Friday, 16 January 2009

Recognizing the new Christian paradigm

During the Renaissance the Church had to deal with many difficulties. It became harder and harder to enforce a view that the Church or the world were at the center of the universe. By fighting back, the Church made the situation worse and the Reformation resulted in the splitting of Christianity in different unnecessary parts. Had the Church embraced the new views, it might have survived intact. Of course, the Pope would have lost his absolute power, as did all the divine-right kings and queens of the world. Fortunately, the Church had already destroyed all contradictory Christian writings, or so they thought. With no new material to study, the splinted parts of the Church just ended up believing the same thing, namely that Jesus was the savior and that he performed miracles. However, in these past fifty years a whole wealth of hidden material has come to light.

In 1945 and 1947 two groups of documents appeared as if waiting for the appropriate time to be discovered. These were Nag Hammadi books, old codices bound in golden brown leather found in upper Egypt, and the Dead Sea Scrolls, some of which were just fragments of parchment in caves near the ruins of Qumran near the Dead Sea.

As to the Nag Hammadi books, they were more acceptable as there are some texts like them that had been previously found and in some cases even the titles of these books were known, having been listed as heresies. They had been conveniently called “gnostic” in order to prevent them being applied to Christian doctrine.

As to the Dead Sea Scrolls, they languished under an exasperatingly slow process of publication to the world. It is true that it was a huge task to put together so many fragments of parchment and some were not found until 1956, but it appears that some who worked on them were reluctant to share the information with others. Perhaps it was because some of the texts seemed suspiciously to relate to the early Christian Church before it broke away from the Jewish religion. It took time for the Christian scholars to prepare a rebuttal to this possibility. Like the use of the word “gnostic”, the scholars hid the material behind a totally absurd premise that they were all works that pre-dated the birth of Jesus. The eminent scholar Geza Vermes was its greatest advocate. Like the indisputable DNA evidence in the O.J. Trial, the carbon dating confirmation of a date contemporary with the time of Jesus has been thrown out also.

The fact still remains that whether the Church or the scholars like it or not the Nag Hammadi “gnostic” gospels and the Dead Sea Scrolls have forever changed the landscape. The success of the ‘DaVinci Code’ has shown this. If the scholars and the Church would stop fighting this new information, they might prevent the downfall of all of Christianity. This all or nothing policy failed in the Renaissance and the records of history have shown that the Church had to accept those new concepts anyway. Is it necessary in this time of the knowledge of the genome to need to have a Jesus who could physically heal people of raise them or himself from the dead? Cannot the symbol of Jesus ‘to do unto others as we would have them do unto us’ be our inspiration that will survive forever?

Religion that is not practiced in our daily lives serves no purpose. It just becomes a label that shows what team we our on like liberals or conservatives. Suppose we actually practiced Christianity in our daily lives. Then we might have a conscience again.

Links:
Nag Hammadi Books
The Dead Sea Scrolls

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