Shuck and Jive

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Treatise on the Resurrection

Tomorrow I am going to preach on a text from The Treatise on the Resurrection. This was a text uncovered in Nag Hammadi. It is, I guess, second century from the school of Valentinus. It is interesting in that it speaks of Resurrection in the here and now apart from the decaying remains of human flesh. I am thrilled that we can now read some of the works that were long suppressed and yet had a major influence on Christianity. Now that they are being translated and studied we get a more thorough view of the issues of the early Jesus movements. Here is the text:

What, then, is the resurrection? It is always the disclosure of those who have risen. For if you remember reading in the Gospel that Elijah appeared and Moses with him, do not think the resurrection is an illusion. It is no illusion, but it is truth! Indeed, it is more fitting to say the world is an illusion, rather than the resurrection which has come into being through our Lord the Savior, Jesus Christ.

But what am I telling you now? Those who are living shall die. How do they live in an illusion? The rich have become poor, and the kings have been overthrown. Everything is prone to change. The world is an illusion! - lest, indeed, I rail at things to excess!

But the resurrection does not have this aforesaid character, for it is the truth which stands firm. It is the revelation of what is, and the transformation of things, and a transition into newness. For imperishability descends upon the perishable; the light flows down upon the darkness, swallowing it up; and the Pleroma fills up the deficiency. These are the symbols and the images of the resurrection. He it is who makes the good.

Therefore, do not think in part, O Rheginos, nor live in conformity with this flesh for the sake of unanimity, but flee from the divisions and the fetters, and already you have the resurrection. For if he who will die knows about himself that he will die - even if he spends many years in this life, he is brought to this - why not consider yourself as risen and (already) brought to this? If you have the resurrection but continue as if you are to die - and yet that one knows that he has died - why, then, do I ignore your lack of exercise? It is fitting for each one to practice in a number of ways, and he shall be released from this Element that he may not fall into error but shall himself receive again what at first was. (Read More)

I love the line, "you already have the resurrection."

Yes! Let us live it!


  1. Nice!

    I hadn't heard of that book before.

    I'm going to add to our churches "education links". We have on there too.

  2. "Preaching" from gnostic texts? Is there any depth of heresy you aren't willing to proclaim publicly?

    As for "you already have the resurrection" - wasn't that gangrenous teaching dealt with in Scripture?

    John, for the sake of the people of 1st Liz and for your own soul's sake, stop swerving from the truth.

  3. You heard it here, John--your soul is at stake! Now that you have been told that, I'm sure you see the error of your ways and will conform to the proper dogma. :)

  4. Misty,

    Gnosticism is antithetical to Christianity. It is antithetical to Jesus' teaching. It is antithetical to justice and equity.

    This isn't something to fool around with. He knows better, and I imagine you do, too.

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  6. You're right, Chrissy, we all secretly view religious matters just as you do, and all it takes is to have the error of our ways pointed out to us by one such as yourself in order for us to return to the straight and narrow path.

  7. Mysty,

    You won't tolerate a "rogue" climatologist dividing from the herd (handful of people going back to the 1900s) and claiming that global warming is a natural cycle. That person should just think like everybody else.

    Now if a person wants to be a Christian Minister, shouldn't they also be questioned and examined when they go against the collective wisdom of the group (millions of people going back to the 30s)?

    There is a reason that Gnosticism, adoptionism, etc. all died out within 100 years of their birth - they couldn't enable Christians to stand up to the Empire when it came out to burn them alive. That's what is so dangerous with JohnS' "gospel" - not what it contains, but what it displaces.

    If you want a faith that can stand up to the powers of Empire, try the one faith that actually did stand up to (and overcome) the Imperium: classical orthodox historic Christianity.

  8. Michael,

    Glad your church has an education link page. Both of those links are excellent.

  9. Chrissy,

    You are welcome to question and examine anyone you want. It is the condescending attitude, and the suggestion that everyone else shares your assumptions, that accompanies what you write when you fancy yourself as everyone else's mentor and guide that I find amusing.

  10. Mysty,

    I don't assume that everyone believes the way that I do.

    All I know is that John Shuck took a public oath and made a vow to accept the Old and New Testaments as "the unique and authoritative witness to Jesus Christ" and to receive our Confessions (not just C-67, but the total witness they bear) "as authentic and reliable expositions of what Scripture leads us to believe and do." At the same time, he promised to "be instructed and led by those confessions" as he leads the people of God.

    It's difficult to accept the Bible as unique and authoritative "by the Holy Spirit" if you deny Biblical inspiration - even calling it harmful - and choose to sermonize from gnostic texts. It's difficult to see how the doctrine espoused on this blog and from the pulpit of First Elizabethton is instructed by our Confessions - much less led by them. (Pantheism is not compatible with Christianity in any way shape or form. Christians don't confuse the earth, the universe, or any other created thing with God. And reveling in the fact that you agree more with heretics than with Christians is just further proof from the horse's mouth!)

    Mystical Seeker - you have my blessing to seek all you want, question what you will, etc. To my knowledge, you haven't vowed to do otherwise. John has.

    Please understand this: I think he's a likable guy (our one face-to-face showed how much we have in common). I think he's very intelligent, and talented as a preacher. I have no doubt that he's a compassionate pastor and a passionate leader. What I would like to see is all of those gifts channeled - focused - through the lens of Scripture and led by our confessions. It's not just what I want, however. It's what he promised.

  11. A comment regarding the dialogue between Mystical Seeker and Chris:

    This blog is part of my teaching ministry. We learn by looking at a wide variety of views and discerning truth from them, in my opinion. I change my mind quite often. Others may as well. This blog is food for thought.

    As far as my vows are concerned, I of course, uphold all my ordination vows as I have in my 15 years of ministry. Not only do I uphold them, I enact them. This blog reflects that.

    If anyone has a problem, there is a disciplinary procedure for that. Making accusations on a public blog is probably not part of that disciplinary procedure, but to each his/her own.

  12. John,

    I have been surprised to find your name and your church bantered about on a number of other conservative blogs. To my knowledge you aren't pushing any particular agenda in the PCUSA, which would require other Presbyterians to think, act or behave like you in anyway so I find it odd that people are so threatened by you. Why do people, like Chris here from Adiaphora, feel the need to make sure you meet their personal standards?

    Bizarre this human obsession with the specks in our neighbor's eyes.

  13. Hey Aric,

    To your question, we are in exciting times. I get bantered about I suppose, because I am public about these issues. From my experience as a minister, many ministers and congregants have similar questions to mine but think that the church is "fixed" and not open to exploration.

    I would be curious about these other blogs who speak about me and my congregation. I don't get around too much!

    Thanks for commenting!

  14. Well, if you ask me (and I know you didn't), I think the problem is that conservative religion is just by its very nature threatened by the existence of ideas that challenge the orthodoxy. I think that theological conservatism is a house of cards, and at some level some of its adherents know it, which is why certain ones feel compelled to go out of their way to seek out and hunt down those who simply express liberal ideas.