About Paul Pavao

My name is Paul Pavao. I am married with six children, two of which are still at home, two in college, and two married to wonderful wives. I spent the last 18 years at Rose Creek Village, the last decade as a teacher and leader. I have now moved to Memphis, TN to join a couple of brothers in teaching the power and testimony inherent in community. By “community” I mean the church operating not as an institution or club, but as the family of God, committed to one another for the length of this life, whether they live on the same plot of land, as Rose Creek Village does, or not.

That is my mission in Memphis. On this blog I am crusading for honesty. Humans love comfortable. But Christians can’t just live comfortable. You ought to be able to simply look around and see what happens when Christians live comfortable.

There are solutions, but we will never begin implementing them if we are not honest with ourselves.

My Story

I was raised Roman Catholic, gave up on it at 13 or 14, became a new ager throughout my teens, then an atheist for a few months. God reached me (long story) in 1982. I had one of those lightning bolt conversions, utterly shocked by the gift of the Holy Spirit, which transformed me and my outlook on life in a moment.

In 1983 I was sent to a remote air station (Galena) in Alaska. With so few people, there were only five other committed Christians on the base. I got them together for Bible study, prayer, and witnessing in the eskimo village nearby.

There I learned the power of denominationalism. We were all from varied backgrounds, brought together only by a military assignment, and it took only six weeks for us to splinter in six denominations of one person each.

In the meantime, my friends back in Florida had been influenced by some Gene Edwards/Watchman Nee style teaching. After teaching in my old church that we shouldn’t call ourselves by denominational names nor simply blindly submit to leaders in the church, several of them were cold-shouldered out of the church. (Note: I believe their teaching about not submitting was overboard.)

I was horrified at the state of things.

Thus began a search for the will of God. At its foundation was a book I read called The Early Church by Gene Edwards. Gene says a lot of things I don’t agree with, but he is one of the best storytellers ever. After reading that book, I fell in love with the idea of church life. How do I describe that idea? Acts 2:42-47.

I spent 12 years looking for or trying to build something that would resemble that life. I wanted to be able to be a part of a church that not only had that kind of fellowship, but could say with Paul, “I am confident that he who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of King Jesus.”

I couldn’t find any churches like that. In most churches I encountered, I wasn’t sure that 50% were even Christians, much less that they were growing in Jesus.

I have learned that my perception was not wrong. The Barna Group, pollsters on Christian issues, says that 60% of professed Christians admit that they are either stagnant or backsliding.

Note: This was 1983-1995. I could find churches in 2013 closer to that ideal for which I was searching. Perhaps I just know where to search better now, but I don’t think so. I think people are growing tired of the “believe for fire insurance” message that was very popular during the time period of my search.

In late 1995 I ran across a church of 17 families. A friend told me about them with two sentences: “They are a mess” and then “Behold, how they love one another.”

I have spent the last 18 years living among people who want what I want:

  • A wholehearted commitment to Jesus Christ
  • A wholehearted, lifelong commitment to one another
  • A lot of mercy and love for our failures in those commitments.
  • A lot of loving exhortation, compassionate help, or stern rebuke (as needed) for ongoing disobedience to Jesus.
  • A willingness to work out everything in order to diligently maintain the unity of the Spirit

It has been powerful, delightful, difficult, and the only life that I believe Christians are meant to live.

That’s a little hard for some people to grasp or come to terms with. I talk about it a lot because I think that understanding the church is a matter of revelation, not just of understanding. Nonetheless, it is the Word of God that brings “hearing” and thus revelation.

Marriage and Children

In 1987, I visited a Southern Baptist Church, an American one, in Einsiedlerhof, Germany (near Kaiserslautern). I went there because it was walking distance from my house.

To (sadly) make a long and very interesting story as short as possible, the church was kind enough to send out my future wife, Lorie, to visit me on visitation. We had to iron out a few things, like my rejection of eternal security and my unwillingness to become a church member, but we worked things out. I was really glad because I knew within a week of meeting her that I would never find another woman like this one.

I never have. Greatest wife ever. Perfect for a seeker like me. Patient, kind, loving …

Well, enough about that. We have had six children. They are now ages 11 through 23. The oldest two are married to girls that my wife and I adore. No in-law problems for the first two. Whew!

