Saturday, February 15, 2014

Dennis Muses on: Gospel Teachings That Didn't Make the Cut

The Gospel of Thomas
No Priests-No Ministers-No Church

"Know Thyself"



"The Gospel According to Thomas, commonly shortened to the Gospel of Thomas, is a well preserved early Christiannon-canonical sayings-gospel which many scholars believe provides insight into the Oral gospel traditions. It was discovered near Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in December 1945, in one of a group of books known as the Nag Hammadi library. The Gospel of Thomas was found among a collection of fifty-two writings that included, in addition to an excerpt from Plato's Republic, gospels claiming to have been written by Jesus' disciple Philip. Scholars have speculated that the works were buried in response to a letter from Bishop Athanasius who for the first time declared a strict canon of Christian scripture.[1]
The Coptic language text, the second of seven contained in what modern-day scholars have designated as Codex II, is composed of 114 sayings attributed to Jesus.[2] Almost half of these sayings resemble those found in the Canonical Gospels, while it is speculated that the other sayings were added from Gnostic tradition.[3] Its place of origin may have been Syria, where Thomasine traditions were strong.[4]"

The 114 Sayings of Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas
If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” 
― Gospel of Thomas

“Jesus said, "If those who lead you say to you, 'See, the kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty.” 
― Gospel of Thomas

The Gospels we have in Mark, Matthew, Luke and John are not the only ones written.  The were the chosen ones and came on the scene in the mid second century of the Christian era.  They are not eyewitness accounts and were not written by the men whose names were later added to give them credibility.  They were anonymous works to begin with. But they were the ones chosen and many many others, such as the Gospel of Thomas were not.  It should be plain to see why The Gospel of Thomas was not chosen.  While containing many of the same sayings of Jesus found in the Gospels , these two quotes, along with others were never going to make it into the organized Church canon.  The debate still rages over which came first, the Gospel of Thomas or the New Testament Gospels.  That each contained parts of the other is clear. 




How different the truth of Thomas than the Gospels.  Salvation came from within and it came from "knowing yourself".  Nothing here about blood sacrifices without which there can be no forgiveness.  Ever ask just why without the shedding of blood there is NO forgiveness of sins.  What's wrong with just saying, "I forgive you."?  Thomas is speaking of the inner work that is the spirituality organized  religion hates. 

Spiritual human beings are not prone to membership.  The religious love it. Spiritual humans don't follow all the rules being told "Trust and obey for the is NO OTHER WAY to be happy in Jesus...but to trust and obey!"    Their spiritual journey is inward.  They don't tend to take the rantings of priests and ministers too seriously. They probably hold on to their money with a bit more wisdom and only pull the big triggers they choose.  Pulling big triggers may not even be a part of their vocabulary.  In short, they can't be controlled, coerced  and they aren't compliant to the organization and certainly not to the Priests and Ministry as if they get the final say.  Today you get to know what your church tells you to know.  Today people sit and listen to others tell them how it all is.  You know,  Greetings-three hymns-opening prayer-sermonette-hymn-announcements-hymn-sermon-hymn-closing prayer.  You sit, you listen and others pour into you what you are expected to be, do and think.  You are told what "we" believe , when to meet so we can all believe it together and how much to give. 




How many sermons and rituals have you ever sat through just hoping it would end sooner than you knew it would?   Going within to find the Kingdom is simply never going to cut it with organized religion.  When Jesus said, "the Kingdom of God is within you" in the Gospels, The Gospel of Thomas proves he did not mean he, Jesus, as representing the Kingdom was among them.  It means it is  WITHIN you.  The Gospel of Thomas tells it's readers to go in and know yourself which is the hard work of a truly spiritual person.  And this was some of the most early teachings and beliefs of many of the earliest Christians.  The literalism and organization with it's some Apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some teachers and some helps...etc, came much later. 

“Jesus said, "If those who lead you say to you, 'See, the kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you."  In other words, the birds are already in the kingdom ahead of you if you think it is in the sky and the fish are too if you think it is in the sea.  No...it is inside you and knowing yourself is a huge part of what the Kingdom is to Jesus of this gospel rejected.  

From my experience, most are afraid to go within and know themselves.  Mostly we don't know how to go about it.   It is much easier to let the Church tell you all about yourself.  Poor, miserable, blind and naked come to mind and certainly with a heart that is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.....needing priests to do sacrifice for you back then, or ministers and "the Church" in our times.  

