Paul is an asshole. He was an asshole when he was Saul and he was an asshole after the incident on the road to Damascus. He’s the only Christian whose martyrdom was probably a result of having annoyed the shit out of everyone standing within 100 yards of him, and not his religion. It’s nice of people to pretend he was crucified upside down, but I personally believe the beheading version, because who would want to listen to him gripe for the hours it takes to die by crucifixion?
Anyway, this doesn’t mean that Paul wasn’t an effective leader–effective leaders tend to be giant assholes. In fact, if I were speculating on why Paul was given the job of setting up and setting on their ways so many early churches, I would bet it was this particular personality quirk that made him stand out as an effective leader. In other words, he excelled at what he did because he was a giant asshole with a singular vision for how to set up and run the organization necessary to perpetuate a belief system.
I don’t remind you that Paul was an asshole in order to discredit the good he did. But I do remind you that, before you say, “Well, it says in the Bible…” that many books in the New Testament were written by a giant asshole and that, whenever the giant asshole says something, it needs to be weighed against the words in red. If they go along with what the words in red say, run with it. If they contradict the words in red or seem to contradict the spirit of the words in red, then just blow it off.
Or start calling your religion Paulianity, just so everyone knows where you stand.