Early Christian Writings

In 1990 I ran across a book called Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up. It was a discussion of what the churches of the second century believed. More importantly to me, it was a revelation that we could know what the churches of the second century believed. I bought the entire set of The Ante-Nicene Fathers and began reading.

I have been reading and quoting those writings for 23 years. I do not quote them as a second Bible, but I do quote them as a guide to interpreting the Bible. Why not? We’re fighting among ourselves so badly that six individual Christians could break into six indidividual denominations. (Or at least we were.) People that close to the time of the apostles can help us.

Further, I learned to look for lineage. A doctrine that can be traced to a source far after the apostles is by that one criterion alone proven false.

That is another hard idea to grasp, but I think with a little exposure and thought, it is self-evident.

Faith and Works

It was pointed out to me by a friend that I focus on faith and works a lot.

I do.

Even in the 1980’s, before I ever knew writings from the early churches existed, I recognized that there are a lot of Bible verses we don’t like. We don’t even want to know what they mean.


Example 1

As a young Christian, I was a little befuddled by what John 3:5 meant by being born of water. My denomination didn’t believe John 3:5 was a reference to baptism, but they didn’t seem to have an alternative interpretation. (I know two alternative interpretations now.)

When a friend asked me one day what I was doing, I told him, “I’m writing down every verse in the New Testament that has baptize, baptism, baptized, baptizing, or water in it.”

“Why?” he asked.

“I want to figure out what John 3:5 means when it talks about being born of water.”

“It doesn’t mean baptism.”

“I agree, but I want to find out what it does mean.”

“Why? It doesn’t mean baptism. You’re just going to get yourself in trouble studying things like that.”

This really happened. I’m not making it up, and all my friends agreed with him.

Example 2

1987: My wife and I attend our first married Sunday School class at the Baptist church. We are there with three couples, and the teacher tells us that Matthew 6:11 is wrong. Jesus tells us there that if we don’t forgive our brother, God will not forgive us.

This is not true, the teacher tells us. We are forgiven forever when we are saved, so forgiving others has no bearing on our being forgiven.

We are stunned. We object strenuously to this teaching. The three other couples side against us. We are aghast, and we never return to that Sunday school class. Later, when I ask a friend–yes, a friend–in a note why he skipped over Galatians 6:7-8 in his Sunday school class, commenting on it with one joke, then leaving it behind, he turned that note over to the pastor, who asked me to leave the church.

I didn’t listen to him until a few months later when he kicked my friend out for showing the congregation the full church budget. Then I left with my friend.

Skipping Verses and Pitting Verses Against Verses

I could give a hundred more examples, and I am doing some of that on my blog here and there.

Other example would be the way denominations argue with each other.

“John 10:27-28 proves eternal security.”
“2 Peter 2:20-21 proves you can lose your salvation.”
“1 Cor. 1:8 proves eternal security.”
“Gal. 5:19-21 proves you can lose your salvation.”

And on and on. I even saw a systematic theology once that had a chapter on eternal security. They laid out their case, and then they wrote that there are verses that “seem” to contradict their position. They then listed thirty to fifty verses. Yowee!

I determined years ago that I would say everything the Bible says. I would say that I am justified by faith apart from the works of the law (Rom. 3:28), and I would say that I am justified by works and not by faith only (James 2:24). I would say that I look for the coming of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Tit. 2:13), and I would say that for us there is only one God, the Father (1 Cor. 8:6).

I would say that we are saved by grace through faith and not of works (Eph. 2:8-9), and I would say that baptism now saves us (1 Pet. 3:21) and that we wash away our sins in baptism, calling on the name of the Lord (Acts 22:16).

If the Bible says it, I would feel free to say it, no matter what reaction I got, until my understanding caught up with my Scripture quoting.

The result?

When I read Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up the only thing that was new to me was that the early churches refused to participate in war. Otherwise, I already knew and agreed with everything in his summation of early Christian beliefs.

I talk about faith and works a lot because that is the place here our taboos are most evident. The way we talk about faith and works is nothing like the way the apostles or Jesus talk about faith and works. Oh, sure, you can find verses that seem to back up our way of thinking, but you can also find many verses that we never say, not to anyone or in any situation.