"In the Thomas gospel, Jesus is presented as a spiritual guide whose words (when properly understood) bring eternal life (Saying 1). Readers of these sayings are advised to continue seeking until they find what will enable them to become rulers of their own lives (Saying 2) and thus to know themselves (Saying 3) and their legacy of being the children of "the living Father" (Saying 3). These goals are presented in the image of "entering the Kingdom" by the methodology of insight that goes beyond duality. (Saying 22). The Gospel of Thomas shows little or no concern for orthodox religious concepts and doctrines. Scholars have traditionally understood the Gospel of Thomas as a Gnostic text because it was found amongst other gnostic texts, was understood as being prone to a Gnostic interpretation by the early Church, and emphasized knowledge as the key to salvation, particularly in Saying 1. "



The Gospel of Thomas emphasizes direct and unmediated experience. In Thomas saying 108, Jesus says, "Whoever drinks from my mouth will become as I am; I myself shall become that person, and the hidden things will be revealed to him." Furthermore, salvation is personal and found through spiritual (psychological) introspection. In Thomas saying 70, Jesus says, "If you bring forth what is within you, what you have will save you. If you do not bring it forth, what you do not have within you will kill you." As such, this form of salvation is idiosyncratic and without literal explanation unless read from a psychological perspective related to Self vs. ego. (Some ministerial egos certainly need to be checked at the door before services)

What a different experience personal spirituality would be without the literalism and hierarchy of Church organization , ministry that must be obeyed and respected because they say to and the occasional rant on sending it in and pulling big triggers when in your heart you know just how stupid and foolish that would be.  The "Edifice Complex" as seen in Gerald Flurry and Dave Pack would be replaced by the much more rewarding inner work of the individual.  Instead of reaching the world with literalism and religion, we'd reach inward with a spirituality .  It is not a selfish thing, it is simply learning who you are and not having others decide who you need to be to please them. How different would one's spirituality be as opposed to their religious fears and compliance if the Gospel of Thomas had made it into the New Testament.  It would have changed everything.  
"The teaching of salvation (i.e., entering the Kingdom of Heaven) that is found in The Gospel of Thomas is neither that of "works" nor of "grace" as the dichotomy is found in the canonical gospels, but what might be called a third way, that of insight. The overriding concern of The Gospel of Thomas is to find the light within in order to be a light unto the world."


The modern version of The Gospel of Thomas

Instead of being asked "Do you know Jesus?",  we would have been asked by Jesus and those given to a kinder more gentle spirituality, "Do you know yourself?"  The ministry would have been both real helpers of your joy and facilitators of just how one might go about it instead of mere Title Takers to be obeyed as if they knew and you couldn't understand anything without them. Yourself is that part of you that you give up and lose when you allow priests, ministers and organizations that no Jesus of either Thomas or the Gospels probably ever intended to be what they have become today.*

Just sayin'...

*(PS  "I will build my church.."  was probably added to the text when the physical Church needed to be built long after Jesus did not actually return shortly)







57 comments:

Byker Bob said...

Some see these gnostic gospels as being additional evidence supporting the historicity of Jesus Christ, along with the many surviving writings of an independent collection of influential writers known as the antenicene fathers.

BB

Joe Moeller said...

Dennis:

I am confused by this post of yours. I have taken it that you do not believe in Jesus whatsoever, and view him as a mythical person.

If that be the case, then who would care what the Gospel of Thomas would say either? Are you proposing that the Jesus of the Gospel of Thomas is the true Jesus and originator of truth via these writings?

Im not sure what you are trying to prove with this post, or trying to tell us. Can you clarify what we are to conclude from your post?

Luv,
Joe Moeller
Cody, WY

Sweetblood777 said...

To each his own as they say, but I only see humanism in this book of Thomas.

It sounds very much like new age bull shit, written by someone who wanted to sound spiritual.

The truth of the matter, IMO, is that man cannot save himself. A good example would be seeing politicians creating laws that solve some problems, but creates others in the process.

Common sense (which I look at as being wisdom from above) is not as common as it once was. I think this is due to the lack of obedience to the Most High.

Anonymous said...

"I am confused"...I think that pretty much sums up most of his musings!

Benjamin Dickmann said...

I can see why the Gospel of Thomas didn't make the cut. Suggesting that one must look deep within - no matter how painful it can be - is no easy task for anyone. But from my experience, it is a beneficial one. Taking time to dig inside one's noggin, examining the fears, examining the beliefs that formed those fears, and asking the question, "Who am I?" - that's my kind of spirituality.

It is difficult to examine oneself when they are entrenched in rules, laws, and commandments. There is hardly any time for true self-examination for one who is a follower of Armstrongism, because the type of self-examination that belief system requires is within the context of OT law. You know that the ACOGs are starting to give sermons in preparation of the Passover season and the Days of Unleavened Bread. Anyone who is willing to go through a deep and true self-examination may discover some things about themselves that they may find uncomfortable, but only because they would be comparing their new discovery in context of their belief system, no matter what that is.

Self examination in the context of Armstrongism is the suppression of oneself. A true self examination can lead to a more organic spiritual liberation.

Benjamin Dickmann said...

Oh, and thank you for posting this, Dennis. I enjoy your musings :)

Anonymous said...

The universe is becoming self-aware and evolving to ever higher and greater levels. That is the cosmotheism of William Luther Pierce.

Anonymous said...

Joe, you are confused because you go to the UCG and they are obsessed with authority and other maladies of Armstrongaholicism.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe Dennis's beliefs have congealed into one teachable core, Joe. They are still developing.

