Catechism 


What else does Christ’s death redeem?

    Christ’s death is the beginning of the redemption and renewal of every part of fallen creation, as he powerfully directs all things for his own glory and creation’s good.

    Colossians 1:19–20

    For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

    Theology Thursday: Five Myths about the Ancient Heresy of Gnosticism


    Written by Michael J. Kruger on December 20, 2016

    In the world of biblical studies, at least among some critical scholars, Gnosticism has been the darling for sometime now.  Especially since the discovery of the so-called “Gnostic Gospels” at Nag Hammadi in 1945, scholars have sung the praises of this alternative version of Christianity.

    Gnosticism  was a heretical version of Christianity that burst on the scene primarily in the second century and gave the orthodox Christians a run for their money.  And it seems that some scholars look back and wish that the Gnostics had prevailed.

    After all, it is argued, traditional Christianity was narrow, dogmatic, intolerant, elitist, and mean-spirited, whereas Gnosticism was open-minded, all-welcoming, tolerant and loving.  Given this choice, which would you choose?

    While this narrative about free-spirited Gnosticism being sorely oppressed by those mean and uptight orthodox Christians might sound rhetorically compelling, it simply isn’t borne out by the facts.  So, here are five claims often made about Gnosticism that prove to be more myth than reality:

    Myth #1:  Gnosticism was more popular than traditional Christianity.

    Time and again we are told that Gnostics were just as widespread as orthodox Christians, and that their books were just as popular too (if not more so).  The reason they did not prevail in the end is because they were oppressed and forcibly stamped out by the orthodox party who had gained power through Constantine.

    But, this is simply not the case.  All the evidence suggests that it was “the Great Church” (in the language of the pagan critic Celsus) that dominated the earliest Christian centuries, long before Constantine.  Moreover, Gnostic writings were not nearly as popular as those which became canonical, as can be seen by the number of manuscripts they left behind.  For example, we have more copies of just the Gospel of John from the first few centuries than we have of all apocryphal works combined.

    Myth #2: Gnosticism was more inclusive and open-minded than traditional Christianity.

    A popular perception of Gnostics is that they lacked the elitist mentality of traditional Christianity. They were the accepting ones, we are told.

    But, again, it seems that reality might have actually been the opposite. Most people don’t realize that Gnostics were not interested in salvation for everybody. On the contrary, they regarded salvation as something only for the “spiritually elite.”

    As Hultgren affirms, “The attitude of these Gnostics was elitist to the extreme, since they held that only one in a thousand or two in ten thousand are capable of knowing the secrets [of salvation]” (Normative Christianity, 99).

    Myth #3: Gnosticism more accurately reflects the teachings of the historical Jesus than traditional Christianity.

    Some have argued that if you want to know the real Jesus, the historical Jesus, then Gnostic writings (like the Gospel of Thomas) give you a more reliable picture.

    The problems with such a claim are manifold, but I will just mention one: Gnostics were not that interested in the historical Jesus.  For Gnostics, what mattered was not the apostolic tradition handed down but rather their current religious experience with the risen Jesus (Jonathan Cahana, “None of Them Knew Me or My Brothers: Gnostic Anti-Traditionalism and Gnosticism as a Cultural Phenomenon,” Journal of Religion, 94 [2014]: 49-73).

    In other words, Gnostics were concerned much less about the past and much more about the present.

    This sort of “existential” approach to religion may be popular in our modern culture where experience rules the day and religion is viewed as entirely private.  But it doesn’t help you recover what really happened in history. If you want to know what happened in history, the canonical Gospels have always been the best sources.

    Myth #4:  Gnosticism was more favorable towards women than traditional Christianity.

    This is a big one. Popular perceptions are that the orthodox Christians oppressed women, but the Gnostics liberated them.  But, again, the truth is not so simple.

    On the contrary, the historical evidence suggests that women flocked to traditional Christianity in droves. Indeed, they may have outnumbered the men almost two to one. Rodney Stark in his book The Triumph of Christianity argues that this is because Christianity proved to be a very welcoming, healthy, and positive environment for women.

    It is also worth noting that some of the Gnostic leaders’ supposedly pro-woman stance is not all it is cracked up to be.  The Valentinian Gnostic Marcus was actually known for bringing women into the movement so that he could sexually seduce them (Irenaeus, Haer. 1.13.5).

