The beginning of Wesley Huff’s lecture (see the video at the end of this post) was a condensation of the opening of the book, “The Heresy of Orthodoxy” by Andreas Kostenberger and Michael Kruger – very important to see the connection between Walter Bauer, Bart Ehrman and Elaine Pagels.
It has always amazed me that Elaine Pagels promoted the Gnostics so much in the past 20-30 years, given that she was trying to make the argument that women were more free and promoted and more equal, and exalted and could be church leaders among the Gnostics, yet saying 114 of the Gnostic tinged Gospel of Thomas makes clear this is not true:
Simon Peter says to them: “Let Mary go out from our midst, for women are not worthy of life!” Jesus says: “See, I will draw her so as to make her male so that she also may become a living spirit like you males. For every woman who has become male will enter the Kingdom of heaven.” The 2nd century, Gospel of Thomas, saying 114.
Muslims and skeptics and atheists are constantly using these arguments and mixing more scholarly arguments with the pop-DaVinci Code type false ideas; and Roman Catholics use aspects of these historical arguments in their arguments that the Church decided the canon, rather the books (writings, scrolls) having inherent power and pressing themselves upon the church to receive them, witness to them, affirm them, discern them.
Wesley Huff’s mistake about the 2 Clements (Clement of Rome in 96 AD vs. Clement of Alexandria circa 215 AD) needs to be corrected. He corrected himself verbally, but the graphic was repeated throughout the lecture.
Also, the graphics of “books” in first century, for his power-point presentation, IMO, should have been rolled up individual scrolls – there were no “books” (with a binding, etc.) in 1st to mid-2nd century AD – the codex (flattened out sheets tied together) became more normal and in use in mid to late 2nd century and 3rd century.
As Kostenberger and Kruger say on page 65 of their book:
- The “Gnostics severed any connection between Jesus and the God of the Old Testament”. (Cerinthus, Valentinus, Basilides, Marcion, the “Gospel of Thomas”, Infancy Gospels, the Encratites, and others) Modern pastors who want to “un-hitch from the Old Testament” (Andy Stanley) need to be aware of where that kind of thinking comes from.
- In the Gnostic system of salvation, “the role of Jesus as Redeemer was not to save people from their sins by virtue of His sacrificial death on the cross, but to bring knowledge (gnosis) to entrapped humanity.”
- “On the whole, however, what is more important than what Gnostics (and other sects) believed about Jesus is when they started believing it. Unlike the orthodox, whose core Christological beliefs coalesced in the early to mid-first century, Gnostics did not solidify their Christology – if such solidification ever occurred – until the second century.” (Ibid, page 65)
This is why Irenaeus (writings: 180-202 AD), Polycarp (155 AD), and Tertullian (writings 190-220 AD) in the late second century, into the early third century (and others after them such as Clement of Alexandria (215 AD) and Epiphanius, 320-403 AD) were so strong in the condemnations of these heresies and cults. These are the same kind of ideas – that matter was evil, creation was evil, the body was evil, sex and marriage was evil, etc. that led to over-exalting of Mary and Gnostic tinged documents and infancy gospels that were later written and flourished in the deserts of the east and Arabia, and the reason why Islam was influenced by these elements in their rejection of Jesus’ death on the cross and His Deity.
But Muslims have no business affirming and using these early church Gnostic heresies, and the argumentations of the Bauer-Ehrman-Pagels hypothesis, since at the core of Gnosticism, they deny very clear things that Islam affirms. (Creation, God as the One Creator, who is identified as the same one creator God of the OT, the body, marriage, etc.)