Gnosticism

Theology Thursday – The Gospel of Thomas

The Gospel of Thomas is a Gnostic text full of alleged “sayings” of Jesus, likely dating from the late 2nd century. It is one of the most popular of the so-called “gnostic gospels” and is frequently mentioned in secular media around Easter or Christmas, when regular attacks against the Christian faith have become almost expected. The best way to understand the contrast between canonical Scripture and these “gnostic gospels” is to actually read them. To that end, here is an excerpt from the Gospel of Thomas, below:1

These are the secret sayings which the living Jesus| spoke and which Didymos Judas Thomas wrote down:

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Theology Thursday - Philip's Gnostic "Gospel"

The Gospel of Philip is a Valentinian gnostic text dating from sometime during the 3rd century. The translator of this work believed it was “a collection of excerpts mainly from a Christian Gnostic sacramental catechesis.”1 If anyone is interested, he can visit a new bookstore, a used bookstore or the local library and see many books on the co-called “secret” or “lost” gospels of the Christian church (for example, see the image to the left!).

There are people who believe there was no original “rule of faith” or core content to the Christian message. Instead, the hypothesis goes, there were several competing versions of “Christianity,” and what we now know as “orthodoxy” is simply the party which won out over the rest. The so-called “gnostic Christians,” these scholars claim, were originally just as “orthodox” as any other group.

The editor of the Nag Hammadi Library in English waxed eloquent about these gnostic texts and remarked that they reveal “an understanding of existence, an answer to the human dilemma, an attitude toward society, that is worthy of being taken quite seriously by anyone able and willing to grapple with such ultimate issues.”2

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Was Jesus Married to Mary Magdalene? Revisiting a Stubborn Conspiracy Theory

The Colossian Heresy and the Sufficiency of Scripture

In The Nick of TimeThe heresy in Colosse was an odd mixture. On the one hand, it contained elements of incipient Gnosticism. Apparently the Colossians were talking about Gnostic categories like Sophia, Gnosis, Eons, and the Pleroma. On the other hand, this heresy also contained Judaizing elements, primarily evidenced by an effort to introduce Old Testament forms into the New Testament worship.

Paul wrote to the Colossians in order to refute this heresy. His refutation consisted largely in a focus upon the person and work of Christ. By explaining clearly Who Christ was and what He had done on the cross, Paul was able to cut the ground out from under both the Judaistic and the Gnostic elements of the heresy.

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