    Moreover, the Gnostic view of women seemed particularly negative if one considers the final verse in the Gospel of Thomas: “For every female who makes herself male will enter the kingdom of Heaven” (logion 114).  It is hard to see this as an endorsement of women!

    Myth #5: Gnosticism was more positive towards human sexuality than traditional Christianity.

    A final myth about Gnosticism is that it was pro-sex and that traditional Christianity was anti-sex.  In other words, Gnostics celebrated sexuality and traditional Christians were puritanical prudes.

    Again, the reality is very different. While some Gnostics were quite sexually licentious (as noted above with Marcus), a large strain of the movement was utterly against sex. Indeed, much of the movement advocated a harsh asceticism and celibacy.

    For example, the Book of Thomas states, “Woe unto you who love the sexual intercourse that belongs to femininity and its foul cohabitation. And woe unto you who are gripped by the authorities of your bodies; for they will afflict you.”

    While many orthodox Christians certainly viewed celibacy positively, it was always regarded as voluntary. Marriage, and sex within marriage, was celebrated and viewed as a gift from God.

    In sum, popular perceptions about Gnosticism are just that, popular perceptions.  And thus they do not necessarily have a basis in history.  As we have seen here, the real Gnosticism was very different. And it reminds us that perhaps Gnosticism failed not because it was politically oppressed by those crafty orthodox folks, but because it simply proved to be less attractive to those in the earliest centuries who were seeking to follow Christ.

    Catechism 


    Does Christ’s death mean all our sins can be forgiven?

      Yes, because Christ’s death on the cross fully paid the penalty for our sin, God graciously imputes Christ’s righteousness to us as if it were our own and will remember our sins no more.

      2 Corinthians 5:21

      For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we m

      Frenetic Friday 


      Well we’re going to talk about technology today, and to get things started here is a self returning ball.

      I am of two minds about this, first it is cool without a doubt you can’t deny it.  But what about the tossing the ball with your friends/kids.  I mean this is the “I am playing by myself I don’t need anyone else”.  This could be just an outdoor video game.

      Staying on technology her is the latest medical break through an artificial womb.

      So the reason this has been developed is because of premature babies with the idea that they can go back into the artificial womb but well see I read science fiction.  And current science fiction writers tend to go on and on about the wonders of the artificial wombs and how they have freed women from the burden of motherhood.  See the thing is even if the original intent is to help premature children live it won’t stop there.  No ultimately this will be used to further separate the act of intercourse and the act of conception.  So that they will become two separate things ultimately disassociated with each other so that what God has created to be together will by man become apart.

      Speaking of in-vitro children.  What happens when you have a bunch of children frozen after in-vitro fertilization and you have all the children you want?  Well why not take those embryos and turn them into keepsake jewelry?  I am not kidding.  Baby Bee Hummingbird, an Australian company, will take the embryos and transform them into necklaces and rings like this:

      Yes that is an embryo straw just in case you’re wondering.  Making jewelry out of people is wrong  in so many ways I can only equate it to when they made lampshades out of the skin of dead Jews killed in the concentration camps.  And as heinous as lampshades of skin are, there is an exponential increase of evil when it comes to making jewelry from babies.

      So from jewelry let’s go to a film, like that segue?  Well you won’t.  Joss Whedon the guy behind the Avenger movies, Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer made a film for Planned Parenthood.  You can go watch it here:  Unlocked Joss Whedon video supporting Planned Parenthood.

      Well here are two really great videos in response to Joss Whedon’s film.

      And lastly we have a PSA from the White Horse Inn:  How to read the bible.

      That is it for this Frenetic Friday.

      Catechism 


      Will God allow our disobedience and idolatry to go unpunished?

        No, every sin is against the sovereignty, holiness, and goodness of God, and against his righteous law, and God is righteously angry with our sins and will punish them in his just judgment both in this life, and in the life to come.

        Ephesians 5:5–6

        For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

        Catechism 


        What is idolatry?

          Idolatry is trusting in created things rather than the Creator for our hope and happiness, significance and security.

          Romans 1:21 and 25

          For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened…. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.