Etchings in the Sand…

Thoughts and Photos from the Desert…

More Mystery Than Ever This Easter…

 

"What is clear is that the Gospel of Judas has joined the other spectacular discoveries that are exploding the myth of a monolithic Christianity and showing how diverse and fascinating the early Christian movement really was."

                      – ELAINE PAGELS

Anyone who has seriously looked at Christianity has surely wondered at the diversity, sometimes subtle, sometimes bizarre, that marks the ecclesiastical scene.

Never more than now. Nothing is simple anymore and this is surely true with the church. I read an article in yesterday's paper about the president of the United Church of Christ, the most liberal of Protestant denominations, lashing out against right wing religious organizations coming into and intentionally working within churches in order to turn entire main-stream denominations into Evangelical movements. This is new.

 

But today's Op Ed section of the New York Times has a piece by Princeton scholar Elaine Pagels that pushes the idea of religious diversity within the church back some 1700 years when "The Gospel of Judas", just discovered by moderns, was written. Read this.

At first blush the idea of many Gospels circulating at roughly the same time in the ancient church is disconcerting. But from the standpoint of human nature, it makes perfect sense. Some great event or personality takes center stage for awhile, passes into history and few can get their minds together and agree as to what actually happened.

I believe it would be a healthy thing for contemporary Christians to read "The Gospel of Judas", "The Gospel of Thomas" and other newly discovered Christian literature that tried to make sense of who Jesus was and what he meant. It would stretch our minds and spirits.

He was obviously more than we thought. And the struggle to figure that out is an ancient one. It wasn't resolved forever, as most of us once thought, by Irenaeus and Bishop Athanasius.

What a wonderful, mysterious gift for Easter.

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2 responses to “More Mystery Than Ever This Easter…

  1. brent April 10, 2006 at 11:57 am

    I pray you are joking, as a Christian. Do you also embrace that the Ressurection is insignificant? This is the foundation of the Faith.

    Personally, I believe in the Word of God, as inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Bible indicates that Judas betrayed Christ, just before His execution, yet Jesus forgave him. What more do you need to know?

  2. citrus April 10, 2006 at 7:38 pm

    There may be more to the Bible than anyone expected. Canonization was a highly political event. It has served the churches wondrously across the centuries… and will continue to do so. Perhaps God is ready to add to the Christian treasury. The Holy Spirit is still at work.

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