Author Topic: Gnostic Gospels  (Read 19979 times)

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Offline Duke Nukum

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Re: Gnostic Gospels
« Reply #25 on: February 16, 2010, 09:06:42 PM »
For sake of this discussion, I can learn about God by viewing the universe through a telescope, or by watching a sunset, or reading the elegant solution to a complex equation........God is not vested alone in Scripture, nor is Scripture the sole means of learning about God........

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If the Universe is holographic, as it appears to be, then God is indeed vested in every part and this would validate the gnostic point of view that one can best know God by knowing one's self and at the same time it doesn't invalidate any other way of knowing God.
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Offline Chris_

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Re: Gnostic Gospels
« Reply #26 on: February 16, 2010, 09:34:47 PM »
After the Albigensian Crusade, the Bogomils continued for a time in the east but finally the western church pressured the eastern church and they were somehow wiped out also.


Afterward, the gnostics disappear from history and not much thought of until the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Codex in, was it 1944?  So either they were all wiped out by the 14th century or learned to keep very, very quiet.


OK, so to recap where we are so far:

The Church evolved from the first through the latter half of the third century with the commission of several versions of the Gospels being written and eventually codified into the faith.  There were also some divergent interpretations evolving as well during this period.  All began essentially as "oral histories" from the Apostles, and were eventually consolidated by believers into several somewhat different interpretations of the life (and meaning thereof) of Christ.

Then enters Emperor Constantine, who.....although many historians believe his conversion to Christianity to be an entirely political one, convenes a conference in order to "consolidate the faith".  During this period the Church begins the journey from being a purely faith-based organization, to a bureaucracy, which is now known as Roman Catholicism.

At the beginning of this bureaucracy, the Church does what all bureaucracies do.....attempts to purge its realm of any and all competing interests.  Therefore the alternative interpretations of Christ's life and mission are suppressed and driven underground.  The Church continues along these political and ecumenical lines until Martin Luther nails his complaints to a door, which began the end of the RCC's stranglehold on any divergent interpretation of the faith.

Christianity expands from this point to what we have today.......many slightly different views of the same set of events, with each claiming their own dogma and ecumenical validity.  

Enter the long-lost Gnostic texts..........by studying these writings do we risk eternal damnation, by even considering that an alternate view of the events of Christ's life exists, or has any credibility, or are we simply enriching our faith by learning that the beginnings of our religion were, even a few decades after the Crucifixion, viewed differently by different observers?

I submit that when I wish to study the Old Testament, I don't go to a Christian minister for guidance......I consult a Rabbi........after all, they wrote it, and have been debating its contents for several thousand years before Christianity came along.  Along those same lines, I don't think that we can completely dismiss alternative views of Christ's life and mission.......less we risk missing the point of His life entirely, and become so rooted in dogma that we lose our objectivity, and along with it the meaning of our faith.

doc
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Offline MrsSmith

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Re: Gnostic Gospels
« Reply #27 on: February 16, 2010, 10:05:58 PM »
For sake of this discussion, I can learn about God by viewing the universe through a telescope, or by watching a sunset, or reading the elegant solution to a complex equation........God is not vested alone in Scripture, nor is Scripture the sole means of learning about God........

doc
Well, this is true.  God "wrote" the universe, the sunset, and the laws of physics and math.  He didn't write non-scripture.\

You can read false teachings, if you wish...but can you learn truth from lies?
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Offline Chris_

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Re: Gnostic Gospels
« Reply #28 on: February 16, 2010, 10:13:00 PM »
He didn't write non-scripture.

You can read false teachings, if you wish...but can you learn truth from lies?

How, exactly do YOU know that they are false?

I am not so arrogant in my faith that I assume that anything other than what I've been taught about God is true........

It appears that you are.......

doc
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Re: Gnostic Gospels
« Reply #29 on: February 16, 2010, 10:42:31 PM »
OK, so to recap where we are so far:

The Church evolved from the first through the latter half of the third century with the commission of several versions of the Gospels being written and eventually codified into the faith.  There were also some divergent interpretations evolving as well during this period.  All began essentially as "oral histories" from the Apostles, and were eventually consolidated by believers into several somewhat different interpretations of the life (and meaning thereof) of Christ.

