This is a quote from Allen Watt.  One of the best speakers about religion on NPR.  If you don't believe me just read the book of Leviticus.  

Fundamentalist Christians raciest are the most none Christlike people in America.  I have been an Atheist since I was very young  but I have read the bible from front to back.  It is full of a lot of ideology similar to the Muslim Bible.  Stoning people, selling you children, not going near a woman who is having her cycle.

The only redeeming thing in it is Christ's teaching.  Love you neighbor, do unto others as you would want them to do to you.

How can Christians be so fucking hateful?    

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OK my friends, enough arguing scroll history. Can we not agree that this argument you have started is not the same reason why we call ourselves atheists? Are you not becoming that which brought you here in the first place?
I have no idea why you assume to know what brought me here in the first place... I came here to find a place of rationality and scepticism, and where wrong ideas were disregarded without clinging to them.

So when I see someone claiming something that is demonstrably wrong (in this case, discredited ideas about the Gospel of Mary and Jesus backpacking in India) then I will point that out and I expect people to do proper research on it.

Nobody's in danger of being hurt here.
Agreed, and I assume nothing my friend. You are correct, we all come here for our own reasons.

I believe that even if we were all there to hear and see what was done and said ourselves we would still have a different story to tell.

Truth and poetry are one in the same, yes?
Well sure, if I was there I would have thought Jesus was a ranting nutter ;)
People come here to read and learn about other peoples views.
I don't think of it as arguing. I think of it as a place for intellectual learning. Different opinions is not argument but a way of discussing idea that might be different from yours.
They were the first true Christians. The Catholic church hated them and almost destroyed them.
I stand corrected on the dates. I had read somewhere that it was written before most of the other gospels,
I know. Feminist scholars in particular like to peddle the myth that the Gospel of Mary was the first gospel, for obvious reasons.

Now as to this business with the Gnostics being the "first true Christians" (I feel a long post coming up)... this just isn't true. All of the earliest Christian works (Paul, Mark, Matthew, Luke, John) are non-gnostic, and Mark and Matthew are very Jewish gospels and 'close to the source' as you might say. They hardly contain any elements of Gnosticism at all. Gnosticism itself was actually more of a religious world view rather than an actual religion: it had originated in the East (mainly Syria and Persia) and focused on the idea that the physical world was an imprisonment for our souls; attaining gnosis meant detaching yourself from the material and trying to set your "spiritual side" free. It was real woo-woo stuff, and very esoteric.
When Christianity became popular and got into contact with this Gnostic world view (which happened when it drifted away from its Jewish roots and started settling in Greece and Alexandria), it influenced the way some Christians thought about Jesus: rather than a heavenly Messiah/divine prophet/ruler of Israel, they chose to see Jesus as a purely mystical being who had been imprisoned in a human body. Of course, as you point out, they immediately got into conflict with other Christian communities (not "The Church" though; there was no "Church" at this point. There was a group of large and small Christian communities who were trying to come up with a unified theology). In order to prop up their (the Gnostics) views with scriptural support, they started authoring their own gospels in response to the various canonical gospels that already existed (another piece of evidence that the canonical gospels are obviously earlier). Since they needed to distance themselves from this earlier tradition and prove that they were the correct Christians, they attributed their gospels to various characters that were present in the periphery of the canonical gospel stories, instead of to any apostles. The reason is that they regarded the apostles as embodying the "tradition" (which they wanted to distance themselves from) and the ones who had poisoned Jesus' message. So in most Gnostic gospels, the apostles wind up being the villains (or at least the severely confused saps that just aren't able to reach true gnosis), and the 'heroes' are characters like Mary Magdalene, Judas, James, etcetera... people who get it right but who are reviled and marginalised by the apostles.

In our time, this leads to people (especially conspiracy theorists or documentary makers looking for a cool story) to believe that the Gnostic gospels were really written by the people that they are said to be written by, and that the story of the Gnostic Jesus being misinterpreted and of his most devout followers being marginalised, is really accurate. It makes for a great conspiracy theory about how the 'real message of Jesus' was corrupted by the evil "Church"... very marketable stuff.
But of course, it's completely naive to think that the Gospel of Judas is actually written by Judas just because it says so, just as it is absurd to think that the Gospel of John is written by John or that Exodus is written by Moses. These are books that are strategically attributed to certain people (so-called pseudoepigrapha) in light of a religious dispute. To play cheerleader for the side we like best and pretend that their version is the most plausible one is not good historical analysis; there's not much arguing with the evidence: the Gnostic gospels were written after the canonicals, and the Gnostics were not the earliest or "true" Christians.

