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From different discussions (including some on this site) it seems that Paul's teachings were different from the teachings of Jesus and the other apostles in some aspects. In light of this are there any churches that do not accept the teachings of Paul? If there are no such churches today, were there any in the past?

I am asking regarding the teachings of Paul. This has nothing to do about the person Paul. And again, I am just asking for information, not any type of argument for/against Paul.

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    May I know which teachings of Paul are different from others? – Mawia Jun 6 '13 at 7:16
  • @Mawia Some can be found here- christianity.stackexchange.com/q/3755/3607 and many others are in the internet. – Gulshan Jun 6 '13 at 7:31
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    Interesting counter example - Marcion accepted only Paul, Luke-Acts, and rejected the entire Old Testamaent – Affable Geek Jun 6 '13 at 14:41
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    In my experience, it seems as though the Protestant church is more focused on Paul than is the Catholic church, although both accept his apostleship. The evangelistic orientation and the emphasis on faith-over-works are very specifically characteristic of both Paul and Protestantism. – Chris Sunami supports Monica Dec 28 '13 at 3:34
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    In the past there were the Ebionites, but they seem to have died out completely by the 5th century. – david brainerd Jan 13 '15 at 5:30
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There are several levels of "rejection" here.

First, if you mean outright removal from the canon, as in The Jefferson Bible, no large denominational body has done so that I am aware of.

Secondly, since Paul wrote half the New Testament, he is the source of many of our doctrinal writings about items from the nature of salvation to sexual ethics. On matters of salvation, for example, there are those who argue for a distinction between the "original" religion of Christianity and that which came about after Paul ruined it. The former being a nice religion about peace & justice, the latter being an exclusivist religion about avoiding hell in the afterlife. An example is the "Christianity Before Paul" views of James Tabor. I don't know of any denomination who has fully embraced this view, although there surely are large numbers of pastors who would do so.

As far as sexual ethics go, Paul's writing in Romans 1 has been cited as the most authoritative biblical passage condemning (modern) homosexual practice. Thus, much of the discussion in modern denominations has revolved around the applicability, authority, or even sinfulness of Paul's writings on the topic. One such place such debate over Paul's writings could be seen was in the debates that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America had over allowing non-celibate homosexual persons to serve as pastors leading up to a 2009 vote at its churchwide assembly. Neverthelss, I have seen that even among those who explicitly reject Paul's view on sexuality, nearly all still find his writings on other topics, such as communion, to be authoritative.

Examples of rejecting Paul's writings in the ELCA's sexuality debate:
1) Presiding Bishop Hanson was quoted as saying that "we won't let six verses" determine our policy on anything. 2) One of the policy documents from the ELCA charged that "Paul's pre-suppositions are irrelevant." 3) At the plenary debate during the 2009 Churchwide Assembly, one speaker got up and told a story of one of his professors in seminary. It went like this:

"The professor took a large bible and threw it as hard as he could against the wall. Its bindings broke and pages went everywhere. The professor said, 'This is how I feel about the bible." Then the professor lovingly picked up the pieces, cradled them in his arms like a baby, and said, 'This is how I feel about the Word of God.'"

Making a big deal about the distinction between "the Word of God" and bible passages you want to throw against the wall is one way of downplaying the writings of Paul (Romans 1).

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  • Found the link of James Tabor article informative in this matter. And eventually I found a recent published book "Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity" by him from the article- amazon.com/Paul-Jesus-Apostle-Transformed-Christianity/dp/… which should have been sheded a lot of light on the matter of incompatibility between teachings of Jesus and Paul. However, I was not talking about whole or partial rejection. Rather the cause of rejection is what I wanted to focus- incompatibility between the teachings of two. Other causes were not intended. – Gulshan Jun 7 '13 at 13:17
  • Gulshan, fair enough, but maybe that deserves a new question. – pterandon Jun 7 '13 at 16:00
  • The claim that Paul is the foundation of Christian sexual ethics is deceptive, considering that its Paul who argues (or so at least mainstream Protestant interpretation would have it) that the Law no longer has any relevance. And yet it is the Law that forms the basis of our sexual ethics, as also Acts 15 states. – david brainerd Jan 13 '15 at 5:28
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The Christian group called Swedenborgian, which also now goes by the name of The New Church, rejects Paul’s writings. Many New Thought era (1860 to 1920) founded sects can be considered anti-Paulist to one degree or another: Unity, Unitarian, Christian Science, Science of Mind, Church of Divine Science, and perhaps a couple more.

There are communities to be found online who espouse (to varying degrees) a rejection of Pauline teachings. The ones I have come across appear to be founded and curated by single individuals who both write content and moderate discussions, often deleting substantive rebuttals.