Then enters Emperor Constantine, who.....although many historians believe his conversion to Christianity to be an entirely political one, convenes a conference in order to "consolidate the faith".  During this period the Church begins the journey from being a purely faith-based organization, to a bureaucracy, which is now known as Roman Catholicism.

At the beginning of this bureaucracy, the Church does what all bureaucracies do.....attempts to purge its realm of any and all competing interests.  Therefore the alternative interpretations of Christ's life and mission are suppressed and driven underground.  The Church continues along these political and ecumenical lines until Martin Luther nails his complaints to a door, which began the end of the RCC's stranglehold on any divergent interpretation of the faith.

Christianity expands from this point to what we have today.......many slightly different views of the same set of events, with each claiming their own dogma and ecumenical validity.  

Enter the long-lost Gnostic texts..........by studying these writings do we risk eternal damnation, by even considering that an alternate view of the events of Christ's life exists, or has any credibility, or are we simply enriching our faith by learning that the beginnings of our religion were, even a few decades after the Crucifixion, viewed differently by different observers?

I submit that when I wish to study the Old Testament, I don't go to a Christian minister for guidance......I consult a Rabbi........after all, they wrote it, and have been debating its contents for several thousand years before Christianity came along.  Along those same lines, I don't think that we can completely dismiss alternative views of Christ's life and mission.......less we risk missing the point of His life entirely, and become so rooted in dogma that we lose our objectivity, and along with it the meaning of our faith.

doc
And a view emerges of Jesus of someone who's teachings were so radical for the time that simply trying to grasp them created all these divergent views.  Some where sincere attempts to understand and carry on Jesus' ministry.  Others may have been looking for more of a military leader to over throw the Romans and establish a certain idea of God's New Jerusalem.  And then we can't overlook the possibility that some words attributed to Jesus were actually said by John the Baptist, who was actually more renowned at that time then Jesus.  If there were any contemporary writings concerning Jesus, they may well have been lost with the sacking of Jerusalem in 70.

So then, what does that leave us?  Probably the Gospel of Thomas, which isn't a gnostic writing even though it was rediscovered with many other gnostic writings.  Instead of being a narrative, it is a sayings gospel.  Even this may have been corrupted with time and different agendas as it was copied spurious sayings may have been added, but it is probably the closest to the actual teachings of Jesus and probably the original was written down very soon after Jesus' death.
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Offline Eupher

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Re: Gnostic Gospels
« Reply #30 on: February 17, 2010, 09:26:42 AM »
<snip>
Then enters Emperor Constantine, who.....although many historians believe his conversion to Christianity to be an entirely political one, convenes a conference in order to "consolidate the faith".  During this period the Church begins the journey from being a purely faith-based organization, to a bureaucracy, which is now known as Roman Catholicism.

At the beginning of this bureaucracy, the Church does what all bureaucracies do.....attempts to purge its realm of any and all competing interests.  Therefore the alternative interpretations of Christ's life and mission are suppressed and driven underground.  The Church continues along these political and ecumenical lines until Martin Luther nails his complaints to a door, which began the end of the RCC's stranglehold on any divergent interpretation of the faith.

Christianity expands from this point to what we have today.......many slightly different views of the same set of events, with each claiming their own dogma and ecumenical validity.  

Enter the long-lost Gnostic texts..........by studying these writings do we risk eternal damnation, by even considering that an alternate view of the events of Christ's life exists, or has any credibility, or are we simply enriching our faith by learning that the beginnings of our religion were, even a few decades after the Crucifixion, viewed differently by different observers?

I submit that when I wish to study the Old Testament, I don't go to a Christian minister for guidance......I consult a Rabbi........after all, they wrote it, and have been debating its contents for several thousand years before Christianity came along.  Along those same lines, I don't think that we can completely dismiss alternative views of Christ's life and mission.......less we risk missing the point of His life entirely, and become so rooted in dogma that we lose our objectivity, and along with it the meaning of our faith.

doc

To answer your question, I find that exploring all of this -- even the so-called "lies" or "untruths" -- helps enrich me in my faith. Jesus was exposed to temptation and to lies while in the desert following his baptism and I see no reason why I shouldn't take a look at something that isn't within the mainstream.

I am secure enough in my faith to be willing to do that and I am not threatened by it.