It appears he shares his current thinking each day, or what he is wrestling with at that moment in his own personal search. It's all good so long as we realize two basic things about him: 1) As a minister, he enjoyed teaching. This is something that just doesn't go away with change in philosophy. 2) Obviously, for one reason or another, he is what we might call an "external processor". He can't keep the thoughts internal. Other people are a necessary part of the equation.

I've gone through some of these same processes myself, and probably will for the rest of my life. Every answer raises more questions. The musings are good thought provocation, but should always be taken with a grain of salt. They're going to morph.

DennisCDiehl said...

I have never said or do I think there was never a Jesus. I am a bit suspect that whoever Jesus was was not the mystic, godman we ended up with. Much of the Gospel Jesus story is mined out of the old testament. The authors did not know much about the real Jesus so mined the OT for both birth stories in Matthew and Luke which Mark and John never heard of and Matthew and Luke never read each others or somone would have had to give theirs up. They don't tell literal truth.

Much of what we have of Jesus the man is built up "according to the scriptures" not according to what anyone knew of the man.

My point here is that in the earliest of views of Jesus, there was no talk of blood and salvic formulas based on his death. Thomas simple presents the simple teachings of man called Jesus. The message was not prophetic or urgent. It was deeply personal and the journey was within in the Gnostic way. Paul's writings are very gnostic in nature and his Jesus or Christ is in the heavens and not any earthly Jesus whom Paul did not know in the flesh nor did he meet him or quote him.

The Book of Thomas gives us an insight into what the not Gospel Jesus may have really taught which was later turned into more than He ever would have thought could possibly be.

DennisCDiehl said...

Sweetblood said:

"It sounds very much like new age bull shit, written by someone who wanted to sound spiritual."

This "new age bull shit" preceeds the Gospels as the more original thought of the man Jesus. In theological circles it is called Gnosticism which was very deeply introspective, mature and not the more shallow literalism that eventually came to be the more accepted form of belief.

Paul is said to have said, "I am crucified with Christ, yet not I but that Christ lives IN ME, and the life I now live..." This is very Thomas like with the Christ living and experiencing itself through Paul. Paul says, in Galatians, that Christ is revealed in him which actually means through him in the deepest sense. It does not mean Paul tells us about Jesus who told him to tell us about Jesus. Paul meant that if you see Paul, you see Christ. Rather new agey as well .

Elaine Pages writes a good bit about the early gnostic Christians who were finally driven out by the literalists and the more shallow Sunday School version the organized church needed in order to over see it all and keep the sheep from looking elsewhere much less inwardly without them guiding them all the way.

DennisCDiehl said...

Sweetblood said:

"It sounds very much like new age bull shit, written by someone who wanted to sound spiritual."

This "new age bull shit" preceeds the Gospels as the more original thought of the man Jesus. In theological circles it is called Gnosticism which was very deeply introspective, mature and not the more shallow literalism that eventually came to be the more accepted form of belief.

Paul is said to have said, "I am crucified with Christ, yet not I but that Christ lives IN ME, and the life I now live..." This is very Thomas like with the Christ living and experiencing itself through Paul. Paul says, in Galatians, that Christ is revealed in him which actually means through him in the deepest sense. It does not mean Paul tells us about Jesus who told him to tell us about Jesus. Paul meant that if you see Paul, you see Christ. Rather new agey as well .

Elaine Pages writes a good bit about the early gnostic Christians who were finally driven out by the literalists and the more shallow Sunday School version the organized church needed in order to over see it all and keep the sheep from looking elsewhere much less inwardly without them guiding them all the way.

DennisCDiehl said...

Benjamin said:

"Self examination in the context of Armstrongism is the suppression of oneself. A true self examination can lead to a more organic spiritual liberation. "

Thank you Benjamin and you seem to understand exactly what the point of both my post and The Gospel of Thomas.

Inner work is not the "examine yourself to see if you be in the faith" kind of work. All that is checking up on your compliance to the others who wrote that verse. Seeing how miserable one is or sinful and unworthy drinking damnation to oneself is not what Thomas is speaking of either.

These gnostic values of going within are very old and very rewarding. Coming to the simple conclusion that we are all one and the same is quite a realization. The literalist church does not see that nor want it taught. There have to be special groups and chosen one in the literalist church. There has to be the one true people and of course this is the schtick of all the splinters and slivers. Obviously that can't be so unless they grow up and realize we are all one, all deserving respect for our beliefs which are not ultimate truths and all on our own journey with our own story unique to each.

The literalist church is about belonging, compliance, supporting and believing the same thing which is quite impossible for a gnostic Christian because they are looking inside themselves, not everyone else.

DennisCDiehl said...

Benjamin said:

"Self examination in the context of Armstrongism is the suppression of oneself. A true self examination can lead to a more organic spiritual liberation. "

Thank you Benjamin and you seem to understand exactly what the point of both my post and The Gospel of Thomas.

Inner work is not the "examine yourself to see if you be in the faith" kind of work. All that is checking up on your compliance to the others who wrote that verse. Seeing how miserable one is or sinful and unworthy drinking damnation to oneself is not what Thomas is speaking of either.

