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Word Gems 

exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity


 

The Gospel Of John was written as polemic against the Gospel Of Thomas. The ‘John Christians’ were threatened by the teachings of the ‘Thomas Christians’ and attempted to marginalize this earliest view of the nature and mission of Jesus of Nazareth.

 


 

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Editor's prefatory comment:

As a young man, a dedicated bible student then, one of my favorite books of the New Testament was the Gospel Of John. I went out of my way to collect a large number of commentaries, study guides, and translations featuring this work; so much so, that friends joked, after my returning from a trip, that I must have spent all my time in a “Gospel Of John bookstore.”

the suppressed, but preeminent, Gospel Of Thomas

This was not altogether untrue. I wanted to know as much as I could about “the spiritual gospel.” And so, in later years, when I came into awareness of the Nag Hammadi scrolls, especially, The Gospel Of Thomas, my first impressions, those of a traditionalist, were not favorable. “Nothing could surpass,” I assured myself, “the best that the New Testament has to offer”; particularly, The Gospel Of John.

But ignorance can be very bold in its proclamations. As I surveyed the “Gnostic gospels” research of Willis Barnstone and Elaine Pagels, my exalted estimation of John began to suffer degradation. Gradually, I would view “the fourth gospel” in a new light, as it could not withstand the onslaught of new information brought to the discussion. For me, it was all truly paradigm-shattering.

nothing stops an argument faster than collision with new factual information

In Gibbon's Rise And Fall, the venerable historian speaks of the Gnostics' "many sublime but obscure tenets." But these poetic, albeit runic, aphorisms need not remain tantalyzingly out of reach. There is a way to access the underlying message leading us to truth.

There was a time when the familiar four gospels - Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John - were considered to be the only sources of information about God, Jesus, or Christian living. This is no longer the case.

The Nag Hammadi documents: Discovered in 1945, buried in a cave in Egypt, many of these 52 “Gnostic” writings, according to Dr. Willis Barnstone, originate from the first century AD; and some of them were penned before their New Testament counterparts. The so-called “church fathers,” in their own letters centuries later, often speak of, and vilify, the Gnostic documents - and now we know why they were hated so by what would become oppressive Big Religion of our day. The Gnostic writings preached open access to God for everyone, without need of intermediary of priest, church, or sacrament; and, of course, this egalitarianism was very threatening to those who would merchandize the people.

The Scientific Evidence for the Afterlife: The last 150 years might be considered a golden age of new data about the other side. An area of research far too vast to address in this article, it's something you'll want to avail yourself of, this worlds-in-upheaval information. It changes everything. We have many thousands, and tens of thousands, of reports from the next dimensions which give us great detail about how life works over there. And while we’ll find a spiritual society when we cross over, it is not religious. The church does not preside over that realm, but is exposed for the oppressive force that it’s been in history. However, to summarize for our purposes here, the message of the most famous Gnostic writing, the Gospel Of Thomas, is well in line with what we’ve learned about how life really works from those who live in “the real world,” just one missed heartbeat away for all of us.

clashing gospels

This article explores and summarizes the central theme of Dr. Pagels’ research on The Gospel Of Thomas, with special focus on The Gospel Of John which was written to countermand Thomas' growing influence. All of this is vitally important to understand if we are to form an accurate perception of the earliest teachings of Christianity; and, indeed, how life, and the afterlife, is constructed, with a view toward what it means to be human.

 

 

 

author, Dr. Elaine Pagels, Harvard professor

 

 

 

Editor’s note: The review of Dr. Pagels’ “Beyond Belief” will be offered in the format of Kairissi-and-Elenchus discussion.

Part I will feature research information on Thomas and John.

Part II presents discourse concerning practical implications.

 

 

 PART I

 

Kairissi. This Thomas-versus-John debate is a really big deal.

Elenchus. But it won’t seem important to most people, so we'll try to make it clear.

K. It’s one of those hinges of history; things could have gone either way back then, with massive implications.

E. There’s a lot of information to cover, and we can’t discuss Elaine’s entire book, but we hope to highlight the central debate between Thomas and John.

K. It’s odd, isn’t it? Most people are unaware that there even was a debate.

E. It's the same today in the political arena. If all you know is what you hear from major news outlets, you'll see things from one narrow perspective.

K. A carefully crafted perspective designed to serve private agenda.

E. The more we learn about history, we see that this is the way it's always been: "How we can we fool'em today?"

K. In the first century, this propaganda dynamic issued as the Gospel Of John written as polemic designed to disparage the Gospel of Thomas.

E. John is well loved, but, as we review the facts of the case, it doesn’t deserve the honor. The truth is, John is a "hit piece." While it offers many famous vignettes, purportedly of the life of Jesus, such as the Samaritan woman at the well, the wedding party turning-water-into-wine, or the late night visit by Nicodemus, John's main purpose is to sling mud at Thomas.

K. This will be shocking to many, and so we need to examine the evidence, step-by-step. As we do, it will become plain, to the objective reviewer, that there’s much more here than we’ve been led to believe.

E. What do you think, Kriss? Can we offer a short summary of the real difference between Thomas and John right now, before we go into the details? What would you say?

the essential disagreement between John and Thomas

K. Well, summaries are difficult because there’s so much ground to cover. However, I think it’s like this:

Thomas says that Jesus was an advanced, enlightened man, not God. All of us were “made in the image,” and we can all grow up into the same godly stature reflected in the life and mind of Jesus. To do this, we must bring to fore the hidden riches of the soul, the god-essence within.

John says that Jesus was God, was utterly unique, the “only begotten” of the Father. We cannot come to God, it asserts, without first going to Jesus. We don’t need evidence, John says, but only that we should “believe” on Jesus; in fact, those who require evidence are called obtuse and damned - "already damned," as John is not shy to gush.

E. Well, isn't that a sunny little platitude to pin on your bathroom mirror? 

K. We're all charmed, I'm sure.

E. And even this very short summary of John is a real downer.

K. It’s meant to be a downer. This is how Big Religion has kept people in psychological chains, fear and guilt, for many centuries. But, we’re getting ahead of our story.

E. Why don’t we begin by reviewing aspects of the positive message of the Gospel Of Thomas. First, would you like to explain to our readers something of its origin?

K. As we discussed in the “other Bible” article, Thomas is part of the Nag Hammadi documents:

"[In 1945] near Nag Hammadi in the upper Egyptian desert, an Arab peasant made an astonishing discovery. What he found, buried in an ancient earthenware jar, were fifty-two papyrus texts, including gospels and other sacred writings, some dating from the beginning of the Christian era - the period when the New Testament gospels themselves were written." (The Gnostic Gospels, Elaine Pagels)

E. There is the question, why were the Nag Hammadi documents concealed in a clay pot? Dr. Pagels in “Beyond Belief” informs us. In the 300s AD, there was a bishop in Alexandria, Egypt by the name of Athanasius. It was his goal to suppress all competing factional views of Christianity in favor of his own. However, this spirit of vicious rivalry created for himself no small opposition. Several times over many years Bishop Athanasius found himself ousted from power, needing to flee for his life. Finally, in 361, his latest opposing nemesis having himself fallen from political grace, the beleaguered Egyptian clergyman made his way back into office, which he vigorously clung to for his remaining years. In this final return to public esteem, Athanasius doubled his efforts now to consolidate his fiefdom. He endeavored to stamp out all dissenting voices and decreed that the Gnostic documents, condemned as dangerous and heretical, were to be destroyed.

“It is likely that one or more of the monks who heard [the bishop’s] letter read at their monastery near the town of Nag Hammadi decided to defy Athanasius’s order and removed more than fifty books from the monastery library, hid them in a jar to preserve them, and buried them [to be found] sixteen hundred years later.”

why was Thomas so hated 

K. Why the big uproar? Why the heavy vituperation against a set of books? But these were not ordinary writings and represented an ideal which Athanasius loathed.

E. Explain that to us.

K. "Gnostic" is from a Greek word meaning "to know"; the modern word "knowledge" is related. The enemies of the Gnostics said that they claimed to "to know it all," but this was just propaganda. Instead, the Gnostics had discovered that the riches of the soul, by "going within," could be a source of mystical knowledge unavailable via the five senses or the scientific method.

E. Time and again in history we see the truth trampled by censorship and bully-tactics.

K. Today we witness the same dark dynamic unfolding. The US Founding Fathers are now vilified by totalitarians as “elitist white-supremacist males.” In this prevarication, those who would claim the chief-seat and usurp power for themselves seek to separate us from our traditions of personal liberties. The US has not been perfect, but it’s the best the world has ever seen, and the posterboys for 1984 would plunge us all into a new Dark Age of jackboot oppression.

