So, what is the big deal about Gnostic texts? What’s the big danger in reading the Gospel according to Judas, or believing in the Gospel according to St. Thomas? These non-canonical texts are, by and large, created by the movement called Gnosticism. That is the problem.
Many people are under the impression that Gnosticism is essentially just another denomination of Christianity. In their minds, it is not much different from a Unitarian, Baptist, Catholic, or Mormon. What’s the big deal about this? Actually, there’s a huge difference between “Gnostic theology” and the stream of thoughts and practices that would later be dubbed “Christian.”
In spite of the initial problems of the early church, at least they did not suffer from inconsistency. The whole point of Jesus coming down to Earth in the form of man was to die for everybody’s sins. The act of acknowledgement of man is to give glory and honor to God. God’s character and nature are never in doubt, regardless of which of the 66 books of the Bible you read.
This is not the case with non-canonical texts, like the Gospel according to Judas or the Gospel according to Thomas. In these non-canonical Gnostic scriptures, God is presented in many different ways. Either He is a force emanating from within which anybody can tap, or He is a force so impersonal that He’s pretty much anywhere at any time. There’s just so many ways to get to Him, or many manifestations that He would take. In fact, if you read the classical Gnostic mystical texts, it’s very easy to confuse it with Hinduism.
Hinduism believes in pantheistic force guided by the principles of karma. When you do bad things, you will be punished for it either immediately or later in the next life. If you do good things, you would build up a treasury of merit and rewarded in some form or other.
This is not the case with real Christianity. It is all about grace. In other words, your salvation is a gift from God. It is a reflection of His deity and sovereignty. You may be a worthless person who loves to harm other people and has an evil inclination, but God, through His mercy, can touch you with His grace. All you need to do is say yes to it, and let it work in your life for it to transform you.
It has nothing to do with your inner goodness because you have none. It has nothing to do with your good works because your good works can’t earn your way to heaven. It also has nothing to do with penance, donating money to the church, or doing all sorts of good things to be saved.
You are completely out of the equation except for one thing: consent. God is not an intruder. He would not enter your heart without your permission. You have to consent to Him, and this scripture and theology are so different from Gnosticism that it was very easy to filter out non-canonical text.
That is the inherent danger here because if we are not careful, non-canonical text might actually lead us to some sort of new age reimagining of the Christian Bible. Then the old-established, powerful notions of grace, and the relationship between God and man can go by the wayside in the service of a more convenient form of faith that eventually may fade in the future.