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Friday, April 07, 2006

The Gospel of Judas

You may have heard - and certainly will be hearing more - about this alleged "Gospel of Judas." This is really much ado about doo doo. From what I understand, the "Gospel of Judas" is just another old gnostic pseudapigraphic text. Judas didn't write it any more than Thomas wrote the gospel of Thomas. Gnostics were people who held to a varied set of heretical teachings. There were numerous such sects in the early centuries of Christianity.

Common themes in gnostic texts include:

  • The Highest God did not create the world, some lower deity or emanation of God did.
  • The material world is evil
  • Only spirit is good
  • Thus, gnostics tended to promote celibacy because the body doesn't matter.
    • Some went the opposite direction and lived licentiously because the body doesn't matter.
  • Women were often denigrated. The "Gospel of Thomas" states that a woman (Mary Magdalene) must become a man in order to be saved.
  • The Logos (eternal only-begotten Son of God) was not incarnated. The true God could not become a man because the material world is evil.
    • One theory was that Jesus was not truly human, he only appeared to be flesh and blood.
    • Another theory suggested that Jesus wasn't any more divine than you or I.
  • Because the material world is intrinsically evil, Jesus did not rise bodily from the grave.
  • Because the material world is evil, Christians do not receive His body and blood in the Eucharist.
  • Because the material world is evil, salvation means being set free from the body.
  • Because the material world is intrinsically evil, you will not rise bodily on the Last Day.
  • The word Gnosticism comes from the Greek word for knowledge (gnosis). Gnostics held that Jesus passed on certain teachings only to a few. And these secret teachings are passed along only to the worthy. So only those ascended masters, the enlightened ones, who posseses this secret knowledge gain the highest salvation.
And so forth. Does that sound anything at all like Christianity? If you believe ANY of the above statements, you cannot in good conscience speak the Nicene Creed. And if you cannot honestly confess the Nicene Creed, you are not a Christian.

Soon, I will be preparing a series of lectures on the Da Vinci Code, so you will be reading more from me on these matters.

Christianity Today has a nice write up on this which I recommend you read.

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Darrell said...

First of all, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your recent comments at my blog.

Secondly, I'm fascinated by the Gnostic "gospels." At the risk of sounding totally haughty, I'll say this about them... when I read some of what they contain, my train of thought goes something like this: "OK, that makes some sense.. alright, I'm with you on that... WAIT A MINUTE, WHAT??!" There are ideas in there that seem sound and valid, but just when I've finished reading something that seems to fit the faith, I'll come across something that sends a cold chill through me. I can't help but believe that the imprint of what C.S. Lewis called "natural law" ought to be enough to internally warn any serious, prayerful reader that those books just ain't right.

Who was it that said that all the best lies are formed around a grain of truth?

My opinion... and take it for what it's worth... is that those who champion these so-called "gospels" have a political agenda rather than a spiritual one. With the "liberalizing" of much of mainstream Christianity so prevalent now, and with the continuing popularity of a lot of "new age" ideas, these books seem somewhat dangerous to me. As fascinating as they are simply as a novelty, I think they have the potential to cause a lot of pain, confusion, and heartache.

VirginiaLutherans said...

Sounds like the archeologists have discovered the ancient toilet. This will sum it up for all gnostics, and their theological brethern:

From 1 John 4:1-3:
" 1Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world."

If you believe this, you follow an antichrist.

I wonder if this "resurgence" of gnostic texts is related to Revelation 17- the beast that was, is not, and will come again to his destruction. I would like to see what Pastor Stiegemeyer has to say on this. (I do understand this is all speculation on our parts- this will only make sense at the End.)

Darrell said...

Pastor Scott, did you catch the program about the Gospel of Judas on the National Geographic Channel last night? I reacted to it fairly strongly, and I wondered if you'd seen it and what you thought.

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

Hi Darrell,
No, actually I had another commitment last night so I haven't seen it yet. I will, however, read your take on it as soon as I finish this. I suspect I'll read up some more on it today and maybe post later.

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