10 May, 2006

Wherein I Am Both Confused And Misunderstood

So, about two weeks ago I wrote about the Church's response to The Da Vinci Code. I wrote that post for two reasons. The first was that it seemed to be more than coincidence that every church I knew of was incorporating the book into their sermons over the past three weeks. The second was that a local preacher/blogger had this to say:
The Greek Phrase for both the Gospel of Judas and Davinci is "hogas washas" where we get our term "Hog Wash"


This response is by no means unique. I've heard many people be equally dismissive of the book. Yes, Roger,it's fiction. Yes, Dan, it's highly-improbable fiction. Yet thanks to Mr. Brown's infamous opening "Fact Page" many readers are left confused as to what portion of the book is factual. So we've now been blessed with many people who believe that some of the book's more outlandish claims are true. (Of course, there are also people who claim to be members of the Jedi religion, so clearly a case can be made for a fringe element. )

Since I must not have been clear in the original post, given Dan's vehement reaction, allow me to restate that I stand most closely to Brian McLaren's take on the matter.
I would like to see churches teach their people how to have intelligent dialogue that doesn't degenerate into argument. We have to teach people that the Holy Spirit works in the middle of conversation.


So, today, when Dan writes:
So my point is here is a book that is taking away from the deity of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ but is hiding behind the "fiction" title ...Therefore if the Davinci code is "fiction" then why is people killing themselves to find out if they are Marivians?†

I am confused.

Surely, if we as Christians believe that people are being led into false doctrine by this book, then the best response to that, in my mind would be similar to Paul's responses. You know...through him God wrote all those really long letters that patiently addressed the false doctrines that were leading the Christians of various cities astray. (The church at Corinth was so confused they got two letters!) Now, we don't all have to bang out epistles on our keyboards. I daresay there are enough Da Vinci DeBunk Books on the market as is. And we don't all have to read the book or see the movie.

Yet, as I pointed out earlier at Jamey Tucker's site, there are those of us who feel the call to respond by reading the book, seeing the movie and having polite conversations about where the story departs from fact. I love Jesus as much as anyone. And I honestly think that He would like me to be kind and considerate to the others that He loves, despite any confusion they may have after consuming The Da Vinci Code.



† This is as written by Brother Dan. I believe he is actually referring to the Merovingians. One of the main ideas in the book is that the bloodline of Jesus survived in France and was found in the Merovingian kings. This psuedohistory originated in Holy Blood, Holy Grail, a much more dull and boring book that says basically the same things as Brown's more recent work.

6 Comments:

At 6:51 AM, May 10, 2006, Blogger dolphin said...

I understand the Da Vinci code as fictional but I'd be curious to hear your pastor's (or whichever said the first quote) reasoning for stating the Gospel of Judas is "hog wash" other than it simply not being 100% congruent with the Bible he grew up with. I'm actually fairly interested in theology and religion (I find the whole concept fascinating) and nothing I've seen thus far clearly indicates that the Gospel of Judas is any less authentic than any other book of the Bible other than the fact that it's story was approved of by church leaders at the time of the compilation of the modern Bible.

 
At 7:54 AM, May 10, 2006, Blogger SistaSmiff said...

My 14 year old son's pastor is in the middle of a three part sermon on this subject. It doesn't interest me one iota. What thrills me beyond belief is that, for whatever reason, it is striking a chord in my teen. He has not wanted to miss church so he won't miss the next part in the series that Bro. Glenn is doing (FBC Hendersonville). He's learning what is truth and what's not (spiritually). He's growing in his walk. I hope all this brouhaha will help others do the same.

 
At 11:46 AM, May 10, 2006, Blogger Exador said...

My only input is this:
My coworkers are deeply religious people. Baptists.
I made the mistake of mentioning the gospel of Judas to one of them. He sat slackjawed, not being able to process the information. He then wrote an email to his wife, asking her input. She responded (he showed me the email) that they should "wait until Pastor John(?) tells them about it because he knows far more about it than they do.

 
At 12:19 PM, May 10, 2006, Blogger Kat Coble said...