E. I think it was J.P. Morgan who said that, when somebody wants to do something, they’ll give you their “good reason,” but behind that is the “real reason.” And the church-politician, Athanasius, blathered on with pious empty godtalk about how the Gnostic documents were an affront to divinity and misrepresented the truth.

K. That was his “good reason.”

E. But what was really going on with him is that many of the Gnostic writings, and Thomas in particular, offered a view of life which allowed the individual to freely approach God directly, all by him or herself, without need of any intermediary - priest, church, or sacrament.

K. Well, no wonder this made Athanasius foam at the mouth as a “carpet fresser.” Speak to God directly? How would that ever work? If every tom-dick-and-harry-plus-jane can get up on a high-horse and say "I'm good enough to be taught one-on-one by Heaven," then how is Athanasius supposed to be a head-honcho as God’s duly appointed?

E. That would cramp a church-despot’s style, for sure.

the time-frame of Athanasius and John

K. Let's clarify that the brown-shirt tactics of Athanasius occurred nearly 300 years after the Gospel Of John was written.

E. The Athanasius rampage took place after Emperor Constantine’s Nicene Council. We covered this latter event in a separate article.

K. And John was written after Thomas. We know this because John refers to elements of the Thomas document.

E. John was written circa 100 AD - many decades after the death of Jesus.

K. In fact, it would be good to point out that it is extremely likely that neither Thomas nor John was written by the original apostles but by the followers of each. But even this isn't quite accurate as these "gospels," in the main, are more like collections of sayings put together by editors who added certain things to promote a certain viewpoint or agenda.

E. And some of this agenda, from some, was not all sugar and spice. The advent of Big Religion was still in the offing, but John represented a view of Jesus which would later fit very well with the purposes of a large power-grabbing organization. Big Religion needs Jesus to be God because this tenet furthers the interests of power-and-control. We discussed this in the “Constantine” article.

K. But, in 100 AD, all this was still future oppression. John’s insistence that Jesus was God represents a minority view among Christian factions of the day. Early on, most viewed Jesus as an elder brother, an advanced man, someone we could "grow up" to be like someday.

E. So, let’s see what Thomas actually says that made Athanasius and the author of John do a rain dance.

 

of the many teachings in Thomas, probably the most important:

at the center of being, at core essence,

we are light

 

K. Let's list the verses in Thomas, printed in red, which directly or indirectly speak of this light.

 

‘you came from Light, it’s what you are’

Jesus said: "If people ask you: 'Where have you come from?' tell them: 'We have come from the Light, from the place where the Light is produced.’”

Jesus said, "Blessed is he who came into being before he came into being."

Jesus said... "The kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you become acquainted with yourselves, then you will be recognized [by yourselves that you are of God]. And you will understand that it is you who are children of the living father. But if you do not become acquainted with yourselves, then you are in poverty, and it is you who are the poverty."

E. How would you define this “light”?

K. It appears that Thomas is saying that it’s a “God-essence” within.

E. I think that’s right, and we could also offer a synonym of “light” as one’s consciousness, as part of Universal Consciousness.

K. That’s accurate, too.

E. And so the phrase, “The kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you,” would mean, “God’s domain is within your deepest self, it’s what you are at the core of personhood, but God’s realm is also everything around you, the whole world and universe.”

K. As the great physicists assert, “Consciousness, not matter, is the ground of all being.” Everything derives from, is made of, Universal Consciousness.

E. Everything is made of the "God-essence." But this “consciousness” is also like “light” in that it illuminates. It reveals not only what God has made, both inside and outside of ourselves, but “light” discloses something of the hidden, unknowable "person" of God.

K. We had an existence before we came to the Earth; not so much a sentient one as receipt of such is why we came here; but “light” and “consciousness” are eternal and therefore it’s true to say “"Blessed is he who came into being,” that is, knows that he came into being, “before he came into being” as a mortal body on the Earth.

 

the light within leads us to acquire the mind and nature of Jesus

Jesus said, "Whoever drinks from my mouth will become like me; I, too, will become that person, and to that person the obscure things will be shown forth."

Jesus said to his disciples, "Compare me to something and tell me what I am like." Simon Peter said to him, "You are like a just messenger." Matthew said to him, "You are like a wise philosopher." Thomas said to him, "Teacher, my mouth is utterly unable to say what you are like. Jesus said, "I am not your teacher. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring that I have tended."

Jesus said, "Come to me, for my [teaching] yoke is comfortable and my lordship is gentle, and you will find rest for yourselves [from the oppression of this world]."

Here are the [secret, obscure, or hard to understand] words which Jesus the living spoke, transcribed [written down] by Didymos Judas Thomas.

K. "I am not your teacher" will jar people.

E. It just means, "the best I can do is to point you to the light within, which will teach you all things - that's your real teacher;" in other words, "you must teach yourself;" rather, God will teach you directly via the light within.

K. And why so much emphasis on the precise meaning of Thomas’ name? It’s more than etiquette. In fact, in this attention to detail, there's an attempt to reveal a great truth.

E. The hidden meaning here is really wonderful and we want to make this clear.

K. “Thomas” is a nickname, a Greek rendering meaning “the twin.” “Thomas” was used for Greek readers. The term “Didymos” also means “the twin,” but it’s an Aramaic version of the name, the language that Jesus would have used in his day.

E. I think we can see the root idea of “twin” in “Didymos” because “di-” can mean “two.”

K. As “Thomas” was a nickname, his birth-name was “Judas,” with his followers quick to add the identifier “not Iscariot.”

E. So what do we have here? We have a student of Jesus by the name of Judas who came to be known as “the twin.” Why the nickname?

K. And this is where things get really interesting. Notice that Jesus offers, in poetic language, “If you drink from me” – that is, comparing his teachings to a "bubbling" artesian spring of refreshment – “then you will become like me.” But this sense of mirroring image is not all one-sided. He goes on to say that “I too will become that person.”

E. A morphing into twinship!

K. That seems to be the sense here because Thomas, the record shows, was allowed certain teachings from Jesus which were not given to the other apostles.

E. Immediately following the verse of Jesus saying, “compare me to something,” it’s stated,

And he took him [Thomas], and withdrew [for a private teaching session], and spoke three sayings to him. When Thomas came back to his friends they asked him, "What did Jesus say to you?" Thomas said to them, "If I tell you one of the sayings he spoke to me, you will pick up rocks and stone me, and fire will come from the rocks and devour you."

K. And so we find that Thomas is given certain “secret” teachings, and, according to the earlier statement, if one “drinks of these teachings” then Jesus and the student – will not just become like each other but – will become each other. We gather that the idea of becoming so closely aligned with all that Jesus was and is would have sounded utterly ludicrous to the other apostles: "you will pick up rocks and stone me."

E. Blasphemy! they would have charged, which accounts for the concern about stoning.

K. However, those who reject this central precept of our destiny, of what it means to have been "made in the image," of accessing the light and becoming more godlike as did Jesus, will stunt their own development and undo themselves: "fire will come from the rocks and devour you."

we are all to become the 'identical twin' of Jesus

E. In other words, we could say, Jesus and Thomas become each other’s twin! – identical twins, of sorts.

K. Dr. Pagels points out that in another Gnostic document, the Book Of Thomas, written some time after the Gospel Of Thomas, we find Jesus addressing Thomas,

“Since you are my twin and my true companion, examine yourself, and learn who you are… Since you will be called my [twin] … although you do not understand it yet … you will be called 'the one who knows himself.' For whoever has not known himself knows nothing, but whoever has known himself has simultaneously come to know the depth of all things.”

 

the office of ‘light of the world’ is not a function of only one person

He said to them: "He who has ears, let him hear! There is light within a man of light, and he lights the whole world. If he does not shine, there is darkness."

Jesus said, "It is I who am the light (that presides) over all."

Jesus said, "I am not your teacher. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring that I have tended."

E. This is something important.

K. Everybody has heard of the bold statement, “I am the light of the world”; meaning, “I’m the only one.” But these words are put in Jesus’ mouth only by the writer of the Gospel Of John - which is looking more checkered by the minute.

E. The Jesus in Thomas has an altogether different point of view. Yes, Jesus is still the light of the world, but he’s very quick to add that all of us, anyone who has ears to hear, can also light up the world with what he or she is on the deep inside.

K. There’s more than one teacher of the world. Anyone who begins to live from one’s sacred center, accessing the light of God, will shed light on the world. And this is why the Jesus in Thomas is adamant to deflect that he is our teacher.

