The Non-Canonical Gospels. We are rapidly approaching my favorite time of year. Yes, the Holiday season! For obvious reasons, I’m looking forward to it this year more than most. It’s a time to relax and reflect on the coming of our Savior.
But there is another phenomenon that also takes place this time of year. Maybe you’ve noticed it too. It usually happens between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And that is some sort of attack on classical Christianity. These attacks usually have very intense headlines like:
“Banned From The Bible!”
“The Other Books Of The Bible!”
“The Gospel Your Pastor Didn’t Tell You About!”
“The Censored Books Of The Bible”
“How The Books Of The Bible Were Chosen By Constantine”
I’ve grown used to seeing this every year. In fact, it’s a running joke here at Tent Making Christianity. As soon as someone sees the first headline, we immediately send the story to the other members and say, “It’s officially the Holiday Season!”.
The Other Books
As you can see from some of the headlines above, it is a common tactic of those who disagree with the Christian worldview to sew doubt in the minds of Christians. If you actually look at the writings they are talking about, they aren’t unknown to us. They aren’t new discoveries. Christians have known about them from their inception. It’s just that most modern Christians don’t take the time to research and learn about these pieces of Church history.
This is partly the fault of the Church itself. We don’t do the best job of teaching Church history. It shouldn’t be a surprise when our members stumble across stories like these and feel cheated. Why didn’t we tell them about these other writings?
Inoculate Rather Than Insulate
We’ve talked before about the idea of inoculation rather than insulation. We should be exposing our members to these ideas and writings, rather than just hoping they never see or ask about them. This creates not only transparency, but trust as well. It’s in our best interest to make sure everyone knows about these important pieces of Church history.
What Are The Non-Canonical Gospels?
Christianity has a long tradition. It shouldn’t come as a shock that early Christians disagreed on certain aspects of the faith. We still argue over things today. But this can lead to some false assumptions on our part. Were some books actually banned by more powerful groups in the early Church? What were these books? Even if they aren’t Scripture, can we learn anything from them?
The non-canonical gospels themselves were written hundreds of years after the original events of the New Testament. The most important thing to remember is that they are far too removed from time of Jesus to have been written by eyewitnesses. This is a key distinction to remember as we look at these documents.
And while these documents rarely reflect actual events that took place, they do offer us a window into some of the ideas that certain early Christians had. They are valuable in that respect.
So over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing articles on several of these non-canonical gospels. We’ll look at the dates times they were written. We’ll also see what we can learn about the authors of these early texts. I hope it will help shed light on what these books actually are, why they are not considered scripture.
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