That said, I think the point should be underlined concerning Constantine and his political ambition. Whether or not he truly was a convert to Christianity (as opposed to merely embracing it for its political benefits), the fact is that Constantine's efforts finally lent credence and legitimacy to a faith that up to that point had been ridiculed and persecuted, its members tossed into martyrdom. That is noteworthy all by itself.

Second, we all should be reminded that a bureaucracy's first obligation is the preservation of itself. And so it was with the RCC. Any time two or more people convene in the name of something, it doesn't take long for the fallibility of man to screw it up. (Look what we have in Congress.)

In essence, my faith is personal and it's a direct reflection of my relationship with God and Jesus Christ. The church helps support me in my efforts, but I shouldn't EVER depend on an organization/bureaucracy to do what I need to do for myself and my God.
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Re: Gnostic Gospels
« Reply #31 on: February 17, 2010, 10:54:40 AM »
Quote
And a view emerges of Jesus of someone who's teachings were so radical for the time that simply trying to grasp them created all these divergent views.  Some where sincere attempts to understand and carry on Jesus' ministry.  Others may have been looking for more of a military leader to over throw the Romans and establish a certain idea of God's New Jerusalem.  And then we can't overlook the possibility that some words attributed to Jesus were actually said by John the Baptist, who was actually more renowned at that time then Jesus.

Although I find it very hard to place myself in the mindset of a first-century Jew, I believe that this is true.......the Jews were at that time (and still are) awaiting their Messiah, and I suspect that for many of them, the fact that he was among them was inthinkable at best, and suspicious at worst.  I think also that you are on to something with the attribution to John the Baptist........I have read a couple of biblical scholars state the same opinion.

Quote
So then, what does that leave us?  Probably the Gospel of Thomas, which isn't a gnostic writing even though it was rediscovered with many other gnostic writings.  Instead of being a narrative, it is a sayings gospel.  Even this may have been corrupted with time and different agendas as it was copied spurious sayings may have been added, but it is probably the closest to the actual teachings of Jesus and probably the original was written down very soon after Jesus' death.

Wasn't a confirming copy of a portion of the Gospel of Thomas found at Nag Hammadi?  I'll have to check to be certain, but it seems to me that several of the texts were confirmations of pre-existing discoveries that had been around for a while (or at least portions of them).

doc
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Re: Gnostic Gospels
« Reply #32 on: February 17, 2010, 11:14:46 AM »
To answer your question, I find that exploring all of this -- even the so-called "lies" or "untruths" -- helps enrich me in my faith. Jesus was exposed to temptation and to lies while in the desert following his baptism and I see no reason why I shouldn't take a look at something that isn't within the mainstream.

I am secure enough in my faith to be willing to do that and I am not threatened by it.

That said, I think the point should be underlined concerning Constantine and his political ambition. Whether or not he truly was a convert to Christianity (as opposed to merely embracing it for its political benefits), the fact is that Constantine's efforts finally lent credence and legitimacy to a faith that up to that point had been ridiculed and persecuted, its members tossed into martyrdom. That is noteworthy all by itself.

Second, we all should be reminded that a bureaucracy's first obligation is the preservation of itself. And so it was with the RCC. Any time two or more people convene in the name of something, it doesn't take long for the fallibility of man to screw it up. (Look what we have in Congress.)

In essence, my faith is personal and it's a direct reflection of my relationship with God and Jesus Christ. The church helps support me in my efforts, but I shouldn't EVER depend on an organization/bureaucracy to do what I need to do for myself and my God.

Some here (as demonstrated upthread) would state that you are veering dangerously close to the gnostic view........I happen to agree that our relationship with God is not vested in any church or denomination, but resides within.

To borrow a concept from the eastern religions......the more we learn about Christ, and the origins of our faith, the closer we come to "enlightenment".........the objective of all faith.