These gnostic values of going within are very old and very rewarding. Coming to the simple conclusion that we are all one and the same is quite a realization. The literalist church does not see that nor want it taught. There have to be special groups and chosen one in the literalist church. There has to be the one true people and of course this is the schtick of all the splinters and slivers. Obviously that can't be so unless they grow up and realize we are all one, all deserving respect for our beliefs which are not ultimate truths and all on our own journey with our own story unique to each.

The literalist church is about belonging, compliance, supporting and believing the same thing which is quite impossible for a gnostic Christian because they are looking inside themselves, not everyone else.

DennisCDiehl said...

Joe asked:

"Are you proposing that the Jesus of the Gospel of Thomas is the true Jesus and originator of truth via these writings? "

Others are saing that the Jesus of the Gospel of Thomas is the more spiritual and gnostic or knowing Jesus than the one that finally gets portrayed in the Gospels. Reading Thomas one can easily see that either Thomas drew from the Gospels or they from Thomas with a few twists and omissions like the Kingdom of God is within you them and certainly the 114th verse.

Jesus evolves and if one thinks there are a lot of different gospels and kinds of Jesus and Christian faiths today, you don't realize it was much worse in the beginning. That is why hundreds of Gospels and stories of all the NT characters were forged and written which at the time was not as heinous a crime as today. The New Testament contains forged , that is , books that are made to make one think they are written by a follower of Jesus in the story but in fact are not. I and II Peter is a good example of this for many reasons as are others. We just dont want to think that and that is not part of our training so it seems fantastic and untrue.

DennisCDiehl said...

Joe asked:

"Are you proposing that the Jesus of the Gospel of Thomas is the true Jesus and originator of truth via these writings? "

Others are saing that the Jesus of the Gospel of Thomas is the more spiritual and gnostic or knowing Jesus than the one that finally gets portrayed in the Gospels. Reading Thomas one can easily see that either Thomas drew from the Gospels or they from Thomas with a few twists and omissions like the Kingdom of God is within you them and certainly the 114th verse.

Jesus evolves and if one thinks there are a lot of different gospels and kinds of Jesus and Christian faiths today, you don't realize it was much worse in the beginning. That is why hundreds of Gospels and stories of all the NT characters were forged and written which at the time was not as heinous a crime as today. The New Testament contains forged , that is , books that are made to make one think they are written by a follower of Jesus in the story but in fact are not. I and II Peter is a good example of this for many reasons as are others. We just dont want to think that and that is not part of our training so it seems fantastic and untrue.

DennisCDiehl said...

As noted in the past, Mark is the original Gospel from which all others , save John, which of itself is very gnostic and Greek in it's views. Matthew copies 94% of Mark and Luke 54% Hardly eye witness accounts. If you put them in the correct order, Mark, Matthew, Luke and John you can see editing along the way as the next author realizes the mistakes of the previous ones and either makes adjustments to the story or fails to mention it at all.

The three gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke are a one year ministry of Jesus and John is a three year ministry. The three place Jesus running the money changers , which were not in the wrong for turning roman and foreign coin into temple currency, say it happened at the last moments of Jesus career. John places the even in the very beginning of it and they can't both be right.

Mark is written in the third person and just sayings and stories hung together with, and then Jesus went here and then he went there and said etc. It seems to be the only original source much like Thomas of just the sayings of Jesus. It doesn't even have a resurrection scene and the women run away afraid and tell no one what happens. This is all fixed in the next three Gospels though they all disagree as to what happened or when it happened.

It is also the only Gospel that has the tale of Jesus Mom and his brothers coming to get him to take him home because "they thought he was insane." This could only be in a gospel that had no birth stories and no Mary knowing from his birth that Jesus was the Son of God. In Mark she did not know this or simply forgot big time.

The point is that there is richer and deeper view of Jesus teachings than the shallow Sunday School version the organized Church allows for obvious reasons

Black Ops Mikey said...

As I recall, the Jesus of the Gospel of Thomas proclaimed over and over that he was going to make Mary Magdalen a man.

It would just seem to me that such statements would preclude this particular "gospel" from being precluded from the official collection as being too extreme for even a Dark Ages illiterate peasant to accept.

Who knows, though? Those Dark Ages illiterate peasants are said to have been the precursors to Armstrongism by the Armstrongists.

Head Usher said...

I would like to throw my lot in with Benjamin as well.

At some point, I realized that the COG imperative to be "holy" and always be "striving" to be someone who was more pure, more obedient to god, than you were capable of in reality (or would ever be capable of) was, although well intended, an unbalanced way to attempt to live, because you just wind up pretending to be someone you're not. And in the COG environment, people can go for years on end living in denial, losing all touch with the reality of who they actually are, imagining themselves always to be some sort of paragon of virtue, and trying to cover up and stuff down the unpalatable reality that such a thing is too much for anyone to ask of you and too much to live up to. It just leads to unwarranted self-righteousness in order to keep up appearances on the one hand, and on the other, a life of self-deception, self-loathing, and hypocrisy.

