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The Church Courtyard => Non-Catholic Discussion Subforum => Topic started by: Daniel on September 03, 2020, 08:07:22 AM

Title: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
Post by: Daniel on September 03, 2020, 08:07:22 AM
Within the past few years or so I've noticed a significant amount of people online explicitly identifying themselves as "gnostic", and many more people vaguely expressing their own personal spiritual beliefs which are definitely more gnostic rather than Christian.

Is gnosticism actually on the rise, or have I just become more observant?

If the former, what could be the human cause? (Obviously there's a spiritual/satanic cause which is more fundamental, but there's probably some human cause too...)
Is it due to Web 2.0 which has made it easier for gnostics to spread their ideas amongst themselves and to infect the general secular public with false spiritual beliefs?
Is it a reaction against the New Atheism? People feel that they ought to be "spiritual", but they hate Christianity so they go gnostic instead, believing whatever they want to believe?
Is it because of pop science books, which always seem to present quantum physics in terms of a quasi-gnostic cosmological framework?
Is it because of fictions such as The Da Vinci Code, and pop "religious studies" books, whereby authors seek to make gnosticism mainstream by attacking the Church?
Title: Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
Post by: paul14 on September 03, 2020, 08:09:43 AM
It is just you.   8)

edit: Is it just me or is Satanism on the rise?
Title: Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
Post by: TheReturnofLive on September 04, 2020, 10:45:46 PM
Within the past few years or so I've noticed a significant amount of people online explicitly identifying themselves as "gnostic", and many more people vaguely expressing their own personal spiritual beliefs which are definitely more gnostic rather than Christian.

Is gnosticism actually on the rise, or have I just become more observant?

If the former, what could be the human cause? (Obviously there's a spiritual/satanic cause which is more fundamental, but there's probably some human cause too...)
Is it due to Web 2.0 which has made it easier for gnostics to spread their ideas amongst themselves and to infect the general secular public with false spiritual beliefs?
Is it a reaction against the New Atheism? People feel that they ought to be "spiritual", but they hate Christianity so they go gnostic instead, believing whatever they want to believe?
Is it because of pop science books, which always seem to present quantum physics in terms of a quasi-gnostic cosmological framework?
Is it because of fictions such as The Da Vinci Code, and pop "religious studies" books, whereby authors seek to make gnosticism mainstream by attacking the Church?

Well, aside from the fact that many people identify as "Gnostic" in some kind of edgy / occultic / individualistic parody religion, no not really.

I've personally questioned whether the Gnostics are right because it's readily apparent to me that the source of our own sins / passions is, in fact, our biology. And this biology can never be fully disciplined without extreme pain and suffering. Gluttony, rage, lust, jealousy, despair, depression, greed - much of this comes directly from our own animalistic inclinations. And some of it seems so inherently human, so inherently part of our very essence, that I cannot help but question if the Gnostics were right on this one point

The Gnostics held that the physical, material world, and our flesh itself, was pure evil and it's creator was Satan.

The Catholic answer is that our very essence is corrupted and tainted by Original Sin - okay, sure; but I seriously struggle and wrestle with the fact that it's not our essence per se without original sin these inclinations come from, and not just a deviated, corrupted essence.

I mean, isn't the source of our desire to get married, find someone to love us and hold us, the exact same source which leads to lust? Isn't the source of our desire to eat and survive the same source that leads to gluttony? Isn't our desire to sleep from our hard work the same source that leads to laziness?

Someone like Jesus or the Virgin Mary could have never even sinned without intent; but in my life experiences, I've sinned so much times without intent or have been forced in situations where I had to sin, but had to choose the lesser of the sin. Moreover, there are times where I think I am not sinning, but I really am sinning in a way that's worse than anything, but I'm blinded by my own pride to see that I am hurting others. Sometimes I wonder if it is even necessary to compromise and sin mortally than to lead to a worse mortal sin. I seriously struggle in comprehending how Jesus could have never had any of these experiences, because it may seem that the flesh per se is the root of all evil, not just the fallen aspect of it.

And what does it mean to be human at that point? Isn't eating an extra slice of birthday cake, wanting to strive for better financial gain, wanting to die for a beautiful girl, all part of the human experience? Can one even be human without Original Sin?
Title: Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
Post by: TheReturnofLive on September 04, 2020, 10:47:39 PM
When you realize that so much of Church Theology has been decided by politics alone, you start to question "What if x y z heresy might have actually been right?"

