Thursday, May 18, 2006

Gnostic Writings: A Parable

I shared the following parable in my teaching on The Gospel of Judas/Da Vinci Code. It's also in the booklet we put together on this subject:
Imagine a thousand years from now, if a team of archaeologists should uncover a rusted safe buried deep in snow and earth in the mountains of Utah. Inside the safe, they discover a cache of documents written by a long-defunct white supremacy group. The documents challenge the conventional interpretation of the constitution of the United States government, offer quirky interpretations of the lives of the founding fathers, and bizarre observations of American history.

A team of scholars studies these documents. Most rightly identify them as what they are, the work of an obscurantist group whose views were not taken seriously by mainstream, twenty-first century Americans and whose interpretation of historical fact is deeply flawed. One of the scholars on the team that studies the documents, however, offers a very different interpretation. She says that these documents, in fact, represent a valid interpretation of American history that was suppressed by the political power brokers of the day (the so-called Republican and Democratic parties). When challenged with the fact that there are thousands of pieces of data arguing for the conventional understanding of American history and that this interpretation has held sway for centuries, while there are only one or two copies of these Utah documents, she counters that this only stands as evidence of how vigilantly the keepers of the status quo were able to suppress this legitimate interpretation of the development of the United States.

The above analogy, of course, illustrates what has happened in recent days with regard to the re-discovery of "Gnostic" scriptures. A handful of bizarre documents, wildly out of step with normative, orthodox Christianity, are being proclaimed as a legitimate expression of truth, unjustly suppressed by the ecclesiastical powers-that-be. It is clear that one is skating on extremely thin ice to give any historical credence to the Gnostic scriptures.

1 comment:

Cameron Cloud said...

Pastor Jeff,

Thanks for sharing a great analogy. Seems we lose perspective of time over long historical periods.