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Old 07-07-2011, 11:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Spin off from another thread, but I was curious what gnostics believe that is different from what the Catholics, protestants, and Orthodox believe? I was telling Nicolyn that those faiths have the same core beliefs about Jesus/God, that there might be slight nuances and differences, but the core beliefs are the same. How do gnostics interpret the scripture?

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Old 07-08-2011, 02:27 PM
 
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From what I gather, gnostics tend to think the Biblical canon was compiled in order to control people, omitting some books while including others in order to assert the Church's authority over the people and not in order to preserve the Faith from false teachings. 

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Old 07-09-2011, 05:00 PM
 
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Its a completely different belief about the nature of Christ.  I know there is an emphasis on the spiritual over matter.  Spiritual good, matter bad.  Most of the gnostic gospels were written long after and are mostly fictional.  They were not canonized because they were heretical.  

 

 

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Gnostics have been at odds with Christianity from the beginning.
Basic to the many varieties of this type of thinking was the teaching that the material world is the evil creation of a lesser god, and that Christ came as an agent of the true God, to liberate humans by initiating them into secret knowledge (or gnosis).

 

This is a messy link but the article is informative.  It is located on page 10 in blue.  Scroll down.  http://www.goarch.org/news/observer/06-04-APR.pdf/at_download/issuePDF


The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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Old 07-10-2011, 01:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Lilyka, thank you that was interesting.

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Old 07-10-2011, 06:48 AM
 
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Old 07-12-2011, 11:06 PM
 
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Gnosticism is a catch all name for hundreds of different sects and ideas. Gnosticism is individual, there is no one Gnostic creed. I always heard, "Gnosticism was a heresy that taught flesh is bad spirit is good". That is a gross over simplification and misrepresentation. I was raised evangelical, was an evangelical missionary and went to Bible school, so I know how "heretical" Gnosticism is.

The fact is, the early Church consisted of as many ideas about the nature of the Divine/Christ/scriptures/theology as there were individual bodies. We have lost 85% of early Christian writings, and those are the ones we know about. The Nag Hammadi was a complete surprise.

If you are interested and willing I highly recommend the book the Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels. It is a quick, easy read...a good intro...by an expert. It sounds like she is 100% pro Gnostic but in the end you realize she is simply asking questions of the church, she is a Christian herself.

At any rate, I don't claim to be 100% Gnostic. My evangelical upbringing is too burned into my psyche. But weather you label it mysticism, Universalism or Gnosticism, I personally am just trying to seek the truth of Christ and the Kingdom of God and realizing that is not always the same thing as Christendom.


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Old 07-12-2011, 11:19 PM
 
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Here is an excerpt from the book:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/story/pagels.html

I am not an expert by any means as I have only been looking into Gnosticism and reading Gnostic texts for a few months now, so I'd also welcome any positive input on those knowledgeable other than "Gnosticm=heresy".

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Old 07-13-2011, 08:56 AM
 
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Nicolelynn, I'm curious, how do you reconcile Gnosticism with Universalism?  The link above states that the Gnostic writings were self-described as "secret" before the Gnostics were declared heretics (in other words, it was the Gnostics themselves who made their teachings secret, not that the secrecy was forced upon them).  Why was what they were teaching a secret?  Secret knowledge seems to me to be incompatible with Universalism.  It has always struck me as much less inclusive than Orthodox (or orthodox) Christianity.

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Old 07-14-2011, 10:03 AM
 
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I don't reconcile Gnosticism with Universalism, as I've stated a few times I don't claim to be 100% Gnostic. And also again, "Gnosticism" refers to hundreds of sects, ideas, etc, so it is an oversimplification to say they ALL made "their" teaching secret.

 

I am looking more at the terms than the historic sects, facts, etc. "Gnosticism" has to do with "gnosis" "the knowing". Gnosticism and Orthodoxy can't really be compared because they run in separate dimensions. Orthodoxy equals preserved historic fact by authority. Gnosticism equals the individual coming to know. Gnostics don't argue to preserve the "facts" about what Jesus did or did not say when comparing the Gospel of Thomas to the Gospel of John for example. Each individual could write their own gospel according to what the Spirit of the Living Christ has revealed to them in gnosis. Yes, completely opposite of everything orthodox (and Orthodox) I've ever been taught.

 

Now, onto Universalism which is different from universalism lower case u. Universalism was a separate sect from the Unitarians until they merged. Universalism taught most of the protestant tenants including original sin, etc. It simply rejected the idea of hell, so though they taught Christ was the Savior of all humankind and there were no other gods, etc, all paths essentially led to God because we will all end up with Him one day anyways. "universalism" lower case u is what most understand it to be: all paths lead to the Divine or we are are the divine however you view it, and Christ is not a central figure.

