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The DIDACHE: Why Bother?

Why should one study and perhaps seek to resurrect the DIDACHE at this late date?

For a would-be follower of the True Gospel of Christ, this is an all-important question.  In fact, nothing is, I believe, more important.

This post is merely introductory to what could become a lengthy essay setting-forth reasons why the DIDACHE is of supreme interest and value.


Authenticity and Origins: three possibilities


Firstly, the answer obviously hinges upon another very simple question which must be settled.  Is the DIDACHE what it purports to be, and represents itself to be in minute detail, namely, an apostolic text?  (Written, actually, by the apostles). 

Or, alternatively, is the DIDACHE a kind of pious conceit written in, say, the early second century, not by apostles but by well-meaning sectarians who thought they were doing the right thing, but were stretching the truth a bit, using a permissible poetic license (perhaps even imagining that they ‘channeled’ the apostles’ words in their souls)?

Or, thirdly, is the DIDACHE a wicked heresy committed by men who may have unwittingly, by their dishonesty, channeled a demonic voice?

These are, I think, three positions representing a spectrum of possibilities.

The specific question of origins and authenticity and dating, etc., and pertinent scholarship, will be explored in the ‘Authenticity’ category. For now, suffice it to say that I am (obviously) convinced that the DIDACHE is apostolic and dates from the mid-1st century.

Assuming this is correct, then of course the importance of the DIDACHE goes skyrocketing upward into the heavens, like a great comet among the stars.  For the DIDACHE becomes not only the source-code, as it were, of the True Gospel, but is a decoder, if you will, by which one can actually decipher and understand much of the trajectory of subsequent Christianity (arriving, I dare say, at some unflattering conclusions).

The DIDACHE as real (and revisionist) history

Now, a related and also obvious question is, did God really raise Jesus from the dead?  Of course, if this resurrection is a lie, then the DIDACHE is an accessory to fraud.  On the other hand if the Lord truly lives, then the DIDACHE is almost certainly both the earliest and the most authentic and most reliable ‘witness’ of this!

Given the canonical Gospels, this claim for the DIDACHE may not strike you as so obvious.  My argument is that there is relatively strong likelihood (but by no means certainty) that some corruption and polemical ‘spin’ exists in the most authentic and reliable gospels, those of Matthew and John.  In other words, as powerfully true and inspired as they are, they may well represent a secondary and latter development of the message (albeit still wholly or almost wholly bearing the witness of the eponymous apostles).   In any case the gospels are stylized literary works, reflecting theological and apologetic concerns.

By contrast   and this is a truly marvelous discovery to reflect upon   the DIDACHE actually preserves what should be considered not a literary effort, but a genuine historical ‘raw source’.  Its character as such will, if the Lord allows, be amplified and argued and demonstrated elsewhere. The point, for the moment, is that the DIDACHE (assuming its authenticity) gives us the most reliable snapshot of what the early church was really like, unfiltered by the spin and propaganda motive, if you will, which, as I believe, is reflected in the canonical gospels and in Paul’s letters. 

Above all, we have the claim of men who obviously represent themselves as the Lord’s intimate apostles, telling us sincerely and credibly what the Lord taught.

The DIDACHE as a ‘sequestered witness’ to discredit much of the New Testament and of post-Nicene Christianity!

And thus comes one of the most jarring possible implications; namely, if the DIDACHE is history contrasting with the polemical nature of much of the New Testament, the we have the basis for questioning and seriously re-evaluating texts which seem to oppose or contradict the DIDACHEas surprising much of the New Testament does. 

Equally remarkable and earth-shaking: If one will stipulate that the DIDACHE is valid and historical, then logically, whatever ‘speaks against’ the DIDACHE in any way, whether naively or nefariously, is gravely erroneous.  Theologically one would even have to say that, if the DIDACHE represents the Lord God and His authentic Word, then the men who have hidden and suppressed the DIDACHE should, one might suppose, be taken to task.  God does not give us leave to judge, grumble or blaspheme; but there is a certain logic and wisdom to note.  I do not know the mind of God on this.  He may have a higher purpose in having allowed the enemy to sow a false gospel and many erroneous teachings, while allowing the DIDACHE to be sequestered, as it were (along with a number of other remarkable textual and historical ‘witnesses’) held away from public view for many centuries; and now the DIDACHE and many many other texts are tumbling out.  It is like the denouement of a crime novel.  The clever prosecutor hides witnesses in the wings, and only at the climax of the case    after other false and perjured testimony has been rendered    does the prosecutor spring his trap and introduce the powerful rebuttal which reveals the truth.

