12th December 2016

Gnostic Gospels

“What are the Gnostic gospels?”Answer: The Gnostic gospels are writings by early “Christian” Gnostics. After the first century of Christianity, two primary divisions developed – the orthodox and the Gnostics. The orthodox Christians held to books we now have in the Bible and to what is today considered orthodox theology. The Gnostic Christians, if they can truly be described as Christians, held a distinctly different view of the Bible, of Jesus Christ, of salvation, and of virtually every other major Christian doctrine. However, they did not have any writings by the Apostles to give legitimacy to their beliefs.That is why and how the Gnostic gospels were created. The Gnostics fraudulently attached the names of famous Christians to their writings, such as the gospel of Thomas, the gospel of Philip, the gospel of Mary, etc. The discovery of the Nag Hammadi library in northern Egypt in 1945 represented a major discovery of Gnostic gospels. These Gnostic gospels are often pointed to as supposed “lost books of the Bible.”So, what are we to make of the Gnostic gospels? Should some or all of them be in the Bible? No, they should not. First, as pointed out above, the Gnostic gospels are forgeries, fraudulently written in the names of the Apostles in order to give them a legitimacy in the early church. Thankfully, the early church fathers were nearly unanimous in recognizing the Gnostic gospels as promoting false teachings about virtually every key Christian doctrine. There are countless contradictions between the Gnostic gospels and the true Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The Gnostic gospels can be a good source for the study of early Christian heresies, but they should be rejected outright as not belonging in the Bible and not representing the genuine Christian faith.

 

“What is the Nag Hammadi library?”Answer: Nag Hammadi is a town in northern Egypt where a collection of ancient writings was discovered in 1945. The collection of writings has since been titled the Nag Hammadi library, or the Nag Hammadi scrolls, or the Nag Hammadi codices. The vast majority of the scrolls in the Nag Hammadi library represent the writings of what was/is known as Christian Gnosticism.The Nag Hammadi library is frequently pointed to as an example of “lost books of the Bible.” According to the conspiracy theory, the early Christians tried to destroy these Gnostic writings because they contained secret teachings about Jesus and Christianity. The Nag Hammadi library was supposedly the result of faithful efforts of Gnostic monks to save the truth about Jesus Christ from the persecution of non-Gnostic Christians. The Nag Hammadi scrolls include works known as the gospel of Truth, the gospel of Philip, the apocryphon of John, the apocalypse of Adam, and the acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles. The most famous Nag Hammadi scroll is the only known complete copy of the gospel of Thomas.So, what are we to make of the Nag Hammadi library? Should some or all of the scrolls be in the Bible? Absolutely not. First, the Nag Hammadi scrolls are forgeries. The Apostle Philip did not write the gospel of Philip. The Apostle Peter did not write the acts of Peter. The gospel of Thomas was not written by the Apostle Thomas. These scrolls were fraudulently written in their names in order to give them legitimacy in the early church. Thankfully, the early church fathers were nearly unanimous in recognizing these Gnostic scrolls as fraudulent forgeries that espouse false doctrines about Jesus Christ, salvation, God, and every other crucial Christian truth. There are countless contradictions between the Nag Hammadi library and the Bible.While the Nag Hammadi library was an exciting find, the only “value” in the Nag Hammadi library is that the scrolls give us insight into what early “heretics” taught and practiced. Recognizing the false doctrine that plagued the early church will help us better to understand it and refute it today.

 

 

“What are the lost books of the Bible?”Answer: There are no “lost books” of the Bible, or books that were taken out of the Bible, or books missing from the Bible. Every book that God intended and inspired to be in the Bible is in the Bible. There are many legends and rumors of lost books, but there is no truth whatsoever to these stories. There are literally hundreds of religious books that were written in the same time period as the books of the Bible. Some of these books contain true accounts of things that actually occurred (1 Maccabees, for example). Some contain good spiritual teaching (the Wisdom of Solomon, for example). However, these books are not inspired by God. If we read any of these books, the Apocrypha as an example, we have to treat them as fallible historical books, not as the inspired, inerrant Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).The gospel of Thomas, for example, was a forgery written in the 3rd or 4th century A.D., claiming to have been written by the apostle Thomas. It was not written by Thomas. The early church fathers almost universally rejected the gospel of Thomas as heretical. It contains many false and heretical things that Jesus supposedly said and did. None of it (or at best very little of it) is true. The epistle of Barnabas was not written by the biblical Barnabas, but by an imposter. The same can be said of the gospel of Philip, the apocalypse of Peter, etc.There is one God. The Bible has one Creator. It is one book. It has one plan of grace, recorded from initiation, through execution, to consummation. From predestination to glorification, the Bible is the story of God redeeming His chosen people for the praise of His glory. As God’s redemptive purposes and plan unfold in Scripture, the recurring themes constantly emphasized are the character of God, the judgment for sin and disobedience, the blessing for faith and obedience, the Lord Savior and sacrifice for sin, and the coming kingdom and glory. It is God’s intention that we know and understand these five themes because our lives and eternal destinies depend upon them. It is therefore unthinkable that God would allow some of this vital information to be “lost” in any way. The Bible is complete, in order that we who read and understand it might also be “complete, and equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

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