Exodus 2 the Kingdom is an online blog that declares (with no subtlety) Paul to be Antichrist and rejects all Pauline writings as well as Acts, Hebrews, and much of Luke. Several months ago this blog transitioned from written to video posts and while the video posts are difficult to sit through the written posts are still accessible. Comments suggest that there are at least some folks who are in agreement. The main thrust of this blog seems to be the primacy of keeping the Law. The Ebionites (mentioned in answers and comments above) are upheld as the true Church that this blogger desires to emulate. The formative basis of this blogger's efforts appears to be a series of visions where the blogger was visited and "taken to the tree of life" while watching the "tree of Pauline doctrine" transformed into a "gnarled, blackened tree of death".

The Jesus Words Only website believes

that it is disrespectful to God, and a disgrace to ourselves, when we treat Jesus, The Prophet promised in Deuteronomy 18:18-19, as an equal or inferior to Paul who in his epistles never quotes Jesus other than the liturgy taken from Luke. See article "The Jesus' Words Only Principle Explained from Numbers 12 and Deuteronomy 18." On exactly how many times Paul uniquely quotes Jesus in his epistles regarding a lesson for us (zero times), see article Did Paul Serve Messenger Role of Christ's Words?

This appears to be a less vitriolic stance against Paul and more of a return to that transition period (during which Jesus taught) in between the Mosaic system and the institution of the Church:

The author believes that only the Law's provisions which apply to "sojourners" or "foreigners" are those intended to apply to Gentiles, viz., most of the 10 commandments are repeated as applicable to them, e.g., Sabbath observance. The author believes provisions which are stated in the Law as applicable only to Sons of Israel are thereby not applicable to Gentiles, e.g., Lev. 12:1-3 (circumcision). See Law Applicable to Gentiles. Yet, it is no sin to seek to please God by obeying such Laws, for even the Law said "sojourners" / Gentiles could participate in Passover if they were voluntarily circumcised. (Ex. 12:49.) Thus, obviously a Gentile does not sever himself from God by seeking to enjoy Jewish festivals and complying with Laws otherwise applicable only to the children of Israel. The author thus participates in Passover, and urges others to do so, as was practiced by the early church up to the 300s.

As a point of interest I have encountered hyper dispensational teaching within mainline protestant denominations. Such teaching elevates Paul's writings to a place of supreme importance to the Church and relegates the content of the gospels and the other epistles to a lesser position in that they are written to and for a different audience. It has even been proclaimed, in the name of hyper dispensation, that the New Covenant does not apply to Gentiles.

Although variations exist in specifics, all hyper-dispensationalists view the four Gospels and many of New Testament Epistles as applying to the pre-Pauline Jewish-Christian church or to the future Davidic Kingdom; not directly applicable to the predominantly Gentile Church of today.

Thus, these relatively small groups may be seen as outliers fringing both sides of the bell curve of mainstream Christian thought regarding Pauline teachings.

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I think that depends on what you mean by "church". If you're talking about a building, buildings don't really reject.

I have heard, and continue to see rumors that support, the idea that some people purporting to be Christian have rejected Paul completely. These groups are generally laden with people speaking of bizarre conspiracy theories and even worse theology. Here is one such example.

Once these are put aside we are left with the question "what does it mean to cease to follow Paul?" I know few who would trust a little bit of red wine over alkaseltzer, so that advice is out. All advice about slavery is outmoded in the US. Most of his rules about ecclesiastical organization have been done away with in some form or another by most Protestant denominations.

Then there are those who claim to follow Paul, but they then turn around and say that Paul only was a minor contributor to the New Testament and his works have been edited and revised by uncertain sources. Do these reject Paul when they claim his moral teachings are additions?

And, of course, there are none of us who has not sinned and rejected Paul for that reason.


There was a time when Christianity was less certain of itself. Before the church came out of hiding, it was common to find people picking and choosing among the different texts of the day. Chief among these offenders were the Gnostics. If ever there were a group that rejected Pauline thought outright it was these. Eventually, these died out by lack of followers.

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    I don't think your first paragraph was necessary - no one ever asks questions like these and means buildings! – curiousdannii Dec 28 '13 at 0:17
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    An attempt at humor. – Ignatius Theophorus Dec 29 '13 at 3:27
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Before answering your question, Let me ask you one question. How do you define a Church?. In your question you have asked "Is there any church that does not accept teachings of Paul?". The answer is "no" if you are considering only the mainstream churches.

The following main stream churches accept the Pauline epistles:

  • Roman Catholic Church and the 22 Sui juris Eastern Catholic Churches.
  • Oriental Orthodox Churches.
  • Eastern Orthodox Churches.
  • Protestant Churches and the Church of England.
  • Pentecostal churches.
  • Witnesses of JEHOVAH
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

And those pretty much cover 99.9% of the population in the world who call themselves Christians. But in a world with people believing in Flying Spaghetti Monsters and a flat Earth you will be able to find any number of fringe groups who calls themselves Christians and doesn't accept the Pauline epistles or the gospels itself for that matter.

However almost every established Church does accept the Pauline epistles.

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