How Paul Purged Vegan Christianity. By Chapman Chen
In 1 Timothy, (St.) Paul denounced pro-vegan ministers: "Now...some... depart from the faith, giving heed to doctrines of devils...Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron...commanding to abstain from meats...every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving"(1 Timothy 4:1-4 KJV). Paul actually "delivered unto Satan" pro-vegan ministers like Hymenaeus and Alexander, who preached against eating meat, especially strangled animals presented to idols (1 Timothy 1:19-20 KJV).
"Delivered unto Satan", according to Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers, "is a solemn excommunication or expulsion from the Church, accompanied with the infliction of bodily disease or death."
Why was Paul so bold as to persecute pro-vegan ministers in these extreme ways?
It turns out that after Jesus' rise to Heaven, Christianity split up into two camps (Dixon 2018):- The vegan Jewish Christian camp headed by Jesus' brother, James the Just, plus Peter and John; and the carnivorous gentile Christian camp led by Paul, a Greek-speaking Jew who had persecuted Jewish Christians. The vegan Jewish Christian camp strictly followed the law as interpreted by Jesus (Akers 2000, 2013). They were the precursor of the Essenes, Ebionites and Therapeutics.
In the early years of the Church, there was an intense power struggle between these two camps, especially in relation to the eating of meat. In order to attract rich meat-eating gentiles, Paul maintained that Christians could eat meat, even meat dedicated to idols (Akers 2000, 2013; Andrew McGowan, Ascetic Eucharists, pp. 35-45). A crucial conference between Paul and the Jerusalem church took place in the year 49 by (Acts 15:2 Galatians 2:1). The Jerusalem Council settled the matter by pushing for Gentile converts to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols (Acts 15:29).
In spite of the agreement reached at the Council of Jerusalem, Paul relates how he later openly challenged Peter in a quarrel sometimes named the "Incident at Antioch", over Peter's refusal to share a meal with Gentile Christians in Antioch for reason that they did not abide by Jewish customs. (Bechtel, Florentine Stanislaus (1910). "Judaizers" . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company).
Between the late 40s and early 50s, writing of that confrontation, Paul recounts, "I opposed [Peter] to his face, for the reason that he was obviously in the wrong", and he questioned Peter, "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you oblige Gentiles to comply with Jewish customs?"[Gal. 2:11–14]
In 57 AD, Paul went so far as to declare that those "whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables" (Romans 14:2). Nonetheless, as the vegan Christian camp was then still in power in the church, Paul diplomatically advised believers not to cause brethen to stumble because of meat-eating (Romans 14:21). "Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat," Paul was also cunning enough to say around the year 54 (1 Corinthians 8:13).
However, when James the Just was stoned to death in 62 AD, Paul no longer had any scruples. In 63 AD, Paul showed his true nature in ruthlessly ridding the Church of pro vegan ministers, labeling them "false teachers", "hypocrites", "liars", "followers of devils", as aforementioned (1 Timothy 4:1-4). In the capacity of an apostle, he excommunicated them, and possibly also tortured and/or executed them.
When Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD, the vegan Christian camp was attacked from three sides -- the Roman Empire, meat-eating gentile Christianity, and orthodox Judaism (cf. Dr. Martin A. Larson, 1977, The Story of Christian origins). The meat-eating gentile Christian camp seized the opportunity to take over power in the Church. (Paul died around 68 AD). Vegan Christian groups like the Essenes and the Ebionites had to retreat to obscure caves. The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in precisely some of those caves (the Qumran Caves).