Can We Hear the Voice of God? (Part 6)
This is a continuation of a series that I started over a year ago. If you read “Can We Hear the Voice of God” dated April 4, 2011 you can get an idea of what topics will be covered.
Why Were Some Books Not Accepted As Scripture?
In recent years, the so-called lost books of the Bible have enjoyed revived interest. For example, Dan Brown built much of the story line of his best-selling book, “The Da Vinci Code”, on the premise that the church selected the four canonical Gospels from eighty similar books. The others, it is said, were stamped out “a church that had subjugated women, banished the Goddess, burned non-believers, and forbidden that pagan reverence for the sacred feminine.
In fact, however, even by the most generous count there are fewer than thirty “gospels.” Only the canonical Gospels date from the first century. The earliest of the others was written more than one hundred years after Jesus lived. Most of them are dated at least two hundred years after Jesus.
Contrary to false accusation, not one of these “lost Gospels” was hidden by the church. The church fathers knew of these writings but simply decided not to consider them sacred scripture. There is no reason to be concerned about any lost gospels containing truth that we need about God. Anyone curious about their truthfulness should simply read them!
The Gospel of Thomas is one of the earlier and most widely affirmed of the Gnostic gospels. It is not a gospel in the sense of a narrative that tells the story of Jesus. Rather it consists of 114 sayings attributed to Jesus, some of which clearly parallel sayings in the canonical gospels.
To be fair, there are a handful of other ancient books that have some good content. Books such as the Shepherd of Hermas and the Didache were appreciated by the early church and are akin to some popular Christian books today that can provide some insight but do not rise to the level of scripture or fall to the level of heresy.
From the very earliest days, the church knew which books were God’s inspired word for them. They read them, studied them, obeyed them, lived them, and passed them on. We should do the same without adding anything to the scriptures. Proverbs 30:5-6 commands just this, saying, “Every word of God proves true; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you and you be found a liar.”