I’ve been reading Beyond Belief by Elaine Pagels, best known as the author of The Gnostic Gospels. It’s a rather short book including some serious research from the Nag Hammadi library, a recently-found collection of early Christian writings, interspersed with an autobiographical account of the author’s renewed faith following tragedy. What has been most fascinating to me is that most of the doctrinal debates that we are engaged in today have precendents in early Christian history. In fact, the very thoughts that I have been having about God, as in seeing him/her/it less as a lawmaker and judge and more as a merciful and loving source of being, were condemned as heretical. The historical account primarily centres on Irenaeus, who can be considered the father of orthodoxy. He had a mandate of unifying the church, and believed this needed to be achieved by keeping to a strict interpretation of the scriptures. This included considering Jesus as God and holding to the four gospels we know well, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, as being the ultimate sources for truth. This was prior to the formation of the canon of scripture.
It is refreshing to consider that my thoughts and feelings are not new, but have a long history. Just because I am in a minority position does not mean that I am wrong, and I am glad to have given up on the search for truth. God as mystery is a much more comforting position to me.