Produced by individuals whom we now identify as "Gnostic," these texts have been put forward in recent years as reasonable alternative forms of Christianity, as branches which were unjustly suppressed, as teachings which should be allowed to modify the dogma that came down to us or as books that should have been incorporated into the Bible.
Naturally this is of concern to those orthodox Christians who understand what the texts actually contain.
In Gnostic writings, the resurrection was either ignored or viewed as a spiritual, rather than a physical, event.
Having examined Gnostic teachings, they were convinced that Gnostics were employing the old deception used by Satan in the Garden of Eden: that by knowledge one can become like God.
In their opposition to Gnosticism they appealed to the older scriptures, to history, to tradition and to their own authority as properly appointed Christian leaders. The three main results of the battle with Gnosticism were an increased emphasis on apostolic succession, the tightening of the church hierarchy and the definition of the Scriptural canon.
Was Judas a hero who alone of the disciples understood Jesus and, in betraying Him, was carrying out Christ's secret instructions?
Writings from the second through fourth centuries either make these claims outright or suggest them to modern readers.
Even if this Theodas really had been a follower of Paul, it would not validate Valentinus' teaching, for we know that some followers of Paul fell away, for he and other apostles warn of those who shipwrecked their faith and of wolves in sheep's clothing who will come among them.
With the deaths of the apostles and their immediate successors, falsehood found it easier to take root.
The trend of some Gnostics was to teach that there is no harm in indulging fleshly desires since the body is utterly corrupt and beyond redemption anyhow.
Other Gnostics, perhaps the majority, held that the body must be kept in check by strict asceticism.
In turn, Gnostic writings spurred a whole new Christian literature when it became necessary to refute the spreading falsehood.