 

the light within, our status as children of God, portends an exalted future of great power and notoriety

Jesus said, "The heavens and the earth will be rolled up in your presence. And the one who lives from the living one will not see death." Does not Jesus say, "Whoever finds himself [that is, the true self, the light within] is superior to [is worth more than] the world?"

Jesus said, "A city built upon a high hill and fortified cannot fall. Nor can it become hidden."

And he said: "Whoever penetrates the meaning of these words will not taste death!"

Jesus said … [the one who seeks to understand my teachings will find,] and he will rule over the All [or the entirety, or the universe]."

Jesus said: “What you hear … proclaim it on your roof-tops. For no one lights a lamp to set it under a bushel, or to put it in a hidden place; but he sets it on the lamp-stand, that all who go in and come out may see its light.”

Jesus said, "From Adam to John the Baptist, among those born of women, no one is so much greater than John the Baptist that his eyes should not be averted. But I have said that whoever among you becomes a [teachable] child will recognize the (Father's) kingdom and will become greater than John."

K. We have the benefit of the “scientific evidence of the afterlife.” It’s not possible to know everything about how things work over there, but we have many thousands of channeled testimonies, and we know some things about that coming “real world.”

E. Thomas’ assertion that the future of God’s sons and daughters will be royal and regal comes to life in certain reports from Summerland. They’re really something, and it’s very exciting to share this information.

K. We must encourage our readers to have a look at the lengthy article, “500 tape-recorded messages from the other side.” There’re so many wonderful things to know in that writing, but I want to point out Father Benson’s statements about “The Ruler Of The Realms.” Presumably, there are many millions of planets scattered about the universe which support intelligent life, and there’s one individual who presides over this vast domain, to make sure that everyone is happy and getting what he or she needs. The “Ruler” looks like an ordinary man, your favorite uncle, somebody who enjoys his rose garden and telling jokes, but he’s at least 5 billion years old. His ordinary appearance belies unfathomable cloaked powers. He seems to be able to perceive the status of all life forms, those living under his care, anywhere in the universe. What’s more interesting is that Father Benson, and the “Ruler” himself, wants everyone to know that we all, each one of us, have this kind of latent ability hidden within our spiritual DNA, waiting to be developed.

E. All of this is more than marvelous, but there’s an account, more modest in some respects, but extremely moving in its own way. There’s a lady, not long on the other side, who channeled her description of a romantic couple, a pair of Twin Souls. These two seemed to have been very mature, maybe, hundreds or thousands of years together. But, in any case, this splendiferous duo seemed to her so royal, so impressive, and so godlike. But here is her report, in her own words:

Caroline Larsen, testimony from the other side:

“The mere sight of these majestic spirits, even from afar, was enough
to convince the beholder that they were the rulers and controllers
of the whole universe, of matter and of spirit. The overpowering
dominance of their personalities subdued my spirit so that, staring
and stupefied, I trembled and shrank at their presence
.

"Two in particular, a man and a woman spirit, burned with the light
of two flaming suns dimming all others near them with the intense
lustre of their white radiance… Dazzled, I cowered, raising my hand
to my forehead in an involuntary tribute of humility and awe. It is
impossible to say how far I was from them since space does not
limit the astral body. But, near or far, I could clearly distinguish every
expression of their countenances.

"They were dressed in magnificent robes of pure white. The dress of the female spirit was a long flowing robe rippling from her form in loose and graceful lines, as she floated in a perpendicular position, inclined with knees slightly bent.

"The dress of the male spirit was a close-fitting toga that reached to
his feet. He moved in a similar posture, but his head was thrown further back. His eyes, following the direction of his outstretched hand, were focused upon some great distant star. As he expounded to his companion some great mysterious truth, he seemed the embodiment of authority and wisdom. But on his features played the soft light of spiritual love which tempered his austerity with its ethereal glow. To me he seemed all-powerful, fitted to command instant obedience from any forces, material or spirit.

"His companion, though possessed of much of his spiritual power and authority, displayed these same qualities but they were subdued by a feminine grace and loveliness which rendered her face sublime in its serene nobility. They appeared to be gods rather than perfect spirits, yet I was informed that they had once dwelt in human form, somewhere. Whether their union began then or later I did not know, but now they were bound for eternity by the ties of spiritual attraction and love. By spiritual development ["travelling on," as "The Wedding Song" uses the phrase] they had risen to the highest power, and, as my guide explained, they were now a part of that Supreme Power that rules and guides both the material and spirit universe.

"The host of spirits gazed intently after them with respectful admiration and awe. It was a glorious moment for me when I beheld these marvelous beings, and knew the happiness of their close presence. For a time I stood motionless [frozen in awe] and gazed after the disappearing glory, which lessened as these two beings passed from sight, till my eyes beheld in the distance only the white light that enfolded them.”

Editor's note: Wow - not only to have found the true eternal romantic love but to live that kind of regal lifestyle with the whole universe as your court.

 

the light within will reveal itself in its children who will offer evidence of the nature of this light

Jesus said, "If they say to you, 'Where have you come from?' say to them, 'We have come from the Light, from the place where the Light is produced, established [itself, or stood at rest], and revealed itself in their image.' If they say to you, 'Who or what are you?' say, 'We are its children, the offspring [of Light], we are chosen [to manifest] the living Progenitor, [Light as mother-father].' If they ask you, 'What is the evidence of your [Progenitor/Light] in you?' say to them, 'It is motion and rest.'"

K. Many of the sayings in Thomas are cryptic, and this one, especially at the end, does not break the pattern.

E. What are we to make of this “motion and rest”?

K. As we’ve said, much of this instruction cannot be understood until one inhabits the teaching, enters into it, and experiences what Jesus is talking about.

E. Yes. How would you explain it to those who’ve yet to access this wonder?

K. Let’s look at the question again. Jesus says, people are going to ask you about this light within. And they’ll want to know, how did you make yourself one with the light? What is this “light” really?

E. Notice that in some of the translations the light is from a place where it “establishes itself” or, probably better rendered, “stands at rest.”

K. This is really heavy. Think about the contrast. We live in a world that is constantly changing and in state of flux. We ourselves view ourselves as caught in this temporal swirl, this existential upheaval, of nothing as permanent, nothing staying the same, everything moving.

E. As Heraclitus said, you can never step into the same river twice.

K. Exactly, just so. We can’t seem to hold on to anything, everything is dying and changing into something else. Much could be said here. I’d like to direct our readers to one of Krishnamurti lectures where he addresses this problem of constant change and the fear that it engenders in frail mortals. He asks the question, “Is there anything permanent in us, or do we only wish there were something permanent? When one observes oneself, there is nothing permanent: everything is in movement, in a state of flux.”

E. What he says is absolutely true, everything is in movement – but only at the surface of personality. At a deeper level, at the level of the sacred soul, of the “light within,” we find the opposite. There, we find perfect peace, eternal repose and quietude.

K. The author once offered the analogy of a hurricane at sea…

K. All is chaos and frenetic activity at the surface of the waters, but if we were to descend a few hundred meters, we’d find everything at rest. And so it is with us.

E. How would you summarize this for our readers?

K. Jesus said we’ll be asked the question, what evidence do you have that the light is your mother-father? In other words, how can we know that someone is a child of light, living in the light, or generating light for one’s life? The answer is, Jesus said, you will show them evidence of “motion and rest.”

E. And tell us what this means.

K. People could debate this endlessly, however, when we actually experience what Jesus is talking about, it can mean only one thing: “motion and rest” refers to a balance between “doing and being”; a tension between the active life in the world and spending time in the “small quiet room.”  

E. When we experience the reality of this, we ourselves become the evidence of "motion and rest."

K. Darling Dear, I just had a flash-insight on the meaning of "rest."

E. Please share.

K. We recorded in one of the Einstein articles that, from the photon's point of you, all time ceases and distance collapses to zero. There is no speed of light as such because, from the photon's point of view, it doesn't go anywhere. In the 3-D world we say that it does, but our viewpoint is not primary, light's viewpoint is.

E. And since we, in our essential natures are "light," the principle of "rest" can apply to us, too!

K. When we live as the hurricane at sea, representing our normal busy activities in the world, it's "motion" all the way.

E. Yes, I see - but when we "go within" and experience our link to God, then one's "made in the image" mode of existence becomes primary, and now it's all "rest" and peace with God.

K. It's beautiful, isn't it.

 

the light within is not perceived by most people, they don’t know who they are

Jesus said, "Images are visible to people, but the light within them is hidden in the image of the Father's light. He will be disclosed, but his image is hidden by his light." Jesus said: When you see your likeness, you rejoice. But when you see your images which came into existence before you, which neither die nor are made manifest, how much will you bear?"

