Control & Church

In reading Beyond Belief by Elaine Pagels, and also from listening to a program on Norwegian radio about women in early Christianity, I am reminded of how the early church filtered the teachings for the purpose of control.

Mary Magdalene – one of the closest disciples of Jesus – apparently had a following and also her own gospel. And as the early church did not have an interest in the equality of women, they filtered out the gospel and discredited Mary Magdalene.

According to Pagels, something similar may be the case with the Gospel of Thomas. He teaches that the kingdom of God is within us all, which is not in the interest of the early church as it would take control away from them. Instead, they included the Gospel of John which (as the only gospel) discredits Thomas and promotes a salvation only through Jesus Christ and the church.

Of course, this fits conveniently in with our contemporary liberal view, but it also seems to fit in with the radical and egalitarian nature of Jesus’ teachings. After all, he spent his time with the outcasts of society and did not seem to have much interest in hierarchy or control.

From reading Beyond Belief, I am also reminded of a particular view of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the human being who walked on Earth. Christ is the spiritual aspect, fully embodied in Jesus, and that which we all can connect with and bring into our lives. When the three first gospels talk of Jesus as son on man, it can be seen as referring to his human self. And when the fourth gospel talks about Jesus as God, it can be seen as referring to his Christ embodiment. My sense is that Christ here is very similar to Big Mind/Heart, but also somewhat different.

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