Gnosticism

Gnosticism as a philosophy refers to a related body of teachings that stress the acquisition of "gnosis," or inner knowledge. The knowledge sought is not strictly intellectual, but mystical; not merely a detached knowledge of or about something, but a knowing by acquaintance or participation. This gnosis is the inner and esoteric mystical knowledge of ultimate reality. It discloses the spark of divinity within, thought to be obscured by ignorance, convention, and mere exoteric religiosity. 


This knowledge is not considered to be the possession of the masses but of the Gnostics, the Knowers, who are privy to its benefits. While the orthodox "many" exult in the exoteric religious trappings which stress dogmatic belief and prescribed behavior, the Gnostic "few" pierce through the surface to the esoteric spiritual knowledge of God. The Gnostics claim the Orthodox mistake the shell for the core; the Orthodox claim the Gnostics dive past the true core into a nonexistent one of their own esoteric invention.

GLOSSARY

exotericism: A pejorative term used by esotericists to describe the mere outer or popular understanding of spiritual truth which is supposedly inferior to the esoteric essence.

aeons: Emanations of Being from the unknowable, ultimate metaphysical principle or pleroma (see pleroma).

Apostolic rule of faith: The essential teachings of the apostles that served as the authoritative standard for orthodox doctrine before the canonization of the New Testament.

gnosis: The Greek word for "knowledge" used by the Gnostics to mean knowledge gained not through intellectual discovery but through personal experience or acquaintance which initiates one into esoteric mysteries. The experience of gnosis reveals to the initiated the divine spark within. "Gnosis" has a very different meaning in the New Testament which excludes esotericism and self-deification.

Demiurge: According to the Gnostics (as opposed to Plato and others who had a more positive assessment), an inferior deity who ignorantly and incompetently fashioned the debased physical world.

esotericism: The teaching that spiritual liberation is found in a secret or hidden knowledge (sometimes called gnosis) not available in traditional orthodoxy or exotericism.

Pleroma: The Greek word for "fulness" used by the Gnostics to mean the highest principle of Being where dwells the unknown and unknowable God. Used in the New Testament to refer to "fulness in Christ" (Col. 2:10) who is the known revelation of God in the flesh.

 


Gnostic Dualism

Gnostic thought has often influenced Christianity. Gnostic dualism occurs within Christianity when believers make a false dichotomy between the spiritual and the earthly aspects of life. Those that stress only the spirutal fact of life will focus on spiritual dsiciplines which they may not carry over into their life within the three dimensional world of the flesh. The result is that Christianity does not play a role in the way they live their lives within the world. The Apostle Paul addressed this mistaken notion when he stated that Christianity applies to all of life, not just the spiritual dimension. Yet, the church has historically continued to wage a war to maintain the reality that Jesus governs all facets of our lives.

Typically, Gnostic systems are loosely described as being 'dualistic' in nature, meaning they view the world as consisting of two fundamental entities. Hans Jonas writes: "The cardinal feature of gnostic thought is the radical dualism that governs the relation of God and the world, and correspondingly that of man and world." Within this definition, they run the gamut from the 'radical dualist' systems of Manicheanism to the 'mitigated dualism' of classic gnostic movements; Valentinian developments arguably approach a form of monism, expressed in terms previously used in a dualistic manner.

  • Radical Dualism - or absolute Dualism which posits two co-equal divine forces. Manichaeism conceives of two previously coexistent realms of light and darkness which become embroiled in conflict, owing to the chaotic actions of the latter. Subsequently, certain elements of the light became entrapped within darkness; the purpose of material creation is to enact the slow process of extraction of these individual elements, at the end of which the kingdom of light will prevail over darkness. Manicheanism inherits this dualistic mythology from Zurvanist Zoroastrianism, in which the eternal spirit Ahura Mazda is opposed by his antithesis, Angra Mainyu; the two are engaged in a cosmic struggle, the conclusion of which will likewise see Ahura Mazda triumphant.

  • The Mandaean creation myth witnesses the progressive emanations of Supreme Being of Light, with each emanation bringing about a progressive corruption resulting in the eventual emergence of Ptahil, a demiurge who had a hand in creating and henceforward rules the material realm.
    Additionally, general Gnostic thought (specifically to be found in Iranian sects; for instance, see 'The Hymn of the Pearl') commonly included the belief that the material world corresponds to some sort of malevolent intoxication brought about by the powers of darkness to keep elements of the light trapped inside it, or literally to keep them 'in the dark', or ignorant; in a state of drunken distraction.