Have you ever wondered what you would be like if you weren't always trying so damn hard to NOT be yourself all the time? "Know thyself" sounds like a no-brainer, but in fact it is not. And living a fundamentalist's life, it is possible to entirely lose track of your authentic self. And I have to wonder if my authentic self, left to its own devices (since there's no satan and no demons) might have developed and grown into the person I've been trying and failing to be all these years? Have all those years of try-hard pseudospirituality and fake xian schtick actually retarded the growth of my character and my person due to improper motivation and a lifetime of desperate lying? I guess it's not to late to find out! The results surely can't be any worse than the strategy that the COGs have traditionally taught, which even common sense would tell someone of below-average intelligence has zero hope of achieving its stated goal.

Anonymous said...

Dennis, keep it coming. Some folks here need eyes opened about the provenance of the so-called "word of god," being as it is, a collection of human writings. I saw a decent statement yesterday that went like this: "The Bible does not have contradictions because it is trash. It has contradictions because it is a collection of human literature."

The sooner fundamentalist remnants such as UCG and other COGs learn this, the soone they can expect to actually have some sort of spiritual growth. Unfortunately, maintaining the ignorant insistence that the bible is inspired and inerrant has resulted in a predictable degrading, division and dissolving.

DennisCDiehl said...

That's right Mickey, Verse 114 says that Mary and all women were inferior to men and that you had to be a man to "get it" This simply reflects the male dominated society where men and males were considered more complete than women. Not hard to see that not much has changed in many of these same places today. In order for a woman to understand she had to become more complete or "a man" , not literally of course. In other words, women could participate and with inner work become as complete as a man

DennisCDiehl said...

Excellent Head Usher! That's the point. "Become ye therefore perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect" whether it means perfect which is a joke of course or "mature" which is also as much a joke is an unrealistic mindset that leads to nothing but failure and self righteous hubris. Be yourself is simply better. One can't actually be anyone but themselves in reality

Black Ops Mikey said...

What nonsense.

Christianity in its conception is the idea that a person is "born again" receiving the Spirit and transforms from the inside out.

Armstrongism it eh high concept that a person adopt the Olde Testament Christianity where one accepts the Law and then attempts to transform from the outside.

It has been amply demonstrated that simply doesn't work. It certainly didn't work as Herbert Armstrong committed incest the first 10 years of his ministry and only stopped when he was confronted by a man waving a loaded gun at him.

No transformation there. No fruit of the Spirit. Nary a repentance.

And we expect "spiritual truth" (whatever that is) to be flowing from such a person?

Did Herbert Armstrong know himself?

Does it matter?

Anonymous said...

What non sense indeed!

"For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."

Anonymous said...

Doesn't make sense to point out discrepancies across the four gospels in the NT vs. no discrepancies across the one gospel of Thomas. Shouldn't it be across five gospels then?

Byker Bob said...

"Know thyself" has always been an integral part of Christianity. It is what leads one to repentence in the first place, unless, of course one is a narcissist, and knowing that kind of self would lead to problems for self and everyone around self.

Philosophically, it's possible to look for answers from within, or to seek them from other people or beings thought to have greater knowledge or a better vantage point. In this latter category, people naturally seem to gravitate towards their own favorites, whether it be scientists, philosophers, holy men, the "ascended masters", Aunt Minnie, Lobsang Rampa, HWA (biting tongue til it almost bleeds!) or whomever. There is nothing profound about advice to look without, or to look within, because humans seem to be automatically predisposed to do both, and it is impossible to discipline one's self by willpower to exclude one source or the other. Try imposing such a restriction upon yourself, and you will quickly learn yet another path to cognitive dissonance.

The problem with cultic thinking is always the structure which is imposed. The structure is so restrictive that all of your choices have been pre-made by those to whom you have surrendered the power. Some people seem to feel that they are helping God in this way, while others use it as a con. As a matter of fact, regardless of the initial intention, the consequence is that it ends up actually becoming a con. Totally bogus, because it can't deliver.

Some of what has been recorded as the teachings of Jesus indicate that man's problems begin not because he has too few laws, but because of the appetites and emotions present in the human mind. Familiarity with these, and how they work is the first step to transformation. This type of self-knowledge, coupled with empathy for others, can also advance you past simple enslavement to either fundamentalism or the Old 613 law-based school teacher Covenant, spiriting you past "Go", and taking you directly to the spiritual law behind the physical ones. That is the journey from which we were deprived!

BB

Anonymous said...

Dennis, this is fantastic. Please keep it coming.

I can only imagine the richness of life I could have experienced if I had realized as a child exactly what you point out about the 4 NT gospels.

As another poster commented in this thread, "better late than never".

Another great resource along these same lines is an old paper written by Gavin Rumney titled "Questions About the Biblical Canon" which can be found on his website at: http://otagosh.blogspot.com/2012/02/canon-article-updated.html

DennisCDiehl said...

