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Response to the "Heathen Gnostic", Part 2
* This is a continuation from my post of last night. As I post this, I see that Michael has responded to that one, but I haven't yet read the response. *
> The Church has a LOT to lose if certain
> things are ever proved. Things such as:
> Jesus was a normal man; Jesus had children;
> Mary Magd was his wife; the many
> "miracles" are just a
> mis-interpretation of actual normal events;
> and so on. They lose their "divine
> right" for one. They lose some of their
> flock for another - many people will believe
> no matter how much proof is offered forth.
> The Church Fathers read texts which might
> "let the cat out of the bag" Know
> thy enemy. It would therefore be wise for
> followers to also read those same texts,
> would it not?
> As for reading the books the
> "elders" read and know and being
> wise for "followers" to also read.
> That is MY take on it. I've read the Bible
> (and the Mormon one too). And the Quaran.
> And other authoritive works on various
> religions as well as works relating to
> uncover "truths" about those
When referring to "Church Fathers" here, I assume you are talking of the "early Church", though there would naturally be differences of policy across the centuries. The inference is that the laity were not allowed to read texts from other sects/religions/philosophies, or at least were discouraged from it. That was probably true, at least to some degree, but I haven't read much on the area of Church censorship. I can think of a couple valid reasons why they might discourage new believers (especially of a new religion trying to make a difference in a pagan culture), though it would only be speculation. There may have been others, certainly by corrupt clergy who just wanted to keep people "ignorant" and under their control, as it were.
Personally, if one has the time, I see nothing wrong with becoming familiar with writings/teachings of those with other beliefs and worldviews. It helps to know where other people are "coming from" and how they think, so that you can communicate effectively. Jesus and the Apostles certainly modelled this.
Also, if one is going to adopt a particular religion, faith, or worldview, it's a good idea to do some research on the history and truth claims of that "system". I've been somewhat lacking in this area myself and have only recently started correcting that. (For the record, I am an evangelical, Protestant Christian. I don't belong to any denomination but do lean heavily toward a Reformed theology.)
> Texts such as those written by Sir Laurence
> Gardiner (Bloodline of The Holy Grail - The
> Hidden Lineage of Jesus Revealed, Genisis of
> The Grail Kings, etc.) and Michael Baigent,
> Richard Leigh & Henry Lincoln (The Holy
> Blood And The Holy Grail).
Which "Church Fathers" read these books?!
I'm not familiar with Gardiner, but I know a little of the "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" and what it claims or proposes, which you alluded to earlier. As I understand it, the gist of the argument is that Jesus did not die on the cross but was drugged, removed by the Essenes, and nursed back to health by Joseph of Arimathea, Lazarus, and Mary Magdalene, to which he was married. Jesus and Mary travelled around and eventually settled in France. They had children, and the supposed bloodline is traced thru royal families, secret organizations and age-old mysteries.
I could say much about this, but I'll try to contain myself. I've already talked about the historical trustworthiness of the Gospels. Another point, while the "swoon theory" was for many years perhaps the favorite naturalistic explanation against Jesus' resurrection, it has many problems (and being drugged doesn't help) and was disproven by the Liberals themselves. (David Strauss is said to have dealt the "death blow" in the mid-19th century.) Most contemporary liberal theologians still agree.
Regarding the "international travel theory", of which this is one variation, it suffers from a lack of solid historical evidence. Not to mention, the variations conflict with one another. Even the authors of "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" state that, before they investigated the Christian sources:
"Our hypothetical scenario... was also preposterous... much too sketchy... rested on far too flimsy a foundation... could not yet in itself be supported... too many holes... too many inconsistencies and anomalies, too many loose ends." (p.286)
And after their research into Christian origins?
"We could not -- and still cannot -- prove the accuracy of our conclusion. It remains to some extent at least, a hypothesis." (p.372)
And then there are the illogical arguments. For example, since Jesus & His mother play a major role in the wedding described in John 2, it is held that it must therefore have been Jesus' own wedding! (pp.303-304) In the Lazarus account in John 11, since Martha ran out to greet Jesus while Mary remained inside until Jesus asked for her, it is asserted that Mary must be Jesus' wife! At least the authors admit this argument to be a non sequitur. (pp. 307-308)
Apparently, this is just one instance of them applying an arbitrary methodology, where they pick-n-choose what they want from the Gospels and effectively add what they want to find. To their credit, they admit that as they sifted thru the Gospels...
"we would be obliged to read between lines, fill in certain gaps, account for certain caesuras and ellipses. We would have to deal with omissions, with innuendos, with references that were, at best, oblique." (p.103)
Now, Michael, you didn't actually say how much of the arguments/claims in this book (or others like it) that you bought into. Given the highly suspect methodology and lack of historical support, it would be unlike you (I think) to give much credence to such theories.
> ... I find the subject (of religion)
> fascinating. And thus have no prejudice for
> or against any one particular religion. They
> all have good points. They all have bad
> points. Take what you can use and discard
> the rest.
Does this make you an "equal-opportunity critic/skeptic"? ;-}
I would be interested in what points you find positive about Christianity (not necessarily the institutionalized "Church", R.C. or otherwise). And any others you care to comment on.
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