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Old 05-31-2001, 06:48 PM   #1
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Post Why were gnostics so bad?

I want to know more about the "gnostics". I think they believed that Jesus spiritually, rather than physically, resurrected. Why was this so awful?

Why do books (1 John, 2 John, Jude) devote space to this "false teaching"? I've read (from Opus1 posts, I think) where the ending of Mark was tacked on to combat the gnostics' teachings.

Why were the early Christians so threatened by this? If anyone has a link to an article on II, I'd be happy to read it, too.
 
Old 05-31-2001, 09:24 PM   #2
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Hubzilla:
I want to know more about the "gnostics". I think they believed that Jesus spiritually, rather than physically, resurrected. Why was this so awful?

Why do books (1 John, 2 John, Jude) devote space to this "false teaching"? I've read (from Opus1 posts, I think) where the ending of Mark was tacked on to combat the gnostics' teachings.

Why were the early Christians so threatened by this? If anyone has a link to an article on II, I'd be happy to read it, too.
</font>
Meta =&gt;Some groups may have been unfairly labaled "gnostic" and lumped in with them; that was a term latter applied by the Orthodox chruch. But the initial distaste for that view stems from Messianich expectation I think. Becasue the Messiah had to be a real flesh and blood person; it would also expalin it further that Paul, John ect knew Jesus to be a real flesh and blood person.


The Gnostics also created problems in that they superceeded the teachings of the actual eye witnesses, cliaming to have secret knoledge and only ceratin eleites could know this. A secret tradition that the 12 were not part of, that was a problem.

latter Gnsotic groups blasphemed the creater because they beleived that the creator was evil and that the true God was above the creator. Not all but most Gnostics were either liberatines who condoned rampant since (since we are all made of matter, and matter is evil, we cannot avoid being evil so we might as well give in to it and have pleasure) or they were Docetics who deneied the flesh and impossed rigourus fasting, looked down on women as evil, denied sex (women and sex brought more flesh beings into the world, which for them ment spirit is being trapped in matter so this was evil). Some of them called sex "the evil rubbing."

Orthodox identity was shaped in relief against Gnsoticism as Christians tried to answer the same question you asked, "what is so bad about this." Clment of Alexandria and other fathers of the chruch concluded that God created a good world, matter is not evil and birth and life are not evil. So this is a deniel of the creator and of the goodness of creation.

It alos disrupts the atonement, that is the major issue. If Jesus wasn't flesh and he didn't really die for our sins than we are not really forgiven for our sins. The Gnostic resloved this by sinning and than saying well we have secret knowledge and this knowledge will save us. That was largely by a work after death in which the soul was to say to the "powers" on the journey to the "plaroma" (Spirit world = "fullness") "I know who you are, I know your name, I control you." The powers would recognize the secret knowledge that this spirit was in possession of the secret of liberation from flesh and that would save them. For orthodox Chrstiains it was much simpler. Sin is really evil, God forgives us because we trust in Jesus act of solidarity, his death on the cross. But that meant taking his corporial nature seriously.
 
Old 05-31-2001, 09:42 PM   #3
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Metacrock:
[b]Why were the gnostic so evil? Why did they threaten the Orthodox?</font>
Meta =&gt;Gnosticism was a doctrine which emerged from a sythesis of Jeudaism and Persian dualism. The Persians understood the universe as a balanced warfare between forces of light and forces of darkness. There's was a strict dualism and it spawned this notion of the eivl of matter which spread thoughout the known world of that day. Gnsoticism was not limited to Christianity. At Nag Hammadi, the site of a chache of Gnostic manuscripts discovered in Egypt in 1948, there were found documents transmitting a Persian form of Gnsotic Zoroasterianism,and Greek Gnosticism. The Seath documents are expecially of interest because one of them is reproduced with another title and a Christian faced. So Seathian Zoroastrian Gnosticism was re-cast as Christian. There were also pre-Chrsitian Jewish Gnsotics who turned against the Creator, probably under the influence of Sameritans. One such group was the "Ophites" who believed that the serpent was the good guy in the garden of Eden and the creator was the villian and was actually lying to Adam and Eve.In other words, Gnsoticism latched onto many different religions and Chrstianity was a carrier.

