Friday, May 19, 2006

Da Vinci Opening the Canon of Worms

"A small but growing number of very influential New Testament scholars who apparently have never found the source of life in the classical apostolic gospel are finding in this Gnostic view of Jesus a 'new lease on life.' We can expect that this novel interpretation may well represent the scholarly wave of the future. If they have their way, and they probably will, under the powerful growing impact of feminism there will be a move to open the church's canon for the inclusion of a certain number of these ancient egalitarian 'Christian' Gnostic documents. And then the struggle for orthodoxy will take on proportions of difficulty the church has rarely known." -- Peter Jones, The Gnostic Empire Strikes Back, (P & R Publ., 1992), pp. 93-94.

There may be a reason that the false apostles and prophets are pressing for a return to the early church model. It is the best way in which to open the doors to Gnosticism.

A recent article on Christianity Today suggests that the movie The Da Vinci Code exemplifies a greater agenda to dismantle and destroy the Canon of Scripture, i.e., the Bible. This past year Herescope has examined many attacks against the Word of God, both from within and without the Church. This challenge to God's Word has come in many forms:

*Reinterpretation of old doctrines
**Dumbing down the doctrines
***Watering down the Gospel
****Concocting new doctrines
*****Mystical interpretations
******New teachings
*******New Bible versions
********New "understandings"
*********New revelations, including words of false apostles/prophets
**********New terms, words and phrases not found in Scripture
***********New concepts, ideas, philosophies
************Re-naming God or Jesus with pagan deity names
*************"Contextualizing" the Gospel to pagan religions

The Da Vinci Code, however, takes the issue one step further, calling into question the very Canon of Scripture. According to the Christianity Today article:

"[Author Dan] Brown's astonishing claims about Jesus and Mary are found in two apocryphal Gospels, the Gospel of Mary and the Gospel of Philip. Brown, a skilled author but no scholar, simply picked them up and spun a fictional narrative around them."

The article's author, Gary M. Burge, a professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, raises some disturbing questions about the current move to open the Canon of Scripture to other "gospels" such as the recently released Gospel of Judas or the "Gospel of Thomas. Burge examines the works of "Bart D. Ehrman. . . chair of the religious studies department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill" who "has studied Christianity's first three centuries carefully since leaving the evangelical fold." Burge writes:

"What drives this interest in lost scriptures today? Ehrman concludes,

"'The broader interest in and heightened appreciation for diverse manifestations of religious experience, belief, and practice today has contributed to a greater fascination with the diverse expressions of Christianity in various periods of its history, perhaps especially in its earliest period. This fascination is not simply a matter of antiquarian interest. There is instead a sense that alternative understandings of Christianity from the past can be cherished yet today, that they can provide insights even now for those of us who are concerned about the world and our place in it.'

"Finding a wild diversity in the early church -- or perhaps, undercutting orthodoxy in that church -- will do the same for our generation. In an era that shies away from the scandal of certain truth, dismantling religious authority based on an argument from antiquity will be received eagerly."

The goal is, not surprisingly, to re-open the Canon for discussion and debate. Burge warns this could very soon become a possibility:

"Of course, to evaluate these claims we must determine the value of these apocryphal Gospels. Do they represent legitimate voices suppressed in antiquity? In the last five years, this debate has intensified. Some scholars argue that the canonical boundary that separates our Scriptures from the apocrypha should come down. Others argue that Gospels such as Thomas should have equal weight with Matthew. Still others believe that notions such as 'orthodoxy' and 'canon' are simply arbitrary conventions of the winners."

Many of the neo-Gnostic false apostles and prophets of the New Apostolic Reformation have emphasized a return to the early church in structure and function. They have made extraordinary claims about New Testament practices that surpass Scripture, and have attempted to change neoevangelical doctrine and practice. But now they have help. Their cousins, the Gnostics, have arrived with reinforcements!

Herescope readers may recall our earlier series on Transformation. The "Transition" stage is characterized by a shift into a debate mode. Opening up the Canon for discussion and debate immediately puts the orthodox church into "Transition." The end goal is a "Transformational" (or "emergent") Christianity which is both mystical and Gnostic.

The Truth:

"For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven." (Psalm 119:89)