That is indicative of a problem, and it is that problem I would love to be a part of curing, even if I offend everyone along the way.

Yes, there are good things that Christians do. There are highly committed, wonderful, godly Christian people who believe things that I stand against. It’s true, but the reason I stand against them is expressed very well by Ray Comfort, though I am paraphrasing him. (I agree with very little that Ray Comfort teaches, but his analysis of the problem in Christianity in spot on, in my opinion.)

For every convert, for every godly, committed Christian, we create 9 backsliders. Nine people with a false idea of Christianity, thinking that they’re going to heaven when they are not. They have never even been told that they must do the will of the Father to enter heaven (Matt. 7:21). They have never even been told that if they love their father, mother, or children more than Jesus they are not worthy of him (Matt. 10:37).

It’s wonderful that someone heard a messsage that boiled down to “Heaven is a free gift if you believe because Jesus died for your sins” and went on to gratefully surrender to Jesus, learn his teachings, and follow. Statistics say, however, that 80-95% do not. They’ve been inoculated against the Gospel.

I haven’t just read about it. I’ve seen it over and over.

So I talk. I blog as well. I hope you are motivated to live for the will of Jesus and to believe that nothing in the universe is as important as his words.

21 Responses to About Paul Pavao

  1. Adrian Allan G. Caraos says:

    Good day Paul I am a Catholiic Seminarian Adrian Allan Caraos I am writng a reflection about the Early Christian Writings. I just wish to ask if you are a Catholic Christian?

    • Paul Pavao says:

      You probably mean Roman Catholic, that European part of the one, holy, and apostolic Church that split several times in the fourth century and again in the 11th century. I call myself a catholic Christian, but I do not agree with a lot of what the Roman Catholic Church teaches, nor do I like the fruit I see in their congregations. I have had a couple friends join the Roman Catholics in order to feel part of the one Church, and I have had more friends join the Eastern Orthodox to be part of the one Church. I even had a friend consider the Assyrian Orthodox Church of the East, but that was more to get the authority of apostolic succession than for unity. Anyway, I am not Roman Catholic, but I object pretty strongly to not being called catholic because I won’t submit to Rome or join its congregations.

  2. Deborah O Hammock says:

    For some reason I found your blog? I am enjoying your journey. I am amused by the comments. I too am searching for the Truth and not Christianity. Thanks for your insight.

  3. Caelon Loving says:

    I was wondering if you could do a blog on ecology stewardship and St Francis of Assisi I know that may be asking to much but. It is because of him that I am Christian because for a long time I though that being Christian for a long time met that for me I had to be required to reject Love, Care, Sympathy, Compassion, Respect, and Empathy for nature due to the fact that I saw many people interpret the Bible as being a way to get fossil fuels, kill, or abuse animals, kill and harm plants and wildlife etc… in fact I had more respect for the religions of some of my ancestors than Christianity an example Japanese Buddhism and Shintoism even though about joining them (the list could go on because I have 13 different nationalities). It was not until I realized after Francis of Assisi that there was a reason god Loves humans more than anything he created because we are susceptible to sin unlike the rest of creation therefore humans need to save other humans who are of sin from sin as well as uniqueness. But at the same time it is because we have responsibilities in comparison to the rest of creation and one of them is protecting all the things god created in nature the animals, plants, trees, water etc… but it is unfortunate because I know a lot of people that are Christians who don’t know that.

    • Paul Pavao says:

      I will give thought to that. I agree with what you said, but it’s not really the focus of my blog. It’s easier for me to write when I’m really motivated on a subject.

  4. ShadowChristian says:

    Hello Paul,

    I’m somewhat new with Christianity and I’ve been looking for answers. I was wondering if you’re still around to answer a few questions I had about the early church and Christianity in general. If so, what is your email address so I can contact you?

    • paulfpavao says:

      You can email me at paul @ christian-history.org. You have to take the spaces out of that email address, but not the -. The – belongs in there.

