Two Approaches to Thomasine Christianity

There are two approaches to Thomasine Christianity.  They are completely inter-related and yet can hold some very different beliefs. 

The First Approach is what I will call personal/individualistic Thomasine Christianity.  Those who adhere to this understanding look upon the early Thomasines as only revering the Gospel of Thomas.  These ancient Thomasines may have known more of the story of Jesus but in any case these things are not essential to them and no Thomasine is not required to believe in them.  Those who follow the Gospel of Thomas often practice solo.  They often do not view Jesus as divine, or if somehow divine....only in as much as we all are divine.  Ritual (such as baptism, eucharist etc) is not emphasized and is sometimes even shunned.  Jesus is seen as a messenger, or spiritual guide who has awakened to spiritual insight or gnosis.  His words are what can help one awaken, not the details of his life.  This path is largely individualistic in that the Gospel of Thomas must be engaged and understood personally.

The Second approach looks upon the Gospel of Thomas as a text within the Christian tradition, being compatible with many modern mainline chruches.  They look on the Gospel of Thomas as a book of mysticism for the Christian wanting a deeper spirituality.  They view the ancient Thomasines as a Christian group similar to the other Christianities at the time, where members are baptized, recieve eucharast etc.  The Gospel of Thomas are sayings for those ready to go deeper for those ready for meat and not just milk.  Jesus is often viewed as divine and the Trinity could be held with this as well.  This type of Thomasine Christian is usually grounded within traditional Christianity and holds to those teachings or those of the historical Jesus within an established denomination. 

Is one right and one wrong?  No.  The Gospel of Thomas is a fluid document that it can be utilized, studied, and practiced by both types, with both producing good fruit.  The Gospel of Thomas does not mention things such as the Trinity, Jesus as the ONLY son, the crucifixion as salvation, baptism, eucharist etc...so the individual is free to hold his own beliefs on these matters.

Comments

  1. This is a wonderful description of the two main groups of Thomasine Christians. Thanks so much for your sizing it up, as this really is the two big camps that follow The Gospel of Thomas. I really appreciate your Insight on this!

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  2. Now if I could just come up with some label to know where folks are coming from. Side A and Side B! LOL Though in some ways I ride the middle.

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