Skip to comments.Return of the Cainites:“The Gospel of Judas” attempts to turn Christianity upside down
Posted on 04/21/2006 11:39:18 AM PDT by Caleb1411
The Gospel of Judas" is a long-lost bit of Gnostic apocrypha. Now that archeologists have found a copy, the media is abuzz with speculation that this ancient document will shed new light on or even change Christianity.
According to "The Gospel of Judas," Jesus tells Judas to betray Him. This will enable Jesus' spirit to escape from its fleshly container. Jesus also is said to call Judas the only disciple who truly understands His message. Much of the rest of the "gospel" is just disembodied dialogue about "spirit" as opposed to matter, in sharp contrast to the historically detailed Gospels of the New Testament.
No serious scholar, even of the most liberal variety, believes this textwhich is dated nearly 200 years after the death of Christhas any connection to the historical Jesus or the historical Judas. It would be as if an American in the 1950s wrote a book purporting to come from George Washington claiming that Benedict Arnold was really a double agent. And yet, "The Gospel of Judas" is being taken seriously, riding the wave of theological revisionism whose goal is to turn Christianity into a different religion.
The Gnostics were eastern mystics who taught that the physical realm is intrinsically evil and that the spirit can be freed from its bondage to physicality through the attainment of secret knowledge (or "gnosis"). They rejected the Christian doctrine of creation (saying that the material world is evil). They denied the incarnation (saying that Christ was a spiritual being who brought the secret knowledge and denying that He became "flesh"). And they denied the redemption (saying that sin is not a moral failuresince what we do in the flesh does not affect our spiritsbut simply a lack of spiritual knowledge).
Many Gnostics went so far as to teach that the Creator portrayed in the Old Testament is really a demon. After all, only an evil being would create something so evil as the material world. The being who rebelled against this false deity and his physical creation is Satan, who is thus the "good guy." After all, in his manifestation as the serpent in the Garden, Satan offered Adam and Eve "knowledge."
One group of Gnostics went even further in their inversion of the Bible. The church father Irenaeus, in his book Against Heresies written in a.d. 180, tells about the Cainites. Members of this sect claim to trace themselves back to Cain, called in the Old Testament the first murderer, but whom they claim "derived his being from the Power above." The Cainites, said Irenaeus, also turn the other bad guys of the Biblesuch as Korah, who rebelled against Moses, and the residents of Sodominto good guys. And they have even produced a "fictitious history," reports Irenaeus, "which they style the Gospel of Judas."
The Gnostics wrote a number of other "gospels" (e.g., "The Gospel of Thomas," "The Gospel of Philip," "The Gospel of Mary"), as well as epistles and apocalypses to garb their teachings in apostolic clothing and to compete with the Christian scriptures.
Today the Gnostics are back in vogue. Feminist theologian Elaine Pagels of Princeton argues that Gnosticism is more open to women, since the body makes no difference to the spirit. She maintains that the early church labeled Gnosticism a heresy as part of a patriarchal plot to oppress women.
And the Cainites have come back in pop literature. Philip Pullman, in the His Dark Materials fantasy novels for young peoplecurrently being made into a motion picturepresents God as the villain and Satan as the hero. Dan Brown in the mega-seller The Da Vinci Code draws on Gnostic writings and continues their tradition by making up history to create the impression that Christ's real message was feminism and sexual liberation.
Gnosticism lets you be "spiritual"as an inner mysticismwithout worrying about objective truth or what you do with your body. But, like Judas, it betrays Christ.
Gnosticism may be in for the MSM. But it is not orthodox Chrisitianity which is why it was excluded from Canonical Scripture to begin with. They can write diatribes in the NYTimes all they want. But it wont change 2,000 years of history. This stuff was not right 2,000 years ago, it is not right now.
The article said, "The Gnostics were eastern mystics who taught that the physical realm is intrinsically evil and that the spirit can be freed from its bondage to physicality through the attainment of secret knowledge (or "gnosis"). Sounds like the New England Democrats and their secret solutions now.