What higher purpose does God present to us in all of this?  Has God been biding His time, setting a trap  like the vineyard owner who turned over his property to subordinates, to manage in His absence?  God in His mysterious unveiling in this way; it is truly a staggering thought.

 The DIDACHE as the True Way to Salvation

Lastly, supposing the DIDACHE is authentic and God has not changed His Message, what then, for each person who wants to obey and be saved?  Nothing could be more important than to renounce the false ‘Christianoids,’ pretenders and corrupters, and to repent and return.  This is why the DIDACHE is so vital (if true): It is the Word of Life.

1Pe 1:22-25  Purifying your souls in the obedience of the truth through the Spirit to unfeigned love of the brothers, love one another fervently out of a pure heart,  (23)  having been born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the living Word of God, and abiding forever.  (24)  For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of men as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls out,  (25)  but the Word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the Word preached as gospel to you.

The DIDACHE Raising the Question of True Soterology (and the Valid vs. Invalid Meaning of the Atoning Sacrifice)

In the same vein regarding the True Gospel, we have weightiest of all issues for Christianity, which is, the validity (or invalidity) of Paul’s extreme dichotomy between salvation by ‘faith alone’ in the Cross     vs. the very very different message of Salvation taught by the DIDACHE, by Matthew, and the letters of James and John.  We also have the related teaching by John in his gospel, regarding keeping Christ’s commandments. Against these authorities, we have a rather consistently contrary narrative from Paul, in which the saving work of Christ has been done on the Cross; a believer need only ‘accept’ this theological assertion.  There are no further obligations of obedience! 

This is a remarkable and stark contrast.  Who is right    Paul? (And the Protestants who elevated his works into preeminence as the lodestone of their doctrine)  Or, is the DIDACHE-Gospel  represented textually by the DIDACHE, Matthew, John, James, 1-2-3 John, and Revelation  the authentic centerpiece of God’s Message? 

So in the end our most crucial question raised here concerns the Cross and how to understand it rightly.  Is the Cross a kind of talismanic ‘sin eraser / blank check of grace?’  If so, is it possible that this might be being systematically abused and misunderstood to the point that in some way Christians are deceived and seduced into following the ‘broad way [of carefree disobedience and self-indulgence] that leads to destruction?

It is true that the image of the Lamb slain for our sins, resonates throughout the gospels. It is part of the True Gospel. But the more difficult and troubling question about it is, again: how does this Atonement and sacrifice really operate vis-a-vis the teachings and commandments of the Lord?

  Are we to follow Paul’s advice and reliquish the law entirely, because the Law and Grace are incompatible?  Or, does the True Gospel actually give us a True and Divine Law    a perfect moral code to follow, by which we will be judged ?  In this case (presented here) the purpose of the Atonement and death of Christ on the Cross, operates more as a formal cessation and conclusion to the ancient Israelite system of law, covenant and Temple sacrifices    not so that we would have no law at all, but in order to have just the opposite! A perfect Torah that brings eternal life, justice, salvation, joy and happiness, in place of empty corrupted ritual,

Unfortunately, the abandonment of the DIDACHE by the Church (in around A.D. 4000) resulted in two things: First the removal of salvific elements taught in the DIDACHE, especially concerning sharing of possessions and a very high moral and spiritual standard, fasting, etc.;  and second, in their stead, a supplanting of these with rituals and regimens which were not originally taught.

May God teach us the truth in all things and preserves us from error, corruption, lies and deceptions. Amen.


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Satanism and the World Deceiver (DID. 16.4)

16.4b And then shall appear the world-deceiver as a son of God. And he
shall do signs and wonders, and the earth shall be betrayed into his hands. And he shall do godless things that have not been done since the beginning of the age.

C O M M E N T :

This statement must surely stand as the most disturbing prophecy in sacred writing. At least for me it ranks near the top of any list of troubling subjects in Christianity and in life.

It is also even difficult and challenging just to write and think about this conceptually.

What we learn from (what are to me) the many reliable portions of the New Testament is that:
(a) the deception will be pervasive and is certainly seductive of the church membership; and
(b) the nature of the deception includes not just conceptual misinformation, but cognitive functions: Our senses will deceive us.

That being so, it seems hopeless even to raise the subject for a practical discussion–not to mention the unpleasantness if the ontological implications (i.e., what this says about our lowly and really futiles state of existence).

Too, there is so much that could be raised and delved into–far more than my own very limited resources permit.

For now, I would simply note one all-important revelation that God has given me in many dreams and dream-visions, and that is, that the solution and the ‘defense’ against the power of satanic deception of our minds, comes in prayer. When we turn our minds and thoughts and words to God, His saving power in us intensifies immediately.

This is the over-arching thought we must have. Prayer must become a habit of mind and a reflex in every moment-by-moment situation. This, I’ve found, is how God saves us. Of course He can intervene without prayer. But our souls suffer greater trouble, to the degree that our gaze shifts away from His Light, and wavers, and falls upon our troubles instead of our Help.

A second point that I would make is to offer a testimony that I have personally had the unfortunate experience of meeting Satan in a spiritual dimension, to the point that I could interact with him cognitively and in a sensory way. This occurred once, on Maundy Thursday during Orthodox Easter week, 2008.

The topic of Satan and his power and reality, is one which the modern world and even many Christians have a hard time confronting in its true dimensions. It is a topic we tend either to ignore and discount altogether, or try to minimize. Even a conservative popular writer like C.S. Lewis has famously written about how Christians need to strike the right balance, as it were, between taking Satan too seriously, or not seriously enough. (Mere Christianity ) Although Lewis was well-meaning, one must instead consider the darkly troubling reality that the Word gives us, rather than the assurances of any mortal man.

Another huge issue–one which time limits do not even allow me to explore at any length at all, except to mention–is the ambiguous way that Satan is presented in Scripture and in non-canonical ancient Jewish writings. To oversimplify the matter perhaps unpardonably: there are many passages in which Satan is represented as actually, one might say, a ‘part’ of God and/or an agent who is under God’s orders and control, to test and tempt us; but there are also other biblical theologies or rather satanologies, which represent Satan as more of a ‘loose cannon’ of autonomous and self-actualized evil.

Regarding the first ‘model’ of Satan, I have even heard the opinion voiced that this Satan is consciously emulated by or sanctioned in some formal way, by a certain element in rabbinicism. There is a belief that God is a ‘good cop bad cop’ duality, and thus He desired the men play a certain provocative role.

This raises the possibility, then, to my mind at least, that Satan has actually seduced religious leaders of many ilks, by means of religion. (I am of course not speaking exclusively of, nor singling out, any one religion.) I sense a quality in all organized religion, in which an arguably evil or erroneous element is pair with what is obviously good. It is as if Satan were smart enough not to inject his horrors in some overt singularly consistent fashion but, rather, that he instructs duped religious caste elders in a certain manipulativeness of this ‘good cop / bad cop’ quality. In so doing, the clergy believe they serve God.

Perhaps they do! I do not pretend to know the whole truth of any matter. But, in own theology, I believe that Christ taught us to be all Good, and to renounce all evil:

Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruits, nor can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. (Mat 7:17-18)

And also, that we do not need any more teachers, rabbis, or theological instructors!

But you must not be called Rabbi, for One is your teacher, Christ, and you are all brothers. And call no one your father on the earth, for One is your Father in Heaven. Nor be called teachers, for One is your Teacher, even Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever shall exalt himself shall be abased, and he who shall humble himself shall be exalted.
(Mat 23:8-12)

And the meaning of the Parable of the Seven demonic spirits, I believe refers to the spiritual ‘pedigree’ of presumptuous religious leaders.

When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he walks through dry places seeking rest, and finds none. Then he said, I will return into my house from where I came out. And when he has come, he finds it empty, swept, and decorated. [i.e. piety] Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more evil than himself [ambitious but false religious control-freaks], and they enter in and live there. And the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so it also shall be to this evil generation.
(Mat 12:43-45)

On the other side, so to speak, there is a hypothetical ancient school of Judaism, which has only recently been discovered and has been dubbed Enochic, because it relies on this non-canonical texts of 1-2 Enoch. It was not rabbinical, in the sense we know from both the Old and New Testaments. Quite the contrary, it evolved into communitarian perhaps pacifistic Essenism. And it held a radically different view of Satan and the Fallen Angels. This demonology and satanology presents a dualistic cosmos, in which there are Good and Evil souls. God’s salvation enables the Good to extricate themselves and purify completely.

False gospels, particularly those of the Protestants, unfortunately encourage admixing, hybridization and a false comfort that we can engage in the world on its wicked terms–smugly assured in the illusion that we are “saved by Grace and not by works.”

In this limited allusion to Enochism vs rabbinicism that I offer you, I cannot sort out these paradoxes and conflicts. I would simply commend you to read the several texts of the New Testament regarding Satan and evil. Be sure to include all of them. If time permits, also visit the Old Testament. You will see a bewildering and rather incoherent spectrum.

Scholarly works include three edited or written by Gabriele Boccaccini: Roots of Rabbinic Judaism (Eerdmans, 2002); Enoch and Qumran Origins (Eerdmans, 2005); and Enoch and the Messiah Son of Man (Eerdmans, 2007)


Theologically speaking, we have to consider the whole bewildering gamut of issues. First, we have the matter of defining right-and-wrong (i.e. either in a Torah or in the conscience). A Good God wants to do this. He must also present some kind of rewards-and-punishment system. In so doing, He does indeed become a kind of ‘good cop/ bad cop.’

But we soon discover that the evil sometimes go unpunished. And the righteous suffer unjustly. So, how does God explain this? This is the point of the book of Job and also to some extent, of the Suffering Servant (in Psalms and Isaiah).

Then we have the role of religion. This purports to explain God and to act as an official intermediary. But there is tremendous opportunity for abuses and errors and corruption here. Real evil comes in religious garb! We have God being represented but really misrepresented. And, in a ‘closed’ system, there seems no way for God to circumvent the cultus of myths, lies and the state-sanctioned apparatus which presumes to speak for Him.

Visionaries and dreamers and shamans and prophets arise; but some are deluded, some are false, and some are killed or exiled for their accusations (under the sanction of the religious establishment) and for their troubles.

And the priestly guild (in the broad sense, religious or secular) have a way of constructing their role so as to benefit and remunerate themselves. They presumably act in good faith and sincerity. They truly believe they serve God and/or truth and/or progress, the nation, the common good, etc. But in fact, they may well–I would say they typically probably do–serve ‘the Devil’ in the sense that their efforts are incorrect or in error to some degree. A ratcheting effect, or downward spiral occurs, by which corrupt minds descend on a trajectory into ever-worsening darkness.

And this problem again reflects upon God and His Justice. How can He punish his self-styled ‘servant’ who truly do think they serve Him, but actually don’t?

And on and on.

God has a series of problems to solve for us, ranging from practical and communicative, to technical and philosophical.

And one centerpiece of the ambiguity, at least for me, comes in the Temptation narrative of Matt. 4. We have Satan depicted as a kind of necessary element of God’s plan, a ‘hazing rite’ or gauntlet to be endured by the spirit-anointed Jesus; and in this, Satan is remarkably ‘civil’ and well-versed in Scripture, and he is as seemingly reverential of God as is his counterpart.

This does not at all comport with other more distressing Scriptural portrayals of evil, let alone with our experience of it!

Now, this range of literary portraits complicates the discussion even further, if we consider that some of the Scripture may have been written by rabbinically trained theologians who held a certain sense of Satan from their school of thought (such as the narrative in Matt 4); while other Scripture came from men who held a non-rabbinical understanding and training (such as that in the Revelation to John, and the Gospel of John, perhaps).

The DIDACHE does not portray evil and Satan in the moderating way that certain other Scriptures arguably do.

The DIDACHE-Gospel actually, to my view, solves all of the issues as just lightly surveyed above. The DIDACHE-Gospel essentially eliminates the clergy and replaces them with elected local overseers/assistants, who will control not a law code (because the DIDACHE doesn’t need much legal interpretation or emendation), nor does it offer a system of what I unflatteringly call “sheep ‘n’ shekel sheikh-down” sacrifices enriching a caste of priveleged clergy. (Historically, that came later.) Rather, the DIDACHE is a commonwealth order. It is modeled on Essene-like communards. The bounty is transferred to the poor and to the common storehouse for common meals. The ‘overseer’ (stock manager, if you will) does not wear a tall pointed hat or long robes, but receives his cut, fairly and legitimately. But he no longer needs to play the clergy game. He does not need to set himself up as an innovative teacher or guardian of the cultus, because that function is sustained by the DIDACHE text itself.

And this neat near-elimination of the clergy role, I would modestly and respectfully speculate, may accounts for why the would-be clergy and ambitious teachers and rabbis of those times and thereafter, felt threatened and disenfranchised by it. And this is why the went to war (as I assert) against it. And this is why and how they eventually succeeded and replaced the DIDACHE with a corruptive pseudo-Apostolic Constitution, from which a long train of tragedies has ensued since.

May God guide our minds into all truth, to discern Good and Evil, and to make our tree all Good, that our fruit might be all Good. May God deliver us from Evil, rather than toy with it as if we were gods. Amen.








16.8 Then the world shall see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven, and all the holy ones with him, on his royal throne, to judge the world-deceiver and to reward each according to his deeds.

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