Which Group Do You Fall Under Today?
We can categorizes all the lost books (Apocrypha, Dead Sea Scrolls, and Pseudepigraphal) into 4 groups:
EBIONITES - Only for the Jews
BASIC TENETS - You must be a Jew to be a follower of Jesus and accept him as the Jewish Messiah. He wasn't divine at birth, but God valued his righteousness and allowed his sacrifice to redeem humanity's sin.
REQUIREMENTS - Ebionites continued to obey Jewish law. They kept kosher and ritual baths, and men had to be circumcised!
APPEAL - The faith allowed Jesus' early Jewish followers in Palestine to embrace him without making a break from their birth identity.
e.g. Today, though not the same, this is similar to Judaism or Messianic Judaism.
GNOSTICS - Special Knowledge
BASIC TENETS - The world and our bodies were created by an incompetent lesser God, but we contain a spark of divinity, and Jesus provided us with the knowledge to free it.
REQUIREMENTS - Followers had to have the time to pursue and incorporate this special knowledge. Literacy may also have helped.
APPEAL - Gnosticism explained the world's hardships and people's feelings of not belonging to it but at the same time assured them that redemption is within their power.
e.g. Today, though not the same, this is similar to Scientology (humans were created by evil aliens, and they say their cult is a replacement to psychology rather than a theology). It also has the characteristic in Mormonism of special knowledge, claiming God is gods or different beings. Others might include, The Local Church cult. They claim special knowledge that the Father is the Son, the Godhead is a Person and the practice calling themselves God as a special doorway to spiritual development.
MARCIONITES - Feel Good, but Sacrificing Conscience
BASIC TENETS - Our world was created by the Jewish God of the Old Testament. But he was impossibly strict and condemned all humanity. Christ, who was absolutely unrelated to him, released Christians from his clutches.
REQUIREMENTS - Marcionites had to jettison the Old Testament and believe in two separate gods.
APPEAL - Believers could replace the old admonitions about judgment and damnation with a new message of love and salvation.
e.g. I don't know any cults that teach this, but I am sure there are some out there. Those who emphasize the NT inordinately (the Bible is 75% OT and 25% NT), may fall into this camp.
It is not loving but deceiving oneself to diminish the purpose of the law that causes us to repent and shines upon our hearts, to humble us. The law causes us to realize no man can keep the law except for Jesus Christ who came to fill up the law, thus leading the sinner to Christ. The new message of love and salvation without the old message of the law's convicting hearts, is not a new message of love and salvation, but something fake. The law was given by God and His Christ to erect obedience upon men witnessing how Jesus emptied Himself to receive Lordship over all creation. The law remains until all these things shall pass to the end of the millennial kingdom. We are watchful and waiting for the millennial kingdom to start with the return and appearance of Christ.
THOMASINES - You are God
BASIC TENETS - Since creation, we have all shared in divinity. Jesus teaches us to rediscover it in us. Understanding that is more important than believing in his atoning sacrifice.
REQUIREMENTS - Thomasines were fascinated with the arcane and probably were ascetic and abstinent.
APPEAL - The sect offered rejection of hierarchy, greater freedom of personal expression, an openness to the role of women and a drastically decreased sense of guilt.
e.g. Today, this is just the rehashed new age movement with more bells and whistles. The freedom to believe what you want (anything goes), without guilt or consideration for atonement is the aim of this teaching: spiritism, atheism, agnosticism, deism, dualism, universalism, open theism. The god of open theism does not have infinite foreknowledge. A different god with different degrees of foreknowledge depending on how you feel about it is quite undependable. Pick the god of your choosing; such is the nature of selfish liberal theology. Because of the wide array of conflicting beliefs the line of thought presented here is false.
Nothing much has really changed in two thousand years, except that today there are over 40,000+ adherents (groups) in over 4000 religions in the world that fall under or slant towards one of these four categories.