Author Topic: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?  (Read 708 times)

Offline Daniel

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Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
« 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?
 

Offline paul14

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Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2020, 08:09:43 AM »
It is just you.   8)

edit: Is it just me or is Satanism on the rise?
 
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Offline TheReturnofLive

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Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
« Reply #2 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?
« Last Edit: September 04, 2020, 10:50:04 PM by TheReturnofLive »
 

Offline TheReturnofLive

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Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
« Reply #3 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.
 

Offline The Theosist

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Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
« Reply #4 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. 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.
 

Offline The Theosist

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Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
« Reply #5 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.
 

Offline TheReturnofLive

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Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
« Reply #6 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. 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?
« Last Edit: September 05, 2020, 03:52:04 AM by TheReturnofLive »
 
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Offline TheReturnofLive

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Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
« Reply #7 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.
 

Offline The Theosist

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Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
« Reply #8 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.
 

Offline abc123

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Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
« Reply #9 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.
"I once laboured hard for the free will of man until the grace of God at length overcame me."- St. Augustine
 
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Offline The Theosist

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Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
« Reply #10 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.
 

Offline Daniel

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Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
« Reply #11 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.
 
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Offline Jayne

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Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
« Reply #12 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.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2020, 11:47:11 AM by Jayne »
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Offline The Theosist

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Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
« Reply #13 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.
 
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Offline The Theosist

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Re: Is it just me, or is gnosticism on the rise?
« Reply #14 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.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2020, 01:44:36 PM by The Theosist »