I mean, if the Byzantine Emperor sided with the Assyrian political faction and Nestorius instead of the Egyptian political faction and Cyril, we would find it blasphemous to say that God died on the cross and say that it's blasphemous to call the Virgin Mary the Mother of God.
Title: Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
Post by: The Theosist on September 05, 2020, 02:20:46 AM
There is good reason to believe there is no “Gnosticism”, historically. It’s an academic construct  https://www.amazon.com/Rethinking-Gnosticism-Argument-Dismantling-Category/dp/0691005427/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1273098764&sr=8-1 (https://www.amazon.com/Rethinking-Gnosticism-Argument-Dismantling-Category/dp/0691005427/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1273098764&sr=8-1). The term may have some applicability to shared tendencies by some texts and cults, but there is often as much overlap among them as there is between each and what became orthodox Christianity. Not all “Gnostics”, labelled such, remembering they are just an inferred group from texts and opposing polemics, expressed belief in a Satanic demiurge, for one.

Indeed, one read so-called “Gnostic” texts like Thomas or Philip, which are themselves rather different in form, and wonders what they are supposed to have in common with some of the whackier texts that appear to have no overlap at all with the Bible, besides having been found together at Nag Hammadi. I also question the accounts in Irenaeus which only come down to us through 4th century Latin translation; rather than contemporaneous 2nd century accounts they could very well be 4th century polemic against the very cults of the day that have us the Nag Hammadi collection.
Title: Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
Post by: The Theosist on September 05, 2020, 02:28:34 AM
When you realize that so much of Church Theology has been decided by politics alone, you start to question "What if x y z heresy might have actually been right?"

I mean, if the Byzantine Emperor sided with the Assyrian political faction and Nestorius instead of the Egyptian political faction and Cyril, we would find it blasphemous to say that God died on the cross and say that it's blasphemous to call the Virgin Mary the Mother of God.

Not to mention there is at least as much support from scripture for some “gnostic” teachings as there is for some orthodox ones. John’s gospel can be read “gnostically” in many parts, like in the prologue and the invectives against the Jews, as can the Pauline corpus.
Title: Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
Post by: TheReturnofLive on September 05, 2020, 03:49:06 AM
There is good reason to believe there is no “Gnosticism”, historically. It’s an academic construct  https://www.amazon.com/Rethinking-Gnosticism-Argument-Dismantling-Category/dp/0691005427/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1273098764&sr=8-1 (https://www.amazon.com/Rethinking-Gnosticism-Argument-Dismantling-Category/dp/0691005427/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1273098764&sr=8-1). The term may have some applicability to shared tendencies by some texts and cults, but there is often as much overlap among them as there is between each and what became orthodox Christianity. Not all “Gnostics”, labelled such, remembering they are just an inferred group from texts and opposing polemics, expressed belief in a Satanic demiurge, for one.

Well constructs are needed by historians. How the hell does the "Medieval period" cover 1000 years across the entire world? And what exactly made the "Dark Ages" dark? The fall of Rome? Did technological development just freeze until the "Dark Ages" ended?

The more interesting question is not whether the "Gnostics" existed, but whether or not certain Gnostic groups even existed. Did the Cathars really exist as we historically remember them?
Title: Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
Post by: TheReturnofLive on September 05, 2020, 03:50:33 AM
When you realize that so much of Church Theology has been decided by politics alone, you start to question "What if x y z heresy might have actually been right?"

I mean, if the Byzantine Emperor sided with the Assyrian political faction and Nestorius instead of the Egyptian political faction and Cyril, we would find it blasphemous to say that God died on the cross and say that it's blasphemous to call the Virgin Mary the Mother of God.

Not to mention there is at least as much support from scripture for some “gnostic” teachings as there is for some orthodox ones. John’s gospel can be read “gnostically” in many parts, like in the prologue and the invectives against the Jews, as can the Pauline corpus.

Every single heresy has Biblical support. Every. single. one.
Title: Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
Post by: The Theosist on September 05, 2020, 04:01:36 AM
When you realize that so much of Church Theology has been decided by politics alone, you start to question "What if x y z heresy might have actually been right?"

I mean, if the Byzantine Emperor sided with the Assyrian political faction and Nestorius instead of the Egyptian political faction and Cyril, we would find it blasphemous to say that God died on the cross and say that it's blasphemous to call the Virgin Mary the Mother of God.