Regarding Constantine, many historians believe that his vision of the cross on the battlefield is a myth, and his entire purpose in embracing Christianity was the consolidation of power.  Instead of fighting inumerable "brushfire" ideological wars and rebellions with Christians within the Empire (and Christians were rapidly growing as a political force), it was expedient for him to embrace the religion, and turn the faithful into political assets, rather than wasting resources supressing the movement that could be better utilized for conquest externally........a brilliant strategic move actually......that cost him virtually nothing, and made him a hero to the early church.

doc
« Last Edit: February 17, 2010, 11:19:06 AM by TVDOC »

Offline Duke Nukum

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Re: Gnostic Gospels
« Reply #33 on: February 17, 2010, 04:23:57 PM »
Although I find it very hard to place myself in the mindset of a first-century Jew, I believe that this is true.......the Jews were at that time (and still are) awaiting their Messiah, and I suspect that for many of them, the fact that he was among them was inthinkable at best, and suspicious at worst.  I think also that you are on to something with the attribution to John the Baptist........I have read a couple of biblical scholars state the same opinion.

Wasn't a confirming copy of a portion of the Gospel of Thomas found at Nag Hammadi?  I'll have to check to be certain, but it seems to me that several of the texts were confirmations of pre-existing discoveries that had been around for a while (or at least portions of them).

doc
I was under the impression that Thomas was lost until the rediscovery at Nag Hammadi.  I would be very interested is learning about a pre-Nag Hammadi copy.
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Re: Gnostic Gospels
« Reply #34 on: February 24, 2010, 06:12:08 AM »
How can one trust a Church that goes directly against what the Bible teaches?? (by condoning or accepting homosexuality) I'm finding it very difficult to stick with any particular denomination because all of them go against the Bible and if they don't, the Church is so full of hypocrites that it's ridiculous. By exploring these writings, I've discovered more about religion than I had ever learned through the Church. I'm forming the opinion that organized religion is little more than an attempt by the Church to control the masses and a way to take from them. Many of them are almost as bad as our Government.

One primary example that burns in my mind is the issue of abortion. The KJV Bible doesn't really address abortion in fact. "Thou shalt not murder" is a pretty wide statement. IMO, it really doesn't address when life begins. If one were to read one of these lost or omitted books, they would discover that the abortion issue is truly addressed, without any added interpretation in the book of Barnabas, Chap 14, vs 11. "Thou shalt not destroy they conceptions before they are brought forth; nor kill them after they are born." That seems pretty clear to me.

Then, corporal punishment is addressed in vs 12: "Thou shalt not withdraw thy hand from thy son or from thy daughter; but shall teach them from their youth the fear of the Lord." There's plenty more, but those two stick out.
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Re: Gnostic Gospels
« Reply #35 on: February 24, 2010, 11:41:05 AM »
How can one trust a Church that goes directly against what the Bible teaches?? (by condoning or accepting homosexuality) I'm finding it very difficult to stick with any particular denomination because all of them go against the Bible and if they don't, the Church is so full of hypocrites that it's ridiculous. By exploring these writings, I've discovered more about religion than I had ever learned through the Church. I'm forming the opinion that organized religion is little more than an attempt by the Church to control the masses and a way to take from them. Many of them are almost as bad as our Government.  

Which comes very close to what the Gnostic's believe, and to a lesser degree the Coptic Church, that I mentioned above (widely thought to be the oldest Christian church)........that ones faith is vested in ones self, and not in an organized religion.

All though not so much the church that I was raised in (Southern Baptist), I have watched my MIL's church, which we attend regularly (Disciples of Christ) transform itself from a relatively strict interpretation of the Gospels, and Christian belief, into a "politically correct" liberal organization that has national leftist politics as its fundamental core structure, embracing everything from homosexuality and interpretive scripture, to antiwar/anti-Bush political rhetoric........all in the past fifteen years.

IMO, anytime a church morphs away from core principles into other arenas, they cease to be a church, and become more of a "cult".........Christian fundamentals being essentially timeless, and not in need of "modernization" or "revitalization"......Christian doctrine is what it is.........and always will be.......

Further, although I have no axe to grind with Catholics, Roman Catholicism ceased being a "church" in about 375 AD, and became, for all intents and purposes, a "government"........the Vatican, as a sovereign state, has (it is estimated, as the real numbers are never allowed in the public eye) more wealth than 75% of the countries in the world.  It has its own State Department, Intelligence Service (foreign and domestic), military services (both overt and covert), central bank, and media and propaganda service.  Nowhere in Scripture do I find any warrants or justifications for any of this in a Christian Church, so how do Catholics justify their existance?.........Christ simply never spoke about the creation of a huge bureaucracy to advance the faith, nor did he advocate the accumulation of a massive amount of wealth within his Church.........which, kinda explains why the RCC (and other Protestant faiths) have so ardently repressed the Gnostic teachings.......they are simply a threat to their continued accumulation of wealth and power......

