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Stolen Identity: The Conspiracy to Reinvent Jesus
Author: Peter Jones
In Stolen Identity Peter Jones clearly shows the differences between Christianity and Gnosticism. He places their teachings side by side on a range of subjects: the God of Jesus, the humanity and divinity of Jesus, Jesus and spirituality and sexuality, and the morals, death and resurrection of Jesus.
His discussion of the difference between faith and “gnosis” highlights some key distinctions. “Faith reaches out beyond the self whereas ‘gnosis’ goes within. Faith respects the otherness and majesty of God; ‘gnosis’ makes one the same as God. Faith requires revelation and gladly submits to God’s Word; ‘gnosis’ is self-revelation with no need of the Bible.”
Jones is more than qualified to address this subject. His doctoral research was in Gnostic literature. He combines scholarly analysis with every day relevance. This is a great answer to Dan Brown’s best selling The Da Vinci Code, which is a modern day repackaging of Gnosticism.
This goes beyond Cracking Da Vinci’s Code, a book that Jones co-authored, by providing a thorough examination of Gnostic texts and teaching. It would be hard not to conclude from the analysis that Gnosticism, unlike Biblical teaching, is a complicated theology that obviously conflicts with Scripture. Even worse, it calls evil good and good evil. Jones writes, “Here ‘Ialdaboath’s (Yahweh, the Creator) command’ or law is associated from the beginning with evil. The Torah is transformed into a book of soul-destroying lies. Keeping ‘God’s law’ is life-threatening error, which is diametrically opposed to the health of the soul. In this version of Genesis, the Serpent, whom the Bible says was the wisest, or most cunning, of all the creatures, has become not just clever but good. God, the wise and good Creator, has become not just a fool but the personification of the Devil.” This stems from the Gnostic teaching that its God, the Father of the All, had nothing to do with the material world.
Gnostics believe that matter is evil. Jones summarizes their view of the Fall like this: “The creation of matter is the root of all evil, so Yahweh (who created matter) is really the source of all evil.” The Gnostics see physical life as the product of a blind and foolish Creator. Death and life are illusory and their true nature has to be ascertained through mystical insight or gnosis (secret knowledge). Gnosticism is a form of liberation from the bonds of the physical.
In contrast to the esoteric teaching of Gnosticism, the Biblical revelation is like a fountain of pure water. In particular, Jones sensible teaching on sexuality is refreshing. The Scriptures uphold “the goodness and exclusiveness of heterosexuality, the significance of monogamous lifelong marriage, and the blessing of children.” In ancient Gnosticism, physical sex is evil, and spiritual sex is everything. The latter is seen as means of becoming one with the All. In summarizing the Biblical view of sex, Jones writes, “Sexuality is not for the promotion of ecstatic spiritual trances but for the pursuit of the creation mandate, human fellowship and enjoyment, and personal significance.”
He ends his book with a challenge to choose between the Gnostic Jesus and the Biblical Jesus. He has patiently led the seeker, the skeptic, the student and even those who already believe in the Savior of Scripture through the evidence. A choice must be made. He ends with his own personal testimony.
It’s a pleasure to read a book that’s so scholarly and Biblical, but is also well written, understandable and relevant. Peter Jones accomplished that before in co-authoring Cracking Da Vinci’s Code, and he has now done again. This is an excellent critique of Gnosticism.