Not to mention there is at least as much support from scripture for some “gnostic” teachings as there is for some orthodox ones. John’s gospel can be read “gnostically” in many parts, like in the prologue and the invectives against the Jews, as can the Pauline corpus.

Every single heresy has Biblical support. Every. single. one.

Or apparently different ways of conceptualising the same reality. Aka the Oriental Orthodox schism.
Title: Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
Post by: abc123 on September 05, 2020, 07:22:09 AM

I've personally questioned whether the Gnostics are right because it's readily apparent to me that the source of our own sins / passions is, in fact, our biology. And this biology can never be fully disciplined without extreme pain and suffering. Gluttony, rage, lust, jealousy, despair, depression, greed - much of this comes directly from our own animalistic inclinations. And some of it seems so inherently human, so inherently part of our very essence, that I cannot help but question if the Gnostics were right on this one point

The Gnostics held that the physical, material world, and our flesh itself, was pure evil and it's creator was Satan.

The Catholic answer is that our very essence is corrupted and tainted by Original Sin - okay, sure; but I seriously struggle and wrestle with the fact that it's not our essence per se without original sin these inclinations come from, and not just a deviated, corrupted essence.


While Reformed theology certainly rejects the idea that the physical creation is inherently evil, the doctrine of Total Depravity states that Man's entire makeup is tainted with sin. This includes our biology, soul, passions....everything. There is nothing in our human constitution untouched by corruption.

Perhaps the Gnostics had something to say about this but the fundamental difference is that orthodox Christianity holds the physical world to be good, though corrupted. Not essentially evil.
Title: Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
Post by: The Theosist on September 05, 2020, 08:48:22 AM

I've personally questioned whether the Gnostics are right because it's readily apparent to me that the source of our own sins / passions is, in fact, our biology. And this biology can never be fully disciplined without extreme pain and suffering. Gluttony, rage, lust, jealousy, despair, depression, greed - much of this comes directly from our own animalistic inclinations. And some of it seems so inherently human, so inherently part of our very essence, that I cannot help but question if the Gnostics were right on this one point

The Gnostics held that the physical, material world, and our flesh itself, was pure evil and it's creator was Satan.

The Catholic answer is that our very essence is corrupted and tainted by Original Sin - okay, sure; but I seriously struggle and wrestle with the fact that it's not our essence per se without original sin these inclinations come from, and not just a deviated, corrupted essence.


While Reformed theology certainly rejects the idea that the physical creation is inherently evil, the doctrine of Total Depravity states that Man's entire makeup is tainted with sin. This includes our biology, soul, passions....everything. There is nothing in our human constitution untouched by corruption.

Perhaps the Gnostics had something to say about this but the fundamental difference is that orthodox Christianity holds the physical world to be good, though corrupted. Not essentially evil.

In my estimation, for what it's worth, these "gnostics" held that the spirit which transcends this body and soul dichotomy is not in itself corrupted, indeed, is incorruptible. I mean that in a sense, because obviously in its immanence the spirit itself can be guilty of corrupt acts. It's just that the substance of it is not corruptible; it is more like it is trapped in ignorance and lives in corruption; gnosis liberates the spirit. But in the early texts that gnosis isn't some secret "knowledge" and formulae by which to achieve salvation but rather an immediate experience of the higher reality, of divine things, of God. With that in mind, I'm not sure the early "gnostics" were really at odds with "orthodoxy" in what redemption is.
Title: Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
Post by: Daniel on September 05, 2020, 10:46:56 AM
Well I agree that "Gnosticism" is more of a broad description, not a unified religion. I myself sometimes use the word in an even broader sense... I don't see much difference between Gnosticism and, say, Hinduism, Kabbala, or New Age, or even perhaps Platonism. They differ in the details, but they all have the same general beliefs: the same monistic cosmology, the same belief that the world is necessary rather than created, the same belief that we can--through our own efforts such as meditation, ascetic practices, or by acquiring secret knowledge--become "one" with our Self who is God, etc.

But I don't see any real resemblance between this and orthodox Christianity. Christianity teaches that God is creator and saviour. We don't emanate from God, we don't become God, and we're not God. We can attain a certain sort of "union" with God, but we don't become God in the process, nor do we do this through secret knowledge or by our own efforts. Plus, it's not a liberation from the material world; rather, our bodies and the material world itself will be renewed at the end of the world. Christianity is radically different from the gnostic view.

