"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (2 Timothy 4:3).
The May issue of National Geographic magazine hasn’t even hit the news stands, but it has already triggered widespread debate. The feature article in next month's issue describes a 1,700 year old manuscript that claims to tell the story of Christ's last days from the point-of-view of history's most notorious traitor. This so-called "Gospel of Judas" conflicts greatly with the Biblical account and is only one of several noncanonical gospels, often called the "Gnostic Gospels". Scholars widely agree that none of these texts contain historically reliable information about the life of Jesus and that all were likely written in the second century or later. However they do help us learn more about false teachings that early church leaders like the Apostle Paul preached against in book of Colossians and elsewhere.
Gnosticism is a system of false teachings that existed during the early centuries of Christianity. Its name came from the Greek word for knowledge, gnosis. The Gnostics believed that knowledge was the way to salvation. For this reason, Gnosticism was condemned as false and heretical by several writers of the New Testament. The Gnostics consisted of diverse groups, from high-minded ascetics to licentious charlatans.
Our knowledge of Gnosticism comes from several sources. First, there are the Gnostic texts, which are known as the New Testament Apocrypha. These texts are not recognized as Scripture because they contain teachings which differ from those in the Bible. Then, there are the refutations of the Gnostics by the early church fathers. Some of the more important ones are Irenaeus, Against Heresies; Hippolytus, Refutations of All Heresies; Epiphanius, Panarion; and Tertullian, Against Marcion.
A third source on Gnosticism is the New Testament itself. Many Gnostic teachings were condemned by the writers of the New Testament. Paul emphasized a wisdom and knowledge that comes from God and does not concern itself with idle speculations, fables, and moral laxity (Colossians 2:8-23; 1 Timothy 1:4; 2 Timothy 2:16-19; Titus 1:10-16). John, both in his gospel and in the epistles, countered heretical teaching which, in a broad sense, can be considered Gnostic.
A large number of spurious documents emerged during the centuries following the ministries of the Apostles and were universally rejected by the early church. Copies of a group of these were found at Nag Hammadi in Egypt dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries. These include The Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Philip, The Gospel of Mary, The Gospel of Truth, and about four dozen others.
They are not "gospels" at all, but rather speculative opinions, totally devoid of any verifiable facts. Furthermore, they were written under false pseudonyms in an attempt to gain legitimacy. The early church rejected any documents under pseudonyms as being inconsistent with the concept of God-breathed inspiration. Lastly, they were all written centuries after the Gospel period - in contrast to the contemporaneous eyewitness accounts in the New Testament.
Ethical behavior among the Gnostics varied considerably. Some sought to separate themselves from all evil matter in order to avoid contamination. Paul may be opposing such a view in 1 Timothy 4:1-5. For other Gnostics, ethical life took the form of libertinism. For them, knowledge meant freedom to participate in all sorts of indulgences. Many reasoned that since they had received divine knowledge and were truly informed as to their divine nature, it didn’t matter how they lived. Such an attitude is a misunderstanding of the Gospel. Paul, on a number of occasions, reminded his readers that they were saved from sin to holiness. They were not to have an attitude of indifference toward the law. They had died to sin in their baptism into Christ (Romans 6:1-11) and so were to walk “in newness of life.” John reminded the Christians that once they had been saved they were not to continue living in sin (1 John 3:4-10).
These Gnostic teachings also had a disruptive effect on fellowship in the church. Those who were "enlightened" thought of themselves as being superior to those who did not have such knowledge. Divisions arose between the spiritual and the fleshly. This attitude of superiority is severely condemned in the New Testament. Christians are “one body” (1 Corinthians 12) who should love one another (1 Corinthians 13; 1 John). Spiritual gifts are for the Christian community rather than individual use; they should promote humility rather than pride (1 Corinthians 12-14; Ephesians 4:11-16).
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ" (Colossians 2:8).
Unfold the Evangel before your eyes!
Are you worn out?
Are you overwhelmed?
Are you rational?
Only rational, non-dogmatic persons can understand and accept this message. Give yourself a try. Nothing will be like before, I promise!
domingo, maio 28, 2006
sábado, maio 27, 2006
By Chuck Missler
We continue to get many questions which derive from the popular but shamefully blasphemous novel by Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code. Despite the fact that it is a work of fiction, it has raised many troubling questions, especially among the less informed. Because of our widely distributed text, Cosmic Codes, many continue to turn to us for a response.1
We also understand that director Ron Howard is working on a major motion picture with Columbia on this subject, so the book will continue to be a popular topic of conversation. The Da Vinci Code has challenged many in their understanding of the Biblical texts and in dealing with some of the malicious heresies that have been twisted from a highly flawed view of the history - and related medieval legends that have sprung up through the centuries - surrounding the events described in the book.
