Thursday, June 13, 2019

Gnosticism, Again - No, Really

That Claim of Specialness, that infects Elites of Every Age.

Gnosticism is not a new heresy. But, in Modern Life, it blooms again every decade or so.

Here's what that philosophy is, from the mouth of the source. Note what the initial premise of it is:
All religious traditions acknowledge that the world is imperfect. Where they differ is in the explanations which they offer to account for this imperfection and in what they suggest might be done about it. Gnostics have their own -- perhaps quite startling -- view of these matters: they hold that the world is flawed because it was created in a flawed manner.
So, God's creation is inherently flawed. They hold themselves worthy to criticize Him. If that doesn't tell you everything you need to know about their arrogance, nothing else will.

Their way of explaining all this is to posit Lesser Gods:
The basic Gnostic myth has many variations, but all of these refer to Aeons, intermediate deific beings who exist between the ultimate, True God and ourselves. They, together with the True God, comprise the realm of Fullness (Pleroma) wherein the potency of divinity operates fully. The Fullness stands in contrast to our existential state, which in comparison may be called emptiness.
They believe that Knowledge is the ultimate aim.
Gnostics do not look to salvation from sin (original or other), but rather from the ignorance of which sin is a consequence. Ignorance -- whereby is meant ignorance of spiritual realities -- is dispelled only by Gnosis, and the decisive revelation of Gnosis is brought by the Messengers of Light, especially by Christ, the Logos of the True God. It is not by His suffering and death but by His life of teaching and His establishing of mysteries that Christ has performed His work of salvation.
Ever wonder where that disdain for Christian rules of conduct comes from? The idea that it's terrible to put the 10 Commandments on the walls of public buildings?

Wonder no more:
If the words “ethics” or “morality” are taken to mean a system of rules, then Gnosticism is opposed to them both. Such systems usually originate with the Demiurge and are covertly designed to serve his purposes. If, on the other hand, morality is said to consist of an inner integrity arising from the illumination of the indwelling spark, then the Gnostic will embrace this spiritually informed existential ethic as ideal.
Lest you believe that all of the above is from a religious tract designed to cast Gnosticism in the worst possible light, I should tell you that ALL of the quotes are from a Gnostic bishop.

Here is the standard Christian take on the heresy, along with a LOT of history about the philosophy.

A more comprehensible explanation of the philosophy is here - it's also a LOT more light-hearted (and, perhaps for that reason, more memorable).

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