 

So I claim "gnosis", that I find truth for myself and/or that Christ Himself leads me into truth, that truth can be found in all sources. The mythology of most historical Gnostic sects doesn't necessarily sit with me as truth. Universalism capitial U in that my path is very much rooted in Christ, while I no longer am an evangelical and feel the need to convert Muslims or anyone else, protestantism IS burned into my psyche so I doubt my path will ever be anything other than Christ.

 

But you are correct, Orthodoxy IS more inclusive than Gnosticism. To some degree they DID exclude themselves and were about secrecy, though by and large in the beginning they WERE part of the church and Iraneus would lament that they confessed the creeds and lived like Christians but "secretly" they did not fully believe them (as if mind control equals salvation). Whereas Gnosticism asserted that salvation was attained by the individual receiving their own gnosis, Orthodoxy said to just confess the creeds and follow the Church and all is well. However, Orthodoxy...not Gnosticism...drew lines in the sand (that led many to be literally fed to the lions) that if you did not do these things not only were you not "saved" you deserved death. Though that is not present in the Orthodox church today, you are still excluded from the church if you do not confess and submit 100%.

 

I am personally more interested the questions the Nag Hammadi has ripped open for early Christianity than I am in Gnosticism itself. I do diverge from any Gnostic ideas that it is pure individualism and that the material world was created by a flawed lesser god. In the end I would identify more with Liberation Theology as Gnosticism does not bring answers for this present life and all it's issues. Liberation Theology is also a much bigger job than Orthodoxy or Gnosticism. Rather than just confessing the creeds and following the church, or seeking your own gnosis, we give our blood, sweat, tears and lives to liberating all God's people and creation and establishing the Kingdom of God. That we find God and salvation not by the creeds, canon, church or by our personal gnosis, but by identifying with the oppressed. That hell is not a place sinners go when they die, but is wherever the Kingdom of God is not. But that is another topic.

 

I just like the dialogue all these ideas bring.


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Old 07-14-2011, 03:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I just like the dialogue all these ideas bring.

Nicolynn, I do appreciate the dialogue too. I have to admit, I prefer talking to gnostics about what they believe (or anyone of a faith different from my own) rather than reading up on it, bc I dont necessarily want to change my own beliefs as much as I want to understand what others believe, what other faiths look like and how they differ from my own. I find it much easier, or more enjoyable I guess, to discuss these differences with real live people as opposed to reading about it in a book. I guess Im not scholarly like that.

 

Im curious what Gnosticism looks like. ie do you read the bible? what other scriptures do you 'adhere' to? Do you fellowship with likeminded people?

 

 

Quote:
So I claim "gnosis", that I find truth for myself and/or that Christ Himself leads me into truth, that truth can be found in all sources.

 

 

You see, I find myself sort of agreeing with some of what you said but I wouldnt call myself gnostic by any means. Heck, I didnt even consider myself a protestant until someone here pointed out to me that I might well be!! The bold I agree with, the underlined, only to a certain extent.

 

 

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That we find God and salvation not by the creeds, canon, church or by our personal gnosis, but by identifying with the oppressed. That hell is not a place sinners go when they die, but is wherever the Kingdom of God is not. But that is another topic.

I found this interesting too, however it is, for me, thru the canon that I learn what it means to identify with the oppressed. I place a lot of weight on the Bible in leading a person, thru the Holy Spirit, to a true 'gnosis' of who God is in relation to mankind and His plan for us. I personally see the Bible as a christian's plumline, thats me. Hell does seem to play a role (when considering what the bible teaches about it)  so I guess these little nuances added up equate to very big differences in one's worldview, whether it be Orthodox, Gnostic, Protestants, or Catholic. You mention Christ being center, thats me too, but what one believes about Christ is important too, imho. What do you, as a Gnostic-leaning believer, believe (or Gknow hehe) about Christ?

 

 

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Old 07-14-2011, 05:29 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nicolelynn View Post

 

I am looking more at the terms than the historic sects, facts, etc. "Gnosticism" has to do with "gnosis" "the knowing". Gnosticism and Orthodoxy can't really be compared because they run in separate dimensions. Orthodoxy equals preserved historic fact by authority. Gnosticism equals the individual coming to know. Gnostics don't argue to preserve the "facts" about what Jesus did or did not say when comparing the Gospel of Thomas to the Gospel of John for example. Each individual could write their own gospel according to what the Spirit of the Living Christ has revealed to them in gnosis. Yes, completely opposite of everything orthodox (and Orthodox) I've ever been taught.