"Know thyself" has always been an integral part of Christianity. "

" There is nothing profound about advice to look without, or to look within, because humans seem to be automatically predisposed to do both,"

I agree and disagree. It always has been a part of many early Christian sects but much less so now today because of the Organized Church with it's believe it creeds and dogmas. I never heard the concept taught in my entire life in any Christian church setting.

Also the looking is not just to see what a miserable human being one is in need of an outward rescue by others. The inward looking is meant to point out uncomfortable truths perhaps but also the very positive ones that every human being is entitled to their experience and the nature of their existence. Today we are much better equipt to come to amazing conclusions or at least possibilities. None of which are connected with any miserable nature in need of an organized church and clergy to redeem us from.

It is profound because it is rare and either never taught or soundly discouraged as "new agey" or self-ish in some way. I'd like to hear a Dave Pack or Gerald Flurry give a sermon on the meaning of "know thyself" We know them better than they do lol.

DennisCDiehl said...
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(sorry about the multiple postings of the same comment. Don't know what's up with that when I send one)

DennisCDiehl said...

Anonymous said...
What non sense indeed!

"For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves...
2 Corinthians 10:12
__________________________________
Keep reading my friend...

"But from those who seemed to be something - whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man- for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me. But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, ...and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship..." Gal. 2:6,7,9 NKJV

Paul, claiming not to want to brag just can't resist it...


2 Corinthians 11
5 I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “super-apostles.” 6 I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every
way.

And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under (NICE!!) those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. 13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ.... 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades....

"For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles". ...."As the truth of Christ is in me, no one shall stop me from this boasting in the regions of Achaia." 2Cor. 11:5,10

2 Corinthians 11: 22-24

What anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. 22Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham's descendants? So am I. 23Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one."

Here Paul humiliates Peter for acting like a Jew around Gentiles

"But when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews played the hypocrite with him .. Galatians 2:11-14

However, here Paul says of himself that when he was around Jews, he actd like one to "save" them.

"For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews;...
I Cor 9:19

Paul often compared himself and his superior teachings with the other other Apostles who he held in contempt.

DennisCDiehl said...

The little "disclaimers" of "I speak as a fool" "Bare with me" giving the impression he doesn't want to brag is consistent with human nature. He knows he shouldn't but he can't stand them making him look less equal or important so he does it "reluctantly" It's like HWA telling us he was an amazing business man even though he doesn't want to brag or a Dave Pack telling us he was going to the Naval Academy or the Olympics but gave it all up. Human nature just can't resist bragging to fortify the idea of utter humility and sacrfice.

I like the practice better of "He who says, does not know...He who knows...does not say" That's a tough one for any human to apply in a real life

DennisCDiehl said...
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DennisCDiehl said...

Anonymous said...
What non sense indeed!

"For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves...
2 Corinthians 10:12
___________________________

But he's not bragging or comparing himself to others

Phillipians 3: 4although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: 5circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; 6as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless."

Not bragging and comparing by bragging and comparing is not , not bragging and not comparing himself to others...

DennisCDiehl said...
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Anonymous said...

Concerning the authorship and dating of the four canonical gospels. This is very much in dispute amongst scholars yet I'm disappointed that Dennis asserts one side of the argument as if it were a fact. (It was the same with the instructors in AC). If you want to teach, put forward all sides of an argument, not just the side that supports your own point of view or current position. Then let people decide based on the evidence rather than your opinion. If you don't you are just a partisan propagandist for one point of view.

Anonymous said...

The majority of scholarship places Mark's Gospel as the first to be composed. In order to properly date the Gospel it is important to consider the dating timeframe of all the Synoptics. If Luke is considered to be the latest of the Gospels, then it is important to date his Gospel first. The dating of Luke first depends on the dating of Acts which succeeds Luke (cf. Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1). Because the book of Acts has an abrupt ending with Paul waiting to go before Caesar, the best explanation is that Luke wrote it up to the events that had taken place. This would place the composition of Acts in the early Sixties. With this in mind, Luke could be placed in the late Fifties to early Sixties, Matthew in the mid to late Fifties, and Mark in the early to mid Fifties. These dates are debatable and have a certain degree of elasticity to them, but for the stated reasons they seem the most likely.

DennisCDiehl said...

Anon said: "If you want to teach, put forward all sides of an argument, not just the side that supports your own point of view or current position. Then let people decide based on the evidence rather than your opinion. If you don't you are just a partisan propagandist for one point of view."

I fully understand the issues and simply choose the one that seems more plausible to me. I am more than capable of adjusting to new information. Most in this audienc are totally unaware of the issues to begin with. On the other hand, halting between two or three or a dozen different opinions does not do much for me either. These are beliefs or maybe "the present truth" as even Paul is said to have said. Just saying "some say this and some say that" doesn't work for me. If I was teaching a class I'd be more that way of course, but these are my personal conclusions drawn from my personal study. I care not if others get it or even examine it.

