In the best Garrison Keillor tradition, an English teacher strikes it rich.
I haven’t read the book yet, and the movie isn’t out yet, but I already know what interests me about this latest pop sensation. It is the contortions my Christian brethren whose roots are deeply mired in Gnosticism go through as they attack Dan Brown and his fictional DaVinci Code for his resurrection of other Gnostic concepts.
My first quarter was filled with tentmaking activity; hopefully now I can slice out enough time to share what I’ve learned about Gnosticism in the New Testament.
My first installment will start, (DV) tomorrow.
In the meantime, a brief reflection on what good can come of all this fury, in the religious world, that is.
Isaiah records the prophecy of Messiah, coming to mystical Edom with garments spattered with bloodstains. In the picture of Isaiah 63 and Isaiah 34, the great controversy which God sends the messiah to avenge is “the controversy of Zion”.He has been trampling a winepress of lambs and goats. Hmmm… Lambs and goats. What are lambs in the parlance of Bible usage? Baby Christians, innocent little young believers. And what are goats? Self-willed, head-strong, pseudo-believers.
Naturally, the mainstream commentators such as Matthew Henry and John Wesley think this is about the enemies of “the church”. I am certain they are wrong.
In my judgment, these prophecies, like the ones in Revelation which speak of the “winepress” of God’s judgment, are about God’s judicial anger WITH THE CHURCH.
In the Isaiah texts, the prophet speaks of a time for those who have been associated with “Israel” but who really are out of harmony with God’s plans and ways in spirit and truth, to be exposed and debunked.
Just as the lambs are symbols and the goats are symbols, the “killing” that is going on is not literal either; I think it means to cease to have any claims of faith — to die as to faith in Christianity.
Across the world, that sort of killing, loss of faith, has been going on since the beginning of the 20th century. We are well into what is now acknowledged as “the post-Christian era”. Baby Christians, and those who associate with “Christianity” because of the selfish benefits that accrue to those who attend church, have been leaving the church in droves. If they remain seekers, they may end up in a smaller church, a house church, or a mega-church — but the mainstream denominations have experienced major drops in both attendance and contributions.
Works like Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code, with its speculations and fantasiies, aren’t speaking the truth, mind you… but these are strange times, and oddly enough these sorts of smokescreens and shows of “knowledge” do a work that accomplishes God’s will as described in those prophecies. It’s God’s will for the Christian church to be tested to the max, shaken to the foundations. Even if that means the lambs and goats are going to get shed from the fold.
So for me, reflecting on my lifetitme spent bristling at the “systematic theology” that smart but I believe misguided brothers have pulled out of their imaginations and their seminary coffee shops instead of from the pure words of God, it’s almost fun to read the anti-DavinciCode articles, as they awkwardly try to defend orthodox tradition. I get amused when I read erstwhile Protestants, defending Roman Catholic belief system, filled as it is with Gnostic concepts, from Gnosticism! (Example, Christianity Today). What am I talking about, Gnosticism in the “orthodox” church? Well, Catholicism harbors concepts such as mariolatry, the Immaculate Conception, hindering of marriage, (see 1 Timothy 4:1-4) restrictions on food, asceticism (monkism and nunneries), and a very negative Augustinian view of both the flesh and marriage. Their apocrypha are hardly any different than the “Gnostic Gospels” in credibility.
Orthodox Protestants have preserved intact the other Gnostic-borrowed or Gnostic-adapted concepts from Catholicism such as a concept of God who has been more informed by Babylon and Greece than Israel; not to mention straight Platonic (smart but nevertheless Pagan) ideas like the immortal soul, eternal hell, etc. It’s funny to read, say, Christianity Today’s article that attempts to poke holes in Brown’s research, while attempting to uphold aspects of Christ’s history and personality that are equally unbiblical! It’s funny to read Collin Hansen’s revisionist view of Arius and Athanasias. At least, it would be funny if I didn’t know something about the thousands of believers in the One God and His Son, Jesus Christ, who were killed for not accepting the official dogma. It’s evan funnier to see CT attempting to defend Roman Catholicism while at the same time distancing themselves from an institution that any sober student of history realizes was a suppressor, not an upholder of truth throughout its corrupt and sordid past.
God’s the One who views the mainstream Churches with a vengeance. I just hope to be useful in showing how the Bible reveals what God is now doing in human affairs to even the great balances of justice. I’m confident the good folks will come through the ringer… but the institutions are getting squeezed by all this pressure.
I’ll start presenting my proofs for this little rant tomorrow.