You wrote, "i love the bible. it does for me what nothing else can.
having that personal relationship with god is no different than any other relationship. you've got the words jesus is speaking to you. whats your response?"
Ed: I understand how parts of the bible can help people feel they are connecting with God and of course i have experienced this too. I have always seen parts of the bible as being very special and very beneficial. But i don't see this as equating to institutionalized religion's forced assertion that every word in the bible is 100% God breathed, inerrant, infallible and the final authority. I overwhelmingly believe that these are quite simply doctrines of man, doctrines of counterfeit institutionalized religion. And for multitudes of religious conformists, this spills over into placing the bible on a pedestal, falsely ascribing God-like characteristics to it, and making it into an object of worship and idolatry just as is true within islam and other false religions.
You have stated that you really like the Gospel of Thomas and that this book resonates with you as truth, so is it safe to say that even though this book has not been canonized by the institutionalized religious system, that it is a part of what you are describing when you say, "it does for me what nothing else can"? Is it the canonization that does something for you that nothing else can, or is it the writings you believe to be inspired whether they are canonized or not?
As another aspect of this, various non canonical books contain exact words verbatim that are contained within canonized books. Would reading those exact words in non canonical books, books which themselves are not in the bible, do for you what nothing else can?
As another aspect of relationship with a person vs. relationship with writings, let us draw upon the analogy of love letters between a man and a woman. Does healthy loving relationship with a woman eliminate direct living interaction with her where fresh new words are spoken to one another on an ongoing basis... and substitute this with restricting ourselves to only reading, studying and/or obsessing-over love letters she wrote 20 years ago? Weekly or twice weekly, year after year studying these letters under a microscope and making a religion out of it? The love letters are nice, but they are not intended as a replacement for continuous living relationship with ongoing fresh new interaction and infinite fresh new words being spoken.
And to continue in the analogy, if she had written some true and loving words throughout several 20 year old letters and some false and hateful words as well, would we need to force ourselves to believe that all of the false and hateful parts were true and loving? I suggest that this is is what institutionalized religion and its fanatical, angry and militant fundamentalist prosthelytes expect people to do with the 66 book Martin Luther Canon and/or the 73 book original Catholic canon and/or the 80 book 1611 King James bible, among other institutionalized variations of bible compilation.
The motto of institutionalized religion goes something like this: "we are in power, what we say goes and you had better submit under us and our man-made doctrines or you can't be part of our cult". This is a slight variation from centuries ago when their motto was, "we are in power, what we say goes and you'd better submit under us and our man-made doctrines or we will stretch you out on a rack and/or burn you at the stake". The same religious spirit that was causing fanatical religious conformists to be hard hearted, arrogant and murderous centuries ago is still at work today, only institutionalized counterfeit christianity no longer has the power to torture and murder those who refuse to conform to their false teachings and dogma. To find an honest parallel for today, you would have to look at certain fanatical and extremist muslim countries who also believe they have a 100% God breathed book and who also believe it's of God to torture and murder people who do not share in their doctrinal beliefs.
I appreciate being able to dialogue about this with civility and i expect this is pleasing to the Heavenly Father.