  5. Loren Pederson says:

    Paul, thanks for posting your thoughts and story. My pilgrimage has similarities to yours. I describe myself as a cathocostalbaptiterian…
    I am ignorant about many things you talk about but hope to learn. There is so much misinformation out there… Shalom

  6. Mushet says:

    You are a liar and a false teacher, Paul Pavao. SPIRIT BAPTISM by GOD THE HOLY GHOST is the ONLY ONCE AND FOR ALL necessary baptism for the regenerated Christian person. Water baptism is symbolic and has NO Salvific power at all. The born again Christian is born of the INCORRUPTIBLE ETERNAL LIFE of the LORD JESUS CHRIST, His blood alone. You are no different than a lost Roman Catholic. You are obviously following the lies of men like Alexander Campbell of the “Church of Christ” who teach water baptism for salvation. You are trusting in your own works. Jesus died for all of our sins.

    1. The believer has everlasting or eternal life.

    John 5:24: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

    John 10:28: “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

    … etc.

    • paulfpavao says:

      I love to post comments that begin with things like “you are a liar and false teacher. This guy, however, posted 101 points. I left the first one, and deleted the other one hundred. If I had printed his comment, it would have been 15 pages long. Amazing. He can try posting that on his own blog.

      He also sent me an email, which was only one paragraph. I suppose that is because my jotform has a maximum length. It just says I’m wrong, and it doesn’t call me any names. I guess branding me as a liar and false teacher is for y’all only. I don’t mind going over verses. For example, John 5:24’s “believe,” like most of the verbs in John’s writings, is in the present tense (rather than aorist). This indicates continual, progressive, or ongoing action. As long as one “is believing,” he has eternal life. Also, that belief is in Jesus as King/Lord, not in the atonement. The atonement is true, but one is not saved by confessing Jesus as Savior and believing he died for our sins. One is saved by confessing Jesus as Lord and believing he rose from the dead (so as to continue ruling over us). Continue in that faith, and you continue in eternal life. Stop continuing and start living in the flesh, and you can plan on passing from life to death. Passing from life to death is called dying, and Paul warns it can happen to the saved if the do not subdue the flesh (Rom. 8:12-13).

      You know what I’m going to say to John 10:28. Don’t leave Jesus’ hand, and you won’t have to worry about someone taking you from it. That is an assurance verse, but not assurance that you can depart from the rule of Jesus and still be saved. One verse doesn’t contradict another. You have to, if you are a disciple, believe the assurance verses and the warning verses.

      I don’t mind answering a couple verses like that, but I am not going to take the time to answer 101 wrongly interpretd verses.

  7. Mala says:

    I love this! What a great picture of how cut up into pieces the denominations are. Thank you for always encouraging others to follow and obey God with all of their heart, mind, soul and strength.

  8. paulfpavao says:

    I am glad to hear it, Rick. I hope that you are able to get together with them. And thank you for your prayers.

  9. Rick says:

    Hi Paul-
    It’s Rick. I have some good news. I found some brothers and sisters that meet in Milford, IA. They are functioning under as a the local church under watchman nee. They actually have a group that meets in Sioux falls, sd. Praise the Lord, I will be praying for your health, brother.

  10. paulfpavao says:

    Maybe I can give some general thoughts. While I strongly disagreed with a post i read recently by Greg Boyd, it really helped me evaluate what I think God and the Scriptures say about women.

    Boyd made a suprisingly good case that 1 Cor. 14:34-35 is another Corinthian question that Paul is answering. Verse 36, then, would be Paul’s response to the question in 1 Cor. 14:34-35. Basically, the answer is, “Who do you think you are? I don’t care who came along and gave you the crazy idea that women can’t speak in church, but it wasn’t me, and if you think you’re a prophet or spiritual, you should acknowledge that what I’m bringing to you are the commands of the King.”

    I suppose now, looking at the structure of 1 Corinthians in general, especially the last half, starting in 1 Cor. 7, I agree with Boyd on that one passage.

    The other notable passage on women is 1 Timothy 2:11-14, and there is not a good way to explain that one away. Authority over men was something Paul opposed. Paul wanted men to be teachers, not women. If a teaching was going on, women were to be silent.

    There is no scriptural or early church evidence for woman elders. There are mounds of references to deaconesses. Of course, the early churches spoke Greek outside of Judea, so the word was not “deaconess” nor “deacon,” but diakona or diakonos, words which actually have a meaning. They mean maidservant and manservant, or in modern English, just servant.