  • Mitigated Dualism - where one of the two principles is in some way inferior to the other. Such classical Gnostic movements as the Sethians conceived of the material world as being created by a lesser divinity than the true God that was the object of their devotion. The spiritual world is conceived of as being radically different from the material world, co-extensive with the true God, and the true home of certain enlightened members of humanity; thus, these systems were expressive of a feeling of acute alienation within the world, and their resultant aim was to allow the soul to escape the constraints presented by the physical realm.

  • Qualified Monism - where it is arguable whether or not the second entity is divine or semi-divine. Elements of Valentinian versions of Gnostic myth suggest to some that its understanding of the universe may have been monistic rather than a dualistic one. Elaine Pagels states that 'Valentinian gnosticism [...] differs essentially from dualism'; while, according to Schoedel 'a standard element in the interpretation of Valentinianism and similar forms of Gnosticism is the recognition that they are fundamentally monistic'. In these myths, the malevolence of the demiurge is mitigated; his creation of a flawed materiality is not due to any moral failing on his part, but due to his imperfection by contrast to the superior entities of which he is unaware. As such, Valentinians already have less cause to treat physical reality with contempt than might a Sethian Gnostic
    The Valentinian tradition conceives of materiality, rather than as being a separate substance from the divine, as attributable to an error of perception, which become symbolized mythopoetically as the act of material creation.
Wikipedia
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Peope are often surprised to find out that religions like Gnosticism can have a strong influence on a culture's morality. The fact is that Gnostic thought it behind much of the growing acceptane of homosexuality, abortion and euthenasia. Gnosticism is actually based on a religious worldview known as monism in which god is everything found within the universe. There is no Creator/creature distinction as in Christianity. Monism is the basis of Hinduism in which all is one and since we are located within the universe - we too are gods. Also, there are no distinctions which were made by the Christian God, such as man/women, people/animals, material.spiritual. All is one and we are all divine as gods. This was the first heresy that threatened early Christianity and was addressed by the early creeds. The following article describes the belief system in more detail.


This Ancient Heresy Explains Our Culture’s Embrace of Homosexuality & Abortion

by Valerie Schmalz - 

 

“My friends, we’re in trouble. I won’t mince words with you,” said Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions.  “Culturally, politically, morally, civilizationally – we’re in bad shape.”

The rapid transformation of society’s values, George argued, can be traced to a second century heresy: Gnosticism.

“For many of us, it is difficult to understand. How did we get from there to here? How is it that today you are considered a bigot if you think biological males should not be in the women’s shower rooms in high school? Are you wondering how did that happen? Wasn’t it just yesterday that it was common sense that girls shower with girls and boys shower with boys?” George said.

Opposing beliefs of what it means to be a human being define the conflict between Judeo-Christian and natural law worldviews and “social liberalism” based on neo-Gnosticism, George said in a talk to several hundred people during the four-day Napa Institute conference in northern California earlier this month. The conference was created to inform Catholics in an age of growing secularization, according to its website.

Neo-Gnosticism views the body as a mere instrument of the spirit or mind, he said. In contrast, Catholicism believes that spirit and body are unified, George said. In the Catholic Church, St. Irenaeus successfully refuted Gnostic philosophies in the second and third centuries, including a view that only Jesus’ spirit rose from the dead. Nevertheless, different versions of Gnosticism recur through the ages, George said. “Gnostic heresies have arisen time and time again. Today they are back again.”

Same sex marriage, abortion, euthanasia, transgenderism all derive from a neo-Gnostic view of what a human being is, George said. Gnostic ideas are “ideologically dominant among our cultural elites,” George said.

Pope Francis “has been a determined critic of gender ideology and the neo-Gnosticism that underlies it,” George said. He quoted Pope Francis in his encyclical Laudato Si: “It is not a healthy attitude which would seek to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it.”

In Gnosticism, the spirit or mind can choose its identity without regard for biology, whether a person is born a man or a woman, he said. “If human persons are merely mental substances…then human beings and being a biological member of the human species is not necessarily enough to be a human person,” George said.

”In that case, those human beings in the embryonic and early infant stages are not yet persons. They are human beings but they are pre-personal human beings.” Similarly, victims of advanced dementia, comatose patients “are no longer persons. Uncle Harry was a person once…but you see no one is home,” George said. “You see how abortion and euthanasia are justified,” he said.

Similarly, if physical bodies do not matter, then sexuality can take any form for any person, regardless of biology, he said. “It is not that people think you are wrong to oppose the concept of same sex marriage. They think you are nuts,” George said.

https://churchpop.com/2016/08/17/ancient-heresy-explains-cultures-embrace-homosexuality-abortion/


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