Beware of False Prophets!
In the 2nd letter of St. Peter, the 2nd chapter, beginning at verse 1, we read, "But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction."
This afternoon, I attended a lecture at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, OH. It was the third in a series given by Dr. Elaine Pagels. Dr. Pagels is a professor at Princeton University. She has written many books, some of which include The Gnostic Gospels and Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas.
As I sat and listened to Dr. Pagels, the above passage came to mind. What I am about to say next, I do not say lightly, but I am compelled to by the Word of God: I was listening to a false prophet. In our society, we hate to condemn anyone. Our world feels as if no one has an exclusive right to the truth, and everyone is right and no one is wrong. That attitude is dead wrong!
Here is what I mean. It is Dr. Pagels' view that the 27 New Testament books were brought into one unit, what we would call the Canon, for the purpose of having something to read in Church. But, she also feels that God may have wanted other "spiritual" or "divine" books to be read, marked and inwardly digested as you would study the Bible. She informed her audience that she believes that the Bible and the New Testament were written for new converts to Christianity; while the gnostic gospels, that is, the gospels that were found in Nag Hammadi in 1945, were written for those already well established in the Christian faith. So, in essence, the gnostic gospels are superior to the Gospels found in the Bible. Unbelievable!
I wanted to ask her, but I didn't have the opportunity, a couple of questions. 1) Does not the New Testament itself condemn false teaching? 2) If it does, does it also not condemn Gnosticism? 3) Then, if it condemns Gnosticism, what right do we have to read The Gospel of Thomas or The Gospel of Philip or any of the other gospels that have been found as the Word of God? It absolutely dumbfounded me that she was analyzing the Gospel of Thomas as you would any other New Testament book and implying that they might contain the Word of God.
Bottom line then is this: Paul says in Galatians, chapter 1, verses 8 and 9. "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed."
Again, what I say I do not say lightly: What Elaine Pagels teaches is heresy, pure and simple. The Bible specifically condemns what she teaches. She is a false teacher and it is my prayer that she repents of her sin and turns to Christ. And, even more importantly, may God have mercy on anyone, who after hearing these lectures, may believe her and be lead into false belief and despair.