Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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I recently read about some of the other "gospels" that are excluded from the New Testament. I read that the four gospels were chosen by a Catholic priest named Irenaeus to be included in the NT and that the inclusion of only these four gospels were intended to distinguish the teachings of the Orthodox Church from the Gnostic teachings. I understand the heresy of the Gnostics and wholeheartedly disagree with their views but I have read from some of the "Gnostic" gospels and not all of them seem to align with the Gnostic views. For instance, the gospel of Mary ( discusses some teachings of Christ (supposedly), which were contested by the apostles, Peter and Andrew, and was immediately discredited because it was believed to be a Gnostic text. There is a quote in the reading that makes me question whether there is a possibility that the teachings of some of the apostles may have been narrow-minded and affected by the ways of the times. The quote is: "Then Mary wept and said to Peter, 'My brother Peter, what do you think? Do you think that I thought this up myself in my heart, or that I am lying about the Savior?' Levi answered and said to Peter, 'Peter, you have always been hot - tempered. Now I see you contending against the woman like the adversaries. But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her? Surely the Savior knows her very well. That is why He loved her more than us. Rather let us be ashamed and put on the perfect man and acquire him for ourselves as He commanded us, and preach the gospel, not laying down any other rule or other law beyond what the Savior said.'"

What does the church believe about the teachings of Mary Magdalene? Is there any reason to believe that her views were rejected out of jealousy or simply chauvinism? Are these even believed to be her work? What does the Coptic Church believe about the Nag Hammadi scriptures and their origin?

Is believing in the NT gospels based solely on faith that God would not have "allowed" these teachings to be in the Bible if they were not true? I truly believe that we can trust God but we cannot trust man. How do we know that the NT gospels were even written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John if there is no direct mention or proof that they were indeed the authors? I understand that this is all a matter of faith but is there any possibility that we are being steered in the wrong direction by these books? This was mainly brought on because I started listening to lectures about the fall of Rome and the history of the church was discussed, mainly in the section about Constantine. I was surprised to know how long the Orthodox Church was led and influenced by Aryanism and the constant power struggle between the Orthodox and Arian bishops. Even under the rule of Constantine, there were periods of time in which the Pope of Alexandria was an Arian. Constantine himself was, from what I understand, torn between the beliefs of the two views. Athanasius was run out of Egypt during the reign of Constantine and Arius was made pope by Constantine in his [Athanasius] place. This confusion and all of the chaos that I am learning about makes me question how much of what we know is true and how much of it is misguided. I have been going at this alone and I feel that leaving the spiritual guidance of a priest out of the equation has caused me great doubt and confusion and I hope to correct that. I would love some reading recommendations as well. I find it hard to simply dismiss these other teachings but there must be a reason why the church does not discuss them.

There many dangerous errors in these theories which could lead to heretic conclusions and have the potential to cause someone, especially when not grounded in the Orthodox faith, to experience a whirlwind of confusion. However, you have made a very accurate assessment when you stated the following: "I have been going at this alone and I feel that leaving the spiritual guidance of a priest out of the equation has caused me great doubt and confusion and I hope to correct that." Be assured that God is revealing this profound truth to you. In order to deconstruct and correct your misguided erroneous beliefs, be able to learn and benefit from the church teachings, and keep grounded in the true faith, the following material will be very helpful for you to read. In addition, I strongly recommend that you connect with a spiritual father for continuous guidance.

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