Oh Dear Not-God
Last night a death blow was dealt to my faith. I was finally confronted with information SO radical, SO profound, and SO earth-shattering that I had no other choice but to deny my most deeply held beliefs. I'm guessing this happened because I had the TV on in the background while I was sculpting. God must be punishing me for watching TV again… NO WAIT!!! I forgot: there is no God. It's going to take me awhile to get used to this change of belief systems.
So what was this news that was powerful enough to rip the blinders from my eyes? What could turn an ardent believer into a shivering wreck of a man with no faith? The Gospel of Judas! Dun-dun-duuuuuuuun! That's right. Last night I heard 3 different reports about this late-breaking news story. It turns out that in 3 or 4 hundred A.D. someone wrote a book called the Gospel of Judas! And it says Jesus ASKED Judas to turn Him over to the authorities!!! AS THOUGH JESUS KNEW HE WAS GOING TO DIE!!!! MY GOD! A REVELATION THIS PROFOUND WILL SHAKE THE VERY FOUNDATIONS OF CHRISTENDOM!!! "But wait." I thought to myself… Couldn't this be a forgery? But the clever scientists studying the book carbon dated it and SCIENTIFICALLY PROOVED that it is ancient! And we all know everything written a long time ago was true. And we all know that there were never any other competing ideas or documents floating around in the early years of Christianity. So the fact that a book was discovered that has a different account than the New Testament is sure to bring my former belief system to its knees.
Thank you National Geographic Society! Thank you for bringing this vitally important news to us. For slapping us out of our comatose stupidity and showing us the painfully blinding truth that this document reveals. Thank you Mr. Ancient text scientist guy for showing me that I don't have to hate Jews now, since Judas was not such a bad guy after all. (Because, you know, I hated Jews since Judas was a Jew and betrayed my Jewish savior who was born into a linage of God's chosen people, the Jews… WTF!?!?!) But now that this guy has shown us evil Christians the light, we don't have to hate Jews anymore. Thank God… I mean… not-God. I mean…
I’m not quite sure what one of my gentle reader’s replies meant… But it reminded me that had one not seen the news of that evening that I had, one might not quite ‘get’ the angle of the preceding screed.
So here are my observations in complete, non-sarcasm (mostly) mode.
I had the T.V. in our bedroom on while I was working late, and heard a bumper for one of the stories coming up on 20/20. “The Lost Book of Judas” it said, “Was he really as bad as people think?” Well that certainly piqued my interest since I have been researching extra-canonical literature lately, and I hadn’t heard of that one. So far my research had brought me to the conclusion that there were many churches that splintered off from the one Peter started that was so influenced by the writings of Paul, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These splinter groups came about as the society around them saturated and changed them into something else entirely. Besides outside religious and philosophical pressure, they were influenced by writings purported to be by other people who had known Jesus, and these writings presented a different vision of Him. Some slightly different, and some to a marked degree. There were around 20 of these “gospels”, and the job of the councils that came a couple hundred years later was to determine what would be included in the Bible and what wouldn’t. The gospels they chose to include shape our view of Jesus and His purpose. And what they included ends up painting a consistent image of Christ. They could have included the other contradicting gospels and said “make up your own mind”, but I think like any good historian, they were trying to get to the truth of the matter. They knew doctrine would come from their choices, and if you can believe that God inspired the writers of the gospels it’s not a stretch to believe that God inspired those who assembled them.
Now keep in mind that this is all common knowledge. Scholarship regarding the canon of scripture and what Christians consider the Bible and what they don’t has been around for 1,600 years. I think that’s almost long enough for people who write “the news” to have learned about. But I guess I was wrong. Because NONE of that information was included in any of the broadcasts I saw that night. Every opening line was a variant of, “Explosive new evidence of what may have really happened!”. Or, “Shocking revelation from a newly discovered ancient document casts doubt on the story of Jesus’ betrayal.”
Yes. Shocking. There are only 20 other gospels that have been around for over a thousand years that contradict the Bible story. So what’s so special about this one? Yet another point of view written by no one knows who. The claim is that Jesus asked Judas to betray Him. Ok… So it says something different than the Bible… Just like all those other apocryphal books.
But I suppose most people – Christians included – don’t know anything about church history, or the fact that the Bible was not hand-written by Jesus, or that even in the beginning of Christianity there were other competing ideas. And without that context, this would be an exiting revelations that blah blah blah. But shouldn’t an important part of reporting be the context? This story would be like a reporting that a masked man had shot several people in a major city… without noting that it was an Army soldier defending his platoon in
So leaving out really, really important info like that is just a slap in the face of Christians everywhere. But that wasn’t quite enough for these people. They had unzip, and slap us in the face with their genitals. How? Well, whoever the big-wig who was heading up the team of scholars who pieced the book together was, felt the need to further inflate the importance of his work by saying that this ‘new understanding’ of Judas should help Christians to stop being so hateful to the Jews. He said that since Judas was most closely associated to the Jews, and then vilified, he was somehow the springboard into anti-Semitism. Oh, and that, (and I’m not making this up) his name sounds very close to the word ‘Jew’! Closely associated to the Jews? They were all Jews! Jesus, His mother, the good guys, bad guys, etc. Except for the Romans, they were all Jews! But the best part was when the professor-of-whatever said something about how this perception of Judas as an evil Jew had instigated unspeakable acts of racial bigotry and hatred… while a clip of Hitler and concentration camps was shown! Yes! Hitler was quite the Christian, and his entire justification for killing Jews was that Judas betrayed Jesus.
Anyway. The moral of the story? There is a clearly orchestrated attack on Christendom right now. With the DaVinci Code, and the Gospel of Judas, they are attacking the very foundation of our beliefs. Satan knows that if he can undermine God’s Word, we have nothing to ground us. No plumb line, no ruler, no authority. But I think this is all good news. The dingleberries who check the ‘Christian’ box in the questionnaire but don’t know what Easter stands for will stop checking the ‘Christian’ box. The Christians who give a damn about their beliefs will be challenged to actually learn something about their beliefs and the history of their faith. The church will finally have to step up and start teaching and preaching this stuff, and solid, Christian scholarship will flourish throughout the land. At least that’s my prediction.