The Religion of Gnosticism

Unorganized, decentralized, and yet vastly prevalent.

Readership: All; Christians;
Author’s Note: This series received some input from Ed Hurst at Radix Fidem.
Reader’s Note: This post is the second in a series on Gnosticism.
Length: 1,200 words
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Gnostic Religious Conceptions

Continuing from the previous post in this series, many different schools of Gnostic thought continued to develop and spread out from the Near East. Specific beliefs regarding cosmology, epistemology, eschatology, etc. are widely varied among them. However, they all share a few characteristics in common.

  • The Gnostic approach to reason and philosophy is fundamentally Platonic at heart.
  • The emphasis of Gnostic philosophy is on aping mysticism without actually arriving there.
  • The goal of realizing an ideal human condition, either by avoiding what is evil, or by returning to, or connecting with, an immutable or preeminent source of good.

The perception and taxonomy of patterns figures largely in Gnostic thought. Within the more advanced Gnostic philosophies, this culminates in complex theoretical systems intended to explain, harness, and/or predict relationships between various metaphysical phenomena. Hence, the label esoteric. There is a heavy emphasis on understanding how to use such patterns to control one’s fortunes, love, lifestyle, mood, and emotional state. Within Gnostic circles, this is often mistaken as wisdom, and from their perspective within the vanity of their minds, it truly is. But it fails the Biblical concept of wisdom because it lacks entirely any of the following…

Because the consciousness of Gnostic awareness is informed by their innate intuitions, this leads to their rejection of external authority in the form of an ecclesiastical hierarchy and orthodox monotheistic theology. Gnosticism goes on to reject written revelation, which is the logical extension of where the Talmudic thinking was headed, and this had a lot to do with the origins of Kabbalism, as well. Going further, Gnosticism claims that one’s self-determination is a result of personal choices,* and thereby ignores God’s sovereignty.

This entire sequence of development, culminating over the centuries, eventually led up to the modern disposition towards individualism and subjectivism.

All of this traces its origins back to the rejection of Jesus as Lord, and is a substitute for true mysticism and discernment.

* Although exercising personal choice is good and right, there is a limit when it comes to esteeming one’s self as equal with God.

Lewis’ Trilemma

The logic that the Jews of antiquity adopted to discount Jesus’ claim as the Messiah was based on their rational insistence of rejecting the possibility that Jesus could be both man and God at the same time. This reasoning can be described syllogistically as,

“Either Jesus was just a man, or He was a phantom spirit appearing as a man, viz. a demon possessed man.”

(c.f. Matthew 12:24)

Since then, Protestantism has confessed the divinity of Christ and has further refined this syllogism into three possibilities,

“Either Jesus is truly God, or an evil impostor, or He was insane.”

This syllogism is often couched in the catchphrase, “Liar, Lunatic, or Lord”, which was made famous through C.S. Lewis’ book, Mere Christianity.

Even though the Protestant version recognizes Jesus as the Messiah, the generalized approach to understanding the divinity of Christ continues to rely on intuition and logical deduction, decorated with churchianized myths and perhaps vestiges of mysticism, and is not a path beginning with mysticism leading to faith and discernment.

C. S. Lewis is widely acclaimed as one of the greatest Christian authors/philosophers of modern times. However, as time goes on, I believe we will find that he naïvely misregarded many aspects of the Gospel, and that he was merely a lone mystic voice crying out for God in an age of apostasy. In this respect, he would not be much different from many of the other great Christian thinkers since the time of Christ (e.g. Augustine, Calvin, Chesterton, Clement, Erasmus, Jerome, Luther, Origen, Tertullian, et al.).

How is Gnosticism distinct from Mysticism?

Judging by our study of Gnosticism so far, it seems to have some similarities with mysticism (i.e. “personal experience and perception”, “mystical or esoteric knowledge based on direct participation with the divine”, “internalized motivation”, and so on), especially if we accept that it uses some different terminology and viewpoints. So just how is Gnosticism different from faith-based mysticism?

Classical mysticism is very hard to describe and quantify precisely because it deals with things that exceed the limits of the intellect, and thus, verbal communication. The next best proxy that we can apprehend for the sake of discussion is religion, as it is the vehicle that is intended to bring us closer to having a mystical encounter with God. If one studies enough religion, then after a while you’ll get an image of a body of human tradition (e.g. structures of authority, archetypal mythos, parables, rituals, sacraments, specific habits, etc.) for dealing with the ineffable truth of spiritual things. These things give rise to our understanding of the word “faith” as a separate faculty for grasping those metaphysical realities and spiritual truths that the intellect cannot handle. It addresses the part of you that “knows” God and His Person, and it is the root of how you get used to how He does things. Thus, religion, correctly understood, is a body of knowledge that is supposed to enhance one’s mystical experience and strengthen one’s faith. (However, what passes for religion these days tends to have the opposite effect.)

Gnosticism, therefore, is a religion, loosely defined according to its intent of helping one apprehend the deeper patterns of life that are beyond the intellect, but it is not a religion in terms of having an organized ecclesiology, ecclesiastical polity, and liturgy.

