My family tuned in with interest to the recent National Geographic program on the Gospel of Judas. The show made much of the strange circumstances surrounding the recovery of the papyrus codex, as well as the fact that it presents Judas as a faithful disciple instead of a traitor.
The text offers proof that early Christian writings were extremely diverse in their interpretations of the gospel. The perspective of the writer is so different from more familiar accounts that it's hard to reconcile this depiction with the Jesus we know through the New Testament.
For me, it is the lack of any sense of divine Love and its saving power that sets the Gospel of Judas apart. The Judas text claims to offer Jesus' "secret teaching," portraying him as aloof from his disciples, mocking them as ignorant, and directing Judas to betray him as part of a cosmic plan. The humility and meekness that the Scriptures associate with the power of the Christ are nowhere to be found.
Some years ago, when early Christian texts were recovered at Nag Hammadi, scholars found many differences between these accounts and the accepted canon, but Jesus was consistently presented as a wise and loving healer. Not all the "Gnostic Gospels" were coherent, but many verses did promote redemption and healing, urging followers to express their relation to God as His children.
The word "gospel" comes from the Greek word evangelion (translated in Old English as "good news" or "good spell"). The term implies and includes salvation - literally meaning, the message that saves us. To be "good news," it makes sense that a gospel would connect us to the transforming love of God.
When I first read the Gnostic Gospels, I didn't think of myself as a Christian. Though raised in the church, I had left it and sought answers elsewhere. However, no philosophy, study, or practice I embraced satisfied my longing for an understanding that made sense of everything.
After many years of searching, in poor health and bedridden, I began reading a copy of the Gnostic Gospels. The descriptions of the faithfulness of the early Christians and the way that healing was considered an expected result of prayer struck a chord with me.
During one sleepless night, I thought about the unchanging quality of spiritual sense. Those followers of Jesus were inspired by an awareness of God's eternal power and presence. Thinking through what I believed was real and essential in life, I found it was spiritual and was based on the Love that is God. These words describe what I saw: "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.... Beloved, now are we the sons of God" (I John 3:1, 2).
In the light of this love I felt great relief and went to sleep peacefully. When I awoke in the morning, I was well.
Thinking back on this revelation of God's love, I remembered the many healings I'd had growing up in Christian Science. There was that sense of being embraced in God's goodness and that this was natural and normal as His child.
For Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, the dawning of this realization of God's always available care was the inspired sense that ran throughout the Scriptures. She wrote of Christian Science healing, "Its appearing is the coming anew of the gospel of 'on earth peace, good-will toward men' " and explained, "Whatever inspires with wisdom, Truth, or Love - be it song, sermon, or Science - blesses the human family with crumbs of comfort from Christ's table, feeding the hungry and giving living waters to the thirsty" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 150, and p. 234).
Since then, I've been blessed by this understanding of the healing message of the Christ. I imagine there will be more lost gospels to analyze and consider. But the true gospel, the message of divine Love, is eternal and can be proved by its ability to uplift, help, and heal us.