Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

Patrick H

Gnostics Gave Evidence that Jesus a Myth
In the early Church, there were many people who believed that Jesus Christ was not a man but a vision. They believed that the Jesus who we read of in the gospels was not a man.  These people were mystics and were not far from being psychologists. Their Jesus only existed in the mind like modern witches use imaginary people to lead them to spiritual awareness. They were called antichrists who denied the coming of Jesus in the flesh in John’s time. In Paul’s day, they denied that Jesus had risen from the dead. We know their Jesus was a mental force and not a vision of a separate entity because the New Testament just condemns them and never tries to prove to them that Jesus was real as we would expect if they were saying there was a Jesus but he was only a ghost.
The mystics called themselves Gnostics - those who know. They wrote scriptures that indicate the possible non-existence of Jesus Christ.

Found at Nag Hammadi in Egypt, the Gospel of Philip, tells us that Jesus was an apparition and rose from the dead before he died. Jesus lived way back in the Stone Age. Philip says things that have since his time found to have been correct – for example, that Jesus never lived in the first century so he has to be taken seriously.

The research material for this work was just thrown together. It shows the marks of the Gnostic system of Valentinus. This means the author had access to the outstanding scholarship of the Valentinians and should be taken seriously.
Because the book is like the format of the catechisms of the second century to the fourth it is dated in the late second century (The Nag Hammadi Library in English, page 141). But the way it is disorganised hints that most of the material in it must go back a lot further. The quotations from the gospels are hurried insertions – whoever put them in had no intention of tampering much. If the gospel in its original form had been all late second century we would expect to see criticisms of the Christian writings in it for it opposes anything that makes people fail to see that the spiritual Jesus saves and there is no physical Jesus. So in its original form and because of its primitive teaching it goes back to the first century or the early part of the second before the gospels appeared. It is sacramentalist and it would use the gospel of John which has been traditionally been thought to have been a major source of sacramental thinking more if it does not. It quotes John once and calls it the word of God. Yet it contradicts it! The author could only get pieces of John’s gospel for he couldn’t get his piece of it right so he wrote before John was made public in the middle of the second century. Despite himself he was proving that John was a liar. This perhaps accidental attack on John’s veracity carries more weight than all the early testaments favouring the apostolic doctrine put together. The Church will say it was just a mistake. But you have to take historical material as it is for if you start assuming that anything you don’t like is a mistake you are on the path to danger. A historical portrait has to stand by what the written sources say for there is no alternative but worthless speculation.

The book is not merely a collection of Gnostic myth that the author believed you could dissent from. The sacramentalism and the emphasis on knowing magical names of Jesus and the catechism format suggest that it was a dogmatic book for a sect. What was in it was in it because it was believed to be as much fact as the rising of the sun every morning.

The quote from John says that whoever does not eat the flesh and drink the blood has no life in him. But the flesh is interpreted as the word of God and the blood as the holy spirit of God. This would be a denial that the gospel version of Jesus existed as a flesh and blood being so he could have been a vision or an illusion or a symbol from Heaven.

It says that Jesus Christ lived before men knew how to make bread, “Before Christ came there was no bread in the world, just as Paradise, the place where Adam was, had many trees to nourish the animals but no wheat to sustain man. Man used to feed like the animals, but then Christ came, the perfect man, he brought bread from heaven in order that might be nourished with the food of man”. This bread could be literal bread so it is literal bread. The first century Jesus of the gospels is denied.

Philip says that Mary did not conceive by the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit is female. It says that the apostles hated her which shows that its author did not have the New Testament which says that Mary was chummy with the early Church.

The gospel says that Jesus appeared differently to different people suggesting that he was an apparition perhaps one that people induced to appear themselves by hypnotic rites.

It says Christ came to the whole place meaning he had been all over the world. The gospel comes to the brink of stating that Jesus was just a vision. It went on to say that Jesus burdened nobody while on earth which contradicts the gospels that he depended on charity to live and expected the apostles to die for him instead of sending them to safe places to preach. And that then he forbade causing distress to anybody though Jesus abused the Pharisees and caused a lot of misery. The author is disputing the gospel account. And yet he appeals to some word of God or scripture that supports his teaching meaning there was a book that would not be compatible with the gospels.