The whole thing appears to be a mix of false revelations and satanically-inspired philosophizing, taking on many different forms but always retaining the same underlying themes.
Title: Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
Post by: Jayne on September 05, 2020, 10:56:06 AM
When you realize that so much of Church Theology has been decided by politics alone, you start to question "What if x y z heresy might have actually been right?"

I do not question a Church teaching when it appears there was some political influence in it being adopted.  I see it as Divine Providence.  Why wouldn't God use politics to guide His Church to the truth?

Every single heresy has Biblical support. Every. single. one.

This is one of the strongest pieces of evidence against Sola Scriptura and for the necessity of God's continual leading of the Church through authoritative interpretation by the Magisterium.
Title: Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
Post by: The Theosist on September 05, 2020, 01:31:08 PM
This is one of the strongest pieces of evidence against Sola Scriptura and for the necessity of God's continual leading of the Church through authoritative interpretation by the Magisterium.

Who interprets the authoritative interpretation of the magisterium? And who interprets that interpretation? It may as well be taken as one of the strongest pieces of evidence against possibility of and need for dogmatic theology.
Title: Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
Post by: The Theosist on September 05, 2020, 01:34:54 PM
Well I agree that "Gnosticism" is more of a broad description, not a unified religion. I myself sometimes use the word in an even broader sense... I don't see much difference between Gnosticism and, say, Hinduism, Kabbala, or New Age, or even perhaps Platonism. They differ in the details, but they all have the same general beliefs: the same monistic cosmology, the same belief that the world is necessary rather than created, the same belief that we can--through our own efforts such as meditation, ascetic practices, or by acquiring secret knowledge--become "one" with our Self who is God, etc.

It's these things that are not a common denominator of the ancient texts and cults labelled "Gnostic". The Gospel of Philip teaches baptism and grace. There's nothing of what you mention in Thomas. "Hinduism" is another offender. There is no such thing. There are vast differences among "Hindu" philosophies and theologies, even within "schools" like Vedanta. Some of these are not monistic, pantheistic etc. It's amazing how hostile Christians are to Indian metaphysics while implicitly or explicitly embracing "baptised" Greek philosophy to the degree they do. I mean, fair enough, some of it is so wound up in false religion that its inextricable, but there is much there that frankly supersedes the Greek in idea and introspective insight, if not in analytical argument.
Title: Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
Post by: TheReturnofLive on September 05, 2020, 07:09:27 PM
When you realize that so much of Church Theology has been decided by politics alone, you start to question "What if x y z heresy might have actually been right?"

I do not question a Church teaching when it appears there was some political influence in it being adopted.  I see it as Divine Providence.  Why wouldn't God use politics to guide His Church to the truth?

Sure, that's the entire premise of the Catholic Church receiving and guarding the Deposit of Faith. However, if one rejects that premise, one has to get their hands dirty and dig through the past to see if the Catholic Church's claims can be verified. And it gets incredibly murky unless one believes that God would not permit the Faith to have been corrupted at all, and even then, that's a really bold claim in of itself.

Maybe the Anglicans were right in that God would not let the important parts become corrupted.
Title: Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
Post by: Jayne on September 05, 2020, 07:28:14 PM
When you realize that so much of Church Theology has been decided by politics alone, you start to question "What if x y z heresy might have actually been right?"

I do not question a Church teaching when it appears there was some political influence in it being adopted.  I see it as Divine Providence.  Why wouldn't God use politics to guide His Church to the truth?

Sure, that's the entire premise of the Catholic Church receiving and guarding the Deposit of Faith. However, if one rejects that premise, one has to get their hands dirty and dig through the past to see if the Catholic Church's claims can be verified. And it gets incredibly murky unless one believes that God would not permit the Faith to have been corrupted at all, and even then, that's a really bold claim in of itself.

Maybe the Anglicans were right in that God would not let the important parts become corrupted.

Obviously if you are rejecting the claims of the Catholic Church you are not going to be able to verify them.  You have already decided they are not true as part of your epistemological assumptions.
Title: Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
Post by: Michael Wilson on September 05, 2020, 07:39:47 PM
This is one of the strongest pieces of evidence against Sola Scriptura and for the necessity of God's continual leading of the Church through authoritative interpretation by the Magisterium.

