by Ethan L. Longhenry
In recent times we have seen an explosion of material alleging that the Bible that we have is not complete. Many theories have been advanced that speak of all kinds of other books that were "banned" from the Bible, "taken out" of the Bible, and other such ideas, and that such was done by the Catholics in the fourth century. These ideas, which have been circulating for some time, have received renewed interest on account of the popularity of Dan Brown's book, The Da Vinci Code, the movie based on the book that has recently been released, and the recent unveiling of the discovery of the "lost" Gospel of Judas. Many television channels, taking advantage of the popularity of this subject, have aired stories involving professors and some "authorities" from various denominations talking about these various books and calling into question the validity of the Bibles we possess. Perhaps you have heard something about these stories, read some of the information, or perhaps have seen the movie or the television shows. Maybe you are wondering: were there books taken out of the Bible? Can we trust the Bible?
Unfortunately, the subject matter at hand is rather obscure and most often left to the academic community, and involves a lot of names and people from days gone by. We will try to make some sense of this matter now.
We should first say that yes, there are books claiming to be gospels or letters of Apostles or other such works that were written in the second through fourth centuries. These books are not present in the Bible.
It is important to note, however, exactly why these books are not present in the Bible. They are not present in the Bible, not because they were banned from it or taken out of it by some conspiring Catholics, but because they were not written by the Apostles, and more often than not, were written by a group of heretics called the Gnostics. The Gnostics were people who mixed Greek philosophy and Christianity and developed a religion unsuitable to either. On the Christian end, they were roundly condemned even in the New Testament on account of their denial that Jesus was really a man, that He really died, and that the God of the Old Testament is the one true God. We can read about such matters in II Timothy 2:16-18, John 1:1-18; I John 1:1; I John 4:2-3; and II John 1:7, where both Paul and John teach against the ideas that the resurrection was past and that Jesus was not born in the flesh, both concepts present in Gnosticism and featured in the various gospels and other works attributed to them. We can see why, then, the Gnostic writings were rejected.
These "missing" books were never really missing; we knew of their existence because the early Christians who opposed them would write about their beliefs and the books they were writing.
In the end, we must recognize that these books are not in the Bible because they have no right to be in the Bible. They were not written by inspired men, the majority of them were written by people who were trying to advance views contrary to those found in the New Testament, and they were rejected on the basis of sound deliberation, and rejected as soon as they were written. Let us not be disturbed in our faith because of these books, and we can be confident in the truth of the Bible.