The gospel is reckoned by Barbara Thiering and her ilk to state that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a romantic relationship. It says that he loved her more than the disciples and kissed her often on the mouth to their disgust. They complained and he said that he loved them like her. So if he loved her most and did not love her the most then love must be in two different senses. The first sense is sexual and the second is platonic.

The gospel says that kissing is a sacrament that gives wisdom, “We also kiss one another. We receive conception from the grace which is in one another”. Kissing is causing you to be conceived as a child of God and passes on grace. So is there no romance in Jesus and Mary’s kisses? There must be some for he kissed her a lot and could have got others who could give the sacrament to do it. The early Christians kissed one another according to the New Testament. This was stopped to scotch unkind rumours. So the sacrament of the kiss points to the earliness of the gospel.

How does this slot in with the idea that Jesus didn’t live in the first century for the gospels say Magdalene did live then? Gnostics had no problem making up stories about religious figures. They thought making myths and inventing faiths was a sign of gnosis and that all schools of mysticism strove for the one truth so the details didn’t matter.
The author thought that Adam was nailed to the cross and that Adam and Jesus were one and the same. “When Eve was still in Adam death did not exist. When she was separated from him death came into being. If he enters again and attains his former self, death will be no more. “My God, My God, why O lord, have you forsaken me?” (Mk 15:34 and parallels). It was on the cross that he said these words, for he had departed from that place”. The place was probably the Garden of Eden for Adam was expelled from it by God. Philip calls Jesus the perfect man so grammatically and otherwise he must have meant Adam. He wrote before the gospels became public for they contradict the context he puts the quote in. Jesus was a vision after his death which took place in prehistoric times.

The gospel says that there is the son of man which was Jesus’ title and then there was the son of the son of man who is he who creates through the son of man and who can beget. The son of the son is every man so the son of man is Adam. Jesus and Adam were the same person or Adam was the first person to be possessed by the Christ Jesus force which became a part of him so that when he died you could say it died too.

Philip said that Adam came from two virgins which were the spirit and the earth and that therefore Jesus was born of a virgin to put the fall right. Adam’s mothers were not women so Jesus’ wasn’t either. Adam was Jesus and Adam became Jesus by some kind of spiritual rebirth. Jesus’ mother was the spirit. Gnostics saw creation as a fall from God so it is not the fall of Genesis where Adam and Eve were disinherited for disobedience that is meant. Adam was bad for he was earth and spirit and Jesus was good for he was pure spirit. Adam became Jesus when he got rid of what his mother earth had put into him. The therefore shows that Jesus was Adam for he fixed the fall that Adam had. Nobody else was involved. Nobody would argue that a person called Adam was virgin born so another person Jesus had to be for that makes no sense. That is not what the gospel is saying.

The gospel says that Adam became an animal by eating the fruit and that Christ was redeemed himself (page 152) and became sinless.

A story is attributed to the apostle Philip that Joseph the father of Jesus planted a garden of trees and made the cross of Jesus from them. But the gospel interprets this as an allegory for it starts about the tree of life in the middle of the garden and that it is from an olive tree there that we get the chrism and the chrism grants us a resurrection from spiritual death to life in this world. Joseph means increase in Hebrew and could be a symbol for the power that made Jesus or Adam. The cross could be the tree of life in the Garden of Eden that Adam was symbolically nailed to meaning he could not avail of its fruit and wanted to. The olives represent the salvation he won for us. This interpretation requires that Jesus be Adam and in the Garden of Eden. Adam could be the fallen animal man and Jesus the redeemed spiritual man. Though the two are different persons in many ways they are the same person in essence which is why they can be spoken of as if they were separate persons at times. If Joseph made Jesus’ cross and Jesus was crucified in Joseph’s garden then we could have a staged mock crucifixion. It was necessary to fake a resurrection which God used to give mystical knowledge to the world. The author of Philip might be denying the gospels that Joseph was dead during Jesus’ ministry.

