Sunday, June 05, 2011

"Lost" Christianities?

In the first centuries after Christ, there was no "official" New Testament. Early Christians read and fervently followed many more scriptures than we have today. … What did these other scriptures say? Do they exist today? How could such ideas ever be considered Christian? If such beliefs were once common, why do they no longer exist?
That, in a nutshell, is the catalog description for the course, "Lost Christianities: Christian Scriptures and the Battles over Authentication," taught by Bart D. Ehrman, Professor of Religious Studies at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, offered by an arm of The Teaching Company. The full description also mentions the belief of some early Christian that there were up to 12 "gods," and that Christ's death had nothing to do with salvation.

To the professor's credit, the lecture titles do describe the various "lost books of the Bible," referring to the Gnostics, the Copts, the forgeries, and so forth. The Gnostics seemed to be the ones who caused the most trouble in those days. They believed they held a "special knowledge" that was "hidden" from the rest of the world. To give them credit, they claimed to have additional writings from the apostles that included some of these additional secrets.

Consider †his: if God wanted to bring salvation to the world, He wouldn't have kept any secrets from the world.

The Gnostics' teachings continue to infiltrate our society today. The most recently publicized "lost book" was the alleged Gospel of Judas. Thankfully the buzz has died down, but people still like to think they're so important that they have special revelations. For example, some heretics "teachers" such as Kenneth Copeland tell us of things "whispered into their ears" by alleged "angels" standing with them. One recent "teacher" continues, as of this writing, to try to deceive others with his belief that he has knowledge of the day & time of the end of the world … something even Jesus claimed not to know (according to the common interpretation of Matthew 24:36)!

Salvation is simple. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved" (Acts 16:30-31). It's that simple! No extra knowledge or study is required!

It's also that difficult. In Christ's day and today people want to hold on to what they believe is "theirs." That includes "special knowledge" or "secrets" that make them somebody "important." We'd rather trust in our own understanding than God (Proverbs 3:5-6). We don't want to trust God alone. That's our pride, born into us as a part of the death Adam brought into the world, and into his descendants.

What do you hold on to that makes you feel "special" other than Christ?
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