May 21 06
Sermon Notes for Sunday, May 21, 2006.
Was there a shooter on the grassy knoll in Dallas?
Did aliens crash in Rosewell, NM?
Are their bodies at Area 51 in Nevada?
All of these could be called conspiracy theories. I happen to believe the first one and not the last two.
In the Church world, we are faced with our own set of conspiracy theories. Did the early Christians force out those who believe in the ‘sacred feminine’ a kind of Christian goddess? Did the church of the 2nd century bury or hide gospels that gave a different account of Jesus? Did the emperor Constantine decide for the church what books were in or out?
Recently a very ancient book was found, The Gospel of Judas, which puts a very different face on Judas and the betrayal of Jesus. This gospel says that it was Jesus’ idea for Judas to do what he did; that Judas should take the hit for the team.
The so called Gospel of Judas is not new. Irenaeus knew of it in the second century AD. His thoughts were that it was ‘ridiculous.’ There are literally thousands of ancient documents that purport to be gospels. Why did we put only 4 in the New Testament? Did Constantine or Irenaeus decide what goes in or what stays out? No, the church as a whole decided over a long period of time.
So why are so many modern theologians jumping on the band wagon of the Gospel of Judas, the Gospel of Thomas, and so many other of there books that were well known in the second and third century but not put in the Bible? Why do they believe that books that the ancient church said “no” should now be included?
That is not an easy question to answer, but if you look at what they believe and say, to them the Bible is purely a human book; there is nothing divine about it. That is their first and biggest problem.
What we need to remember is that the Bible is a divine/human book. In a way that we may never comprehend, God inspired the book, did not dictate the book, but inspired. While God may have guided the authors, the authors in fact were human beings; but human beings working with, not without, God’s Spirit.
If we only believe that the book and the church are only human writings and institutions, then we can support conspiracy theories and call into question the writings the judgment of the church. But if we believe that the Bible and the Church are divine/human things, then we can say that God was, and is, active in the selection of the books that give us a better and truer picture of Jesus Christ.
If God was indeed active in the life of the 2nd and 3rd century churches, as I believe he was, then we can indeed trust the judgment of those early Church Fathers. If you look at the history of how the Bible was formed, it was a long process and not the decree of Constantine or Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, as the recent article in National Geographic leads us to believe.
Can we trust the judgment of the church, as imperfect as she is? Yes! Why? Because she is the bride of Christ as his spirit lives in her. We can trust because God is active in wanting you and me to know and understand his love for us in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
AS our reading shows us, conspiracy theories have been around for a long time, but the issue is one of trust in the goodness and nature of God, not in the theories of those who reject the active participation of God.
Devotional Guide. Monday, May 22, 2006. Think about the people you trust. Why do you trust them? The answer is: because you know them. We have learned that they can be trusted because they have shown themselves trustworthy. That is what the Psalmist is saying in Psalm 9:10. ‘…those who know your name put their trust in you…’ When we know Jesus Christ we know the love and grace of God. What does the name of God mean to you? How have you learned to trust him?
Tuesday, May 23, 2006. In Psalm 20 the writer is praying for victory. The king is about to do battle and the writer is praying for success. In the TNIV he says: ‘some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord…’ When faced with decisions, trials, and whatever comes our way, what do we trust in?
Wednesday, May 24, 2006. The Gospel According to Judas, The Da Vinci Code all these new attacks on Christianity and the Bible leads some to a crisis of faith. How can we know who is telling the truth? Can we trust the Bible, the Church? The answer is ‘yes’. But it takes one thing to be able to do that and that one thing is faith. Faith, active trust, is needed. Look at H Hebrews 11. Read the list of names of people who trusted God even though it required a leap of faith. Remember verse 6: ‘…without faith it is impossible to please God…” Our faith is based on God’s raising Jesus from the dead. Can you believe that? Do you believe that?
Thursday, May 25, 2006. 2 Peter 1:12-21. Notice what Peter says here: ‘not cleverly devised myths…we were eyewitnesses…Scripture is not a private thing…men wrote as moved by the Holy Spirit…’ If it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18), then we must believe that God put into the Bible all that is necessary for faith and salvation. How Scripture form your faith? How would your life be different without it?
Friday, May 26, 2006. It is true that, in one sense, Christians are people of the book. But in the larger sense, while we are the people of the book, we have something far greater than the book. We are the people connected to God through the living word and that is Jesus Christ. John 1:1-4. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God… Jesus is the true Word of God, the Scripture point to him. The Scriptures are a road map to salvation through Jesus Christ. We don’t read Scripture to know Scripture, we read Scripture to know Jesus Christ. Let us love Scripture, let us read, digest it, and know it, but only for the sake of knowing Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:1-14 puts in perspective for us. To know Christ… Love Scripture, for though it, you will love Christ.