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Controversy and Banishment in the Desert: Promulgating on the Nature of God and the Afterlife.

...as the early Church began formulating and structuring doctrine that was very specific in describing a "true" Christian and imposing that view on the monasteries during the 4th century. The monks became divided. Those monks who were unwilling to accept or adapt to early Church doctrines were banished from the monasteries in Egypt in what became known as the "Trinitarian controversies".
"The malice of a true Christian attempting to destroy an a opponent is something unique in the world. No other religion ever considered it necessary to destroy others because they did not share their same beliefs. At worst, another man beliefs might inspire amusement or contempt—the Egyptians and their animal gods, for instance. Yet those who worshipped the Bull did not try to murder those who worshipped the Snake, or try to convert them by force from Snake to Bull. No evil ever entered the world quite so vividly or on such a vast scale as Christianity did."...Remarks attributed to the 5th century Roman historian Priscus by Gore Vidal in his novel Julian.
The problem with attempting to clarify and then promulgating religious dogma, which can not be proven as fact or must be taken on faith, is that someone will always question it, or take an opposite position.

We need only look at the three Abrahamic religions (those monotheistic faiths emphasizing and tracing their common origins to Abraham),Judaism, Christianity and Islam, to realize how inflexible religious doctrine can cause human suffering and loss of life.

Thus one question will always remain: Who is really right? Perhaps the best answer is: In the end, it does not really matter because it is all words of men and is only speculation anyway.

The remarkable thing about the desert fathers, in their efforts before the early Church became organized and eventually took control of the Egyptian monasteries, was that the monks practiced their own individualized spirituality without a cloak of dogma or interference from the organized Church. And it appears from their sayings that they were remarkably successful in their efforts to experience communion with the Absolute.

Unfortunately as the early Church began formulating and structuring doctrine that was very specific in describing a "true" Christian and imposing that view on the monasteries during the 4th century. The monks became divided. Those monks who were unwilling to accept or adapt to early Church doctrines were banished from the monasteries in Egypt in what became known as the "Trinitarian controversies".

At least five main points of controversy converged at that time:The early desert fathers read from many different gospels that were later declared heretical and destroyed. The educated monks kept personal and monastic libraries. When they were ordered by the early Church to destroy heretical works in their collections, at least one or more of them hid those works in sealed clay jars and placed them in a cave near the ancient city of Nag Hammadi (Chenoboskion). Discovered in 1945, those works became know as The Lost Gospels of the Desert Fathers: The Nag Hammadi Scrolls or more commonly today, The Gnostic Gospels.

The discovered gospels paint a very different picture of the nature of God, the Trinity and the cosmos. They view Jesus not as a savior or Lord, but as an enlightened spiritual guide.

Of the collection of scrolls found and translated, the Gospel of Thomas is the most enigmatic with saying 77:

I am the light that shines over all things. I am everything. From me all came forth, and to me all return. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift a stone, and you will find me there.

"Elaine Pagels, in her book Beyond Belief, argues that the Thomas gospel at first fell victim to the needs of the early Christian community for solidarity in the face of persecution, then to the will of the Emperor Constantine, who at the First Council of Nicaea in 325, wanted an end to the sectarian squabbling and a universal Christian creed. She goes on to point out that in spite of it being left out of the Catholic canon, being banned and sentenced to burn, many of the mystical elements have proven to reappear perennially in the works of mystics like Jacob Boehme, Teresa of Avila and Saint John of the Cross. She concludes that the Thomas gospel gives us a rare glimpse into the diversity of beliefs in the early Christian community, an alternative perspective to the Johannine gospel."
"Hermits tried to keep aloof from the religious controversies and heresy-hunting of the fourth century. They preferred seeking closer contact with God to nitpicking over the precise nature of the Trinity. Yet one debate over God's nature exploded at the end of the century. Was God a spirit or a physical being?"...source: History and Hermits - The Desert Fathers of Egypt by Derek Bickerton
"WHEREFORE this is an old maxim of the Fathers that is still current,--though I cannot produce it without shame on my own part, since I could not avoid my own sister, nor escape the hands of the bishop,--viz., that a monk ought by all means to fly from women and bishops. For neither of them will allow him who has once been joined in close intercourse any longer to care for the quiet of his cell, or to continue with pure eyes in divine contemplation through his insight into holy things."...source: John Cassian, Institutes, Book 11, Chapter 7
"There were two kinds of monks in Egypt - the simple and uneducated, who composed the majority, and the Origenists, an educated minority."...The Reluctant Messenger
"Scholars have seen two monastic camps: “Hellenic or Hellenized monks whose theology was more intellectual and more speculative than the na├»ve and literal beliefs of their Egyptian brethren."...source: COPTIC PALLADIANA I: THE LIFE OF PAMBO (LAUSIAC HISTORY 9-10)...translated from Coptic by Tim Vivian...p. 72

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