If I go by your view, then the entire Bible is just on partisan and propagandist point of view, especially the NT where four or five men get to tell everyone how it all is for sure and without mistake or getting their personal views and prejudices into the mix

DennisCDiehl said...

Anon said: "If you want to teach, put forward all sides of an argument, not just the side that supports your own point of view or current position. Then let people decide based on the evidence rather than your opinion. If you don't you are just a partisan propagandist for one point of view."

I fully understand the issues and simply choose the one that seems more plausible to me. I am more than capable of adjusting to new information. Most in this audienc are totally unaware of the issues to begin with. On the other hand, halting between two or three or a dozen different opinions does not do much for me either. These are beliefs or maybe "the present truth" as even Paul is said to have said. Just saying "some say this and some say that" doesn't work for me. If I was teaching a class I'd be more that way of course, but these are my personal conclusions drawn from my personal study. I care not if others get it or even examine it.

If I go by your view, then the entire Bible is just on partisan and propagandist point of view, especially the NT where four or five men get to tell everyone how it all is for sure and without mistake or getting their personal views and prejudices into the mix

DennisCDiehl said...

Anon said: "If you want to teach, put forward all sides of an argument, not just the side that supports your own point of view or current position. Then let people decide based on the evidence rather than your opinion. If you don't you are just a partisan propagandist for one point of view."

I fully understand the issues and simply choose the one that seems more plausible to me. I am more than capable of adjusting to new information. Most in this audienc are totally unaware of the issues to begin with. On the other hand, halting between two or three or a dozen different opinions does not do much for me either. These are beliefs or maybe "the present truth" as even Paul is said to have said. Just saying "some say this and some say that" doesn't work for me. If I was teaching a class I'd be more that way of course, but these are my personal conclusions drawn from my personal study. I care not if others get it or even examine it.

If I go by your view, then the entire Bible is just on partisan and propagandist point of view, especially the NT where four or five men get to tell everyone how it all is for sure and without mistake or getting their personal views and prejudices into the mix

DennisCDiehl said...

again, sorry for the duplicate comments. I hit the thing once and get multiple copies. The karma fairy is messin' with me

Anonymous said...

Here is another point of view, another opinion, concerning the dating of the gospels. This view illustrates that what Dennis asserted as fact is far from being universally accepted.

"None of the gospels mention the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70 A.D. This is significant because Jesus had prophesied concerning the temple when He said "As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down," (Luke 21:6, see also Matt. 24:1; Mark 13:1). This prophecy was fulfilled in 70 A.D. when the Romans sacked Jerusalem and burned the temple. The gold in the temple melted down between the stone walls and the Romans took the walls apart, stone by stone, to get the gold. Such an obvious fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy most likely would have been recorded as such by the gospel writers who were fond of mentioning fulfillment of prophecy if they had been written after 70 A.D. Also, if the gospels were fabrications of mythical events then anything to bolster the Messianic claims -- such as the destruction of the temple as Jesus said -- would surely have been included. But, it was not included suggesting that the gospels (at least Matthew, Mark, and Luke) were written before 70 A.D."

I think that if we are asserting something that is disputed, we should make it clear that it is only our opinion and that it is only one opinion amongst many. We should never present our opinions as if they were facts.

DennisCDiehl said...

The story of the Gospels can be written before the fall of Jerusalem as the setting but later as well. You could mock the Jews all you wished but don't mess with the Romans. The gospels were not referred to directly until mid second century for the most part. The setting can be early and even mythic tales can be set in a historical setting

DennisCDiehl said...
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Byker Bob said...

Anonymous 7:15: "We should never present our opinions as if they were facts".

You are absolutely correct. Many of the people I've watched over the years who do that are building a wall as an antidote to something, as opposed to seeking truth. And, others who are also building their own wall will join in, embrace, and applaud. I'm sure this is something they do unconsciously, though, and as a survival method, not maliciously. In a sense, it's like the old adage that we become like our enemies. In this case, it's like becoming a guru to combat what we perceive as a worse guru. Myopic cherry picking is still the primary methodology, it's just applied to the other side.

BB

Byker Bob said...

I just "got" something, and it explains a lot about some of the opinions expressed here. Many from what I call "Class of '75" only had to deal with, treat, and recover from HWA. So, you see walls built to compartmentalize HWA.

Those from "Class of '95" also had mainstream Christianity rammed down their throats courtesy of the same authority structure that had originally enforced HWA. Some of these folks find themselves needing to build not one, but two walls, because there were two implements of spiritual rape used. (Rape implies the taking by force).

What I find interesting is that you don't find such levels of hostility and die hard counter proofs resulting from having once been part of Messianic Jewish congregations, or non-denominational Christian churches. It's not a survival of the psyche thing with alumni of those churches. People are just able to move about.

BB

Anonymous said...

There sure IS a lot of Christian teaching about know thyself. Paul speaks of the gifts and strengths we are given to serve the community. Unless you try to get to know them, you never will. We're supposed to examine ourselves so we don't take the Lords Supper unworthily. There are statements about Christians and observant Israelites asking God to try them, so that what is in the heart can be known. That's just for openers. Just cause some apocryphal writer boils this down to two words doesn't make it a new teaching that you can't get from any of the other writings.

