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Christianity Today The Gnostic Hunger for Secret Knowledge

The Gnostics called themselves "enlightened." The early church called them heretics.

In recent years the early church has become a subject of public debate and an enormous amount of confusion. Gone are the days when the average Christian can get away with not knowing about the Gnostics, the early church's Rule of Faith, or how the biblical canon developed.

In this issue we lay out the basic facts that will help you evaluate and respond to this dizzying array of wild theories and popular books that promote additional gospels, early church conspiracies, and the rediscovery of the true Christian faith. You will learn who the Gnostics really were and why the early church called them heretics, how the early Christians could tell the apostolic message from the counterfeits, and why the New Testament has only four gospels.

  • Defining the Faith - Gnosticism emerged during a time when Christians faced an identity crisis. Everett Ferguson
  • In the Know - The Gnostics believed that knowledge was the key to salvation-for a select few. David M. Scholer
  • Also: The Secret Is Out - The Gnostic Christ
  • One God, One Christ, One Salvation - Irenaeus "the peacemaker" was the early church's best warrior against Gnostic heresy. D. Jeffrey Bingham
  • Also: Gnosticism unmasked
  • The Earliest "Mere Christianity" -Before creeds, even before an official New Testament, there was the Rule of Faith. D. H. Williams
  • No Other Gospel - Despite the appearance of Gnostic "gospels," the early church decided that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were without rival. Nicholas Perrin
  • Taught by the Apostles - What is the truth about Jesus? Ask those who knew his earliest followers, said Irenaeus.Fr John Behr
Issue 96 * Fall 2007
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