One of the questions rooted in the rediscovery of the Gospel of Judas is, "What are people of faith to make of this 'new' gospel?" The quick answer is, "Ignore it!"
The only people of faith who would care would be Christians, because Christianity is the only religion that has Jesus Christ as its central figure. And so we will examine this topic in light of the Christian Scriptures.
Since the Garden of Eden, God's words have been twisted, misquoted, denied, imitated, and ignored. Satan said to Eve, "Yeah, hath God said . . . ?" Jehoiakim, king of Judah, cut the scroll of Jeremiah into pieces and burned them in the fire (Jeremiah 36:23). Thomas Jefferson removed all the verses in the New Testament that referred to the miraculous in order to find the "real" Jesus. Reader's Digest removed verses the editors thought were superfluous. We often pick and choose the parts we like, the parts that don't challenge or change us.
According to Ecclesiastes, there is nothing new under the sun. Every "new" discovery that pops up in the world of religion had already been thought of and dealt with in the first century after Christ. The latest movement to vie for the world's attention is Gnosticism, the ancient belief that salvation comes through a special, mystical knowledge, revealed by a "good" deity to those who are capable of understanding. This "knowledge" releases them from the clutches of an "evil" deity who entraps the spirit in the "evil" physical realm. Being an entirely subjective belief, it is not surprising that there are many different forms of Gnosticism that don't agree with each other. They certainly don't agree with, nor are they a form of, Christianity.
The latest stars of Gnosticism are The Da Vinci Code and the Gospel of Judas. We will limit our topic to the Gospel of Judas.
The word "gospel" means "good news," and is traditionally reserved for the familiar New Testament books Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. This good news encompasses the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthian 15:3, 4). Any book that calls itself "gospel" is misnamed if it does not include the gospel. The Gospel of Judas does not. Nor does its content challenge the gospel.
A lot of weight is given to the authenticity and antiquity of the Judas document. However, that does not make it true. If antiquity is any indicator of validity, then the New Testament wins hands down. There are tens of thousands of whole and partial New Testament manuscripts which are older than "Judas." The believer in the Bible that is based on over 25,000 manuscripts that agree 99.9% of the time has nothing to fear from a single tattered document that has been hidden for hundreds of years.
One premise of "Judas" is that he was not a pariah as history has unfairly portrayed him. He was actually the only disciple that understood Jesus, and was therefore asked by Jesus to hand him over to the authorities to be crucified. Judas was innocent because he was carrying out God's will. Truth is, he WAS carrying out God's will. God purposely sent His Son into the world to die for our sins and resurrect bodily three days later as proof of his deity and the validity of his sacrifice. Judas was a willing agent, voluntarily betraying Christ for a sum of money. He did nothing against his will. The Bible portrays him as a greedy man, one who stole from the disciples' treasury, which he managed (John 12:6). Hundreds of years before he was born, it was prophesied that he would perish (Acts 1:1525). This was not determinative; this was predictive. Judas was responsible for what he did.
According to this "gospel," Jesus favored Judas and revealed secrets to him that he couldn't entrust to the other disciples. This would not have been a very wise move, since Christ knew that Judas would soon perish. Nor would this have meshed with the New Testament accounts of Jesus favoring his "inner circle" of Peter, James, and John with special revelation (Ex.: Matthew 17:19). True, Jesus called Judas "friend," but Christ was known as a friend of sinners.
This new "gospel" is nothing for the Bible believer to fear or even take note of. It does not challenge the true gospel, nor does it threaten the validity of the New Testament books that have survived intact for thousands of years.
Alan is a freelance devotional writer for Lifestyles Over 50 and the Allentown, PA, Morning Call. He is also the Peer-less Reviewer (General Editor) for Bridgeway Homeschool Academy in Catasauqua, PA, a Christian homeschool academy. Passionate about reviving theology and church methodology.
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