"Sure. My name is Paul and I'm from Tarsus. You can call me Paul of Tarsus.
That has a nice ring to it. I used to be known as Saul and I was into
persecuting some religious people but that's all over now. The Emperor told
me I could no longer beat 'em so I figured if I can't beat 'em I might as
well join 'em. Haha. Sometimes I kill myself! I'd be looking for some fellas
named Peter, and James and John. I got some information for them. Do you
know their whereabouts?"
"Hmm, mebbe I do and mebbe I don't. What do you want 'em for?"
"I have some information for them. I heard they was a startin' up a new
religion and I figured I could get in on the action. I have a lot of good
ideas for organization and for marketing the message so that it has the most
selling potential and impact and has the greatest hooking power. I can be
all things to all people, I know how to handle these sorts of operations."
"Actually, stranger, me and the boys here are the people you are looking
for. I'm Peter and that's James and John over there. Fellas, say 'hello' to
the dusty stranger, our new friend."
"Oh great! I guess I'd better tell you then that on the walk into town on
the Damascus Road after my camel broke down, it was a might hot out there
and I had a vision. Did I say it was hot? It was so hot my camel driver was
wearing an oscillating turban. I tell ya, lads, it was hotter than a two
peckered billy goat. It was so hot and dry I heard a Pharisee praying, 'I
wish it would rain - not so much for me, cuz I've seen it -- but for my
7-year-old.' But I digress. Back to my vision."
"I tell you boys, this is BIG and we can't really afford to let amateurs
mess it up. In the vision I had, your former Master, the one named Jesus,
came to me and he told me that this organization needed me to take it over
to get it off the ground because, frankly, and no offense intended to the
lot of you, but he said the people he chose and trained for the job just
weren't up to it, that they were disorganized, fragmentized, ostracized,
paralyzed, depressed, confused, and were working scattershot, and he told me
that from now on I would be speaking for Him and taking over the direction
and control of this new religion, and that whatever I told you would be what
God would tell you, and He told me to tell you that you should believe me
because I have said these things clearly. He also told me to tell you that
there had been some misunderstanding, and that his real gospel was that He
had come to earth to die for people's sins, you know, the sacrifice of an
innocent to atone for things that guilty people have done. I think it should
be obvious to everyone that wrongdoings and wrongdoers require the death of
an innocent person to make things right. Anyway, I was told to tell you that
contrary to what you may have thought when Jesus was here and you were
preaching and teaching with him, God demands innocent blood or He simply
cannot forgive sins. The records you have of Jesus saying that if you
forgive others, God will forgive you, haha, you know, people say lots of
stuff. I wouldn't put much stock in that. Someone probably just misheard
Jesus, I'm sure He didn't mean it."
"Wow! How can you be so sure? Because He warned us about false prophets. And
all of us were with him on the teaching and preaching tours to all the
cities and towns in the land, and none of us remembers any gospel being told
to the multitude by us and Jesus that was anything like that. James, John,
do you remember the Master or us telling the people that Jesus had come to
die for their sins and that that was the "good news? I don't remember that.
But I guess if this dusty stranger named Paul says it's true, then it must
be true because he told us clearly that he was speaking for Jesus. In view
of that, how can it not be true? In view of that, how can we not turn the
new Christian organization over to Paul? But maybe we should go away in
private for a few minutes and talk about it."
"Well, dusty stranger, after consulting with one another we have come to the
conclusion that if you say you saw Jesus in a vision, and if you say you are
speaking for God, and if you say your new gospel is the real one even though
we're pretty sure it's not the one we thought we were preaching with Jesus
to the multitude in cities and towns, then I guess we have no other choice
but to believe you and to put you in charge of this endeavor."
"Great! Glad to hear it. Oh, there's one other thing. I understand that some
of you guys are writing accounts, called gospels, of your time with Jesus and
his teachings, and so forth. I believe those writing are Matthew, Mark, and
you John, all real apostles of Jesus. Well, I want in on this action too. I
know a good ghost writer, so to speak, a gentile friend of mine named Luke
Johnson. He's a physician, but he writes novels on the side. Did you hear
that great speech by the Emperor last Solstice? Yup, that was Luke. Anyway,
he's going to write one of these so-called 'gospels,' -it will be known as
The Gospel According to Luke but actually it will be pretty much my version
of what happened, based on what I have heard from the rest of you, along
with my own imaginings. Yes, I know, Luke was not an apostle like the three
other 'gospel' writers, but from now on, as befits my new position as head
of this Christianity thing, and in view of the fact that I am speaking for
God as I have clearly told you, from here on out you will address me as The
Apostle Paul. Is that clear? And I warn you, if anyone tries to tell you
about any other gospel (good news about salvation) that's different from
mine, there's going to be hell to pay. OK men, you're dismissed for the time