A faith under fire?
The past several years have seen a resurgence and renewal of interest in ideas which go against the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The rise in popularity of these ideas have reached a fever pitch the past few years or so, culminating with the controversy surrounding the Dan Brown bestseller The Da Vinci Code, and now in recent days with the discovery, authentication and translation of the lost Gospel of Judas.
How significant are the ideas espoused in these works?
They have been described using a variety of terms ranging from heretical, non-canonical, apocryphal, esoteric, and my personal favorite, gnostic. The adjective gnostic is a favorite of mine because it is based on the Greek word gnosis, which means knowledge. And knowledge, is indeed something that I have strived for since my younger years, and it is even the underlying theme of this blog which is rooted in the search for the truth.
But what is the truth anyway? That's an even harder question to answer.
I'm also a Christian, a Catholic to be specific. Is my faith truly incompatible with such ideas as those espoused in the Gospel of Judas, or for that matter The Da Vinci Code or the Gospels of Thomas, Philip, or even Mary Magdalene?
It would appear so.
Or is it really?
The Church is quick to undermine the integrity of these so-called "gnostic texts" as they contain ideas which violate established canon. To concede to their validity would be tantamount to undermining the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church when it comes to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
It is interesting to note that only four gospels have made their way into the New Testament. Those of Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John. But what most people probably don't know is that during the early days of Christianity, there were at least thirty, probably even more. It was through the efforts of Irenaeus, a French bishop [Actually, he wasn't really "French" as we understand it today. See this post's comments for details.], a known advocate against gnosticism during the second century, and a staunch critic of the Gospel of Judas that the "official" Christian gospels have been reduced to the four we now know. As one of the higher ranking officials of the early Christian Church, he realized the importance of standardizing the teachings of Christ. And what happened to the rest of the gospels? Most have been branded as heresy and/or lost in the annals of time. The few that survive to the present day are denounced by the Church as apocrypha, considered non-canonical, even banned and burned.
This Holy Week, I've taken it upon myself to explore some of these texts and their significance, or lack thereof. Along the way, perhaps I can reevaluate my own faith and beliefs.
Watch this space to see what I have learned along the way.
The Bible is wrong! (duh....)