It is easy to see why this book made all the "Best Seller" lists. It's an engaging, fast-paced thriller with an exotic mix of secret societies, mysterious assassins, intrigues involving famous historical figures and controversial institutions, all linked together with a delicious series of secret codes and riddles to figure out. And behind it all emerges the most astonishing (and outrageous) "conspiracy theory" anyone could possibly imagine.
The story opens with the murder of the curator of Paris' most famous museum, during which he leaves enigmatic clues in the form of codes that our hero, Robert Langdon, an expert on occult symbology, and Sofie Neveu, a professional cryptologist who joins him, must solve.
Several of these clues involve hidden messages among the sketches and paintings of Leonardo da Vinci, from which the novel gets its name (see "The Vitruvian Man" figure).
As it develops, our hero Langdon is being viewed as the prime suspect himself, and the urgency of solving the increasingly complex sequence of subsequent codes, riddles, and clues intensifies. The hidden agenda of a secret order behind the Knights Templar and the sinister intentions of committed operatives of Opus Dei, an official arm of the Roman Catholic Church, all weave a tapestry of intrigue and rapidly developing dangers.
It is quite a challenging ride. Short, engaging chapters - each unfolding a new mystery or plot twist - make this book virtually impossible to put down. (However, even after 105 chapters, the principal plot elements are not really resolved.)
Entertaining fiction has captured our imagination ever since Homer's epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey, so many centuries ago. In addition to challenging entertainment, a well-written historical novel is often an enjoyable sugarcoated way to experience a glimpse of history. However, that presumes that the thread of the fictional story is entwined within a tapestry of competent historical research.
What makes any critique of Dan Brown's book particularly disturbing is his deliberate attempt to pass on the view that it is based on fact. The reader is immediately confronted with a preliminary page declaring certain parts of the book to be factual (see text box): His last sentence on that page is, unfortunately, not true and is a major contributor to the confusion surrounding this shameful and blasphemous challenge for the uninitiated reader.
Beyond simply twisting history to suit his purposes and relying on falsified documents of disputed origins, Dan Brown's book raises thought-provoking questions about very real fundamental issues including:
• The reliability of the Bible.
• The true nature of Jesus Christ.
• The origin of Christian beliefs.
• The realities within the early church.
• The role of the "lost books of the Bible" and the many spurious heretical attempts to undermine the Gospels of the first century.
These issues are not incidental to the novel: they are central to its theme and constitute an intentional attack on Jesus Christ personally and on His church. This became particularly apparent during Dan Brown's public interviews in an ABC News Special and during his interview on Good Morning America. 2 His intentions were clearly deliberate and targeted.
Fortunately, Dan Brown's cleverly contrived romp has been brutally assaulted by numerous real facts and can only survive among the uninformed. The popularity of the novel, however, can open meaningful and constructive discussions regarding the foundations of the Christian faith and the reality of just who Jesus Christ really is. But, as always, one needs to be prepared.
The Underlying Premise
The fundamental theme lying behind (pun intended) the entire chain of events is the infamous Merovingian Heresy: that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a child that ultimately resulted in the bloodline of the Merovingian kings of medieval France and which still continues behind the intrigues throughout the Europe of today.
Much of this was adapted from a book by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln, Holy Blood, Holy Grail , published in 1982. (The name of one of the key "experts" in Brown's novel, Leigh Teabing, is an anagram involving Leigh and Baigent.)
The mysterious secrets surrounding the fabled search for the "Holy Grail," according to the "expert" explanations embedded in Brown's novel, were but coded references to this bloodline.
The Da Vinci Connection
As an example of the several da Vinci-related "codes" suggested in the novel, from which it gets its name, is the notion that in the famous painting, The Last Supper, the person seated to Christ's right is not John (as is commonly assumed) but a woman! And this, of course, and other features are contrived to support the elevation of Mary Magdalene as His consort and "right hand." The Mona Lisa and the Madonna on the Rocks also participate in Brown's contrived twists to support his tale.
The novel doesn't limit itself to classical art objects alone: there are several "cryptexes,"3 the use of Hebrew atbash codes,4 and assorted riddles and anagrams, etc. One cannot deny the clever exploitation of these intriguing plot devices to carry the reader along.
But despite these colorful devices, and although the numerous scholastic rebuttals easily shred the many twisted and contrived allusions that are fostered to support Brown's engaging tale, serious foundational issues remain to unsettle any thoughtful reader.
Some Questions Raised
• Who was Mary Magdalene? How do we know that Jesus wasn't married?
• Why do we rely on the four Gospels and reject others? How and why were they chosen?