Jesus said, "If you bring forth what is within you, what you have will save you. If you do not have that within you, what you do not have within you [will] kill you."

His disciples said to him, "When will the repose of the dead come about, and when will the new world come?" He said to them, "What you look forward to has already come, but you do not recognize it."

Jesus said, "The Father's kingdom is like a merchant who had a supply of merchandise and found a pearl. That merchant was prudent; he sold the merchandise and bought the single pearl for himself. So also with you, seek his treasure that is unfailing, that is enduring, where no moth comes to eat and no worm destroys."

Jesus said, "The (Father's) kingdom is like a person who had a treasure hidden in his field but did not know it. And [when] he died he left it to his [son]. The son [did] not know about it either. He took over the field and sold it. The buyer went plowing, [discovered] the treasure, and began to lend money at interest to whomever he wished."

Jesus said, "If the flesh came into being because of spirit, that is a marvel, but if spirit came into being because of the body, that is a marvel of marvels. Yet I marvel at how this great wealth has come to dwell in this poverty."

His disciples said to him, "When will the kingdom come?" [Jesus said,] "It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying 'here it is' or 'there it is.' Rather, the kingdom of the father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it."

E. I like the parable about the guy who sold his farm and had no idea that a great treasure was buried in his field.

K. And the new owner stumbles onto these riches “and began to lend money at interest to whomever he wished.” In other words, the treasure became a source of independent wealth, obviating now any need to huff-and-puff to make a living.

E. And this, of course, becomes a good metaphor of the light, the “riches within,” which easily shines forth with no effort on our part.

K. And I’d like to focus on two back-to-back verses as well:

Jesus said, "Images are visible to people, but the light within them is hidden in the image of the Father's light. He will be disclosed, but his image is hidden by his light." Jesus said: When you see your likeness, you rejoice. But when you see your images which came into existence before you, which neither die nor are made manifest, how much will you bear?"

K. There’s a lot here. It talks about why people can’t sense the light within. Let’s see if we can sort this out.

E. Some of the message is hindered by difficult-to-translate terms and phrases. But let's begin.

K. "Images are visible to people" means "When you look at yourself in a mirror, you can see your own image plainly enough."

E. That kind of "seeing your image" is easy, but there's another kind that trips people up.

K. But "the light within them is hidden," that is, "the reflected light, offering a different kind of image of themselves, from a different kind of mirror, is not clearly observed by them." 

E. That's good, Kriss, keep going.

K. And where, or how, is this alternate image of themselves hidden? It's "hidden in the image of the Father's light." It's hidden in the divine "made in the image" capacities of the soul.

E. That's where our "true self" is, that's where our "light" is.

K. Continuing with the "mirror" analogy, "When you see your likeness, you rejoice"; that is, "When you see your image in a mirror, it pleases you." And then Thomas gives the offsetting counterpart to this metaphor: "But when you see your [eternal] images [of light] which came into existence before you, which neither die nor are made manifest, how much will you bear?"

E. In other words, "When you begin to 'go within' and catch a glimpse of the image of the 'true self,' you're not necessarily pleased right away at what you discover. And here we come to some heavy teaching. Why are people "not pleased" when they "go within"?

K. They're subliminally worried that they might find out they're a bad person who might have to meet a harsh and angry god. This reminds us of Krishnamurti and his lectures who said that 95% of people are not interested or are afraid of what they'll find "on the inside."

E. In his own way, Krishnamurti also used the "image" metaphor. He said that people construct false images about themselves. When we feel offended by someone, he said, “there is an image about yourself.” It’s an image that we ourselves build. This ego-image reflects one's “conditioning, through ... cultural, social” influences. Why do we build this image? We do so “as a means of security ... of protection ... of being somebody.”

K. All of this is not just extremely interesting but vital to understand in terms of growing spiritually, of accessing the light within.

E. And let's hold this thought a little longer concerning people "not being pleased" at what they find when they "go within." There's a verse in Thomas which we're coming to, but let's introduce it now:

Jesus said, "Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds. When he finds, he will become troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished.”

K. We must carefully consider what this means. Learning about the light within is not something you can just hear about and you’ll be right; you can’t just simply listen to a sermon or read a book or anything like that – even this article. All this, at best, is just a sign-marker showing us the general direction to truth - but that truth, and the reality of it, is on the deep inside of each one of us. And each of us has to take the journey to the center of personhood, all alone, and no one can do this for us. And when we do take this trip, it’s not a joy-ride. As we pierce through the layers of false images of the ego, facades that we’ve constructed to protect ourselves in a hostile world, we will find ourselves very threatened, “troubled” and “astonished” at all that we’ve been doing to ourselves to avoid coming to the light, the truth of who we really are.

E. I think all of this unpleasant unveiling is called "the long dark night of the soul."

K. It's not pretty, but we have to face the facts of what we've done to ourselves. It's not an optional class, it's required for graduation; which means, the sooner we start this process, the sooner the worst of it will be over.

E. We don't want to scare people; actually, it's not so bad. We make it bad if we cling to old false images of ourselves. That makes everything hard. But we have to remember that Jesus also said, "My teaching discipline is light and easy, come to me all you who are burdened by the oppression of this world."

K. Yes, of course, thank you for that, Ellus. If we allow ourselves a spirit of "surrender and acceptance," which means we don't permit the ego to fight God in this make-over of ourselves, it's not so bad at all.

 

a knowledge of the light within, a revelation of our status as children of God, comes to us gradually but surely, and will continue to unfold endlessly

The disciples said to Jesus: "Tell us what the kingdom of heaven is like." He said to them: "It is like a grain of mustard-seed, the smallest of all seeds; but when it falls on tilled ground, it puts forth a great branch and becomes shelter for the birds of heaven."

Jesus said, "Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds. When he finds, he will become troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished.”

Jesus said, "He who seeks will find, and he who knocks will be let in."

K. Finding the light is not a “one time and you’re done” affair. It’s part of the grand evolutionary unfolding of the universe.

E. And it’s taking us along for the ride.

K. This blossoming of light-sentience-godhood will never end.

E. Nor would we want it to.

K. The “Omega Point” chapters often focus on the evolutionary process of love. In principle all of that applies to the progressively expanding “light within” as well.

 

finding the light within, our status as children of God, will not be achieved by those who delay, the half-hearted, the part-timer, or the hobbyist, but requires a total life-dedication

Jesus said, "There was a rich man who had much money. He said, 'I shall put my money to use so that I may sow, reap, plant, and fill my storehouse with produce, with the result that I shall lack nothing.' Such were his intentions, but that same night he died. Let him who has ears hear."

Jesus said, "Whoever finds the world and becomes rich, let him renounce the world."

Jesus said, “A man had guests; and when he had prepared the dinner, he sent his servants to invite the guests. He went to the first, and said to him: ‘My master invites you.’ He said: ‘I have money with some merchants; they are coming to me this evening. I will go and give them my orders. I ask to be excused from the dinner.’ He went to another (and) said to him: ‘My master invites you.’ He said to him: ‘I have bought a house, and I am asked for a day. I shall not have time.’ He went to another (and) said to him: ‘My master invites you.’ He said to him: ‘My friend is about to be married, and I am to arrange the dinner. I shall not be able to come. I ask to be excused from dinner.’ He went to another, he said to him: ‘My master invites you.’ He said to him: ‘I have bought a farm; I am going to collect the rent. I shall not be able to come. I ask to be excused.’ The servant came back (and) said to his master: ‘Those whom you have invited to dinner have asked to be excused.’ The master said to his servant: ‘Go out to the roads, bring those whom you find, that they may dine.’ Traders and merchants [those consumed by worldly affairs] [shall] not [enter] the places of my Father.”

K. Finding “the light within” as number one priority doesn’t mean that we have to think about it all the time.

E. No healthy mind could live that way.

K. But what it does mean is that we realize its central importance in our lives.

E. In another writing, the author said this, which also applies to “the light”:

The implications are utterly profound and far-reaching. No subject could be more important; because if we fail to come into our own, fall short of accessing who we really are, we'll be of little use to ourselves or others.

Everything - one's entire future, all that we hope to do, accomplish, and possess - hinges upon first coming alive.

 

those besotted by the cares and aspirations of this world, the utterly materialistic, will despise the good news of our having been born of light

He said, "There was a good man who owned a vineyard. He leased it to tenant farmers so that they might work it and he might collect the produce from them. He sent his servant so that the tenants might give him the produce of the vineyard. They seized his servant and beat him, all but killing him. The servant went back and told his master. The master said, 'Perhaps he did not recognize them.' He sent another servant. The tenants beat this one as well. Then the owner sent his son and said, 'Perhaps they will show respect to my son.' Because the tenants knew that it was he who was the heir to the vineyard, they seized him and killed him. Let him who has ears hear."

