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Gnostic Christians

As an ordained and licensed minister of God, I discovered that the modern day orthodox Christianity lacked any kind of spirituality that I needed in my life. In addition, I felt that reformation period where the Protestant movement sprung was void of original teachings arriving some fifteen hundred years after the fact. I felt that the original orthodox Christian Church bowed to pressures from Emperor Constantine, rejecting doctrine and gospels not supportive of the orthodox worldview of Jesus.

I turned my search to the teachings of the Gnostic sect that competed with the orthodox sect during the next three hundred years. Gnostic Christianity fulfilled the void I found in the orthodox faith. Nonetheless, Gnostic Christianity has been a thorn in the side of orthodox Christianity for the last two thousand years. Today a part of that lost knowledge has surfaced in a most unlikely place.

The advent of the Dan Brown’s best selling novel, Da Vinci Codes has sold over 140 million copies so far, has blown the lid off the oppressive old school of orthodox Christian theology. Brown presents the idea that there existed nearly 100 Gospels, not just the four books of Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John, which surprised and shocked many people.

The Gnostic Gospels have been suppressed for centuries, but when Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code hit the best seller list, people starting asking questions about the man called Jesus. Brown’s novel focuses on the conclusion articulated in Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln, which is the pseudonym of Henry Soskin.

Their conclusion was that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and fathered a child. They also concluded that there is a secret society known as Priory of Sion (PS) dating back to the First Crusade and the formation of the Knights Templar as its military and financial front. The Priory of Sion protects the royal claimants of the Merovingian dynasty, because they may be the literal descendants of Jesus and his wife, Mary Magdalene.

In addition, the Holy Blood, Holy Grail proposed that the Roman Catholic Church tried to kill off all remnants of this dynasty and their guardians, the Cathars and the Templars, during the dark days of the Inquisition, in order to maintain power through the apostolic succession of Peter instead of the hereditary succession of Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene was descended from King David and high priest Aaron, thus, all male could have laid claim to both the throne and the office of high priest of Jerusalem.

The Gnostics was the flip side of the orthodox Christians. The winners always rewrite history to match their version of events. The same was true when the orthodox sect dominated the Gnostic sects. Rewriting history was easy; anything that Emperor Constantine opposed the bishops rejected from the Council of Nicene in AD 325.

The Gnostic writings suggested lost knowledge about Jesus that was not included in the formation of what we call the New Testament today. These writings suggested the human side of Jesus and that revelation was not acceptable after Jesus was finally elevated to the level of a God in AD 325.

This Gnostic biblical version presented a totally different side to the teachings of Jesus that included the early Orthodox Church policy of bloodshed, corruption, and the genocide of all other Gospel accounts of Jesus not approved by them. In these nearly 100 gospels, too many accounts showed Jesus was just a man that violated the accepted stance of the Orthodox Church.

The debate erupted in a showdown three centuries later when bishops met at the invitation of Emperor Constantine, who provided them with shelter and food. This was the first Council of Nicene where the bishops were told by the Emperor what teachings were acceptable and which were not.

History notes Emperor Constantine as the man who unified the Christian Church. However, this unification had a price. Emperor Constantine ordered any writings in disagreement with the official view destroyed. Huge bonfires lit the evening sky, as Gnostic scrolls were set aflame, much like the Nazis attempt to eradicate the Jews in Germany. Constantine’s unification process meant death to all that presented anything contrary to the official position of the Orthodox Church.

Prior to the Council of Nicene in AD 325, the structure of the orthodox Christian sect had no formalized doctrines and no physical church buildings. They were competing sects among all of the other Christian groups. They took their name from Emperor Constantine, the Roman Catholic Church, meaning the Roman universal Christians. As a reward for supporting the orthodox view, Emperor Constantine gave them their first church building a year later.

The Constantine's basilica supposedly built over the site of the tomb of Saint Peter, was initially constructed. In other words, it was almost three hundred years after the ministry of Jesus before a formal church building was established, one year after the Council of Nicene and in Rome, under the shadows of Emperor Constantine. Yet did Emperor Constantine really abandoned his Egyptian religion? Today in the Vatican there are many Egyptian icons embedded in the architecture of the many orthodox Church buildings.

Today we have over 2,300 Christian sects and back in the first century, there were many Christian sects started by the followers of the early Apostles. There was no consensus of teaching by the Apostles; each had their own soapbox and teachings.