doc
« Last Edit: February 24, 2010, 11:48:37 AM by TVDOC »

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Re: Gnostic Gospels
« Reply #36 on: February 24, 2010, 06:27:40 PM »
How can one trust a Church that goes directly against what the Bible teaches?? (by condoning or accepting homosexuality) I'm finding it very difficult to stick with any particular denomination because all of them go against the Bible and if they don't, the Church is so full of hypocrites that it's ridiculous. By exploring these writings, I've discovered more about religion than I had ever learned through the Church. I'm forming the opinion that organized religion is little more than an attempt by the Church to control the masses and a way to take from them. Many of them are almost as bad as our Government.

One primary example that burns in my mind is the issue of abortion. The KJV Bible doesn't really address abortion in fact. "Thou shalt not murder" is a pretty wide statement. IMO, it really doesn't address when life begins. If one were to read one of these lost or omitted books, they would discover that the abortion issue is truly addressed, without any added interpretation in the book of Barnabas, Chap 14, vs 11. "Thou shalt not destroy they conceptions before they are brought forth; nor kill them after they are born." That seems pretty clear to me.

Then, corporal punishment is addressed in vs 12: "Thou shalt not withdraw thy hand from thy son or from thy daughter; but shall teach them from their youth the fear of the Lord." There's plenty more, but those two stick out.
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Re: Gnostic Gospels
« Reply #37 on: February 25, 2010, 06:17:50 AM »
Is there any attribute to the GGs that, if a man were forever deprived of that attribute, would endanger his soul?
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Re: Gnostic Gospels
« Reply #38 on: February 25, 2010, 11:28:18 AM »
Is there any attribute to the GGs that, if a man were forever deprived of that attribute, would endanger his soul?

Not sure snugs who you are asking the question.......and what attribute?

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Re: Gnostic Gospels
« Reply #39 on: February 25, 2010, 01:48:16 PM »
Not sure snugs who you are asking the question.......and what attribute?

doc
Perhaps I'm out of my depth here but it is my understanding that the Christian creeds are this:

* God is a wholly just being. It is beyond His nature to be unjust.
* Man is not.
* God has imparted to man His commandments so as to keep man free of sin, injustice, etc
* Man invariably fails to live up to these commandments
* God, also a wholly merciful being, entered into the world as a man; specifically, Jesus
* The Passion was God-as-man taking all punishment for all sin upon Himself
* God-as-man rose from the dead 3 days earlier
* Those who are called and heed His voice are redeemed from their failings into a state of eternal communion

Those who call themselves Christians must "swear" to these creeds (assuming I have completely and properly cited them to one degree or another). To borrow the "Great Physician" analogy: this is the prescription.

But any prescription that is incomplete or improperly mixed or possessed of alien ingredients may be rendered inert or worse.

My query is:

Do the creeds/doctrines/teachings of the gnostic gospels complete a prescription that the synoptic gospels left incomplete or do they remove any impurity the synoptic gospels introduced?
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Re: Gnostic Gospels
« Reply #40 on: February 25, 2010, 02:17:22 PM »
Perhaps I'm out of my depth here but it is my understanding that the Christian creeds are this:

* God is a wholly just being. It is beyond His nature to be unjust.
* Man is not.
* God has imparted to man His commandments so as to keep man free of sin, injustice, etc
* Man invariably fails to live up to these commandments
* God, also a wholly merciful being, entered into the world as a man; specifically, Jesus
* The Passion was God-as-man taking all punishment for all sin upon Himself
* God-as-man rose from the dead 3 days earlier
* Those who are called and heed His voice are redeemed from their failings into a state of eternal communion

Those who call themselves Christians must "swear" to these creeds (assuming I have completely and properly cited them to one degree or another). To borrow the "Great Physician" analogy: this is the prescription.

But any prescription that is incomplete or improperly mixed or possessed of alien ingredients may be rendered inert or worse.

My query is:

Do the creeds/doctrines/teachings of the gnostic gospels complete a prescription that the synoptic gospels left incomplete or do they remove any impurity the synoptic gospels introduced?