So why does the myth persist? Why are the Gnostics so popular? I can only guess, but I believe it's a combination of factors.
For one, in a society that is in many ways post-Christian and where people have a (probably justified) distrust of organised religions, we're easily tempted into casting the Gnostics as the good guys and the side that eventually won (and went on to become the organised Churches that we know now) as the bad guys.
Two, the esoteric feel of Gnosticism appeals greatly to this same society, which prefers a kind of undemanding "personal spirituality" to the standard theistic belief systems; New Agers in particular are drawn to the immaterial woo-woo of the Gnostics like bees on honey.
And three, there is one thing about the Gnostics that really appeals to us all: the fact that women played a slightly bigger part in their world view and were in higher regard than in other forms of Christianity (still far from the equality women enjoy now, but still: an improvement on the era); feminist scholars in particular love the Gnostics to death (type in 'gnosticism feminism' in google and you'll find innumerable feminists salivating over the feminine aspects of the Gnostic traditions and how sad it is that they didn't make it). This also adds an extra layer to the conspiracy theories, since many feminists go as far as to pretend that Jesus was a feminist and that he wanted Mary Magdalene and other women to set up the one true Church, but of course, they were oppressed by the wicked patriarchal male apostles...

That's why you'll find thousands of New-Agers re-discovering the "mysteries of the gnostics", thousands of (Christian) feminists arguing that the Gospel of Mary was the very first gospel to be written, and also quite some atheists who observe that if they can depict Gnosticism as the "true" Christianity, then they have an argument against current Christianity.
And that's why there's plenty of documentaries and conspiracy theories to pander to all three groups, willing to promote pseudo-history if it makes people feel good and conforms to their biases... and makes them watch the program, of course.

I watch all this with quite some amusement, not just because the actual evidence completely contradicts these notions, but also because I'm quite happy that the Gnostics didn't win. At face value the improved status of women and fluffy-duffy esoteric philosophy sounds like an improvement over most mainstream forms of Christianity, but that initial enthusiasm gets tempered when you find out just how much the Gnostics despised the natural world.
Christians want to get to heaven too, and so aren't 100% concerned with the material world either, but at least they hardly ever get into the downright hatred of it and the dismissal of the material body as a worthless attachment that needs to be shed as quickly as possible to have our souls float free in woo-woo land. The Gnostics did.
And if you thought "orthodox" Christians hated sex... the Gnostics made a sport out of depriving themselves of all the pleasures of their material body: food, water, and yes, sex. Celibacy was seen as the preferred state of being, since sex was too material an activity and therefore not a good way of attaining detachment from the material world, you see...
... which might explain why they didn't win against the Orthodox variety of Christianity. I'm sort of glad they didn't.

And anyone who has read this far can pat themselves on the back and get a beer. I know I will ;)
I think a double Jack Daniel's would be in line. It was a good read. Some of the things I have read differ with you on some points. But that is the reason I love this site. Who wants to read all that shallow crap on facebook.
I did the beer and the Jack and have moved on to Yugoslavian plumb brandy. A well said piece, Matt. No, there was no "church" then or hierarchy within. So where did that idea come from as it is not in the bible or dead sea or Nag Hammadi scrolls either. Somewhere it all became political and a best means to controll the people who for all intents and purposes wanted and still want to be controlled.

John's original idea was that the bible is evil. I would agree if I were allowed to add that it is the way in which it is mis-represented and mis-used. It is a set of quasi-historical texts that we cannot confirm the author or content of. And yet it is kissed and waved at the masses as if unquestionable fact and is believed by many, who haven't even read the damn thing, as such.

I am now tasting my Slivovitz -you may continue.
I don't have whiskey here :(
But Belgian beer is as strong as whiskey anyway, so there!

"Somewhere it all became political and a best means to controll the people who for all intents and purposes wanted and still want to be controlled."

The hierarchical is innate in humans. It would be miraculous for Early Christianity to not eventually organise itself into a centralised system.
But getting adopted by the Roman Empire tends to speed up that process quite a bit. And surviving its Fall as the sole government branch left standing tends to help. The Church then realised that they would have to become a political entity to survive, because Early Medieval Europe was a rough place where shrinking political violets got trampled quickly... and then burned and raped for good measure.
After that it went through many many periods of being used by secular authorities, before it eventually managed to get something like the upper hand in the Thirteenth Century CE. Then it lost it again in the Reformation.

But now quickly stuff my mouth with cotton before I spew out another wall of text.


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