“Christianity is shaken!”
“Christian tradition is refuted by objectivity!”
“Judas & Jesus were working together!”
The headlines and assertions are endless. Mainstream media and others who have been looking for another reason to repudiate biblical authority are continuing to surf the wave created by The Gospel of Judas.
But is it a legitimate wave or a Gnostic levitation?
If you have not already been questioned by a skeptic, you will be soon. The questions may range from: “How can you believe the Bible?”…“Don’t you know that the Scriptures are tainted by the opinions of certain men?”…to…“Haven’t you heard of the Gospel of Judas?”
What is the gospel of Judas?
From even a cursory reading of the document one could easily discern that this document is vastly different from the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John. The document reads like a Hollywood drama, complete with seemingly untimely and uncontrolled outbursts of laughter by the Son of God.
The major “plot” is this alleged scheme between Christ and Judas, where Christ says: “But you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me.”
The plan was for Judas to liberate Jesus from his physical body by betraying him so that he could be crucified.
As the editors of The Gospel of Judas indicate in a footnote, “The death of Jesus, with the assistance of Judas, is taken to be the liberation of the spiritual person within.”
This ‘gospel’ is nothing new. In fact, it is quite old!
This is a Gnostic gospel, just like the Gospel of Mary and the Gospel of Thomas. The whole manuscript is littered with references to Gnostic categories such as “aeons” and an “eternal realm.”
Other than the characters mentioned, The Gospel of Judas bears little resemblance to orthodox Christianity. In effect it undermines everything written in the New Testament concerning the whole purpose of the incarnation and the subsequent death, resurrection and ascension of the Son of God; namely to live and die as a substitute for his people, fully satisfying the just wrath of God in the place of the sinner.
So when the Christian is questioned, what should they say? Do they have reason to feel uncertain?
Of course not.
This work is a Gnostic work. Therefore, it is diametrically opposed to biblical Christianity. The dualistic view of matter and spirit is not the biblical understanding.
In fact, our great-great-…..great-grandfather Irenaeus labeled it for what it was: fiction!
In his Against Heresies Book I, chapter 31, section 1 (ANF 1:358), we read:
Others again declare that Cain derived his being from the Power above, and acknowledge that Esau, Korah, the Sodomites, and all such persons, are related to themselves. On this account, they add, they have been assailed by the Creator, yet no one of them has suffered injury. For Sophia was in the habit of carrying off that which belonged to her from them to herself. They declare that Judas the traitor was thoroughly acquainted with these things, and that he alone, knowing the truth as no others did, accomplished the mystery of the betrayal; by him all things, both earthly and heavenly, were thus thrown into confusion. They produce a fictitious history of this kind, which they style the Gospel of Judas.
The question should not be “How can you believe the Bible” but “How can you put your trust in a Gnostic myth?”
How can a book that was written more than a century after the events actually happened, by an author promoting a completely divergent worldview and theology than Christ and the Apostles gain so much attention?
The Gospel of Judas is appealing because it undermines biblical authority, which subsequently promotes human autonomy.
This is the appeal. This is why it was received by unbelievers in the 2nd Century and rejected by believers. And this is why it is heralded today by those who want to squirm out from under the inflexible righteousness of God as revealed by God in the pages of Scripture and emphatically amplified by the substitionary death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.
These are the same devilish games, just different faces.