Beginning with the caveat that I've not read them all completely, and the portions that I have read, in places, I don't completely understand........

Quote
* God is a wholly just being. It is beyond His nature to be unjust.
* Man is not.
* God has imparted to man His commandments so as to keep man free of sin, injustice, etc
* Man invariably fails to live up to these commandments

I've found no conflict with these conclusions in the GG.....

Quote
* God, also a wholly merciful being, entered into the world as a man; specifically, Jesus
* The Passion was God-as-man taking all punishment for all sin upon Himself
* God-as-man rose from the dead 3 days earlier

It gets a bit "iffy" here, as some GG texts seem to suggest that Christ was God's presence on earth, and that there was no human component to his earthly existence.  In at least one account, the Crucifixion and Resurrection are not mentioned at all.

Most of what I've gleaned from my (limited) study so far is that the major differences between the existing Canon, and the GG is that the (a) account of Christ's life and mission is slightly different, and told from the perspective of more skepticism, and (b) the focus of Christian faith is vested more in self-awareness, and introspective examination, rather than in an organized "church"........

doc
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Re: Gnostic Gospels
« Reply #41 on: February 25, 2010, 03:26:19 PM »
Most of what I've gleaned from my (limited) study so far is that the major differences between the existing Canon, and the GG is that the (a) account of Christ's life and mission is slightly different, and told from the perspective of more skepticism, and (b) the focus of Christian faith is vested more in self-awareness, and introspective examination, rather than in an organized "church"

Here is the meat of the matter. Yes, there are differences. Say, what one will of the Niceans but if synoptic canon was their objective they seemed to have succeeded rather well. The gnostic gospels obviously have glaring differences up to and including utterly discounting The Passion and Resurrection.

So...

...do the gnostic gospels provide the proper prescription for healing man's diseased soul? Has recieved canon (organized churchery notwithstanding) failed to provide the proper prescription?

Of course this is all predicated upon a proper diagnosis of the disease.

IOW: if man's condition can be solved by self-examination then perhaps the crucifixion never happened/is immaterial...but if there was need for propitiation then perhaps no amount of navel gazing will suffice and the gnostic texts are simply an intriguing distraction.

To this particular outsider the contrast is so striking and the consequences so staggering I'm surprised the debate has remained as cordial as it has for as long as it has (Actually, not really. You and Mrs Smith are always interlocutors of the highest caliber and decorum.).
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Offline Chris_

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Re: Gnostic Gospels
« Reply #42 on: February 25, 2010, 04:08:03 PM »
Here is the meat of the matter. Yes, there are differences. Say, what one will of the Niceans but if synoptic canon was their objective they seemed to have succeeded rather well. The gnostic gospels obviously have glaring differences up to and including utterly discounting The Passion and Resurrection.

So...

...do the gnostic gospels provide the proper prescription for healing man's diseased soul? Has received canon (organized churchery notwithstanding) failed to provide the proper prescription?

Of course this is all predicated upon a proper diagnosis of the disease.

IOW: if man's condition can be solved by self-examination then perhaps the crucifixion never happened/is immaterial...but if there was need for propitiation then perhaps no amount of navel gazing will suffice and the gnostic texts are simply an intriguing distraction.

To this particular outsider the contrast is so striking and the consequences so staggering I'm surprised the debate has remained as cordial as it has for as long as it has (Actually, not really. You and Mrs Smith are always interlocutors of the highest caliber and decorum.).

Being as pragmatic as I tend to be, my theory is that the Niceans simply picked the versions of the gospel story that tended to agree with one another, and rejected the ones that did not.......it could be that simple.  Additionally, there is no record that many of the GG were available for consideration at the time........they possibly existed in a theological "vacuum" created by geography or persecution.  Up until Constantine, Christianity was not "politically correct", and largely repressed.

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...do the gnostic gospels provide the proper prescription for healing man's diseased soul? Has received canon (organized Churches notwithstanding) failed to provide the proper prescription?

Of course this is all predicated upon a proper diagnosis of the disease.

So far my understanding is that it is more subtle than that, inasmuch as the GG suggests that one should apply Christ's teachings to one's own life in a direct, personal manner, without the intervention of intermediaries or organizations........the impact on man's soul is the same, just the vehicle is different.......

I too am surprised that this discussion has remained a cordial one.......as sadly, my experience is that many devout Christians are so myopic in matters of faith, that they simply don't allow such concepts to intrude into their worldview........

doc

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Offline MrsSmith

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Re: Gnostic Gospels
« Reply #43 on: February 25, 2010, 04:34:01 PM »

I too am surprised that this discussion has remained a cordial one.......as sadly, my experience is that many devout Christians are so myopic in matters of faith, that they simply don't allow such concepts to intrude into their worldview........

doc


Or, perhaps we've made the choice to not put on the level of Scripture writings that don't present the, as Snugs put it, entire prescription...or even the wrong prescription.


(b) the focus of Christian faith is vested more in self-awareness, and introspective examination, rather than in an organized "church"........

Introspection and self-awareness are an integral part of the faith inside the organized church, also.  The organized church is necessary for support of missions, for fellowship, for "moral" support...a place to turn in need.  We are commanded to love one another, to make ourselves obvious to the world through our love for each other, and for our enemies.  You can't fulfill all the commandments if you're going it alone...and you don't  have anyone to help you discern error if you take the wrong path.  Going off to your prayer closet is necessary, but so is the educated company of believers.

Remember, Satan does actively target those that belong to Christ.  Take care...
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Offline Chris_

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Re: Gnostic Gospels
« Reply #44 on: February 25, 2010, 04:52:32 PM »

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Or, perhaps we've made the choice to not put on the level of Scripture writings that don't present the, as Snugs put it, entire prescription...or even the wrong prescription.


Certainly your choice.......which begs the obvious question.......why participate to begin with?

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Introspection and self-awareness are an integral part of the faith inside the organized church, also.  The organized church is necessary for support of missions, for fellowship, for "moral" support...a place to turn in need.  We are commanded to love one another, to make ourselves obvious to the world through our love for each other, and for our enemies.  You can't fulfill all the commandments if you're going it alone...and you don't  have anyone to help you discern error if you take the wrong path.  Going off to your prayer closet is necessary, but so is the educated company of believers.

Nonsense........and all of the above points are nice, but there are no scriptural warrants for any of them.......If a person is true to his/her faith it seems to me to be the ultimate vanity to have to be organizationally required to rely on someone (or some group) to validate your spiritual choices.........

Christian fellowship is a marvelous thing, however the Gnostic's believed that it was not required for conversion to the faith.

doc
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Re: Gnostic Gospels
« Reply #45 on: February 25, 2010, 05:28:35 PM »
So far my understanding is that it is more subtle than that, inasmuch as the GG suggests that one should apply Christ's teachings to one's own life in a direct, personal manner, without the intervention of intermediaries or organizations........the impact on man's soul is the same, just the vehicle is different.......
Near as I can tell the Nazarene was of the same opinion. His go-rounds with the establishment of the day are legendary to say the least, yet he never seemed to shirk religious duties such as Passover and whatnot.

Indeed, the larger anything gets the more impersonal it becomes whether religion, government, corporations or whatever. Still, I cannot imagine a large organization being an automatic disqualifier for remediation as if a large church in and of itself were a sin.

Of the large, modern demonimations the Catholics leave me perplexed the most. I see so many rites that I cannot reconcile and they definitely seem to have had the most controversial history but at the same time they have produced the likes of Augustine, Aquinas, Pascal, Francis of Assisi, Chesterton, Tolkien etc who have always held inexhaustable depths of humanity...all surprisingly born of the supposedly impersonal Catholic doctrine.

Conversely, the protestant and unaffiliated denominations appear personal yet they are awash in chaos. Certainly open inquiry is to be encouraged but at the same time the restless soul of man, coupled with his vanities and with his incessant need for novelty seem to invite impurities of doctrine that couls poison his soul just as easily as any brothel. Traditions also have a virtue.

Perhaps God--assuming there is one...and this particular one--tolerates this situation to keep each in balance by the exertions of its opposites.

Or perhaps God is simply laughing...or beating His head against His desk.

Again, I am an outsider so more than likely I am unqualified to speak.