Jesus said, "Show me the stone which the builders have rejected. That one is the cornerstone."

[Jesus said] "Don't give what is holy to dogs, for they might throw them upon the manure pile. Don't throw pearls to pigs."

Jesus said, "Those who [think they] know all, but are lacking in themselves [a knowledge of the inner light], are utterly lacking [and have nothing]."

E. These verses state what we all know: those who find and cherish “the light within” will probably not get much respect in this world.

K. We’re reminded of another saying of Jesus: “the first will be last, and the last will be first.”

E. We’re headed for a new world, the “real world,” which is not constructed upon the materialistic viewpoint.

K. It's a whole new ballgame over there, and a lot of people are going to be surprised.

E. That's funny. We just read about those starting on the path of enlightenment who will be "troubled" and "astonished." But your comment helps us to see that everyone's going to be troubled and astonished!

K. No free passes. The only question is, when do you want it? now? - so that you can manage the cognitive dissonance? or do we want to wake up in a "dark closet with no walls" and face the music then?

 

the realization of the light within, our status as children of God, changes how we live life, see the future, and also how we worship God

His disciples asked and said to him: "Do you want us to fast? How shall we pray, how shall we give alms, what rules concerning eating shall we follow?" Jesus said: "Tell no lie, and whatever you hate [and know to be wrong], do not do: for all these things are manifest to the face of heaven; nothing hidden will fail to be revealed and nothing disguised will fail before long to be made public."

Jesus said to them, "If you fast, you will bring sin upon yourselves, and if you pray, you will be condemned, and if you give to charity, you will harm your spirits."

His disciples said: "Teach us about the place where you are, for it is necessary for us to seek it." He said to them: "He who has ears, let him hear! There is light within a man of light, and he lights the whole world. If he does not shine, there is darkness."

The disciples say to Jesus: "Tell us what our end will be." Jesus says: "Have you then deciphered the beginning, that you ask about the end? For where the beginning is, there shall be the end. Blessed is the man who reaches the beginning; he will know the end, and will not taste death."

K. These verses contain some very important teaching, and they also serve as natural bridge to our investigation of the Gospel Of John.

E. We need to look at what’s said here very carefully. Why don’t you begin, Kriss?

K. Jesus’ men ask about religious rules: “Do you want us to fast, to pray, to help the poor, to eat certain foods? If so, how should we do it?” These questions are also asked, in whole or part, in Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John (MMLJ). The Jesus in those gospels tends to give direct answers. That Jesus will say something like, “You should pray this way,” or “fast in this manner,” or “give to charity along these lines,” and so on.

E. May I also point out that the Jesus of MMLJ has a different focus. That Jesus is more interested in external things. For him, the way to God includes, and makes important, traditional religious rubric concerning prayer, fasting, alms-giving, and the like. But the Jesus in Thomas is very different.

K. Yes, very different. The Jesus in Thomas does not answer these questions directly, but instead takes us in a new direction. He says, "Tell no lie, and whatever you hate [and know to be wrong], do not do: for all these things are manifest to the face of heaven; nothing hidden will fail to be revealed and nothing disguised will fail before long to be made public."

E. And now we’re tempted to become exasperated as did some of the “church fathers” who did not like this kind of beating-around-the-bush answer. It’s one of the reasons why the traditional church hated Thomas.

K. But these accusations are unfair. Thomas is written in “mashal” style, designed to develop understanding and insight.

E. A “mashal” -- or a “koan,” a zen riddle crafted to lead students to enlightenment.

K. Readers need to keep this in mind. The Jesus of Thomas is not so interested in imparting factual information but is attempting to create a mind ready to perceive “the light.

E. Yes, exactly.

K. And so, when they ask “should we pray, should we fast, etc.” we need to search for a below-the-surface meaning to his answer. It’s like this. What they’re really saying is, “We believe that the way to God is through what we do, all the external things of rules, regulations, and ritual that have defined religion for thousands of years.”

E. But the Jesus of Thomas will have none of that. His answer addresses the underlying spirit of their question and ignores the surface meaning. When he says, “don’t lie, don’t do what you know to be wrong, etc.,” what he’s really saying is, “You cannot access a God who is spirit by physical means. What you do on the outside is not where the rubber hits the road. I’ve already told you that you are children of light and that you came from light. Light is part of your DNA, and you already, right now, this moment, possess all the capacity and ability you’ll ever need to access the God of Light. You are asking me, how can we worship God, what good thing can we do to honor God? And my answer is, your conduct needs to reflect what you are on the deep inside. What you do in the external world must derive from who you are within. Therefore, do not lie, but live the truth, and express the light within; further, do not do what you know to be wrong, but instead live according to the dictates of the light within.”

K. (small smile) That wasn’t so hard, was it. Everything is easy when you know the answer.

E. (small smile)

K. And the next verse is similar in essence.

Jesus said to them, "If you fast, you will bring sin upon yourselves, and if you pray, you will be condemned, and if you give to charity, you will harm your spirits."

K. Many will find this statement jarring, not unlike the declaration “I am not your teacher.”

E. It's another koan. Here, again with fasting, prayer, and charity, Jesus is simply saying, “if you approach these things as some sort of external exercise in getting close to an inner divinity, you will take yourselves far afield of the God of Light who's part of your secret self."

K. And the next verse too – more externals. They said to him, “Teach us about the place where you are.” In MMLJ this kind of question popped up now and again, and Jesus would sometimes answer it directly, even to put them off. But the Jesus of Thomas once again, speaking as a zen master, ignores the surface question and addresses the underlying error.

E. And that underlying error is, externals don’t matter, and it doesn’t matter what Jesus’ zipcode is. Spatial proximity will cut no ice when it comes to being like Jesus or getting on his good side.

K. Jesus' answer has to do with the light within; essentially, he says, "when you find the light within, then you'll also be where I am."

E. I think we’re getting the hang of this a little now. Not to rush us, but we should move on to the last featured verse, the one that provides segue to John.

K. It’s an eye-opener.

E. These are things that people have not known.

K. They’ve been unknown because an opposing Religious Force, and not a good one, did not want them known. They tried to stamp out every last vestige of evidence that Thomas ever existed.

E. They almost succeeded. But, we suspect, that was not the will of God.

K. I would say "God" as Source Of Light, and light, by nature, seeks to reveal.

E. Let's look at the verse in question:

The disciples say to Jesus: "Tell us what our end will be." Jesus says: "Have you then deciphered the beginning, that you ask about the end? For where the beginning is, there shall be the end. Blessed is the man who reaches the beginning; he will know the end, and will not taste death."

K. They ask of him, "Tell us what our end will be."

E. Once again, this question is no stranger to MMLJ. Sprinkled throughout much of those writings, we find the disciples asking about “the end time” and “how will we know?"

K. Not always, but usually, in those gospels, Jesus is given to answer directly in the form of “wars and rumors of wars,” “earthquakes,” and a general rising tide of violence in the world. He’s also on record to exclaim, to the effect, “Those of you standing here will see all these things happen in your lifetime.”

E. But the Jesus of those gospels got it wrong. It didn’t happen. The apostles died, and no dramatic Second Coming, the “rule with a rod of iron,” to be found anywhere.

K. The Jesus of Thomas, however, will not be drawn into ill-fated prophecies of “the signs of the times.”

E. Earlier, as we've seen, Jesus said "What you seek for, the new world, the kingdom, has come already."

K. And notice how he answers in the present verse: "Have you then deciphered the beginning, that you ask about the end?”

E. It’s a kind of slap-down answer: “So, if you’re asking about ‘the end times’ you must have already figured out what happened at ‘the beginning’.”

K. Ahh, “the beginning.”

E. Yes, the famous “beginning” of Genesis.

K. And what happened at the beginning of all beginnings?

E. That’s when “the God of Light” created everything.

K. Oh, that little thing.

E. Right. Now let's look at the last half of this verse:

For where the beginning is, there shall be the end. Blessed is the man who reaches the beginning; he will know the end, and will not taste death."

K. Jesus has already told them about their beginning, where they came from.

E. They came from the Light.

K. But this hasn’t really sunk in for them. They’re worried about the end of the age and troubles to come. But the Jesus of Thomas will not address this.