It's interesting that these battles are still being fought 1800 years after the Gnostics faded out of prominence. For the record though, much of what the above article describes only applies to a subset of Gnostics - the antinomian kind. The encratites, who were a majority of Gnostics, were actually far more harsh about sin than were the proto-orthodox types. It might not be too far off to imagine them as a sort of super-Calvinists.
The type of Christianity that ultimately prevailed, by and large, was kind of middle-of-the-road between the two Gnostic extremes.
Anyhow, I think Marcion was on the right track myself, FWIW. As he would've agreed, the God of the Old Testament must be the most unpleasant character in all fiction jealous and proud of it, petty, vindictive, unjust, incompetent, malevolent, and a racist commanding His people on to acts of genocide.
Which is all rather beside the point, ultimately, since my view is that if an omnipotent God exists everything is predestined anyhow. Nothing can be other than what such a God wills it to be.
Whether it were a true scripture or not (and I doubt it), the overall effect upon Christianity would be minimal to none. No matter were Judas doing as requested by Jesus or selling him out of his own, the act itself was important, as was the forgiveness by Jesus. It wil be very interesting, though, to see the debates about where he was handed over at his own request.
I'd criticize your post, but then I realized you had no choice. Twas predestined.
And so was "Exactly!"
I bet you can't keep yourself from replying to this post either..
Not only can I not resist, but from the standpoint of a limitless God I've already replied.
Seriously, in my view, if a limitless God exists then all of history - everything that has happened and everything that will happen - came into existance simultaneously in the first instant. Kind of like a cosmic DVD of everything that is, everything that was, and everything that ever will be.
And all of it is part of such a God, because nothing can be otherwise. What it's all for and what it all means, who knows?
Somewhere along this line of thinking you end up with free will being an illusion.
Between predestination and free will, we wish to have it be one or the other, yet it could be a paradox.
I've never seen a satisfactory explanation for how free will can exist, regardless of whether or not God exists. If everything is a chain of cause & effect then everything was predestined by first causes.
You've described what's called a "deterministic universe."
Yes, it's attractive.
And certainly pure free will does not exist. We can easily see some very obvious limits and looking closer see some more subtle ones.
Yet, if we observe carefully we can also observe our volition. We can watch it arise, we can choose to follow or let it pass.
This we can experience directly. As surely as we know our other experience is true, we can know this is true.
(Of course all our experience could be an illusion, but then we could not discuss or debate or trust anything we "know.")
So we have the view of the purely cause and effect, deterministic, universe; and, we have our experience of volition or will. And they contradict.
One or the other is not true, or we have a paradox and the truth cannot be contained in our question.
I have a question for you...if free will does not exist then what is the purpose of having a hell? I mean, say that there is free will and God does know how you are going to live (e.i. lead a sinful life) then why would he let anyone be saved and erase their past so that they may be excepted into heaven?
The key is the difference between foreknowing and fordestining (if that's a word).
Let's say you have free will (which I believe we do - within certain limits). God could know how you are going to live, because He sees all of time. He knows how you are going to exercise your free will, yet it is still your free will. So you can choose to respond to God; you don't know - yet perhaps - but God does. He doesn't choose for you - that would make you a robot; and robots can't really love.
Now to the part I'm not sure I understand what you're asking me:
[say] God does know how you are going to live (e.i. lead a sinful life) then why would he let anyone be saved and erase their past so that they may be excepted into heaven?
I'd try answer like this: The past is not erased. Who you really are can be transformed. Such that the person who sinned in the past no longer exists. This, I believe, is what repentance is.
If this, this transformed person, is who we really are, what we really see as valuable (Good), then we are with God, just as a true love is with their true love. Not just physically, but with them always in all ways.
But if who we are and who we wish to be, of our own free will, values not Good, but power or wealth or.. something else than the true Good, then this is what we have chosen, freely. And it is not to be with God - the True, the Good, the Beautiful.
All that has these qualities is from God, we choose whether we wish to be part of, with, God - freely. In this life for all eternity. So what we do matters, what we choose is what we recieve.
I hope I've understood your question. I've answered as best as I can.
Note: this topic was posted 04/21/2006. Thanks Caleb1411.