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Changing Views of Christianity

In Gore Vidal’s novel about the the Roman Emperor Julian, there is a scene where Bishop George of Cappadocia quizzes a young Julian on the difference between Homoiousios and Homoousios. Julian, the young philosopher correctly articulates that Homoiousios means that Jesus the son is of one substance with God the father while Homoousios means that the father and the son and the holy spirit are one and the same. In the Council of Nicaea held by the Roman Emperor Constantine differences like these were debated, one view point was accepted and the other was suppressed.

Another fundamental teaching of Christianity is that Jesus died for your sins and only by accepting Jesus as your personal savior, you can be absolved of all sins. Before the religion was designed by a committee, there were other competing ideologies about  the death of Jesus and that has now surfaced thanks to the discovery of the Gospel of Judas. The Gospel of Judas consisting of 13 sheets of Coptic manuscripts dated between 220 and 340 A.D reveals that Judas was a friend of Jesus and is asked by Jesus to betray his identity. Though the author is unknown it is obvious that he had issues with the “Jesus died for the sins” concept in general.

But the Gospel of Judas challenges that view and suggests that the fundamental message of Jesus is that we come from God, created in God’s image; when we die and leave the visible world, we step into the infinite world of God, into the divine light, and we go into that glorious light with God. How that happens it doesn’t say, any more than Paul does when he talks about resurrection. But it’s a conviction that’s fundamental to this Gospel. And it’s a very different way to look at Christianity.[FINDING MY RELIGION]

While present followers of Christianity think that the death of Jesus was a kind of sacrifice, the author of the Gospel of Judas thinks other wise. According to him Jesus showed that  he can face death with courage knowing that he is going back to God.

The Roman Emperor Constantine thought that if there was no set creed, the religion would not survive over time. So some doctrines were accepted and some were rejected and were never heard again. Apparently the Emperor had not heard about how Hinduism survived with diverse doctrines all existing within the same umbrella.

Evangelicals who come to sinners like to you and me think they are doing us a favor by offering to save our souls.  The next time one of those conversion fanatics come to save your soul,  tell them about the Gospel of Judas. If they still want to save your soul, tell them you do it the old fashioned way by  creating a word document called “Soul” and press Ctrl-S.

4 Responses to Changing Views of Christianity

  1. Gaurav April 3, 2007 at 2:56 am #

    JK,

    I think Constantine was more interested in holding the empire together.
    It is my speculation that at that point of time Romans had lost their civic virtues,that and the bloody feuds between Christians and Pagans threatened to rip the heart of the empire apart.
    Hence the decision to make christianity as state religion.
    Not a bad decision considering the history.

    Regards

  2. JK April 3, 2007 at 9:45 pm #

    Gaurav,

    True. After the ruling tetrarchy established by Diocletian failed, Constantine had no other way to secure the empire.

  3. Salauddeen April 23, 2007 at 5:46 am #

    Actually you need to read Bart D. Ehrman’s Lost Christianities to get a better understanding of the wide variety of Christian faiths which were suppressed by the dominant Roman Catholic form.

    Some of the Christian Gnostic texts remind one of the Upanishads – but I guess Ehrman has not sufficient knowledge of Vedic/Sanskrit literature to recognise that.

  4. JK April 25, 2007 at 10:37 am #

    Salaudden,

    Herb Krosney’s The Lost Gospel of Judas has some quotes from Bart Ehrman’s book and mentions quite a bit about early christians, though I agree Early Christianities is the ultimate reference.

    I do think Ehrman has not enough knowledge of Upanishads, but what fascinated me was the diverse range of ideas expressed by the various sects. One of the sects indulged in wife swapping and I cannot understand how that helps spiritually. Thanks to the efforts of Irenaeus all that diversity disappeared.

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