Who interprets the authoritative interpretation of the magisterium? And who interprets that interpretation? It may as well be taken as one of the strongest pieces of evidence against possibility of and need for dogmatic theology.
There has to be a final infallible authority on Earth to tell us what is God's revelation and what is contrary to this. Like it or not, an oral or written revelation without an authoritative interpreter, is not sufficient.
Title: Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
Post by: Daniel on September 05, 2020, 08:06:03 PM
This is one of the strongest pieces of evidence against Sola Scriptura and for the necessity of God's continual leading of the Church through authoritative interpretation by the Magisterium.

Who interprets the authoritative interpretation of the magisterium? And who interprets that interpretation? It may as well be taken as one of the strongest pieces of evidence against possibility of and need for dogmatic theology.
There has to be a final infallible authority on Earth to tell us what is God's revelation and what is contrary to this. Like it or not, an oral or written revelation without an authoritative interpreter, is not sufficient.

I think his point (which sounds a lot like one of Jay Dyer's objections) was that if the pope is the infallible interpreter of revelation, then that won't suffice. Because you then need an infallible interpreter of the pope, and you need an infallible interpreter of the interpreter, and so on, resulting in an infinite regress.

However, God promised to lead us into truth, right? I'd think that if we ask God, He probably gives us some means to unmistakably recognize that the dogmas are true and/or that the pope is infallible.
Title: Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
Post by: Prayerful on September 05, 2020, 09:27:16 PM
I take Gnosticism as many a special personal or group knowledge of the Divine not otherwise shared. This secret wisdom could mean a rejection of the material world, or dualism, but I mainly take it as this belief that someone or his groups possesses a special knowledge not available to others. It's the basic raison d'etre of any cult, the official one, obviously enriching the Leader, and getting him girls, being the crucial reason. If Gnosticism is taking as cultism, then yes, for the past few decades. Catholicism was deliberately stripped bare of any mystery, and many quite reasonably failed to see the point, avoid from a Sunday social routine. People wanting more can drift into small groups, some very weird indeed.
Title: Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
Post by: The Theosist on September 06, 2020, 03:29:22 AM
This is one of the strongest pieces of evidence against Sola Scriptura and for the necessity of God's continual leading of the Church through authoritative interpretation by the Magisterium.

Who interprets the authoritative interpretation of the magisterium? And who interprets that interpretation? It may as well be taken as one of the strongest pieces of evidence against possibility of and need for dogmatic theology.
There has to be a final infallible authority on Earth to tell us what is God's revelation and what is contrary to this. Like it or not, an oral or written revelation without an authoritative interpreter, is not sufficient.

A) There doesn’t have to be.
B) The words of a “final authority” suffer from the same problem of interpretation.
C) All words are ultimately interpreted and understood by the subject himself. There is no way around that reality, no matter how many definitive interpretations are given by final authorities; the subject will still impose his own meaning on them which may or may not agree with the intention of the authority.
Title: Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
Post by: The Theosist on September 06, 2020, 03:57:04 AM
This is one of the strongest pieces of evidence against Sola Scriptura and for the necessity of God's continual leading of the Church through authoritative interpretation by the Magisterium.

Who interprets the authoritative interpretation of the magisterium? And who interprets that interpretation? It may as well be taken as one of the strongest pieces of evidence against possibility of and need for dogmatic theology.
There has to be a final infallible authority on Earth to tell us what is God's revelation and what is contrary to this. Like it or not, an oral or written revelation without an authoritative interpreter, is not sufficient.

I think his point (which sounds a lot like one of Jay Dyer's objections) was that if the pope is the infallible interpreter of revelation, then that won't suffice. Because you then need an infallible interpreter of the pope, and you need an infallible interpreter of the interpreter, and so on, resulting in an infinite regress.

However, God promised to lead us into truth, right? I'd think that if we ask God, He probably gives us some means to unmistakably recognize that the dogmas are true and/or that the pope is infallible.

Or maybe the scriptures themselves speak to the faithful believer in the way that they ought to and that he needs for his life unto salvation. Even your last point might just as well be fulfilled by God without the need for an infallible Pope. But this still doesn’t solve the problem of interpretation; before recognising a dogma as true one has to recognise the dogma itself, that is, understand a verbal statement in the exact  sense that makes it true, presumably the same one intended by the infallible authority who made it.

This is a real problem. The Roman approach seems (maybe it doesn’t) almost to treat the words of dogma as if they had meaning apart from the subjects who intend or receive them, but they do not. Now God would presumably intend something by them, and no doubt the sense and meaning that makes them true, but do the Pope, the bishops, and the people all intend or understand them in that same sense? Hopefully at least the Pope, for if not, what is “infallibility” even? The mere ability to speak some words that in some sense express a truth of faith? Not even that if one takes the negative approach to infallibility, which yields a worse outcome: the inability to speak some words which in every sense express a falsehood (they must express falsehood in at least some sense, for even ex cathedra statements can surely be heretically misunderstood).