Introspection is something a Christian does on a regular basis. If you prefer to get that from a non canonical source, that's great, the important thing being that you get it from somewhere.

For all their bad, the Herbie Mafia cult did get one thing right. They gave aptitude tests to the students of SEP, Imperial, and Ambassador. They shared the results, and counselled students to get to know their strengths and weaknesses. The strengths are used to serve, and the weaknesses you have to know to avoid temptation. You gotta know your emotions, too, like a propensity for explosive temper. The Bible talks about anger and angry people getting into a lot of trouble.

Head Usher said...

"There sure IS a lot of Christian teaching about know thyself."

Between the Jewish and Christian canons there's like 60,000+ verses. That's a lot of babbling. Talk for long enough and someone could find a way to attribute to you every "wise" idea that human beings have ever had too. If they had a different agenda, they could also find tons of foolishness and falsehood too. Apologists, like yourself, are motivated NOT to find the foolishness, and instead to see the book ONLY as divine wisdom.

Dennis' point is that the holy babble doesn't live up to the hype. The books in the Christian canon selected by the "early church fathers" such as Eusebius voted for books which they thought said the "right" things, and didn't vote for others which said some things they didn't like as much. They had no idea which books were written when or by whom. They certainly had no idea which books were "authentic" and which were later forgeries. People reading the holy babble tend to assume that the Gospel of John, the Epistles of John, and the Revelation of John were all three written down by the same guy, but even if all of them were, in fact, written by people named John, they were probably three different Johns. And the myth that this one and only John wrote Revelation in 95AD on the Isle of Patmos and then canonized the New Testament just before he died has zero historical basis. It's just a story that Christians wish could have happened. Instead, the "early church fathers" under pressure from Constantine for a Christian "bible" made one for him. Unfortunately, all the "wisdom" wasn't concentrated in just a few parchments, and all the foolishness wasn't relegated to the rest. They, like everyone else who has ever lived, had to make the best of a bad situation. They had to include some "foolishness" to get some "wisdom" and had to throw away some "wisdom" to get rid of some "foolishness." This is true regardless of what you think is "wisdom" and what you think is "foolishness." And I haven't even addressed the "wisdoms" and "foolishnesses" of the Jewish canon.

So, which is it? Does the holy babble say "know thyself"? Well, at least if I read it "the right way" so that it could "in so many words," right? Oh, that's what the holy babble authors MUST HAVE meant, right? Wow, see how "wise" the holy babble is! Or does the holy babble say "Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect"?

The problem here is that these are incompatible goals for a single human being to entertain. Assuming you're like other Christian apologists, your belief depends upon being able to have your cake and eat it too, so you're motivated both to attribute all "wisdom" to the holy babble while denying all of it's "foolishness," even if it means dealing with a little more cognitive dissonance? No big deal. What's one more drop of cognitive dissonance in the cognitive dissonance bucket?

And you obviously went to a very different Imperial Schools than I did.

DennisCDiehl said...

Just because the Gospels don't contain anything about the actual fall of the Temple, though some feel Mark does alude to this in his "little apocolypse' chapter, does not mean it had to be written before that. The life of Jesus can be written after the fact in a before the fall setting of course. One can read the Gospels and get no hint of the Roman occupation of Jerusalem or even a Roman presense in the background. When Romans's are spoken of , they are practically made to sound like converts. It was no problem to bash jews and pharisees in the context but one had to be very careful, even after or especially after the fall of Jerusalem not to stir up the Romans any more than necessary. They would kill you.

Anonymous said...

Someone mentioned a pertinent blog post of Gavin's- "Questions About the Biblical Canon"- so I decided to make the link clickable-

Click here.

Anonymous said...

I never did go to Imperial. The stuff I come up with is from studying all sides in the book and on the internet, and keeping what seems most logical. That can be hard because weve got two hostile sides of apologists duking it out.

Anonymous said...

H/U~

Did you ever think that maybe this is just like life? No matter where you are or what you are doing, youve got to be able to discern between wisdom and foolishness. But, as some wiseass once quipped, one mans scatology is anothers escatology. :-)

Anonymous said...

I hope the 10:15 wiseass remembers that in mainstream Christianity, there's little difference between the scatology and escatology that's taught. :-)

Anonymous said...

Anon wrote:
"Did you ever think that maybe this is just like life?"

I wrote:
"They, like everyone else who has ever lived, had to make the best of a bad situation."

Yes, as a matter of fact maybe he did ever think that this is just like life.

Anonymous said...

Dennis -

I'll go with your following two quotes (the second one sounding quite arrogant) and trust that since you "says" you must not know...I accept that about your "musings" here....

"I like the practice better of "He who says, does not know...He who knows...does not say" That's a tough one for any human to apply in a real life"


"I fully understand the issues and simply choose the one that seems more plausible to me. I am more than capable of adjusting to new information. Most in this audienc are totally unaware of the issues to begin with."