• What were the Gnostic Gospels and why were they - and the "lost books of the Bible" - rejected?
• Was there an editorial conspiracy within the early church?
• Does the Priory of Sion really exist? What is its agenda?
• Is there a "Merovingian" agenda behind the "New Europe"?
We will continue this review in our next issue and will also highlight the ultimate "code" that remains hidden behind the novel, The Da Vinci Code .
Part 2 of 'The DaVinci Deception'
Mary, Mary? Quite Contrary!
by Chuck Missler
The popular but shamefully blasphemous novel by Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code, has raised many troubling questions, particularly among the less informed. Since Ron Howard is planning to bring it out as a major motion picture with Columbia next summer, this book will continue to be a popular topic of conversation, and it will continue to challenge many in their understanding of the Biblical texts.
Dan Brown's fictional story opens with the murder of the curator of Paris' most famous museum, in which the victim leaves enigmatic clues in the form of codes that our hero, Robert Langdon, an expert on occult symbology, and Sofie Neveu, a professional cryptologist who joins him, must solve. Several of these clues involve hidden messages among the sketches and paintings of Leonardo da Vinci, from which the novel gets its name.
As the story develops, Langdon is viewed as the prime suspect, and the urgency of solving the increasingly complex sequence of subsequent codes, riddles, and clues becomes intensified. The hidden agenda of a secret order behind the fabled Knights Templar, and the sinister maneuvers of committed operatives of Opus Dei, an ostensible arm of the Roman Catholic Church, all weave a tapestry of intrigue and rapidly developing dangers.
What has ignited a serious controversy among uninformed readers is that this work of fiction poses as factual and constitutes a deliberate, blasphemous attack on Christianity, the Bible, and Jesus Christ Himself.
The Priory of Sion
The reader of Brown's book is immediately confronted with a preliminary page declaring: "FACT: The Priory of Sion - a European secret society founded in 1099 - is a real organization. In 1975 Paris's Bibliothèque Nationale discovered parchments known as Les Dossiers Secrets, identifying numerous members of the Priory of Sion, including Sir Isaac Newton, Botticelli, Victor Hugo, and Leonardo da Vinci..."
It is this introductory presentation, which positions these "facts" as foundational truths, that compromises Brown's novel as simply a work of fiction and has caused confusion among so many.
It turns out that "the Priory of Sion" was organized in 1956, with Pierre Plantard as its Grand Master, an anti-Semite with a criminal record for fraud. Its background was, indeed, "proven" by a cache of documents that were "discovered" in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris.
However, they were planted there by Pierre Plantard himself! One of his henchmen admitted to assisting him in the fabrication of these materials, including the genealogical tables and lists of the Priory's grand masters. This hoax was exposed in a series of French books and a BBC documentary in 1996.
To claim membership of these famous persons is actually an assault on their respective memories and reputations. And Leonardo da Vinci's alleged involvement is, of course, fundamental to Brown's storyline.
The alleged mission of the "Priory" is the protection of a deep secret which, it is insisted, would jeopardize the entire Christian Church as we know it: that Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalene, and a daughter born to them was secreted off to (what is now) France and subsequently led to the Merovingian dynasty of kings.
The Knights Templar is presented as the military arm of the Priory of Sion, charged with protecting this bloodline and its attendant secrets. The "Holy Grail" (Graal, Old French for "cup") is, thus, not the legendary chalice, but a code name for this bloodline (Sang Real, "Holy Blood").
Many twists on the legends, fables, and controversies surrounding the Knights Templar are exploited to embroider Brown's tale and to support the blasphemous myth it promotes. (The many misstatements and distortions concerning this Brotherhood lie outside our purposes here and are incidental to the main themes of Brown's book.)
The Merovingians were a dynasty of Frankish kings from the 5th to the 8th centuries. According to tradition, they descended from Merovech, chief of the Salian Franks, whose son was Childeric I and whose grandson was Clovis I, the founder of the Frankish monarchy, who died in A.D. 511. They are sometimes called "the first race of the kings of France."
The allegation that they descended from the union of Jesus and Mary Magdalene lacks any credible evidence whatsoever. However, there are those who claim their lineage links many of the major royal families of Europe and belief in these legends may lie behind some of the activism toward the "New Europe." (These fables were popularized by a book by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, published in 1982.)
Offsetting the intrigues of the Priory of Sion in Brown's novel are the machinations of Opus Dei. The "Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei" ("Work of God") was founded in Spain in 1928 by a 26-year-old Catholic priest, Josemaria Escriva, who died in 1975 and was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2002. This organization helps its 80,000 recruited and indoctrinated members, and others, to a call to holiness by means of a rigorous daily routine, retreats, courses, and other undertakings. Fabulously wealthy and highly secretive, in Brown's novel the operatives of the Priory of Sion are subject to the intrigues - even assassinations - by ostensible operatives of Opus Dei, painted as a kind of "Vatican Mafia" for the purposes of Brown's plot tensions.