E. Instead, he directs them to their beginning, when they became associated with the Light. In effect, Jesus is saying, “You came from Light. For you, that’s both the beginning and the end, the conclusion of the matter. You don’t have to worry about anything else.”

K. “Blessed” means “happy” or “prosperous.” “In good fortune,” he said, “is the one who accesses the beginning,” that is, “identifies with and remembers that he came from the Light.”

E. “He will know the end” or “He will know how everything is going to conclude.” And notice, too, these of the Light “will not taste death.”

K. This is what they’re really worried about: “Will I be killed during a calamitous period of world trouble at the end time?” “No,” says Jesus – "children of the Light will be just fine. Evil ones of this world might kill your body, but the real you, the light within, cannot be harmed."

both Thomas and John associate 'the beginning' with 'the light' - but with vastly different meanings

K. We’ve laid the groundwork, and now we come to our investigation of John as polemic against Thomas.

E. We’ll be addressing several items, but, to my way of thinking, the way these two gospels deal with “the beginning” and “the light” is most telling.

K. John gets into it from the very first verses. He wastes no time. This is so surreal, Elenchus. The first verses of John are famous and, in many sectors, well loved. I think I’d like to caution our readers to be prepared to be “troubled” and “astonished,” as Thomas likes to say.

E. It’s very disconcerting. The first verses of John are quite poetic in nature and prized as highest-quality spiritual literature by not a few.

K. And so, as we dissect John’s preamble, we need to be prepared for a shock when we suddenly see why John says the things he does.

E. Let’s look at John’s opening (NKJV):

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

John says that Jesus is God

K. What strikes you first?

E. I think it’s the claim that Jesus is God.

K. We have an entire article on this subject, and so we need to direct our readers there - however, there are billions in this world who are acquainted with these verses, and when they see “and the Word was God” almost everyone will respond with, “Well, yes, of course, Jesus is God.”

E. But we need to remind ourselves that viewing Jesus as God was a distinctly minority view when John was written.

K. Today “Jesus is God” seems as normal as bread-and-butter, but it’s normal because of censorship, the suppression of Thomas and the other Gnostic documents.

E. This is a contrived “normal,” a one-sided “normal,” a fake-news “normal,” like listening to the popular media in our day with their one-accepted-narrative censorship. If you hear only part of the story, then, yes, what remains, the oft-repeated part, will seem fine and dandy, even if it's not true.

Mathew, Mark, and Luke do not agree with John. The first three gospels say that Jesus is Man.

K. Most people don’t know about this.

E. The reason they don’t know about it is that the designations of Jesus in MML are not understood by those unfamiliar with the Jewish culture.

K. We must direct our readers to Dr. Pagel’s Thomas book for a full explanation, but, for example, “the Christ” should not be capitalized. “Christ” is a transliteration of the Hebrew “anointed.” In the Old Testament, leading members of Israel’s theocracy, such as the king or the high priest, were “anointed” as part of their investiture into office. An “anointing,” ritualized as a dab of olive oil on the forehead, was meant to symbolize God’s spirit now leading the new king or priest. Nothing wrong with that. But to suggest that “the Christ” means “godhood” is way off the mark. When MML employ the generic term “Christ” to refer to Jesus, readers in the first century AD would have taken this to mean “Jesus has been anointed as king or priest of Israel.” The better rendering should be “Jesus christ” or “Jesus the christ,” the “anointed one.”

E. There’s no capitalization in the original Greek manuscripts. To offer this becomes an “editorial comment” from a translator who wanted to believe that Jesus is God. But the text disallows this assertion.

K. The same is true for “son of man.” This just means “human being.”

E. And ditto with the nomenclature “son of God.” It does not mean “he is God.” In the Bible, angels and human beings are referred to as “son of God,” part of God's creation, and a first century reader by no means would have taken any of this as designation of Godhood.

K. It is only when we come to John that suddenly Jesus is promoted, in a "fixed election," to Godhood. But John stumbled into a rash and untenable proposition, one fostered in a spirit of heated factional rivalry, directed against Thomas.

Thomas tells us, in different ways, that we, as children of the Light, including Jesus, were with God at the beginning, but John makes a big point about only Jesus being with God at that time

K. More and more now as we compare the texts of these two gospels, we get the feeling that John is talking to someone.

E. John is talking to the “Thomas Christians.” So much of “the fourth gospel,” as we’ll see, is carefully crafted to address what John judges to be the heresy of the Thomas-cult.

K. The famous introductory lines of John, while beautiful poetry loved by millions, are, in fact, an attack speech directed against the “Thomas Christians.” Let’s look at an example, the statement about Jesus being “with God at the beginning.”

E. Frankly, for many years, since I was a young man reading John, I'd wondered why, in the opening remarks, John sees fit to announce -- not once but twice -- that Jesus was “with God.” This always struck me as a little odd. I mean, if Jesus is God, if he's one of the Gods, then it probably goes without saying that he was “with God.” So why make a big deal of this? We’re tempted to say it's a useless factoid.

K. But it all became clear after 1945 when the Thomas document was discovered. Now we learn that the Jesus of Thomas, somewhat joyously, announces to the world that “We are the children of Light, and we’ve always been with God, but most of us haven’t figured this out yet.”

E. This key point of understanding, however, is very threatening to the writer of John, and he wants to assail it, and does so more than once.

Thomas says that we came from Light, light is what we are at the center of being, but John insists that only those who believe on Jesus have any light.

K. The temperature in the room is rising, it’s getting personal now.

E. We sense John’s venom against the “Thomas Christians” who claim to be children of God.

K. Listen to John’s between-the-lines attack: “You’re nothing special, you don’t have any light in you! You’re nothing but arrogance! Only Jesus has ‘the light’ within him, and you’ll never have it unless you believe on him.”

John says that the whole reason Jesus came to the Earth was to give us light, provided that we believe on him, but Thomas says that we already have the light.

K. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” is among the most famous and best-loved scriptures.

E. It is a beautiful concept, but we’re less impressed when we realize just what John is trying to say here.

K. It’s a bit disconcerting, really; however, those heavily indoctrinated by the dystopian and anti-humanistic philosophies of Orthodoxy will feel right at home with the guilt-inducing message.

E. Yes, unfortunately; and as we view the implications of John’s proposition, we readily understand why Big Religion, very easily, would later adopt John and similar writings as part of the New Testament canon. There’s the smell of “power and control” to all of it.

K. Here’s the problem: John is saying, "not only do you not have any light within you, but, unless you believe on Jesus, then,” as is stated later in this gospel, “you’re damned already.”

E. It’s all poisonous cultism in a poetic wrapper. John wants us to know for sure, “You’re a buncha schmucks, you’re worthless, you’re no good, you were born in sin, God could never love you, you’re ‘damned already’ - unless you believe on Jesus.”

K. Well, we’re deeply moved by John’s little inspirational homily, kinda gets ya right here.

John has a seemingly innocent statement about Jesus as the light shining in the world's darkness, but it’s really an attack on the 'Thomas Christians'

K. Now here’s what appears to be an ordinary poetic statement by John: “And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

E. Sounds harmless enough. We understand the simple metaphor of “the light” and so, if you don’t have light, you’ll be in darkness. Pretty straightforward.

K. One would think; however, I would say it’s fairly clear that, even in this short sentence, John is attacking the “Thomas Christians.”

E. There’s a verse in Thomas, one that we looked at earlier: “[Jesus] said to them: ‘He who has ears, let him hear! There is light within a man of light, and he lights the whole world. If he does not shine, there is darkness’."

K. But John says that “the light,” meaning Jesus, and only Jesus, “shines in the darkness,” and the “Thomas Christians,” who arrogantly claim to be a light of the world, are the ones in darkness.

several times, the writer of John targets the apostle Thomas for ridicule and disrespect

K. This is major. It’s a smear campaign.

E. Most people don’t know about this in John.

K. But it’s pretty clear once you put it all together. Dr. Pagels offers good information here, and we’ll try to summarize it.

E. It should come as no surprise that the writer of John is eagerly searching for, and to manufacture, opportunities to disparage and marginalize the source of contrary doctrine.

K. John wants to neuter the hero of the "Thomas Christians," the apostle Thomas. We're looking at plain-vanilla character assassination. We see it every day in politics.

E. None of the following pejorative pieces on the apostle Thomas are mentioned in Mathew, Mark, or Luke - only in John. In fact, some of these are directly contradicted by MML, which assert it didn't happen that way. We'll talk about this conflicting and inconsistent report in the "infallible" Bible.

K. And let's begin with the most famous negative comment against the apostle Thomas.

We’ve all heard of “doubting Thomas”; all of us that is except Mathew and Luke – they say it wasn’t that way. John invents this nocuous image out of nothing in order to put the apostle Thomas, and his writings, in the worst possible light.