 “Truth did not come into the world naked, but it came in types and images. The world will not receive truth in any other way.” This completely repudiates and contradicts the gospels which are not wrapped up in symbols. So, Jesus must be a symbolic picture which does not rule out him being a true apparition that unveils truth to us. The gospel would not be teaching if Philip meant teaching. Jesus claimed to be the truth and this gospel is taking him literally.

The gospel condemned names because they cloak what is unreal. It said that words like Father, Son and Holy Spirit and resurrection blind one to the truth. It means you put your interpretation on them and they become idols. Words describe facts so the facts about the Son if you take him as somebody that lived on earth are as dangerous. Obviously, the gospel advocates truth so it forbids dependence on this alleged Jesus. He would not have come to earth to block our progress so he was not on earth at all and just speaks from Heaven to those who are in mystical communion with him - and though people differ in the details he gives them the truth that gives them personal transformation in the way that is best for them.
The gospel says that God dyes. But this is symbolism for the fact that God changes a person in water baptism which the text says.
The line, “God is a man-eater. For this reason men are [sacrificed] to him”. The author may only be reiterating the Old Testament demand for killing people who commit certain sins.

We are told that Jesus came to crucify the world. So perhaps this is just another way of expressing what Jesus asked us to do when he told us to sacrifice ourselves and follow him by bearing our crosses.

It is argued that this gospel is worthless on the grounds that it is crazy. But you don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. It is not really crazy.

Philip proves that Jesus was thought to have made up. It proves there were early Christians who denied that the gospels had the real Jesus and who treated gospels and legends about Jesus as allegories and myths not as literal truth which is the same as saying there is little or no evidence for the existence of Jesus.
The Apocryphon of James which was written in the early second century says that there is a curse on the men who saw Jesus meaning the apostles. This work is proof that there were mystical Christians who denied the authority of the apostles. By implication, they were rejecting the authority of the gospels for the gospels purport to preserve the apostles teaching and take us as near to seeing Jesus as a man as possible.
The unorthodox Christian scripture the Apocryphon of James or Secret Book of James seems to have originated before 150 AD (page 30, The Nag Hammadi Library in English). This work rejects the reliability of the gospels and the New Testament for it says only Peter and James were given the knowledge. It says that those who have seen and consorted with the Son of Man or Jesus are cursed and those who have not seen him are blessed. So we are told not to believe that Peter and James consorted with Jesus. They never knew him as a man. The reason people who haven’t known Jesus are blessed is because they can have visions of him and receive secret knowledge of him. (This knowledge gives salvation so it is spoken of as life while ignorance is symbolised as death or death and burial.) So we are told that anybody who claims to know a real flesh and blood Jesus or him as a man is not to be heeded. The gospels are to be dumped. It says that we must neglect reason. Probably it simply means that reason will not bring you to the truth not that reason has no value. So books like the gospels which try to make it reasonable to believe in Jesus are to be deplored. Jesus says in this treatise that the head of prophecy was stopped with John the Baptist. Then he said Peter and James need to understand what this means. So the head of prophecy is symbol. So earlier when we read that they are to scorn death and then contradictorily keep remembering the cross and death of Jesus we can only conclude that we are to scorn literal death and keep remembering the symbolic cross and death of Jesus. They stand for Jesus becoming saved and reborn through knowledge so that the old Jesus is symbolically crucified and dead and replaced by a spiritually alive Jesus.
James asks Jesus to protect him against temptation by the evil one and Jesus replies that through temptation they can be made equal to Jesus and like Jesus they will be crucified and buried by the evil one like he was. Since James the primary recipient of this answer was not crucified the crucifixion is symbolic. Here Jesus is saying he didn’t really die on the cross but died and was buried by the evil one. He means that before he was saved himself he was deluded and was dead in the sense that he wasn’t saved and in that sense he was buried by Satan. The Apocryphon has no need to say such things about Jesus unless it was thought to be true. It’s a very intelligent work as well. These Christians believed that only the being appearing to them to give them saving knowledge mattered not stories about a historical Christ. They even denied that he was crucified. When the biggest thing that happened to Jesus was a symbol and not real then its hardly likely that Jesus was real either.
The Gnostics knew that Jesus was a myth and the stories about him were not true. That is why they felt free to make up tales of their own but at least they admitted they were making up tales in the hope of helping people spiritually.