    The apostle Paul seems to put pretty high stock in some of these servants or fellow-workers. Phoebe was commended by Paul as a servent of the assembly at Cenchrea. She was a “helper” to Paul, but he tells the Romans to help her with whatever business she has.

    Priscilla and Aquila were workers for the Gospel, perhaps even church planters (which I would call apostles). It is clear that Priscilla was a very active if not lead part of their work. Priscilla could not have had an official leadership position in the early churches, but Paul was certainly not silencing her!

    What Paul has to say about Adronicus and Junia is not surprising about men, but Junia is clearly a woman’s name: “kinsmen, fellow prisoners, of note among the apostles” (Rom. 16:7).

    1 Cor. 11 and Acts 21:9 made it clear that prophesy was not only allowed but encouraged among women. Could they be elders and be the one who expounded on the Scriptures that were read each Sunday? No. Could they be part of the great fellowship meal of the Assembly, when it gathered to share a meal and to bring “a psalm, a teaching, a language, a revelation, an interpretation”? Most certainly.

    That’s all I’ve got. I hope that is enough to help.

    • Constantine (Gus) Nicholson says:

      Hello Paul, I found your site accidentally by looking for a different one and this popped up. You seem very convicted in your beliefs for which I commend you. Denominationally, I am Greek Orthodox. I was born into it. A circuitous search brought me back to my faith after testing several alternatives. What I read above seems to be your interpretation of Scripture. I would caution you to be careful about relying on your own interpretations. An example would be the term ‘diakona’ as used in describing some early women of the Church. Nascent Christianity had need of women as well as men to bring the Word and administer some of the Holy Mysteries. There were just not enough workers for the work. Men eventually squeezed women out of priestly jobs. But, that doesn’t justify the leap that women are somehow lesser beings than men in the Christian context and don’t deserve equality. Sincerely, – Constantine Nicholson

      • paulfpavao says:

        Hi Gus (hope that’s okay),

        I’m sure a number of people have come here looking for ancientfaith.com, which is an Orthodox site. I didn’t realize that until after I purchased ancient-faith.com.

        I’m quite surprised at your comment. Do the Greek Orthodox not have deaconesses anymore? I did not know that. I don’t want to go hunt down the reference, but I was told that the women deacons helped with the baptism of women because in at least some of the early churches, people were baptized naked. (I want to say the reference for that was Hippolytus’ _Apostolic Tradition_, but I’m not sure.)

        Anyway, I suppose the point of your comment is to be careful about relying on my own interpretations. I have been warned about this many times, and I am very careful. I do not ignore the groups that I am not part of, and I am careful not just to research Scripture. I have read everything we have available up through Cyprian, and a lot of what comes afterward. I have had over 20 years of interactions with Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox alike. There comes a point on some subjects where I am very confident, and on others I am much more uncertain and willing to learn.

        I would express the same warning to be careful about 2000 years of tradition and how it can find itself warring against the Word of God and violating the teachings of Jesus.

        • Constantine (Gus) Nicholson says:

          That is why in setting the Canons, the early Christian church relied on Ecumenical Councils. Historically, there were 7 that represented all the five patriarchies, the last one convening in 797. “Where two or more are gathered in My Name…” I also recall, when Jesus was told about some folks across the way preaching about him who were not among His chosen disciples if they shouldn’t be silenced. “Leave them alone,” He said. “Those who are not against us, are with us.”

  11. Ruth says:

    Dear Paul, I asked before and I’m asking again (no criticism intended) about the womans role in the church and about headcoverings(a sign for the angels?). It is becoming an issue for me. My daughters are being offered positions in the churches that I am uncomfortable with and they are seeking and uncertain. Do you have any insights or can you recommend any resources? Prayers for your health.

    • Paul Pavao says:

      I just saw this, more than six years later. I do remember what I was doing in January, 2014. I had an awful case of double pneumonia, so bad that I thought it was worse than the 10 months of acute leukemia treatments and the bone marrow transplant. It was so bad I prayed that I would completely forget the experience. That prayer was answered, and apparently I forgot this comment too!

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