K. We’re very familiar with this propaganda technique.

E. We see it every day in modern politics.

K. If you have nothing of merit to say against your opponent or the facts of the case, you “pull a rabbit out of the hat” and manufacture a scenario.

E. We talked about this in the “clear thinking” article: When the opposing attorney is on the ropes and losing, but if he’s unscrupulous, he’ll “pound the table, shout at the jury, and vilify the other lawyer.” This is done to make a scene, distract attention from “what is,” and, in a long-shot “hail-mary” pass,” hope that this pageantry and showbiz might dislodge the jurors from their opinions.

K. If your opponent has actually done a good job for the people, and a lot of people love what he says and does, and everyone has benefitted by his philosophies, then all that’s left for you is character assassination.

E. This is the charade that the writer of John is trying to get away with.

K. Let’s talk about his accusation in detail, and then we’ll explain why this is not just a simple fracas of John’s word against that of Thomas.

Luke says that the risen Jesus appeared to “the eleven” and all of them doubted that Jesus was alive.

K. There were only eleven because Judas Iscariot had killed himself.

E. In Luke there is no singling out of the apostle Thomas for special condemnation for lack of belief. “Touch my hands, my wounds,” Jesus says, but still they couldn’t accept – all of them, including John, couldn’t believe it. See this in Luke 24:33-41.

K. John contradicts all this, however, by saying that when Jesus appeared to the ten, all of these good-guy believers "were overjoyed" to see Jesus, with nary a mention of any hint of incredulity. But this is John's massaged version.

E. There is no singular "doubting Thomas" but a "doubting eleven": this, however, is conveniently swept under John's rug.

Mathew and Luke both say that Jesus sent all of the eleven to preach the gospel to all nations, but John claims that Thomas missed that important meeting.

E. John goes way out on a conflicting-narrative limb to assert that Jesus appeared only to the ten. He wants to make sure that we know that “Thomas, called the twin … was not with them when Jesus came” (John 20:24).

K. This is really big - this appearance of Jesus was crucial. It's when he commissioned the lot of them as first lieutenants in his army of preachers. And, according to John, Thomas missed graduation.

E. Well, that's just the kinda no-account, irresponsible guy Thomas is, don't you know - according to John, probably out at a bar somewhere, with his cellphone turned off.

K. Uh-huh.

What John’s really saying is, Thomas isn’t even a real apostle! – he was never commissioned; and his writings constitute heresy, with no sanction from Jesus.

K. I’ll bet very few readers of John really get what he’s trying to say.

E. It’s a pretty big bold lie, one that is utterly foreign, and contradictory, to the other gospels.

K. If Thomas isn’t even an apostle, well then where is the moral authority, or the line authority, to back up the claims in his writings.

E. All this is character assassination taken to its logical extremes.

There are other pictures of Thomas in the Gospel Of John which attempt to make Thomas appear to be a fool.

K. According to John – no one else – when Jesus announces that he’s going to raise Lazarus from the dead, Thomas is depicted as a rogue scoffer.

E. Well, naturally – Thomas is a disbeliever through and through, it’s his default setting.

K. Right. So, when Thomas hears this from Jesus, John paints him as muttering under his breath, “Let us go so we can die with him.”

E. Very touching loyalty to Jesus.

K. And on the night before Jesus died, he’s instructing them and says, “You know where I’m going and you know the way.” John informs us, however, that only Thomas raises his hand to demur, asserting that, no, he doesn’t know the way (John 14:3-4).

E. As usual, Thomas is reluctant to believe. We can always count on him for that.

K. Apparently. (sighing) As one comes to realize what John is doing here in this “hit piece,” now known as a so-called “gospel,” it’s all pretty disgusting and low-level – just some politically motivated fake-news that we’ve all been subjected to in our world.

John tells us that Jesus made a special appearance just to tell Thomas that he was damned for his boorish insubordination and disbelief.

K. You know, the gospels indicate that the risen Jesus didn’t make a whole lot of appearances for the sake of just one person. I think it’s said that he sought out Mary Magdalene that way.

E. Someone he especially loved.

K. So it seems. But there’s the case of the special appearance to Thomas.

E. Someone he especially didn’t like.

K. (softly laughing) I think that’s what John is suggesting; moreover, that Jesus went out of his way just to tell Thomas that he was damned.

E. Well, ain’t dat sweet - sounds just like the Jesus we’ve all come to know and love.

K. Indeed - but this is John’s skewed version of Jesus.

Let’s bring to mind John’s primary goal: He's asserting that, no matter what Thomas says, we are not children of the light, but only those who believe on Jesus have light.

K. We come to the final major scene of John. It’s like the climax to an action movie where the bad-guy is done in.

E. It’s a “grade B” movie, with the ending all too predictable. Not much plot here.

K. According to John, as we’ve seen, Thomas was absent when Jesus commissioned the other apostles. Later, his buddies told him of what he missed, but “doubting Thomas” wouldn’t believe that Jesus was alive.

E. But now Jesus makes a special guest appearance to put Thomas in his place, once and for all. John has been working up to this, all of the foreshadowing in this cheap novelette, and he can’t wait for the “bad guy” to get what he deserves.

K. Let’s look at the account in John:

“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son… Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” John 3:18, 36

“Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, 'We have seen the Lord!' But he said to them, 'Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.' A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you!' Then he said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.' Thomas said to him, 'My Lord and my God!' Then Jesus told him, 'Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:24-29

Why does John speak of “condemned already”? – why not just say “condemned,” what is it with the “already”?

E. In the “Gospel Of Thomas” we see that Jesus, in many different ways, asserting, “You have nothing to worry about, you came from Light, and light is what you are. All you have to do is to realize who you really are, to find the light within. Don’t give a moment’s concern for your future. You already have all that you need, you’re already saved, and nothing can harm you.”

K. But Thomas’ “already” makes John froth at the mouth. He can’t stand it. He says, “You’re not saved already! – you’re condemned already! because you want evidence and will not believe.”

E. This is really bad stuff, really poisonous.

K. What are we to make of this theology of “condemned already,” this “damned already”?

E. It’s astonishing that this cluster of dark ideas was able to take hold of the minds of people and to become the societal norm.

K. Well, let’s bear in mind that none of it enjoyed widespread acceptance until the fourth century – not until Constantine’s Roman government, in a bid to unite the empire, did John’s version of reality become the status quo. The clashing Christian factions were put down, and one set of "approved" doctrines was imposed on the realm.

E. Money, land, and buildings were given to the “John Christians,” all backed by the swords of the Roman legions.

K. Soon, John's dark ideas were the only game in town, and, over time, it all became set-in-stone, ossified, as "it's the only way it can be or ever was."

E. We’ve discussed this elsewhere. But for our purposes here, 300 years prior to so-called Christianity becoming the state religion, what shall we say about this draconian teaching from John?

K. His premise is obnoxious and disgusting. He’s saying that God is well pleased with the cultish mind – if you can call it a mind. All you have to do is to join hands with the Queen of Hearts and simply force yourself to “believe” something, even if the rational faculties object.

 

 

"There is no use trying," said Alice; "one can't believe impossible things."

"I dare say you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

                                                Lewis Carroll

 

E. According to the Jesus of John, the rational faculties have no place in the equation and are but tools of the devil.

K. It’s all so disingenuous. There is no such thing as enforced belief. It’s an oxymoron. Unless there’s evidence to support conclusion, the mind cannot, with honesty, adopt anything. Only cult leaders speak to the contrary. We talked about this on the “belief” page.

E. And what a pathetic figure John sculpts Thomas to be at the end! See him there, groveling in the dirt. He’s been reduced to a shriveled serf, thoroughly humiliated, mumbling in abject obeisance, “My Lord and my God.”

K. John wants all the “Thomas Christians” to know, this is where your high-faluten demand for evidence will get you.

E. So, did the Jesus of John accept Thomas back into the fold?

K. We’re not really told, are we? Thomas has capitulated, he’s all good now in servile homage, groveling in the dirt, but this doesn’t really seem to satisfy John's Jesus.

E. This Jesus has taken it personally.

K. There’s no warm-and-fuzzy receiving of the “prodigal son.” There’s no, “you’re all forgiven now, you said the magic words, we’re all good, and welcome back to the fold, black sheep that you are.” No, none of that so much. Instead, this Jesus has a long memory of grievance. He’s still miffed, and hardly disguises the cold shoulder. He says, “Ok, fine, you believe now, so you say, but the blessed ones are those who believed without evidence.”