As to the GG's: I have surveyed them and come away with the opinion, "so what?" Even if they were to true I see nothing in them particularly unique. I fail to see how they could improve a man's spiritual longings over anything else already provided. I know from my own warren they are very popular (no thanks to Dan Brown) but the warren I left is populated by those who like to congratulate themselves on being smarter than the proles. They enjoy the term "gnostic" for gnostic's sake. IOW, they like feeling they have some knowledge others do not. I do not lay this charge at the feet of anyone here but for the most part the GG's have, in my limited experience, been the books that served the reader's ego more than his humanity. Self-enlightened pharisees is the only term I can provide as a label.

Forgive me if the ill-manners of others has tainted my view of your studies. I mean nothing towards you personally.

Still, ill-manners seem to abound when the GG's are brought in (almost as bad as Christ's telemarketers: the Pentacostals). If (and I stress IF) I were to desire being a religious rabbit I would want to a god that to appeal to the philosophers and scientists...

...but I would also want one that would reach down to the filthy, unlettered wretches as well. After all, they by far make up the surging masses of humanity.

The very word "gnostic" seems to deny any such possibility.
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Re: Gnostic Gospels
« Reply #46 on: February 25, 2010, 07:16:35 PM »

Still, ill-manners seem to abound when the GG's are brought in (almost as bad as Christ's telemarketers: the Pentacostals). If (and I stress IF) I were to desire being a religious rabbit I would want to a god that to appeal to the philosophers and scientists...

...but I would also want one that would reach down to the filthy, unlettered wretches as well. After all, they by far make up the surging masses of humanity.

The very word "gnostic" seems to deny any such possibility.

Why?  The filthy, unlettered wretches have as good a chance as anyone to find their inner guidance.  Maybe an even better chance as their minds aren't cluttered with all the excesses of a higher education.

I would say their problem would not be in God being able to reach down to them, as you say, but with the philosophers and scientists prejudicial views of a filthy, unlettered wretch being in the possession of wisdom without the proper credentials.

And while the Cather and Bogomil societies were divided into Perfecti and Believers, the Believers were not looked down upon or viewed as second-class citizens.  There was nothing extra special about the Perfecti, they simply had found their inner guidance.
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Offline MrsSmith

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Re: Gnostic Gospels
« Reply #47 on: February 25, 2010, 07:28:12 PM »
Certainly your choice.......which begs the obvious question.......why participate to begin with?

Nonsense........and all of the above points are nice, but there are no scriptural warrants for any of them.......If a person is true to his/her faith it seems to me to be the ultimate vanity to have to be organizationally required to rely on someone (or some group) to validate your spiritual choices.........

Christian fellowship is a marvelous thing, however the Gnostic's believed that it was not required for conversion to the faith.

doc
No scriptural warrants for fellowship?  Missions?  To love each other?  Turning to others with doubts?  Correction of those wavering?  Maybe you need to go back to the New Testament for a while. You seem to have missed quite a lot.

Why participate?  I take it you mean this discussion?  Why not?  Am I bothering you too much?
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Offline Chris_

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Re: Gnostic Gospels
« Reply #48 on: February 25, 2010, 07:44:47 PM »
No scriptural warrants for fellowship?  Missions?  To love each other?  Turning to others with doubts?  Correction of those wavering?  Maybe you need to go back to the New Testament for a while. You seem to have missed quite a lot.

Perhaps you might point me to exactly where scripture vests the warrants in an "organization" such as a church.........as opposed to the free association of believers........I'm no Biblical scholar, but my money would be on......the fact that you can't.....

If memory serves, there is only one statement in the New Testament where Christ refers to a "church", and in that statement most learned Biblical scholars believe that he was referring to Peter......

And you certainly are not bothering me......the Holy Spirit convicts me, not zealots of any stripe.......

doc
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Offline Chris_

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Re: Gnostic Gospels
« Reply #49 on: February 25, 2010, 07:50:41 PM »
Why?  The filthy, unlettered wretches have as good a chance as anyone to find their inner guidance.  Maybe an even better chance as their minds aren't cluttered with all the excesses of a higher education.

I would say their problem would not be in God being able to reach down to them, as you say, but with the philosophers and scientists prejudicial views of a filthy, unlettered wretch being in the possession of wisdom without the proper credentials.

Interestingly, the bolded part was exactly the position of the RCC from its Constantine roots, until the Reformation.......that only the priesthood was sufficiently "enlightened" and "educated" to possess the body of Christian knowledge......certainly not the great unwashed masses.....

doc
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