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Theologian Emphasizes Orthodox Christian Faith amid Challenge of Judas' Gospel

As the widespread debate over the newly unveiled Gospel of Judas has greatly challenged traditional Christian belief, Christians are urged to stand firm on orthodox teaching.
( [email protected] ) Apr 13, 2006 09:41 PM EDT

As the widespread debate over the newly unveiled Gospel of Judas has greatly challenged traditional Christian belief, Christians are urged to stand firm on orthodox teaching.

The Gospel of Judas, which has just been transported to Egypt from National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C. for public display, is a controversial Christian text that portrays the apostle Judas Iscariot as Jesus's faithful servant.

According to the 1700-year-old "gospel", Judas was the only apostle who understood the death of Jesus by helping Jesus get rid of his physical flesh and liberate the true spiritual self or divine being within. Judas’ act of handing Jesus over to Roman soldiers after taking a bribe of 30 silver coins was therefore justified; even it had led to the tragic death of Jesus on the cross.

However, compared to the four biblical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the New Testament, Judas Iscariot is a betrayer that sold Jesus with 30 coins of silver. The author of the Gospel of Matthew has recounted the scene where Judas regretted his treachery and hanged himself, trying to explain the message that one has to pay a high cost of life for his sins.

The two contradicting books of gospel have brought confusion to tradition theological teachings on salvation. Yet theologians have argued that the Gospel of Judas is absolutely not accepted by Christianity.

"The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are the foundation of our Christian faith. The Gospel of Judas is not accepted by Christianity. Concerning the content, it is believed to be written by some Gnostic Christians. Gnostic Christians do not believe Jesus has both godly and human nature, and has died on the cross and resurrected in three days. They think Jesus is just an ordinary person," stated Professor John Wei-Ho Wu from the California-based Logos Theological Seminary.

"According to the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Judas betrayed Jesus with 30 coins of silver. Even though he was the one entrusted with money, he became like a thief. At the end, Judas had to pay full responsibility for his betrayal and lost his life," Wu said, trying to explain the orthodox Christian teachings about Judas.

"Even the Roman soldiers have later changed and came to believe that Jesus had no sins, Judas, who has put the innocent in front of the judgment by religious leaders, paid the cost of his mistake."

"The Bible allows us to understand that Jesus comes to this world because he loves us. He died on the cross for us as an offering of sacrifice to redeem us from our sins. Therefore, we must not forget that Judas finally had to pay the cost for his betrayal against Jesus. It is a wrong perspective to give merits to Judas for his betrayal has allowed Jesus to die," Wu continued to clarify the problem of the teachings in the Gospel of Judas.

In face of the challenge of the Gospel of Judas against traditional Christian teachings, Wu urged believers to stand firm on their faith and to make clear the identity of Jesus that they believe in.

"Jesus is fully God, and he becomes a fully man and come to this world. He lived for 33 years on earth. He died on the cross, buried in the tomb and resurrected in three days. This is what Christians believe. He is not just a spiritual being but a real man living in the history," Wu declared.

For the non-believers who may have been confused by the Gospel of Judas and have doubt in the teaching of Christianity, Wu once again pointed out that the Gospel of Judas is not accepted by Christianity. In addition, for a person to believe in Jesus’ godly and human nature as well as his death on the cross and resurrection, is not by giving evidence, however it is a pure faith.

Wu reminded Christians of the lessons that can be learned from the Gospel of Judas, "I believe that the Gospel of Judas has helped raise Christian concern over Jesus’ salvation. A real faith is extremely important to a believer. Those who believe in Jesus will have eternal life, but those who do not believe in Jesus will not receive eternal life. It gives a totally different consequence."

Wu is a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies, concentrate on New Testament, from Dallas Theological Seminary. He now serves as an assistant professor in New Testament at the Logos Evangelical Seminary.