I understand the Da Vinci code as fictional but I'd be curious to hear your pastor's (or whichever said the first quote) reasoning for stating the Gospel of Judas is "hog wash" other than it simply not being 100% congruent with the Bible he grew up with.

That was Pastor Dan of Conservative Corner. Following the initial link will take you to the rest of his writing on the subject. My pastor is more in line with my way of thinking on the book.

I've seen thus far clearly indicates that the Gospel of Judas is any less authentic than any other book of the Bible

I'm a longtime student of parabiblical literature. I'm with you, Dolphin, in finding it utterly fascinating. From what I've gathered after further study of the The Gospel of Judas is that it, like Thomas and a few other Coptic Gospels is more of a Parabiblical bildungsroman than a true gospel. In the history of literature, romantic fiction was expressed differently in the first ten centuries after Christ. True "romances"--that give us our first glimpses of Grail Lore, knights and chivalry, etc.--didn't rear their heads until around 1100 AD. Prior to that, there was much interest in the creation of New Testament Apocrypha, such as The Gospel of Judas. These books appear to have been written by various sects as quasi-fictional exercises into illuminating oft-reviled "bit players". I think of them as similar to our modern day Rashoman books. (Other similar parabiblical bildungsromans include The Gospels of Thomas and Mary Magdalene, as well as several apocryphal accounts of the Christ Child.)

It is a Gnostic book that was written at some point prior to 180 A.D., by whom we don't know. The similar feature of all of these books is that they have a belief that tends toward the Maltheistic. Each of these "lost" gospels focuses on a God who is evil as well as good. (Think of the Christ child killing a playmate and then resurrecting him--an old story popularised by Anne Rice's recent work.)

Each of these gospels was rejected by the Church fathers in establishing canon because of their heretical origin. Moving it to an analogous modern day setting: If the Church of Scientology were establishing their canon, they might include the works of L.Ron Hubbard, the film Phenomenon starring John Travolta and the tv show My Name Is Earl. All feature Scientological ideals in theory and practice. They would NOT include the infamous episode of South Park, because although it is a detailed exploration of Scientological beliefs, it obviously mocks the central beliefs of the religion and presents an alternative view of its founders. Sort of like the Gospel Of Judas.

He's learning what is truth and what's not (spiritually). He's growing in his walk. I hope all this brouhaha will help others do the same.

I think it can't help but do, if we handle it appropriately. To my view, God has given us a tremendous gift to ponder Him and His nature in a new light. We'd be mistaken to write that gift off as unimportant.

He sat slackjawed, not being able to process the information.

Well, I'm not surprised. Parabiblical literature is not something most Christians do for fun. While I give your coworker props for having the balls to say "I don't know", (the three hardest words in the English language), I'd kind of wish he'd researched it on his own. I dislike it when we let our pastors do our thinking for us. But it's typical. Sadly, Christians who do this miss great opportunities to learn more about God.

 
At 3:28 PM, May 10, 2006, Blogger dolphin said...

Oh, I wholey agree that the Gospel of Judas isn't compatible with what is thought of as Christianity.

Where I question is why the Gospel of Mark is acceptable as truth while the Gospel of Judas is not, apart from how either fits with any currently established theology. It may be in part because I tend to be more sypathetic to the gnostic beliefs but I find it difficult to see anything beyond the politics of the day which led to the inclusion or exclusion of any given text in the Bible.

 
At 3:49 PM, May 10, 2006, Blogger Kat Coble said...

fowhy the Gospel of Mark is acceptable as truth while the Gospel of Judas is not, apart from how either fits with any currently established theology.

It's a tricky question that gets asked a lot. I've not read The Gospel of Judas in its available entirety yet, so I can't address that one specifically. Having read snippets of it, it does sound to me to be more like the Gospel of Thomas in its overt Gnosticism.

I personally have found Gnosticism to be appealing at various points because the inherent mysticism strikes a chord in me. Regardless of the appeal of gnostic elements--Sophia, etc.--I think it's clear that basic teachings of Gnosticism are not in line with the generally accepted Christian teachings about the nature and accessibility of God.

So I think the establishment of Canon went a bit deeper than mere church politics.

 

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