Holy Week is upon us–as the Anchoress so aptly describes it, “Seven Days Which Shook the World.” This is the holiest season in the Christian liturgical calendar, and as such predictably draws out the worst in a culture drunk with secular skepticism. So it’s time for the obligate attack on Christianity, carefully shrouded in reasonableness and “historical research.” Time to drag out the Jesus Seminar with their tired pseudo-scholarship and self-important “votes” about which words Jesus did or didn’t say. Time for a Time Magazine cover asking “Who Is the Real Jesus?”, while between the covers predictable answering, “We don’t know–but he sure isn’t the fellow those Christians worship.” And time for those perennial favorites, the Gnostic gospels.
The Gnostic gospels, for those not up to speed on such things, were written several centuries after the biblical Gospels, and reflect a sect of Christianity–very loosely defined–which was far more pagan and polytheistic than Christian. A syncretic religious movement of the centuries after Christ (with roots far earlier), Gnosticism amalgamated paganism, Greek mythology and philosophy, Judaism, eastern mysticism, and Christianity into a porridge of religious beliefs emphasizing the importance of secret knowledge for salvation and a rejection of the flesh and the world as unredeemably evil. It was soundly defeated intellectually by early Christian Fathers of the church, and eventually foundered under its own pretentious weight before the dawn of Islam in the seventh century. It has seen something of a renaissance in our contemporary culture, where knowledge typically trumps truth, evidenced by such popular trappings as the daVinci Code craze.
And so, to celebrate the season, National Geographic has a television special on the Gospel of Judas, the “Lost Gospel.” This ancient Coptic text has been restored and translated by a team of experts–an impressive and historically significant effort. The problem arises, not from this substantial archaeological achievement, but rather by its popularization as an equally valid narrative to the Christian Gospels regarding the relationship between Jesus and Judas, piggybacking on the hype for upcoming movie based on the daVinci Code. The media will no doubt be foaming at the mouth about this, cooing about how this presents a more “human” Jesus, and not-so-secretly gloating about how historical research and modern scholarship destroy those foolish myths of naive Christians.
If you’re more interested in truth than that which passes for knowledge in today’s culture, you owe it to yourself to read Mark D. Robert’s takedown of this particular spin on an ancient text. It takes a little work sometimes to get the facts–but once you have them, you realize just how superficial and deceptive is much of the modern “discovery” about Christian history and doctrine.
Thanks to Hugh Hewitt for pointing to this important post.
And have a blessed and contemplative Palm Sunday. My meditation for today is that God can use jackasses–of which I am living proof.