The fractured Christian movement had many conflicting doctrines practiced by the many different Christian sects. After the first century of Christianity, two primary divisions developed - the Orthodox and the Gnostics. This does not imply that the other Christian sects did not exist, but rather that they were localized to their region, such as Coptic Christians in Egypt. The orthodox Christians held to twenty-seven books we now have in the Protestant New Testament or twenty-eight books in the Roman Catholic Church and considered orthodox theology.

The Gnostic Christians held a distinctly different view of the New Testament, of Jesus Christ, and of salvation. They had writings from the Apostle Thomas that the orthodox Christians attempted to slander by referring to him as the Doubting Thomas. From all indications the Apostle John, whose writings showed his inflated ego, had a personality conflict with the Apostle Thomas, as John was the only writer in the four Gospels to cast any negativity onto Thomas.

During the first three centuries, debates raged over the divine nature or the divinity of Jesus. Yes, imagine that for three hundred years, the Christian sects were not convinced that Jesus was the Son of God. The debate raged between Jesus being a man verses Jesus the Son of God because the decision affect the outcome of the orthodox Church; if Jesus was just a man then the teaching of the Resurrection from the tomb did not happen and the orthodox Church had no power to save or damn one’s salvation.

Some orthodox Christian bishops taught that Jesus was not a god, but a prophet. It was not until the Council of Nicene in AD 325 that the Church voted Jesus to be divine, the Son of God, at the request of Roman Emperor Constantine who converted in AD 323. Emperor Constantine required that Jesus be equal to his own god, Sol. Even after the Council voted to make Jesus divine, some bishops refused to accept the decision and continued to teach that Jesus was not a god, but a man who was enlightened.

During the Purging when Emperor Constantine “unified” Christianity by destroying all Gnostic scrolls, monks secreted their Gnostic writings away in jars hidden in caves, attempting to preserve the word of God. These hidden scrolls became the Nag Hammadi Library. The Nag Hammadi scrolls contained scrolls that show a different Jesus from the modern day version according to the Apostle Thomas. T

he Nag Hammadi Library contained Coptic Christian teachings that we call Gnostic today. In those scrolls, Jesus taught that you find God within yourself, not through an external source, such as a church. The Gnostic view is that God is within everyone and everything, that nature and the universe is the very embodiment of God and contrary to the orthodox Christian teaching that the natural man is an enemy to God. The Gnostic teaching is in harmony with many of the Native American spiritual views.

When you accept his teachings and the awareness that God is within each person then this is the second coming. The second coming is not a physical event, but a spiritual enlightenment. Looking within oneself is the path of directly experiencing the Divine and the path to salvation. This teaching was in direct conflict with the Council of Nicene because there would be no need of bishops or the Church to find salvation and therefore, the Church did not control who was saved and who was damned and thus its power and financial empire would vanish.

Now consider the core teaching of Brown’s Da Vinci Code; the marriage of Jesus to Mary Magdalena and the children born out of that marriage as suggested by the Gospel of Phillip. The Gnostic Christians taught that Jesus was a man, who had human needs and those needs became expressed in human relationships denied by the orthodox Christians.

Gnostic Christians suddenly jumped into the limelight with Da Vinci Code as a new view was suggested for Gnostic text and how we view the traditions of the early orthodox Christian Church, which were shown to be simply the acts of men positioning themselves for power and money.

Whether the Nag Hammadi Library are the Lost Books of the Bible, we come full circle. Today, we now have the awareness that these Gnostic scrolls were part of the Gospels that were banished by the Council of Nicene due to doctrinal conflicts expressed by the bishops who were structuring their Church and their future.

Today mainstream orthodox Christians have no idea about the early history of Christianity, they rely upon traditions of their faith, yet they question nothing, for they are taught to never question the Church. Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Codes changed how people think, today, the Gnostic Gospels are once again being read and questioned, something that has not been done since AD 325.

Gnostic Christians do not accept Jesus as the Savior, but as an enlightened prophet. Gnostic Christians believe that each person can find God and his or her own salvation within themselves. The path to their salvation is personal. Gnostic Christians do not believe in formal organizations or buildings. God is not found within four walls and a roof, but in the hearts of each person who seek for enlightenment. Jesus did not have a church with four walls and a roof. He never asked for money or a position of power. He simply asked each person to look within themselves and discover that they each and everyone is a son of God.

Rev. Dr. Dave Oester, DD., PhD.

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