Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Although the Gospel of Thomas was not included in the canonized collection of Christian writings that were selected during the third and fourth centuries to make up the New Testament, it is revered by many today as an accurate rendition of the spirituality of Jesus. Within this very early collection of Jesus’ sayings, he speaks to his inner circle of disciples with mystical and metaphorical language. Commentators generally summarize these sayings as indicating “the Kingdom of God is spread out upon the earth now; and that there is divine light within all people, a light that enables them to experience the Kingdom of God upon the earth”. Commentators also generally recognize that the implication of Jesus’ teaching in the Gospel of Thomas is that “people have the potential to be as Jesus is, to be a child of God, and therefore from that perspective Jesus is not a uniquely divine person but a role model for all people”.
Therefore, it is understandable when reading these sayings of Jesus, like the one from verse 22 (below), why the third and fourth century church chose not to include the Gospel of Thomas in its canonized Bible books to be read by the church faithful.
What do you think Jesus was trying to convey through these particular words in verse 22, below?
Jesus saw some infants who were being suckled. He said to his disciples: These infants being suckled are like those who enter the kingdom of God. They said to him: If we then become children, shall we enter the kingdom? Jesus said to them: When you make the two one, and when you make the inside as the outside, and the outside as the inside, and the upper as the lower, and when you make the male and the female into a single one, so that the male is not male and the female not female, and when you make eyes in place of an eye, and a hand in place of a hand, and a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then shall you enter the kingdom of God.
Okay Jim. Let's really dig down deep into this. I propose we start here. You wrote:
"For example, you interpret my comments regarding Thomas as the result of 'outward intellectual assumptions', but you do not own your own outward intellectual assumptions and how they impact your understanding."
Please elucidate my "intellectual assumptions" I don't deny that they don't slip through; as my watchfulness still breaks down. I am keen to be made aware of them so that they do not get out ahead of the immediacy of Presence itself in my conscious and conscience.
I am unsure what is the particular issue you have with my last comment to this post. I believe I concluded it by agreeing with how you concluded your last comment, above. I will repeat what I said:
This is why our spiritual unity must not be based on forms or factions or words or books or doctrines. The divine and his power within us simply IS. She/he is our Source. It's manifestation is the fruits of the Spirit among us. It is not manifested through what spiritual works we choose to put our faith in. And we are all called to recognize this power deep within our own hearts so that we may honor it, live it, and bring it into awareness within others.
I choose to not always engage with a counter-point someone makes, because my view or their view doesn't really matter to me in the end. And I choose not to debate the same points ad-nauseam. If I can add something new, I do so.
You are mistaking my lack of response to a particular point as "evasion"; whereas, my lack of response is actually due to the realization that further debate is unproductive. Our wonderful Friend William (Bill) Rushby has provided me with the loving example and lesson of not repeating the same thing when it is of no value to the listener. I so appreciate him for that valuable lessen; I'm trying to learn from him in this regard.
I think perhaps what might be frustrating you about me is that I really don't care if the Gospel of Thomas was written in 100 A.D. or 2015 A.D.; same is true of any of the books in the Bible. And same is true of any modern work that claims to be the result of the Spirit of Christ acting upon the writer. I believe that if the Spirit of Christ could guide a writer in 100 A.D., it is certainly powerful enough to guide anyone in any time, as well. I also don't feel that I must accept a whole spiritual book as inspired, whether that book be part of the canonized Bible or not; whether it is a modern work or not.
Instead, my practice is to be open to the Spirit of Christ acting upon me from whatever source it comes from. I may read a book (such as the Gospel of Thomas and the four canonized gospels) and find much beauty and Christ-Spirit in it. And I may read that same book and be guided to understand that parts of it were influenced by the human ego of the writer instead of the Spirit of Christ. I use everything that is brought to my consciousness in this life as a tool to have my own inward experience with the divine to direct my actions. I rely on no form to direct me.
And it at all does not bother me that you might see all of this differently. I feel a deep spiritual unity with you. The fact that you view the pedigree of the source material as very relevant, and I do not - is probably the root cause of your discomfort. My faith rests entirely in the action of the Holy Spirit in my being, rather than head knowledge per se. By saying that, I am not assessing your approach as flawed. I am simply stating how I have chosen to approach my spirituality. Please do not interpret this as a threat to your walk with the divine.
Howard: Kind words duly noted!
Infants do not comprehend things, they say "that that". This is similar to "tatha" in Buddhism which means suchness. The idea of oneness also reflects the idea of suchness. And when you experience this suchness then all things seem new. But I think this really is similar to Plato who thought that the way to salvation (union with God) was through the realization of this suchnesss.
Infants most certainly do 'grasp'. Whether they "grasp together" anything I couldn't say, but prehensile fingers are definitely among the characteristic features. They will also try to grasp things with the mouth, like other primates.
They are quite capable of making distinctions where they matter (ie "smile" vs "frown", "soft tit" vs "hard plastic bottle" etc) and ignoring distinctions they don't find as important as we do. (But that's one of the reasons we watch them rather carefully.)