We first encounter the early dawning of Gnsotic style thought in Pauline Epsitles, but Paul is struggeling against it. This is not the full fledged Gnsoticism which emerged in the 3d century, but a proto-gnostic attitude.

By the second century Gnstoic groups began to form their own identity. There were Christian Gnostics represented by Valintinus who infiltrated the chruch, or perhaps really saw themsleves as Christians (in which case "infiltrated" is a bad word). But in any case latter groups actually blasphemed the creator in their cerimonies, since the creator trapped spirit in matter, through creation of matter he must be evi.

The basic Gnostic premise was that matter is evil and cerain elite humans who are destined to find the secret knowledge (Gnosis = Greek) were bits of spirit who slipped out of the Plaroma ("fullness" the spirit world) and became trapped in evil matter. The trick is to become liberated from matter. This was accomplished by some after death through the use of secret incantations. Usually these were challenges to the powers to let the spirit pass into the Plaroma ("I know you name, I know who I am, I know where I'm going, I have power over you you must let me pass").

As one might surmise this was a deniel of the simple Gospel that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. It implies that the atonement for sin wasn't real since Jesus' death was not real.

Othodox identity was shaped against Gostic identity. In trying to answer the question you asked, what is so bad about this, the Chruch was forced to come to the conclusion that being a chrsitain means certain things and not other things. One of those things is that it means belief in Jesus death on the cross for our sins, and a real evaluation of sin as evil.

The Gnsotics, on the other hand, tended to have one of two approaches to sin; they were either liberatines who said "we are matter so we are sinful since matter is evil, so just enjoy it," or "docetics" who said matter is evil and we must free ourselves from the desires of the flesh; they impossd an austere regimene of fasting and abstenance. Some Gnsotic groups thought women were evil since they brought more matter trapped spirits into the world, and sex was evil for the same reason (the called it "the evil rubbing").

By the 3d century the chruch had concluded that all of this was wrong.God's creation was good, flesh and spirit are not at war, the creator is God, and this is blasphemy of hte creator. But many groups were unfiarly labald as "gnsotic" and many beliefs were lumped into the single ruebick.
 
Old 05-31-2001, 10:17 PM   #4
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Gnosticism is a philosophy that says that we can know everything about supernatural realm, and so the gnostic cults claimed to do just that.

Agnosticism (the 'a', of course, negating the 'gnosticism') says that we cannot know anything about the supernatural realm (e.g. God), not even whether or not it exists. Since this website is full of agnostics, I would certainly think that you would see the problems w/ gnosticism, it being in absolute opposition to your philosophy!

[This message has been edited by matt (edited June 01, 2001).]
 
Old 06-01-2001, 01:36 PM   #5
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Smile

Hey Hubzilla. There were many issues, but the key one was whether Jesus was a true man and had therefore really died. If you want more information, this website may help.
 
Old 06-02-2001, 09:42 AM   #6
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by JubalH:
Hey Hubzilla. There were many issues, but the key one was whether Jesus was a true man and had therefore really died. If you want more information, this website may help.</font>
That's not even close. The reason they questioned Jesus being a flesh and blood human was the larger framework of the evil nature of matter.

 
Old 06-07-2001, 11:10 AM   #7
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Hubzilla:

Why were the early Christians so threatened by this? If anyone has a link to an article on II, I'd be happy to read it, too.
</font>

Hubzilla,

There is an excellent essay, an as non-bias as one can get, on this subject at www.religioustolerance.org/gnostic.htm

I feel it paints a less bias picture of Gnosticism that Metacrock's response. Informative as it is, it shows a heavy bias towards the "rightness" of Pauline Christianity, the version of Christianity that gained dominance.

-Spider

 
Old 06-07-2001, 01:32 PM   #8
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Meta, for once, this is just a simple disagreement. Or maybe it's a seven blind men and the elephant problem. Anyway, sure, the Gnostics were dualists. But I think the docetic heresy gets closer to the core of the split with what became Christian orthodoxy.
 
 

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