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.

Related Posts:

The Bible is wrong! (duh....)

Comments

snglguy said…
I guess watching that Nat Geo episode on the Gospel of Judas made us want to re-think and re-examine everything that's been taught to us by the church .
Ronald Allan said…
Yeah, it does have that effect. :-)
TK said…
I don't think Roman Caths will find the second coming of the gnostic gospels a biggie deal. Catholic faith is not based on the Bible alone but also on ancient tradition that goes back 2 millenia.

However, WOE unto the followers of Eli Soriano, Erano Manalo and some fringe sects who have no historical connection with Christ himself.

Catholics are notoriously bible illiterates while Anticatholics use the bible like a baseball bat in bashing their enemies head and each other. They confuse worship of the Lord with idolatry of their Pastor's interpretation of the Bible. These pastors never even mentioned to their herd... este... flock the fact that the bible was compiled by the predecessors of the Roman Catholic Pope. They are the ones who proclaimed that those scriptures in the cannon are inspired by the Holy Spirit- The same pope whom those pastors have been telling their herd as the antichrist mentioned in Revelations.

Imagine how traumatized they are. Which makes one wonder, hindi kaya pakana ng Catholic Church ang pag papalabas ng gospel ni hudas?
Sophia Sadek said…
Thanks for the posting.

In your search for truth you may want to reconsider Irenaeus as a French bishop. For one thing, France did not exist at the time of Irenaeus. The Franks had not invaded Gaul as yet.

Also, Athanasius was the key figure in limiting the "acceptable" texts to their current number. It wasn't just the Gospels that were exclude from the Canon. There were a number of other traditional liturgical texts that were excluded based on their criticism of episcopal corruption.

My favorate aspect of Irenaeus was his portrayal of vegetarians as being against divinity because they did not eat the divine gift of animal meat. There were some ascetic gnostics that practiced vegetarianism as part of their rigid discipline.

By the same token, those who abstain from partaking of the sacred herb of canabis can also be portrayed as opposing divinity.
Ronald Allan said…
Thanks Ms. Sadek for the clarification. I stand corrected, Irenaeus isn't actually French, since Lugdunum, as you pointed out, hasn't been invaded by the Franks yet.

It turns out Lugdunum is now known as Lyon, France, but yes, it wasn't France at the time.

I've heard that argument against vegetarianism before, but I like your twist on it even better. :-)

Thank you for your comments.

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