 

For the sake of discussion, I have to assume that Gnostics have some basis for believing what is revealed is reliable. Not literally every individual could write their own gospel and have it accepted as equal to every other gospel, I assume. They are also trying to preserve facts, but have a different theory about how facts are revealed, right? Otherwise, it would be a religion based on "whatever pops into someone's mind." 

 

 

 

But you are correct, Orthodoxy IS more inclusive than Gnosticism. To some degree they DID exclude themselves and were about secrecy, though by and large in the beginning they WERE part of the church and Iraneus would lament that they confessed the creeds and lived like Christians but "secretly" they did not fully believe them (as if mind control equals salvation). Whereas Gnosticism asserted that salvation was attained by the individual receiving their own gnosis, Orthodoxy said to just confess the creeds and follow the Church and all is well. However, Orthodoxy...not Gnosticism...drew lines in the sand (that led many to be literally fed to the lions) that if you did not do these things not only were you not "saved" you deserved death. Though that is not present in the Orthodox church today, you are still excluded from the church if you do not confess and submit 100%.

 

1. Early Christians were fed to the lions by the pagan Romans, not other Christians. Executions of non-Christians or other sects did not come up for many centuries.

 

2. What you call mind control and submission, Orthodox would consider simply a definition of Orthodox. That is, our Church is a collection of people who believe and practice X, Y, and Z. If you do not believe and practice these things, you are by definition not part of the group which does. It is like hearing that someone who eats meat cannot be called a vegetarian, and accusing vegetarians of trying to force meat eaters to submit to their will or else face exclusion from the category of vegetarian. Certain beliefs and practices simply define what Orthodox means.

 



 

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Old 07-14-2011, 06:07 PM
 
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Originally Posted by nicolelynn View Post

I don't reconcile Gnosticism with Universalism, as I've stated a few times I don't claim to be 100% Gnostic. And also again, "Gnosticism" refers to hundreds of sects, ideas, etc, so it is an oversimplification to say they ALL made "their" teaching secret.

 

I am looking more at the terms than the historic sects, facts, etc. "Gnosticism" has to do with "gnosis" "the knowing". Gnosticism and Orthodoxy can't really be compared because they run in separate dimensions. Orthodoxy equals preserved historic fact by authority. Gnosticism equals the individual coming to know. Gnostics don't argue to preserve the "facts" about what Jesus did or did not say when comparing the Gospel of Thomas to the Gospel of John for example. Each individual could write their own gospel according to what the Spirit of the Living Christ has revealed to them in gnosis. Yes, completely opposite of everything orthodox (and Orthodox) I've ever been taught.

 

Now, onto Universalism which is different from universalism lower case u. Universalism was a separate sect from the Unitarians until they merged. Universalism taught most of the protestant tenants including original sin, etc. It simply rejected the idea of hell, so though they taught Christ was the Savior of all humankind and there were no other gods, etc, all paths essentially led to God because we will all end up with Him one day anyways. "universalism" lower case u is what most understand it to be: all paths lead to the Divine or we are are the divine however you view it, and Christ is not a central figure.

 

So I claim "gnosis", that I find truth for myself and/or that Christ Himself leads me into truth, that truth can be found in all sources. The mythology of most historical Gnostic sects doesn't necessarily sit with me as truth. Universalism capitial U in that my path is very much rooted in Christ, while I no longer am an evangelical and feel the need to convert Muslims or anyone else, protestantism IS burned into my psyche so I doubt my path will ever be anything other than Christ.

 

But you are correct, Orthodoxy IS more inclusive than Gnosticism. To some degree they DID exclude themselves and were about secrecy, though by and large in the beginning they WERE part of the church and Iraneus would lament that they confessed the creeds and lived like Christians but "secretly" they did not fully believe them (as if mind control equals salvation). Whereas Gnosticism asserted that salvation was attained by the individual receiving their own gnosis, Orthodoxy said to just confess the creeds and follow the Church and all is well. However, Orthodoxy...not Gnosticism...drew lines in the sand (that led many to be literally fed to the lions) that if you did not do these things not only were you not "saved" you deserved death. Though that is not present in the Orthodox church today, you are still excluded from the church if you do not confess and submit 100%.

 

I am personally more interested the questions the Nag Hammadi has ripped open for early Christianity than I am in Gnosticism itself. I do diverge from any Gnostic ideas that it is pure individualism and that the material world was created by a flawed lesser god. In the end I would identify more with Liberation Theology as Gnosticism does not bring answers for this present life and all it's issues. Liberation Theology is also a much bigger job than Orthodoxy or Gnosticism. Rather than just confessing the creeds and following the church, or seeking your own gnosis, we give our blood, sweat, tears and lives to liberating all God's people and creation and establishing the Kingdom of God. That we find God and salvation not by the creeds, canon, church or by our personal gnosis, but by identifying with the oppressed. That hell is not a place sinners go when they die, but is wherever the Kingdom of God is not. But that is another topic.

