Slide 1 - Confident Christians - A Christian Apologetics and

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					THE QUESTION: How do we know
that the four gospels of the New
Testament are telling the truth,
especially since there were so
many other ‘gospels’ that the
Church rejected? What about
“More than eighty gospels were considered for the New Testament,
and yet only a relatively few were chosen for inclusion – Matthew,
Mark, Luke, and John among them.”
                 - Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code, 231
“The early church needed to convince the world that the mortal
prophet Jesus was a divine being. Therefore, any gospels that
described earthly aspects of Jesus‟ life had to be omitted from the
                 - Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code, 231

“All descriptions of artwork, architecture,
documents, and secret rituals in this novel are
  - Dan Brown, Preface to The Da Vinci Code
“Eventually, four Gospels and twenty-three other texts were
canonized into a Bible. This did not occur, however, until the sixth
                     – Dan Burstein, Secrets of the Code, 116.

Fact: Only in the Syrian branch of the church were SOME books
not considered “in”, but all were accepted by the church in the
West by the end of the 4th century. The majority of the NT were
accepted as authoritative much earlier.
1. Written by apostle (defined as person seeing
   Jesus Christ after His resurrection) or companion
   of apostle
2. No contradiction in core teachings of the faith
   (analogy of faith)
3. Accepted early and by majority of churches
First collection of New Testament books proposed by Marcion in
AD 140. Facts about Marcion and his collection:

•   Was Docetist (says Jesus only appeared human)
•   All spirit is good, all material is evil
•   Excluded Matthew, Mark, John
•   Included 10 of Paul‟s letters, but edited them
•   KEY POINT: No other gospels included in his „canon‟. If the
    Gnostic „gospels‟ were available, he would have included them
Next collection of New Testament books is the Muratorian
Canon, dated AD 170. Included:

•   All four gospels
•   Acts
•   13 of Paul‟s letters
•   1, 2, 3 John
•   Jude
•   Revelation

Final New Testament canon
pronounced in AD 367 by
Athanasius in his Thirty-ninth
Festal Letter. Some
disagreement by some in the
East, but no new gospels ever
proposed being added.
Proof that the writings of Paul and Luke were available very
early in the first century and regarded as Scripture:

"and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also
our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him,
wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these
things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the
untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the
Scriptures, to their own destruction." (2 Peter 3:15-16)

"For the Scripture says, “You
shall not muzzle the ox while he
is threshing,” and “The laborer is
worthy of his wages.”" (1 Timothy
5:18; cf. Luke 10:7)
Are there differences between the 24,000 known Greek, Latin,
and other manuscripts? Yes, these are called variants.
However, none call into question one doctrine of the Christian
faith. Only 1% of the text has variants considered “meaningful”.

Example of meaningful variant:

1 Thessalonians 2:7, Paul either describes himself as „gentle‟ or
as „little children‟ – one letter difference: epioi vs. nepioi.


Death of   Matthew Luke Mark John             Gospel    Gospel Gospel    Gospel   Gospel
 Jesus     Written Written Written Written   Egyptians Hebrews Mary       Peter   Thomas

AD 30-33    AD 42   AD 58 AD 66     AD 90     AD 120   AD 140   AD 160   AD 170   AD 180

• All Gnostic gospels come much later
• All written after the lifetime of the eyewitnesses
• Early writing is key as eyewitnesses can refute error

      * Sources: Why Four Gospels?, David Alan Black; Fabricating Jesus, Craig Evans
“For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long
beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn
the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and
Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude 4)

Crept - a Greek term only found in Jude. The
word – pareisduno – literally means to slip in
beside in a manner that is hard to detect, with
Jude presenting it in the indicative mood
indicating the invasion is real and not just a future
possibility. In extrabiblical Greek the term
describes the cunning craftiness of a lawyer who,
through clever argumentation, infiltrated the
minds of courtroom officials and corrupted their
thinking. Just like tares look like wheat in the
beginning, so too these apostates appeared like
the real thing on the surface, but are now
revealed for what they truly are and are working
against the apostles‟ teaching. What better way
to enter the sheep‟s fold than when cloaked in
sheep‟s clothing (Matthew 7:15)?
“Gnostic” simply means “to know”. Termed coined in 1669 by Henry
More as a polemic name for heresy.

