13
Sep

Gnostic Gospels picture of Jesus.


But today we are going to look at the resurrection
of Jesus Christ and the claims of Christ from another angle. You know that today we have got a lot of popular
books that are saying there are new ancient books that have been discovered that go right
back to the time of Jesus and the apostles, supposedly, and they are uncovering a radical
new view of Jesus. In other words, it is an alternative view
that was circulating at the same time. So they are saying, look, you can choose this
one versus the other one. And talk a little bit about what you found
and how this hit you in terms of you realized you had to do more research. Strobel: Yeah. I mean, as I began to read more and more about
scholars who were claiming that these other gospels, these alternative gospels, are equally
legitimate to the four gospels we have in the Bible, and yet they present a far different
picture of Jesus. Well, I had to check that out and find out
whether that was true. When the Jesus Seminar, these radical left
wing scholars, produced a book called The Five Gospels, they included Matthew, Mark,
Luke, John and Thomas. Hello! I mean, you say that that is equal to these
other gospels? Well, that is a big claim, so I had to find
out, is there any historical evidence to back this thing up? Ankerberg: Yeah. I like the quote that you put at the top of
the book, in this chapter of the book. Stephen L. Davies, who is a religion professor
who usually writes in terms of the Gnostic gospels and so on, he said, “For 1900 years
or so the canonical texts of the New Testament were the sole sources of historically reliable
knowledge concerning Jesus of Nazareth.” That’s true. But then he said, “in 1945 this circumstance
changed.” What changed? Andrew Sullivan, another quote you have got
in your book, “There is a very important historical point here, which is that in the
last 30 years we have discovered real gospels, hundreds of them that are not the official
gospels but they were part of the discussion in the early church.” And like you say, what they are saying is,
look, we found at Nag Hammadi, we have got this Gnostic library. And some of these books, one of them being
The Gospel of Thomas goes right back to the time of Jesus and the apostles. Like the Jesus Seminar is saying, this is
at 50, this would be before some of the other gospels. And what they are doing is, by pushing the
dates back on some of these other gospels that they are calling legitimate here, they
are saying it presents a different view of Jesus. How different? Big time different, but they are saying that
is an alternative view that is just as acceptable as your traditional and maybe should replace
it. Okay. Let’s start. We have got some of the top ones that are
used in a lot of the media presentations and are wall to wall in the book stores right
now. And let’s start with The Gospel of Thomas. Alright, tell me the background of The Gospel
of Thomas. Where did it come from? What is it? And why is this being touted so much? Strobel: Well, it is interesting, John. Not long ago I was on the east coast and somebody
gave me a bulletin from a local mainline church. And I opened it up and they had a responsive
reading from The Gospel of Thomas. This is being used in churches. There is actually a Thomas church that is
in existence in Canada. So we are seeing people gravitate toward this
gospel. Why? Well, you know what, it has got a message
that is contrary to that of the other gospels, and it is frankly a little more palatable
for a lot of people. It says that Jesus is not the redeemer, He
is a revealer. So it is a way we get salvation, if we get
that, through self-discovery, through inner knowledge, through finding this divine spark
inside of us just like it is inside of everybody, and this self-revelation and so forth. And you know, this is more palatable to a
lot of people than the fact that I have to confess that I am a sinner and I need forgiveness
and grace from Jesus Christ based on what He did on the cross. So it is a message that appeals to a lot of
people, even though it is anti-women in some ways. At one point, The Gospel of Thomas consists
of 114 sayings supposedly by Jesus, and one of them says that no woman is worthy of heaven. The only way that she can get in as a woman
is to become like a male. So it is not particularly pro-woman, like
a lot of people assume that these Gnostic gospels are. The problem with The Gospel of Thomas and
these other gospels, first of all, is when are they dated? Now it is intuitively obvious that the closer
to the events you have something the more likely it is that they are going to be historically
reliable. So when we look in Matthew, Mark, Luke and
John we see early dates for these books, that they are written close enough to the events
that they can be trusted historically. And yet the efforts by historians to date
Thomas and all of these other Gospels early as the gospels we have in the Bible just fall
flat. And the truth is, they are dated most likely
second half of the second century and later. Well, that is a long time after the fact. I mean, that is like saying that Abraham Lincoln
in 1865 and the Civil War, it is like me writing something today based on my perception of
what kind of happened back then, it would be the same kind of time distance as it would
have been for people in the second half of the second century writing about Jesus. And besides which, these people had an agenda. They were Gnostics. They didn’t really care about the resurrection;
they didn’t really care that much if Jesus rose from the dead. They cared about this secret knowledge that
He was imparting only to those who were worthy, only to those who were smart enough to get
it. It is a very,… this isn’t a message of
grace. You know, the message of the Bible is God
offers forgiveness and eternal life to anyone who comes to Him in repentance and faith. You know the message of Thomas is, are you
smart enough? You got the knowledge? Do you have the key to unlock that divine
spark? Well, maybe you can get in. That is a works based salvation in my view.

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