The First Church of "Christian" Gnosticism

Discussion in 'Cults & World Religions' started by crhoades, Feb 14, 2006.

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  1. crhoades

    crhoades Puritan Board Graduate

    http://www.americanvision.org/articlearchive/02-09-06.asp

    The First Church of "Christian" Gnosticism
    by Gary DeMar

    Not long ago, I received an email from a woman who asked me if I could direct her to some information that refutes Gnosticism. She said that she has "œfriend who claims to be on an extraordinarily intense spiritual "˜pilgrimage´ of "˜really pressing in to know God intimately´"”but this guy has in effect divorced himself from the material world and from all relationships (including his wife and 10 children) which he views as a hindrance to his spiritual growth."

    Gnostics claim to have special knowledge (gnosis) on how to live the Christian life that is not revealed to "œordinary Christians." God´s revelation in Scripture is not good enough or sufficient to give direction on how to live the Christian life. Of course, this refutes what the Bible says when it states that Scripture is "œadequate" and equips the Christian "œfor every good work" (2 Tim. 3:17). She went on to say that a "œfarmer was putting up hay recently and needed to get it in as they were expecting rain. Before he finished, he remembered that he had scheduled a Bible study, so he left his hay in order to keep the "˜spiritual´ duty. The rain came and the hay was lost, but he felt justified that he had chosen the higher calling."

    Another feature of Gnosticism is the belief that there are two separate realms"”"œone spiritual, the other material. The spiritual realm, created by God, [is] all good; the material realm, created by the demiurge, all evil. Man [needs] to be saved, not from Original Sin, but from enslavement to matter."1

    A further expression of Gnosticism was expressed by someone who "œdoesn´t believe in voting because that is a "˜worldly affair,´ and he wants only to be engaged in truly spiritual activities." For the Gnostic, the material world is on a lower plane. Only "œspiritual things" are useful and profitable. A Gnostic-like belief might forbid marriage while advocating "œabstaining from foods" even though "œGod has created these things "œto be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth" (1 Tim. 4:3). Godliness is defined as a retreat from the world and despising the things of the world.

    [The Gnostics] devised a dualistic cosmology to set against the teachings of the early Christian Church, which, they claimed, were only common deceptions, unsuited for the wise. The truth was esoteric. Only the properly initiated could appreciate it. It belonged to a secret tradition which had come down through certain mystery schools. The truth was, God could never become man. The Gnostic secret is that the spirit is trapped in matter, and to free it, the world must be rejected.2

    For the Gnostic, life "œmust be escaped at any cost."3 But if there can be no immediate material escape, then a spiritual escape is a good enough substitute. The Gnostic escapes from the responsibilities of history. But for the Christian, history is the realm of decision-making, and, therefore, is anti-Gnostic. If we are not responsible for history, then we are not responsible for decision-making. But even a casual reading of the Bible will show that our faith is to be lived out in the world so that "œfruit," good works, are manifested for the world to see and for Christians to judge (Matt. 7:15"“23). No restrictions are placed on where this fruit is to mature.

    One of the central issues that divided gnostics and orthodox Christians in the early Church was their understanding of the relationship between religion and politics. The Church Fathers accepted the political worldliness of the Jewish faith, contending that religion and politics are interconnected and inseparable. The early Puritans and even Jonathan Edwards, following classical Calvinism, would have been clearly orthodox in this regard. The world of politics, of human institutions, was for them an essential locus of God´s redemptive work.4

    What is contemporary Gnosticism like? While it might not manifest itself in ascetic practices like pole sitting, it does reveal itself in institutional escape. Institutional escape is not in the Protestant tradition, however. Our nation´s earliest Christian citizens did not view escape, either eschatologically, ascetically, or institutionally, as being biblical. Education, publishing, and politics, to take just three areas, were to be governed by the Word of God as were ecclesiastical affairs. Modern-day Gnosticism thrives in a climate of escapism which means retreat from this world and responsibility to do anything to change any part of it. If this world means nothing, then I am not responsible for its evils.


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    1. Dusty Sklar, The Nazis and the Occult (New York: Dorset Press, [1977] 1989), 140"“41.

    2. Sklar, The Nazis and the Occult, 147.

    3. Philip Lee, Against the Protestant Gnostics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), 122.

    4. Lee, Against the Protestant Gnostics, 123"“24.
     
  2. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Escapism? I deleted my first reply. I figured it would hit too close to home.
     
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