A spate of books has been published to catalog the numerous misstatements, distortions, and deliberate deceptions in Brown's book. But the primary offense - among many - is his trumpeting the Magdalene Heresy. This clearly is the central issue.
To add to the confusion, there are more than six Marys in the Scripture who are often misidentified:
1. 1) Mary the Mother of Jesus (deified by Catholics and virtually ignored by Protestants);1
2. 2) Mary, Mother of John Mark,2 prominent in the Jerusalem church, related to Barnabas,3 and owned a large home used for assembly;4
3. 3) Mary of Bethany, sister of Martha and Lazarus, contrasted with her sister Martha in her devotion5 and remembered for her memorial anointing.6 [Often also confused with a similar event in Galilee at a Pharisee's home also named Simon;7 the location, occasion, motivation, and atmosphere there seems distinct from the Bethany episode].
4. 4) Mary, Mother of James and Joseph,8 one of the group of Galilean women who supported Jesus financially9 and were present at the crucifixion, entombment, and witnessed the resurrection.
5. 5) Mary of Rome. Having served Paul and his party well elsewhere, moved to Rome;10
and, of course,
6. 6) Mary Magdalene, much maligned in both reputation and, here, ironically, in blasphemous libel. She was identified by her native city, Magdala, on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. She was healed by Jesus of seven demons11 and was a person of means and a leader among the women.
However, in A.D. 591, Pope Gregory the Great gave an Easter sermon in which he erroneously declared that the prostitute of Luke 7 was Mary Magdalene of Luke 8. In 1969, The Vatican corrected centuries of misrepresentation by acknowledging that there was no basis for her identification as a prostitute.
Mary Magdalene is very visible in the Gospel record: She followed Jesus from Galilee, ministered to Him,12 beheld the crucifixion from afar,13 stood by the cross,14 located and watched the tomb,15 came early to the tomb with spices,16 was first to see the risen Lord,17 and reported the resurrection to the disciples.18
There is no basis to even suggest that Jesus was married, or that He had an "affair" with Mary Magdalene. This very notion demonstrates that the author has no concept of just Who Jesus is! Or what He was all about.
The Magdalene Heresy
Legends about Jesus and Mary Magdalene began to emerge in southern France during the 9th century, some even linking with the pagan goddess, Isis, etc. (Also, these were accompanied by myths about John the Baptist, whose successor was thought to be the Gnostic sex magician, Simon Magnus.19 )
Brown's novel attempts to support these outrageous notions by allusions from the Gnostic Gospels, in particular The Gospel of Philip. An out-of-context fragmentary reference to a kiss - in which Jesus kissed his other students as well - still suggests nothing about marriage or any sexual innuendos. Brown leans on a word in the "Aramaic" (although The Gospel of Philip came to us in Coptic) that he maintains means "spouse." The word happens to be a loan word from Greek, koinonia, which can mean companion, as in fellowship, etc.
The Gospel of Philip makes no reference that supports any of Brown's contentions. But even if it did, it would be irrelevant since it was written more than two centuries after the Gospel period, under a pseudonym posing as someone he wasn't. No serious scholar can take it seriously as having any historical merit.
But the reliance on The Gnostic Gospels, and twisted distortions of the early church councils, all raise serious questions: What makes us so confident that our Bible is what it purports to be? How do we know? What about these "missing" books of the Bible?
We will continue this series next month with a review of these "missing books," and some contemporary implications of the Magdalene Heresy and the associated Merovingian Myths, and their ostensible role in the unification of the New Europe today. We will also highlight some bizarre speculations regarding a 150 ft. statue of "Mary Magdalene" that graces an international port today. And we will also unveil the ultimate "code" that will be evident only to the most discerning reader! Stay tuned. "Film at eleven."
1. Cf. 2 John as John's personal letter to her!
2. Acts 12:12.
3. Colossians 4:10.
4. Acts 12:12; mention of servants v.13.
5. John 11, 12.
6. John 12:3, Matthew 26:1-13; Mark 14:3-9.
7. Luke 7:36-50.
8. Matthew 27:56; 28:1; Mark 15:40,47.
9. Mark 15:40; Luke 8:2,3.
10. Romans 16:6.
11. Mark 16:9; Luke 8:2.
12. Matthew 27:56.
13. Mark 15:40.
14. John 19:25.
15. Matthew 27:61.
16. Mark 16:1, John 20:1.
17. Mark 16:9.
18. Luke 24:10, John 20:18.
19. Acts 8:9-25.