PadmaVonSambha wrote:Only one miracle, actually.
You have to believe that Christ rose from the dead, but not much more beyond that.
Actually I realized I do believe that, which at the time came as a surprise.
The occasion was several years back when some fortune-seeker declared they had found the vessel ('ossuary') which they claimed could have contained 'the bones of Jesus'. (From what I understand, his finding has been discredited.) But we were discussing it around the dinner table. I said I didn't put any credence in the story. But then a couple of family members said that it wouldn't make that much difference if they were found. I was astonished by that idea. I said 'well, if you don't believe in the resurrection then you're not really Christian'. For my trouble I had a cup of tea thrown over me. Perhaps I had been a bit too vehement about it. But it made me realize it is something I do believe, even if I don't discuss it much.
[quote= "Karma Dondrup Tashi"]The Gospel of Thomas, unfortunately, is not part of exoteric Christianity, even wisdom Christianity.[/quote]
Marvellous text, though. More on this below.
Oushi wrote:Still, we can enjoy it without limitations made by the fathers of the church, and draw our conclusion on Christianity as it looked in early stages of doctrinal development. That's the core of the subject. Don't lean on beliefs of others.
Actually, the 'fathers of the Church' were those who generally opposed
the Gnostic types of scriptures (such as the Gospel of Thomas, and others.) Modern knowledge of these texts was greatly increased by the discovery of the Nag Hammadi manuscripts
, in the Egyptian desert, which allowed scholars to find long-lost gnostic scriptures, of which the Gospel of Thomas was one.
There is an interesting scholar by the name of Elaine Pagels who has done a lot of work on interpreting what she saw as the power struggle in the early Church between the 'Johanine' ('Gospel of John') and Thomistic ('Gospel of Thomas') interpretations of scripture. The former won, decisively. Generally speaking, the Gnostics were suppressed and dispersed, and their opponents (Iraneus, Tertullian, and others) prevailed. And, as they say 'history is written by the victors', and enormously influenced the way Christianity developed and got passed down to us. (See Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas
My feeling is that there is a seminal difference between the Eastern and Semitic faiths, which revolves around this emphasis on 'belief' on one side, versus knowledge ('gnosis') on the other. It is not hard and fast, because their are pistic (belief-based) and gnostic elements in both of them. But the general distinction can be made between the centripedal (power flowing out to periphery) model of Buddhism, whereby each successive generation is 'empowered' by 'passing on the knowledge', versus the 'centrifugal' model of Catholicism, whereby all power is vested in the titular head of the institution, and abeyance to the ecclesiastical law is paramount ('extra ecclesium nulla santo', no salvation outside the Church.)
They're actually very different kinds of psychological and political models.
This essay is well worth reading: The Pagan Roots of Early Christianity
. It is not a scholarly article and makes some pretty wild claims, but there is more than a grain of truth in it.
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas