MEMPHIS, Tenn. (BP) – A new interpretation of Mark’s Gospel, character slams on the late Jerry Falwell and rejection of Jewish evangelism were among the topics aired at workshops June 19-20 during the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly in Memphis, Tenn.
A statement in the General Assembly Guide says, “The opinions and views presented in General Assembly ministry workshops are those of the workshop presenters and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of, or endorsement by, The Fellowship or its members.
“Holding to the principles of soul freedom and church freedom, General Assembly workshop presenters do not speak for the Fellowship as an organization or for any of the Fellowship’s members. The ministry workshops are a time for learning and exchanging ideas and are not indicative of personal or organization doctrinal positions.”
NEW INTERPRETATION OF MARK
The Gospel of Mark was probably a Gnostic gospel that made it into the canon of orthodox Christian Scripture because either early church leaders failed to recognize it as Gnostic or because it was too popular to suppress, John Killinger said June 20 in his workshop “A Dramatic New Interpretation of the Gospel of Mark.”
Killinger, executive minister and theologian in residence at Marble Collegiate Church in New York City, suggested in a workshop the previous day (covered by Baptist Press) that in the current age, the church should no longer preach that Jesus is God incarnate.
“The more I’ve thought about it, the more I am convinced — now hold onto your chair Baptist Press if you’re here — I am convinced that this Gospel is a Gnostic Gospel, that Mark was one of those thousands and thousands of Gnostic Christians,” Killinger said.
Gnostics were a cult during the first three centuries of Christianity who taught there was certain secret spiritual knowledge to which only a select group had access. Killinger pointed out that many other Gnostic gospels were written but not included in the Christian canon.
“You know, the Gnostics lost,” Killinger said. “The orthodox Christians won. They were the Nashville of their day. They overpowered and took possession of the property. They had the orthodox faith. But all over the empire, there were little pockets of Christians who didn’t see eye to eye with them.”
The evidence that Mark was a Gnostic gospel is the resurrection account is hidden throughout the book rather than at the end, he said. Especially in Mark 4-6, there are several stories about dramatic transformation that could be hidden resurrection accounts, Killinger said.
Interpreting Mark as a Gnostic gospel helps explain several puzzling features in Mark such as Jesus’ insistence that His followers keep His identity a secret, the book’s high regard for women and the truncated resurrection account, Killinger said.
Killinger’s church affirms homosexuality as normative and not sinful, and on its homepage has a link dedicated to the “gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered community.”