This is a problem for those who want, ideally, absolute uniformity of belief in certain theological propositions and who make at least formal assent to every single dogmatic statement to be necessary for salvation. For my part, I think that’s madness, motivated at its root by political intentions or a more personal will-to-power, though certainly in good will by those who truly think they are saving souls by it.
Title: Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
Post by: The Theosist on September 06, 2020, 04:24:39 AM
On the other hand, the chaos and relativism of a postmodern Christianity gone off the rails like in the worst parts of the Novus Ordo ... that is as horrific as the content of the anti-Catholic black
legend.
Title: Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
Post by: abc123 on September 06, 2020, 06:38:27 AM
This is one of the strongest pieces of evidence against Sola Scriptura and for the necessity of God's continual leading of the Church through authoritative interpretation by the Magisterium.

Who interprets the authoritative interpretation of the magisterium? And who interprets that interpretation? It may as well be taken as one of the strongest pieces of evidence against possibility of and need for dogmatic theology.
There has to be a final infallible authority on Earth to tell us what is God's revelation and what is contrary to this. Like it or not, an oral or written revelation without an authoritative interpreter, is not sufficient.

Michael-

I've personally staked my claim on the written word of God which does not change. What John 1:1 says today is what it said yesterday and what it said when St. John first put quill to scroll and wrote it in Greek. Minor textual variants aside we have a remarkably preserved New Testament from which the necessary dogmas and doctrines of Christianity, as systematically codified in the Creed, can be discerned.

Much is made of the divisions within Protestantism. I don't want to ignore this sad reality but at the same time I think the fact is a bit overplayed to make the Catholic's point. On matters of essential and foundational doctrines of the Gospel (what must be believed to be saved) there is remarkable uniformity among Calvinists, Arminians, Dispensationalists, Amillennialists, etc.

I argue that the post-Vatican II church with its divisions among Novus Ordo, SSPX, FSSP, Sedevacantists touch on foundational aspects of Roman Catholic dogmatic theology. Can the pope err in his office as pope thus requiring resistance? Is the Mass that 99% of the Catholic world attends every Sunday actually invalid? Are most bishops actually layman because of the changed form?

The very office that was supposed to guarantee unity has become the cause of deep and irreconcilable divisions within the RCC. This is not even suppose to be possible.

So when faced with the unchanging Scriptures or the oft-changing RCC....I take the Scripture. We must all ultimately decide where our epistemological starting point is; and for me that is Scripture.
Title: Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
Post by: Daniel on September 06, 2020, 07:26:21 AM
With regard to interpreting the pope's ex cathedra statements, I don't think there's much issue. The wording is generally pretty clear, and the surrounding context should make it even more clear on the off chance that there happens to be any question as to what the pope had in mind. I do not think that an honest person is just going to "accidentally" read into it some meaning that isn't actually there. Rather, any misinterpretation is more likely due to the reader obstinately not-wanting to believe what's right in front of him.
Title: Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
Post by: Graham on September 06, 2020, 09:00:46 AM
This is taking us into freshman philosophy of language territory ("can anything actually be communicated?") and there's no point discussing something with anyone who believes there are insuperable difficulties here. But if you get back to the basics instead, most people would agree that a student with a textbook and a living teacher is better off than one with just a textbook, even if difficulties in communication could arise for the former as well. But then the teacher is also a priest, responsible not only for discrete sacraments and ritual but for developing an entire socio-religious ecosystem for the student to inhabit, which further underscores the relative poverty of the solitary student with just his textbook. Anyway, this thread is supposed to be about gnosticism.
Title: Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
Post by: The Theosist on September 06, 2020, 11:01:46 AM
With regard to interpreting the pope's ex cathedra statements, I don't think there's much issue. The wording is generally pretty clear, and the surrounding context should make it even more clear on the off chance that there happens to be any question as to what the pope had in mind. I do not think that an honest person is just going to "accidentally" read into it some meaning that isn't actually there. Rather, any misinterpretation is more likely due to the reader obstinately not-wanting to believe what's right in front of him.

Really?

So does this mean all who die in non-Catholic religions go to Hell?

It firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life, but will depart “into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels” [Matt. 25:41], unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock; and that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is so strong that only to those remaining in it are the sacraments of the Church of benefit for salvation, and do fastings, almsgiving, and other functions of piety and exercises of Christian service produce eternal reward, and that no one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.

Does this mean baptism is absolutely necessary for salvation?

By which words, a description of the Justification of the impious is indicated,-as being a translation, from that state wherein man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of grace, and of the adoption of the sons of God, through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Saviour. And this translation, since the promulgation of the Gospel, cannot be effected, without the laver of regeneration, or the desire thereof, as it is written; unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.

Does this mean popes cannot fall into heresy?

This gift of truth and never-failing faith was therefore divinely conferred on Peter and his successors in this See so that they might discharge their exalted office for the salvation of all, and so that the whole flock of Christ might be kept away by them from the poisonous food of error and be nourished with the sustenance of heavenly doctrine. Thus the tendency to schism is removed and the whole Church is preserved in unity, and, resting on its foundation, can stand firm against the gates of hell.

The existence of vigorous debates on extra ecclesiam nulla salus, baptism of desire, and Sedevacantism surrounding these very passages, and the apparent need for explication of them, is proof that your contention is generally not true. As I honestly read them, the answers to all those questions are in the affirmative. But that is not the common understanding of today.

As for clarity of wording and context supplying understanding to honest people, Protestants will claim the same of scripture on all points essential to salvation.





Title: Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
Post by: The Theosist on September 06, 2020, 11:11:48 AM
This is taking us into freshman philosophy of language territory ("can anything actually be communicated?") and there's no point discussing something with anyone who believes there are insuperable difficulties here.

You mistake my point. The insuperable difficulty is not the possibility of communication but of knowing that what was intended has in fact been communicated. That is not generally knowable, especially when it concerns more abstract and untestable theological propositions, and I will not in general possess certainty that I have myself understood some theological proposition as it was intended. Acknowledging this doesn't make engaging in discussion hypocritical, logically inconsistent or pointless.

And maybe there is a solution here, but that solution is then something beyond the infallible authority of the Pope.

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But if you get back to the basics instead, most people would agree that a student with a textbook and a living teacher is better off than one with just a textbook, even if difficulties in communication could arise for the former as well. But then the teacher is also a priest, responsible not only for discrete sacraments and ritual but for developing an entire socio-religious ecosystem for the student to inhabit, which further underscores the relative poverty of the solitary student with just his textbook.

Presuming the teacher has access to true knowledge about the text that the student doesn't possess. But the Roman model isn't supposed to be a mere aid; it's supposed to be an infallible provider of certainty. Yet the teacher in our case, if its a priest teaching on scripture and dogma, is himself a fallible interpreter of an infallible authority. "We know it because it is dogma." Oh, indeed? One ousia in three hypostases, eh? What does that mean? Think most Christians have an understanding? One substance in three persons? Three persons in one God? When did hypostasis become the modern English "person"? Is your teacher a social trinitarian? Maybe a Thomist with his "relations of opposition"? What do those mean, again? Or maybe he agrees with Karl Rahner, following Barth? Isn't this question the most basic basis of dogmatic theology? Clarity my left foot.


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Anyway, this thread is supposed to be about gnosticism.

Maybe it's relevant. The early "gnostic" tendency is toward knowledge of God not through theology but gnosis. Even CLement of Alexandria writes, "We define Wisdom to be certain knowledge, being a sure and irrefragable apprehension of things divine and human, comprehending the past, present and future which the LORD hath taught us, both by his advent and by the prophets’ ... ‘If then we assert that Christ himself is Wisdom, and that it was His working that showed itself in the prophets, by which the gnostic tradition may be learned, as he Himself taught the apostles during his presence; then it follows that the gnosis which the knowledge and apprehension of things present, future and past which is sure and reliable, as being imparted and revealed by the Son of God, is Wisdom."

What personal need does one who has seen these things have for the words of dogmas?



Title: Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
Post by: Graham on September 06, 2020, 02:22:42 PM
A man in a 'steady state' of gnosis and communication with the angels or Our Lord himself would have no need of external human guidance, that's perfectly true. (Similarly we could say, after Aristotle, that a man who is a god would have no need of human intercourse whatsoever. Which gets us closer to something I'd like to address in this thread when I find time.) You cannot get from that boundary case to the proposition that humanity has no need of the Church of Peter.