A Concise History of the Catholic Church, Thomas Bokenkotter, Image Books, New York, 1979
Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible, John W Haley, Whitaker House, Pennsylvania, undated
Asking them Questions, Various, Oxford University Press, London, 1936
Belief and Make-Believe, GA Wells, Open Court, La Salle, Illinois, 1991
Concise Guide to Today’s Religions, Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, Scripture Press, Bucks, 1983
Did Jesus Exist? GA Wells, Pemberton, London, 1988
Did Jesus Exist? John Redford, Catholic Truth Society, London, 1986
Documents of the Christian Church, edited by Henry Bettenson, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1979
Early Christian Writings, Maxwell Staniforth Editor, Penguin, London, 1988
Encyclopaedia of Heresies and Heretics, Leonard George, Robson Books, London, 1995
Encyclopaedia of Unbelief, Volume 1, Ed Gordon Stein, (Ed) Prometheus Books, New York, 1985
Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Vol 1, Josh McDowell, Alpha, Scripture Press Foundation, Bucks, 1995
Fundamentalism and the Word of God, JI Packer, Inter Varsity Press, Leicester, 1996
Handbook to the Controversy With Rome, Volume 1, Karl Von Hase, The Religious Tract Society, London, 1906
He Walked Among Us, Josh McDowell and Bill Wilson, Alpha Cumbria, 2000
In Defence of the Faith, Dave Hunt, Harvest House, Eugene, Oregon, 1996
Introduction to the New Testament, Roderick A F MacKenzie, SJ, Liturgical Press, Minnesota, 1965
Jesus, AN Wilson, Flamingo, London, 1993
Jesus and the Goddess, The Secret Teachings of the Original Christians, Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, Thorsons, London, 2001
Jesus – God the Son or Son of God? Fred Pearce Christadelphian Publishing Office, Birmingham, undated
Jesus – One Hundred Years Before Christ, Professor Alvar Ellegard Century, London, 1999
Jesus and the Four Gospels, John Drane, Lion, Herts, 1984
Jesus Hypotheses, V Messori, St Paul Publications, Slough, 1977
Jesus Lived in India by Holger Kersten, Element, Dorset, 1994
Jesus, Qumran and the Vatican, Otto Betz and Rainer Riesner, SCM Press Ltd, London, 1994
Jesus the Evidence, Ian Wilson, Pan, London, 1985
Jesus the Magician, Morton Smith, Harper & Row, San Francisco, 1978
Jesus under Fire, Edited by Michael F Wilkins and JP Moreland, Zondervan Publishing House, Michigan, 1995
Lectures and Replies, Thomas Carr, Archbishop of Melbourne, Melbourne, 1907
Let’s Weigh the Evidence, Barry Burton, Chick Publications, Chino, CA, 1983
Miracles in Dispute, Ernst and Marie-Luise Keller, SCM Press Ltd, London, 1969
On the True Doctrine, Celsus, Translated by R Joseph Hoffmann, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1987
Putting Away Childish Things, Uta Ranke-Heinemann, HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1994
Runaway World, Michael Green, IVP, London, 1974
St Paul versus St Peter, A Tale of Two Missions, Michael Goulder, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky, 1994
St Peter and Rome, JBS, Irish Church Missions, Dublin, undated
Saint Saul, Donald Harman Akenson, Oxford University Press, New York, 2000
The Bible Fact or Fantasy, John Drane, Lion, Oxford, 1989
The Bible Unearthed, Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, Touchstone Books, New York, 2002.
The Call to Heresy, Robert Van Weyer, Lamp Books, London, 1989
The Case For Christ, Lee Strobel, HarperCollins and Zondervan, Michigan, 1998
The Case for Jesus the Messiah, John Ankerberg Harvest House, Eugene, Oregon, 1989
The Early Church, Henry Chadwick, Pelican, Middlesex, 1967
The Encyclopedia of Heresies and Heretics, Leonard George, Robson Books, London, 1995
The First Christian, Karen Armstrong, Pan, London, 1983
The Gnostic Gospels, Elaine Pagels, Penguin, London, 1990
The Gnostic Paul, Elaine Pagels, Fortress Press, Philadelphia, 1975
The Historical Evidence for Jesus, G A Wells, Prometheus Books, New York, 1988
The History of Christianity, Lion, Herts 1982
The History of the Church, Eusebius, Penguin, London, 1989
The House of the Messiah, Ahmed Osman, Grafton, London, 1993
The Jesus Event and Our Response, Martin R Tripole SJ, Alba House, New York, 1980
The Jesus Hoax, Phyllis Graham, Leslie Frewin, London, 1974
The Jesus Mysteries, Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, Thorsons, London, 1999
The MythMaker, St Paul and the Invention of Christianity, Hyam Maccoby, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London, 1986
The Nag Hammadi Library in English, Ed James M Robinson HarperCollins New York 1990
The Pagan Christ, Tom Harpur, Thomas Allen Publishers, Toronto, 2004
The Reconstruction of Belief, Charles Gore DD, John Murray, London, 1930
The Search for the Twelve Apostles, William Steuart McBirnie, Tyndale House, 1997
The Secret Gospel Morton Smith Aquarian Press, Harper & Row, San Francisco, 1985
The Truth of Christianity, WH Turton, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co Ltd, London, 1905
The Unauthorised Version, Robin Lane Fox, Penguin, Middlesex, 1992
The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus, Raymond E Brown, Paulist Press, New York, 1973
Theodore Parker’s Discourses, Theodore Parker, Longmans, Green, Reader and Dyer, London, 1876
Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Kittel Gerhard and Friedrich Gerhard, Eerdman’s Publishing Co, Grand Rapids, MI, 1976
Those Incredible Christians, Hugh Schonfield, Hutchinson, London, 1968
Who Was Jesus? A Conspiracy in Jerusalem, by Kamal Salabi, I.B. Taurus and Co Ltd., London, 1992
Who Was Jesus? NT Wright, SPCK, London, 1993
Why I Believe Jesus Lived, C G Colly Caldwell, Guardian of Truth, Kentucky