Gnosticism was a Greek philosophical belief system that prided itself in
having unique and superior knowledge about all spiritual matters, and was
not an offshoot from Christianity as some have been led to believe. In all
genuine Gnostic literature, the physical universe is said to have been
birthed from the act of an arrogant and powerful subordinate god named
“demiurge” who made a huge mistake by mixing the spiritual and physical
realms together in the act of creation. Man was created with a spark of
divinity, which, when fully awakened, is supposed to make him completely
divine once he sheds his outer “shell”. Gnostics held that all spirit is good,
all physical matter is evil, and therefore God could never take on the form
of a human being.

Gnostics maintained that mystical intuition
and secret knowledge was necessary; reason
and rationality weren‟t reliable (postmoderism
in early stages)
• A claim on the part of the initiated to a special knowledge of the truth;
  ordinary Christians did not possess this secret and higher doctrine
• The essential separation of matter and spirit, matter being intrinsically
  evil and the source from which all evil has arisen;
• An attempt to solve the problems of creation and the origin of evil by
  postulating a demiurge, i.e., a creator or artificer of the world distinct
  from Supreme deity, and emanations extending between God and the
  visible universe
• A denial of the true humanity of Christ; a docetic Christology which
  considered the earthly life of Christ and especially His sufferings on
  the cross to be unreal;
• The teaching, on the one hand, of asceticism as the means of
  attaining spiritual communion with God, and, on the other hand, of an
  indifference that led directly to licentiousness
• A syncretistic tendency that combined certain more or less
  misunderstood Christian doctrines and various elements from oriental,
  Jewish, Greek, and other sources;
• Keywords in writings are „aeons‟ (word for „age‟), bridal chamber
  (sexual activity that contributes to the path of Christhood)
• Accidentally discovered in 1945 near the Egyptian village of Nag
• Six Bedouin camel drivers were digging for fertilizer when one of
  them uncovered a human skeleton buried next to an
  earthenware jar.
• Inside the jar, they found thirteen leather-bound volumes
  containing fifty-two treatises.
• The books included Gospels (e.g. Thomas, Philip), Acts (e.g.
  Peter and the Twelve Apostles), letters (e.g. Peter to Philip) and
  Apocalypses (e.g. Paul, Peter).
 • Clearly Gnostic in their writing
 • Departure from core teachings of Scripture (Nature of God, person of
   Christ, nature of mankind, salvation, view of women, etc.)
 • Not written by apostle or companion of apostle
 • Rejected by early churches

                      Key take-away from the New Testament vs. „other
                      gospels‟ debate: Whereas the argument states
                      that the other „gospels‟ were excluded because
                      they omitted Christ‟s supernatural nature (with the
                      insinuation being that Christianity is therefore
                      fictitious and mythological), on the contrary, the
                      Gnostic ‘gospels’ make the New Testament
                      look tame by comparison when it comes to
                      supernatural claims and statements.
“Some of the Nag Hammadi documents... are Christian and do mention Jesus. Included in
this collection are noncanonical gospels that appear to represent a Gnostic perspective. Far
from portraying Christ as human, however, these documents are more interested in
his divine qualities.” Bart Ehrman, Lost Scriptures, (pp. 44-45)
Infancy Gospel of Thomas:

• The boy Jesus sows a handful of seed that yields a huge
• When five years old, Jesus commands another child to die
  because he stirs up water than Jesus had gathered (3:1-3)
• Another child runs into Jesus, and Jesus says, “You shall not
  go further on your way‟, and immediately he falls down dead
• Mary says, “Do not let him go outside the door, for all those
  who provoke him die.” (14:3)
• Rebukes his father for Joseph chastening him about these
  things and blinds his other accusers (5:1-3)
• In the Arabic Infancy Gospel (40), Jesus turns his playmates
  into goats and then back into children
Gospel of Thomas:

