The Bible can’t be Trusted because it Censored Many Gospels?

gnostic gospels 1

Q. Don’t you know that the New Testament is heavily censored? The Emperor Constantine banned many other gospels from the New Testament to protect his position!

A. Every now and then I hear some skeptics spreading the myth that the Bible can’t be trusted because the Church Fathers censored books that opposed their views. Or some sensation seeking journalists would write, typically before Christmas or Easter to boost circulation of their magazine, of the “real” Jesus or alternative Christianity, different from the Jesus of the Bible. These are generally based on some so-called “lost books of the Bible”, notably the Gnostic Gospels, such as the Gospel of Thomas or Gospel of Judas. And the public would often buy their story, without digging into the facts of the case.

Nothing can be further from the truth. There are no lost books of the Bible. The Bible is the word of God, and God both inspired and superintended the compilation of books that collectively formed the Bible. If God cannot even ensure that His words are accurately recorded and collected to communicate His message to men, what kind of god would He be? Skeptics might argue that’s only because you believe the Bible to be God’s word. Since they don’t accept that, their argument is still valid. Granted, so let’s concede for a moment to consider the supposedly “lost” books.

First of all, these Gnostic Gospels were never “lost”, they were known to the Church Fathers who rejected them because they were forgeries. Before I address the reasons for their exclusion, let me first deal with who has the authority to accept or reject which books form the canon of the Bible. Let me frame the question this way – Do the Church Fathers, who were the leaders of the early Church, have the right to say “This is what we believe in”, or do unbelievers two thousand years later have the right to say “This is what they believed in”? The answer is obvious. Every institution or organization has the right to decide what they believe or reject, not outsiders. This is expressed in their statement of faith, mission, values, constitution, bylaws etc. Yet by some twisted logic so-called skeptical “scholars” claimed they know better, and even accused the Church Fathers of a conspiracy to suppress the “truth”!

Now, what were the criteria the early Church used to decide on the NT canon, and why were the Gnostic Gospels rejected? Let’s start by correcting some misconceptions. The NT Can was not decided at the Council of Nicaea convened by Constantine in AD 325. That council dealt with another issue – the deity of Christ – and rejected the Arian heresy claiming Christ was only a man, producing the Nicene Creed as a result. The councils, consisting of Christian bishops or pastors of all churches at that time, that endorsed the 27 books of the NT as we have them today, were those at Laodicea in AD 363, Hippo in AD 393, and Carthage in AD 397.

The generally accepted dates of several Gnostic Gospels are:
• Gospel of Thomas AD 90-180
• Gospel of Mary Magdalene AD 120-180
• Gospel of Peter AD 150
• Gospel of Judas Second century
All of them were around when the Councils confirmed the 27 books of the NT. Why weren’t they included? Because they failed all tests of canonicity:

1. Apostolicity: written by an apostle or someone close to an apostle and acted as his penman. The Gnostic Gospels were written by late authors who used the names of the apostles.
2. Catholicity or universality: generally acknowledged and recognized by all the churches. The Gnostic Gospels were embraced by only fringe groups.
3. Consistency: are the contents consistent with the obviously authentic books and orthodox doctrines. The Gnostic Gospels contained unbiblical teachings.

Some of the rejected books contained historical inaccuracies, or inferior spiritual and moral values which do not reflect the work of the Holy Spirit. They were rejected because they were frauds, not because the Councils colluded as alleged by the skeptics. People can make all kinds of false claims and accusations, but examine the facts before you decide who to listen to, as your eternal destiny depends on it.

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