E. So, is Thomas back in the good graces, or not? Is he still “condemned already”?

K. It’s a really close call, and John wants you to know that it’s a close call. This is the way it is for all the malcontents who think they know so much and who don’t self-flagellate sooner.

E. I see - well, we’re all so pleased as punch to be here.

 

PART II

E. In the gospels of Thomas and John we are offered more than a set of doctrines but a philosophy, a lens, through which we might look at life.

K. These two are radically different, poles apart.

E. John says that human beings have no innate capacity to recognize the truth or to come to God.

K. And if you have no inherent ability to come to God, well then, this keeps the local priest in business for a long time.

E. This being the case, John continues, Jesus was sent to the world to become, via his own person, an avenue to God. All you have to do is say "I agree."

K. But, if this were true, the question is begged, what is the purpose of the mind? What are rational faculties for? Are cognitive abilities just useless baggage, as we once viewed the appendix to be? And doesn’t Mathew’s gospel instruct that we are to worship God with the mind?

E. John is way out in left field on a number of issues. He’s recreated his own version of Christianity as he goes, an ad hoc effort to smear Thomas.

K.  It's a bizarro-version, a mutant form.

E. Effectively, John is saying that to become a Christian one needs to surrender all that makes us essentially human, that which separates us from the animals. We are to become, he says, unthinking drones of God, mere spectators of life, co-dependent little children, with Jesus doing all the heavy lifting for us.

K. And we can see how John’s teachings, this kind of cultish view of life, would later become red meat for Big Religion in its efforts to both bamboozle and enslave the spirits of humankind.

E. Much could be said here. But we should also point out that today we have a great deal of information concerning how society is constructed on the other side, in the “real world.” And, over there, life is all about “going within,” finding the true self, employing and developing the mind. We don’t want or need to be disrespectful, but, the fact is, in that coming world, where we are to live endlessly, John’s writings are condemned as a political writing of this world and deserving of no honor

K. Those who cultishly offer belief, and, in so doing, violate their own human sensibilities, their “made in the image” capacities, will likely spend some time in a “dark closet without walls” until they get themselves sorted out. Read of many of these cases in the “Sensibility” article.

E. We don’t know what happened to the writer of John, but we do know that hard-core examples, as he represents, have sent themselves to “dark detention” for thousands of years for their crimes against humanity.

 

Postscript:

In their writings, the Gnostics claimed that the apostle Paul belonged to them, that he represented their views.

We are not surprised by this declaration: See the Galatians commentary for the firestorm of controversy between Paul and the Jerusalem apostles.

The Gnostics insisted that everyone will be taught by God in a direct private tutoring. The so-called church fathers, however, ones who became cheerleaders for the advent of Big Religion, in their writings, very often vilify and condemn the Gnostics. The general criticism was this:

“If everyone has their own set of ideas concerning who and what God is, then how can we avoid great clashing controversy? Much better is the policy of the Church, via the educated leadership, deciding what is best in these matters, a formulation of ‘one true doctrines,’ all of which will reduce to harmony and agreement.”

It is quite interesting that the historical unfoldment of these two philosophical positions led to an intellectual atmosphere in the Church directly opposing that of the predictions of the church fathers.

The Gnostics enjoyed, by and large, a peace and harmony within their ranks, but the history of Big Religion, with its mandated “one true doctrines,” has produced nothing but strife and division, with tens of thousands of Christian sects. Another reason for this is that the Gnostics were not interested in building a religious empire, a "universal church," but the church fathers, as their writings reveal, desired little else.

The apostle Paul, the “Gnostics’ apostle", instituted policies in his churches which codified the Gnostic teaching that everyone is taught by God directly.

each gets a chance to say something on how God personally offered a lesson 

“So here’s what I want you to do. When you gather for worship, each one of you be prepared  with something that will be useful for all: Sing a hymn, teach a lesson, tell a story, lead a prayer, provide an insight… Take your turn, no one person taking over. Then each speaker gets a chance to say something special from God, and you will all learn from each other.”

the apostle Paul, I Corinthians 14:26-33, The Message translation

"A universal theology is impossible," says the Course In Miracles, "but a universal experience is not only possible but necessary." Paul’s small-group house-churches brought this principle to life in a practical way.

Each person was encouraged to share with the group how she or he had received an insight or lesson-for-living from God. Memorizing or quoting scripture was not emphasized, as the resultant numerous interpretations would only divide the group and then the world into thousands of sects and denominations; instead, Paul instructed,

“Tell us how God taught you personally, even in a small way, this past week. Maybe just a glimpse or brief flash of light. When you searched your own mind, when you meditated and communed with your own soul, what did you see, what were you given from God?”

God has no favorite kids but impartially teaches all, individually, who are willing to learn. God does not offer knowledge with a closed-shop, command-style, holier-than-thou, top-down pedagogy. The letters of John, as well, declare that God, via the spirit, will personally teach us about all the big issues of life (I John 2:27). This is the real "word of God," delivered to each human heart and mind, opened to receive it.

There can be no societal division or separation when religion is approached with this non-hierarchical, individual-centered mode of teaching but, instead, a “universal experience” based upon each person’s account of God’s private tutoring.

Editor's note: Paul’s decentralized formulation of religious instruction reflects not only a respect for the dignity of each individual but a Gnostic perspective.

A pastor friend of mine, a good man, when he read the above item concerning Paul’s house-churches, commented with sincerity: “But isn’t there a danger in following one’s own ‘revelation’? How can we know if these messages are from God?” I responded, “Yes, there is a danger. For this to work as it should, one must be very honest with oneself, and not veer into illusion. The dysfunctional ego loves to wear a mask of piety and it will attempt to deceive with thoughts of pride and self-promotion.”

All this acknowledged, let us explore the alternative. The caution voiced by the pastor, in various forms, has been codified as official position in the Church at large: “The people are sheep. They will go astray if there is no representative of God to lead them. Thinking for oneself is the playground of the Devil (if there were such a being). Much better for all to adhere to time-honored doctrine; this way, we all speak the same thing, which promotes harmony and unity in the Church.”

In other words, that “alternative” is to allow someone else to do your thinking for you. Surrender your brains when you walk through the church door. Keep your opinions to yourself; better yet, stifle them, and believe.” The very word heresy means “opinion.”

It bears repeating that the so-called “Church Fathers,” writing in the few hundreds of years after the time of Christ, often attacked the Gnostics, authors of “The Gospel Of Thomas”. In the missives of “the Fathers” the Gnostics were lampooned for allowing followers of Jesus to offer their own “revelations” at church meetings, pretty much exactly in line with what Paul promoted in Corinthians. “They trust in their own imaginations,” said the Fathers, “are all over the place with various crackpot ideas and concepts. Who can keep track of them all? This will end badly with a great many splinter-groups representing a hodge-podge of beliefs.”

To restate assertions above: Strangely, history unfolded precisely opposite to what “the Fathers” predicted. The Gnostics, allowing each to speak, with their many interpretations of how God works in the world, enjoyed relative peace and harmony – while “the Fathers,” the forerunners of Big Religion, would witness, over time, their efforts at strict mind-control devolving into tens of thousands of factions which have divided Christendom to this day, and continue to do.

 

 

 

Editor's last word:

We are astonished at the bold prevarications found in John. We say this because MML were written decades earlier and their message was part of the common view of the time, and yet John, near 100 AD, offers quite a new narrative - and not just new but contradictory; somebody is wrong somewhere in this. John is carefully constructed to put the Thomas writing, and its namesake-apostle, in the most uncongenial light possible.

This attempt at character assassination is not unlike what we find every day in the fake-news industry: when the facts do not support one’s hoodwinking efforts, then lies are presented as “how things are.”

All this is especially disturbing here. John has a reputation of being “the spiritual gospel,” the one that presents the purported discourses of Jesus in more detail than the earlier MML. And yet, as we survey the evidence, it’s all just dirty politics and groundless vilification.

In the “cultism” writing, we discussed how its root idea is “to cut,” that is, to refine, alter, and prune, and, by extension, to systematize, order, and regulate. And what do cults seek to regulate? It is the very nature and meaning of reality itself. John is attempting to provide an alternate version of reality, a new set of facts, which abruptly and starkly stand in opposition to the views of MML.

Attorney Adrian Smith, in his writings on fundamentalism, points out that the playbook of cultists is that of seeking a faux moral high-ground. They work hard at presenting themselves as holier-than-thou, possessing a righteous superiority, a “we’re better than you” attitude. All this pious deception is found in abundance in John, which is nothing more than a scurrilous hit-piece, a propaganda effort, to sully the name of Thomas.