 

I just like the dialogue all these ideas bring.



Thanks for that explanation.  I think it's an unfair portrayal of Gnosticism as "the knowing" while Orthodoxy is something more, I guess, superficial, something simply established by "authority" as "facts" that must merely be assented to with the mind and not "known" in a deeper, spiritual sense.  I don't think you really grasp what Orthodoxy is, but I wouldn't expect you to without having any real experience of it.  It just always surprises me to hear it described in terms of  "confess the creeds and follow the church and all is well" because if that was all there was to it, well, I wouldn't have stuck around for the short time I've been involved with it.  

 

I am interested in hearing about the questions were ripped open by Nag Hammadi, though.  I was under the impression that it was well known that the early church had to deal with many false teachings, and the Gnostic writings just sort of fleshed out some of what they were up against. 

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Old 07-18-2011, 10:34 PM
 
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Hmm, I'm not really interested in defending gnosticism much further. Again, I do not claim to be 100% gnostic. The only reason I play devil's advocate and defend some of the points of gnosticism is because it's so grossly misunderstood. Most of you seem to understand gnosticism only as a heresy because the Orthodox church or evangelicals say they were/are. Has anyone ever researched a pro-gnostic source? I had not until a couple months ago.

The questions the Nag Hammadi opens is that the early church was EXTREMELY diverse, it was NOT what it has become. You can believe it is black and white if you wish, I am just stating that I no longer can. The original question was "what do gnostics believe" not "is gnosticism heresy".

Genfier, for me, I am still very much part of an evangelical home fellowship/social circle. Most of my family and friends don't understand the extent of what I believe/don't believe any more. I am steeped in evangelical culture. I find fellowship there even if I don't always agree with certain theological points. The Holy Spirit continues to work in our group, regardless to if we profess all the same theological points (very inexplicable things that can only be attributed to God). I still read the canon (I've actually studies it thoroughly in Bible school), though my focus is mostly on the gospels. I also read the gnostic gospels and apocryphal texts. I also read affirmations. That's as far as I've gone so far, though I am going to start reading other religious texts (the Qua'ran, etc). I do find a special connection for fellowship with other mystics.

Anywho, I don't mean to argue and I digress. In general I am more interested in Liberation Theology these days so I am refocusing my energies there =).

Peace out.

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Old 07-18-2011, 10:48 PM
 
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Mamabadger I have to point out the historical facts real quick in closing: the "early Christians" that were fed to the lions by pagans were a mix of what we now know as Orthodox and gnostics, because again "the early Church" was diverse. They were not persecuted by Rome because of their theological statements, but rather because they would not worship Caesar.

And it was not many centuries later that the Orthodox/Catholic church (before the schism) started persecuting and executing gnostics/"heretics" it was in the 2nd century when Rome became "Christian" and the "church" joined forces with the state. It was Saint Augustine who brought us just war theology as well as the statement that "error has no rights" and the church had every right to put to death heretics.

And again, you misunderstand gnosticism. It is on a different plane than facts. It truly is about gnosis. Some sects had their mythology, some said the "Orthodox" were the heretics and that the gospels of the canon perverted the gospel of gnosis by making it a religion based on fear (see the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, it is super short..explained by the discourse between Mary Magdalene and two of the male disciples).

Ok, I'm really done now haha...just had to add a few more points about what gnostics actually believe since that was the original topic =).

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Old 07-18-2011, 10:53 PM
 
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Mamabadger I have to point out the historical facts real quick in closing: the "early Christians" that were fed to the lions by pagans were a mix of what we now know as Orthodox and gnostics, because again "the early Church" was diverse. They were not persecuted by Rome because of their theological statements, but rather because they would not worship Caesar nor take part in the earthly kingdom of Rome.

And it was not many centuries later that the Orthodox/Catholic church (before the schism) started persecuting and executing gnostics/"heretics" it was in the 2nd century when Rome became "Christian" and the "church" joined forces with the state. It was Saint Augustine who brought us just war theology as well as the statement that "error has no rights" and the church had every right to put to death heretics "the enemies of God".

And again, you misunderstand gnosticism. It is on a different plane than facts. It truly is about gnosis. Some sects had their mythology (the mythology being an allegorical explaination, not facts that it actually happened X Y Z way), some said the "Orthodox" were the heretics and that the gospels of the canon perverted the gospel of gnosis by making it a religion based on fear (see the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, it is super short..explained by the discourse between Mary Magdalene and two of the male disciples).

Ok, I'm really done now haha...just had to add a few more points about what gnostics actually believe since that was the original topic =).

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