As such, we can think of Gnosticism as a particular branch of mysticism – a branch that broke off and didn’t stay with the trunk (see John 15:1-11). Historically, mysticism is as ancient as human awareness going back to the Garden of Eden, and traceable through the Ancient Near East, whereas classical Gnosticism made a departure from this tradition during the first two centuries when it figured large in New Testament and Early Church History.

In summary, genuine mysticism awakens a faculty God put in us by design — faith. Gnosticism and Western Esotericism are counterfeit forms of mysticism that substitute intuition for genuine mysticism. It is counterfeit because although it may arouse some degree of faith, it is not the kind of faith that leads to the knowledge of God, but instead foments a reliance on the self apart from God.

A lot of the “mysticism” contained in Gnosticism and Western Esotericism is just a mixture of highly varied talent with intuition, some logically valid and some just wild speculation. But from the perspective of someone who has only their intellect, and no real faith, it all seems to be the same thing as genuine mysticism.

Related

For more reading on Classical Gnosticism, please refer to the following lengthy articles.

About Jack

Jack is a world traveling artist, skilled in trading ideas and information, none of which are considered too holy, too nerdy, nor too profane to hijack and twist into useful fashion. Sigma Frame Mindsets and methods for building and maintaining a masculine Frame
This entry was posted in Churchianity, Conspiracy Theories, Convergence, Culture Wars, Discerning Lies and Deception, Discernment, Wisdom, Elite Cultural Influences, Generational Curses, Gnosticism, Holding Frame, Influence, Introspection, Near East, Philosophy, Purpose. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to The Religion of Gnosticism

  1. Oscar says:

    “C. S. Lewis is widely acclaimed as one of the greatest Christian authors/philosophers of modern times. However, as time goes on, I believe we will find that he naïvely misregarded many aspects of the Gospel, and that he was merely a lone mystic voice crying out for God in an age of apostasy. In this respect, he would not be much different from many of the other great Christian thinkers since the time of Christ (e.g. Augustine, Calvin, Chesterton, Clement, Erasmus, Jerome, Luther, Origen, Tertullian, et al.).”

    Merely“? Anyone who can stand alongside the likes of the other men you listed is pretty great indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jack says:

      Oscar,
      I’ve noticed that those authors who had authentic inspiration and insight were always slightly off on some point of doctrine.

      In spite of any misgivings, I believe C. S. Lewis will be counted among the greats in the coming centuries. I’ll add George MacDonald and Dalrock to the list too.

      Like

  2. info says:

    Many Gnostics also embrace the Marcionite Heresy of the God of the Old Testament being a Bad Meanie also known as Yaldaboath or the Demiurge.

    And Jesus Christ/Lucifer as the Liberator from this false reality in regards to the Garden of Eden giving the first of Mankind Gnosis from the Tree of the Knowledge from Good and Evil and other convoluted reasoning.

    To escape materiality back to pure spirituality. And rejecting the Resurrection bodies as Physical yet Spiritual in Nature.

    And making a distinction between the Physical Resurrection Body as distinct from the Spiritual body, in regards to some Gnostics I have encountered online.

    Like

    • Oscar says:

      “Many Gnostics also embrace the Marcionite Heresy of the God of the Old Testament being a Bad Meanie also known as Yaldaboath or the Demiurge.

      And Jesus Christ/Lucifer as the Liberator from this false reality in regards to the Garden of Eden giving the first of Mankind Gnosis from the Tree of the Knowledge from Good and Evil and other convoluted reasoning.”

      There are wolves in sheep’s clothing teaching that in churches right now.

      “To escape materiality back to pure spirituality. And rejecting the Resurrection bodies as Physical yet Spiritual in Nature.

      And making a distinction between the Physical Resurrection Body as distinct from the Spiritual body, in regards to some Gnostics I have encountered online.”

      Just a few weeks ago, on this very blog, there was a pseudo-Christian smartboi spouting foolishness about how Biblical miracles are just metaphors, including the resurrection.

      Galatians 1

      “8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”

      I didn’t write that. Got a problem with it? Take it up with the Holy Spirit who inspired it.

      Like

  3. Pingback: 10 Defining Traits of Gnosticism | Σ Frame

  4. Pingback: Breaking the Stronghold of Gnosticism | Σ Frame

  5. Pingback: Modern Day Gnostic Media | Σ Frame

  6. Alan Roebuck says:

    “…genuine mysticism awakens a faculty God put in us by design — faith.”

    Very interesting. Can you elaborate on this? My sense has always been that the mystic is a person who has had an overwhelming but entirely personal (and therefore ineffable) experience, which drives him outside the bounds of normal thought and life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jack says:

      Alan,
      Sorry to respond so late.
      I will write a post to answer your question because an adequate explanation is needed.
      Stay tuned~!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Anonymous says:

        Jack, I’m very curious about this concept. It also reminds me of a phrase I heard someone use recently — “That person is so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good.”

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: The Pervasive Influence of Modern Gnosticism | Σ Frame

  8. Pingback: The Ruling Ideology of Gnosticism | Σ Frame

  9. Pingback: October Epilogue – Gnosticism | Σ Frame

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s