Answers to "Ask Mike" Questions
17. What doesn't the Church accept from the Gospel of Thomas and why?
None of the churches associated with historic Christianity accept the Gospel of Thomas as Scripture. Several reasons exist for this.
1) There is no record that the early church ever accepted the Gospel of Thomas. Many other writings were accepted by some, but not by all. Examples include the Shepherd of Hermas, the Didache (Teaching of the Twelve Apostles), and a few others. By AD 325, however, the Scriptures as we have them now, for the most part, were accepted by all the churches. Those that were never accepted by all were rejected on three grounds -- a) The book was not written by a known Apostle or an apostolic companion, b) the book's content, to a greater or lesser degree, did not represent what was known to be apostolic teaching, and c) the date of the book seems to come from a period later than the apostolic period.
2) The Gospel of Thomas is usually attributed to those writings generally known as Gnostic. The early Christian scholar Irenaeus in his Against Heresies pretty well consigned the Gospel of Thomas to the realm of the heretical. While I am not sure I agree with all of the conclusions included, you might check out the following URL: http://www.answers.org/Bible/GospelOfThomas.html. According to conservative biblical scholars, the Apostle John wrote to refute the Gnostic heresy as he saw it in its beginning stages. His refutation of Gnosticism can be seen inferentially in the Gospel of John, but it is much clearer in his epistle, 1 John. If you would like me to expand on the reasons for rejecting Gnosticism, feel free to ask another question.
3) As you can see in the noted article, the pseudonymous author of the Gospel wrote well into the second century which puts it too late to legitimately be from the pen of Thomas the doubter. This, in itself, raises questions.
After the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library, which contained a broad collection of Gnostic works, there has been much interest in these writings particularly among liberal scholarship. Liberals, however, generally dispute the legitimacy of most of our collected Scripture and reject its authority as well. Those of us who are more conservative and evangelical remain convinced that God himself preserved the Scripture and oversaw its collection (inspiration). Some of us, including myself, believe the Bible is inerrant and is not man's record of a search for God, but God's supernaturally preserved and passed down revelation to man.
I hope this helps a bit. I would be more than happy to entertain other questions.
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