Who is GA Wells? Rev Dr Gregory S. Neal

The Silent Jesus

Apollonius the Nazarene, The Historical Apollonius versus the Historical Jesus

Why Did the Apostles Die? Dave Matson,
The “Historical” Jesus by Acharya S

How Did the Apostles Die?

History’s Troubling Silence About Jesus, Lee Salisbury

Steven Carr discusses the Christian and apostolic martyrs

Challenging the Verdict
A Cross-Examination of Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ

The Martyrdoms of Peter and Paul, Peter Kirby

The Martyrdoms: A Response, Peter Kirby

A Sacrifice in Heaven,

The Evolution of Jesus of Nazareth

The Jesus of History, a Reply to Josh McDowell by Gordon Stein

Josh McDowell’s Evidence for Jesus – Is It Reliable?, by Jeffrey J Lowder

A Reply to JP Holding’s “Shattering” of My Views on Jesus

Robert M Price, Christ a Fiction

Earliest Christianity G A Wells

The Second Century Apologists

Existence of Jesus Controversy, Rae West

Why I Don’t Buy the Resurrection Story by Richard Carrier

Jesus Conference,
Jesus Conference,
The Testament of Levi Concerning the Priesthood and Arrogance

Sherlock Holmes Style Search for the Historical Jesus
The Ascension of Isaiah

Apollonius of Tyana: The Monkey of Christ? The Church Patriarchs, Robertino Solarion

What About the Discovery of Q? Brad Bromling
Wells without Water, Psychological Buffoonry from the Master of the Christ-Myth, James Patrick Holding

Critique: Scott Bidstrp [sic] on The Case for Christ by James Patrick Holding

GA Wells Replies to Criticism of his Books on Jesus

The Ossuary Scam: A Critical Analysis of the “James” Ossuary

The Origins of Christianity and the Quest for the Historical Jesus, Acharya S
The Historical Jesus
The Amplified Bible
The King James Version