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Going Creedless :: June 29, 2004: 10:13 AM

another phone call that began..."I have been reading this book"...The Da Vinci Code is getting people talking! A really nice introduction to the "Going Creedless Alternative Christianities" debate is in The Christian Century magazine of June 1 2004 and carries the above title. Written by John P.Burgess it is really a review of 4 books, all of which I have had for some time, and only one have I actually finished....sigh!

Beyond Belief: the Secret Gospel of Thomas by Elaine Pagels (her Gnostic Gospels is also good.)
Lost Christianities: the Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew by Bart D. Ehrman and also his:
Lost Scriptures: Books that Did Not Make It into the New Testament
and The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle by Karen L. King.

The article quotes Ehrman's view that only orthodoxy had the ingredients to allow Christianity to become a world religion - Ebionites demanded Jewish ritual purity; Marcionism rejected its Jewish roots altogether; Gnosticism promoted spirtual elitism...but as necessary as orthodoxy was we have lost much along the way.

The Da Vinci Code is making people realize the beginnings of Christianity were far from cut and dried theologically and organizationally. For me, it is exciting. I introduced some of the Gnostic gospels to our bible study group 2-3 years ago.

The realization that the great creeds of the church were written as much to exclude as to draw together makes them harder for me to use. We have rarely used creeds in this congregation for several years now, though this Eastertide, as affirmations of faith, I did use some of the newer versions around, including the statements of faith in the back of the United Methodist Hymnal. As for the traditional creeds - I see their usefulness, and I think for those in the congregation who have no idea of these struggles they remain comforting and a link to when they said them weekly with those long gone, but for me they are a little tainted and make me sorrowful for those whose spiritual journeying did not quite fit the mold....

the Christian Century is online at www.christiancentury.org

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