• 114 Proverb-like sayings supposedly of Jesus
• Begins with “These are the secret words which the living
  Jesus spoke…”
• References many of the NT writings (more than half); took time
  for NT to be compiled – dependent on them
• Thomas 75: “Jesus said, Many are standing at the door, but it is
  the solitary who will enter the bridal chamber.”
• Pantheistic: Thomas 77: “Jesus said, „It is I who am the light
  which is above them all., It is I who am the all. From me did the
  all come forth, and unto me did the all extend. Split a piece of
  wood, and I am there, Lift up the stone, and you will find me
• Not a high view of women:
     • 114: Peter says, “Make Mary leave us, for females are not
       worthy of eternal life.” Jesus says, “Every woman who will
       make herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Gospel of Peter:
• Sports men whose heads reach to heaven and a walking cross in v10:
  “When therefore those soldiers saw it, they awakened the centurion
  and the elders; for they too were hard by keeping guard. And, as they
  declared what things they had seen, again they see three men come
  forth from the tomb, and two of them supporting one, and a cross
  following them: and of the two the head reached unto the heaven, but
  the head of him that was led by them overpassed the heavens. And
  they heard a voice from the heavens, saying, Thou hast preached to
  them that sleep. And a response was heard from the cross, Yea. ”
• Hangs on cross (4:10) but feels no pain (docetic idea)

Acts of Paul:
• Paul is facing down a lion in the Ephesians' amphitheater, but Paul
  approaches the lion and then reminds the animal that he had baptized
  him. The lion then helps Paul escape.
Gospel of Philip:
• Denies the virgin birth and argues that Mary did not conceive by the
  Holy Spirit because a woman does not conceive by another woman.
  Philip sees the Spirit as a female (Sophia) 55:23-27
• Jesus is the seed of Joseph (73:9-15)
• 75:2b-14: “The world came about through a mistake. For he who
  created it wanted to create it imperishable and immortal. He fell short
  of attaining his desire. For the world was never imperishable, nor, that
  matter, was he who made the world.”

Apocryphon of John:
• God is an “aeon giving aeon” (4:3)
• God brought forth Barbelo an invisible virginal Spirit and then another
  series of aeons
• Jesus in II 2:9-25: “I am the Father; I am the Mother; I am the Son”
• "By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that
  confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh
  is from God; and every spirit that does not confess
  Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the
  antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming,
  and now it is already in the world." (1 John 4:2-3)
• "For many deceivers have gone out into the world,
  those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as
  coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the
  antichrist." (2 John 7)
The Colossian church came under a heretical attack by
philosophies that would bloom fully into Gnosticism later (Jewish
legalism and ceremonies also played a part)

• "yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death…”
  (Colossians 1:22)
• "For it was the Father‟s good pleasure for all the fullness (pleroma) to
  dwell in Him," (Colossians 1:19) . Pleroma was a term used by later
  Gnostics to speak of the divine powers and attributes that were divided
  among the various deities. Paul here counters by saying Christ has all
  the fullness
• "For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Colossians
• "Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-
  abasement and the worship of the angels…" (Colossians 2:18; angels
  were seen as one of the emanations of the Supreme deity. Asceticism
  was one side of the Gnostic coin; immorality was the other)
• “Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and
  knowledge." (Colossians 2:2-3; no secret knowledge needed)
Imagine you‟re in charge of keeping the legacy of Kennedy at the John F.
Kennedy library. Someone brings you a book they want included that
says Kennedy recovered from his head wound in Dallas, lived to be a
two-term president, and admitted that he had Lee Harvey Oswald shoot
him on purpose. What would you do…?
• The other „gospels‟ were excluded because they were heretical
  Gnostic writings that clearly deviated from the truthful, historical,
  eyewitness accounts written by the apostles and their
• The other „gospels‟, contrary to false claims that they portrayed
  an ordinary and human Jesus, instead cast a picture of a non-
  human god accompanied by plenty of supernatural events
• Rudolf Bultmann, non-conservative a biblical scholar, said that
  the other „gospels‟ are “legendary adaptations and expansions”.
• Irenaeus, an early church apologist, calls the alternate gospels
  “ropes of sand”
• Ephesians 2:20 says that the church has “been built on the
  foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus
  himself as the cornerstone.”