconstructionism, and Restorationism (Christian primitivism).

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