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Did Gnosticism try and Usurp Christianity or is it the Real Message of Christ.

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posted on Nov, 21 2008 @ 06:19 AM
I was asked to make this thread by another member who wished to discuss his feeling that Christ was a Gnostic.

I’ll start right out of the box by stating that I find this very difficult to believe, because the Christian Fathers themselves rejected Gnosticism. Gnosticism predates Christianity to at least Plato in 428-348Bc. It was a Greek theology that attempted to attach itself into the early Christian Church, but was weeded out by the original Church fathers. I might as well bring up Irenaeus and his work Against Heresies (on the detection and overthrow of the so called gnosis) now, because I plan to go into this subject if we are to have this debate. Irenaeus was not just some guy who decided arbitrarily to attack Gnosticism, but rather he was the student of Polycarp, who was himself a student of John the Apostle of Christ. It is difficult to imagine that there is a more direct link between the original message of Christ, and the fact that Gnosticism is not that message then this.

However, I have been proven wrong on ATS before, this could always be one of those times.

posted on Nov, 21 2008 @ 06:35 AM
Keep in mind also, the middle ground: Not that the Canonized message of Christ is more or less true then the Gnostic message of Christ; they were both the messages of Christ. I am not saying this reflects my stance, but it may for some?

Keep in mind also, one could (as in personal interpretation) extrapolate that Christ was a gnostic based purely on the biblical interpretation of canonized scripture alone. Since to be a gnostic, means one has Gnosis, or at least, ones spiritual aim is Gnosis. *I am being very general*

Anyways, I look forward to participating as I feel I am one of the ATS members that knows a decent amount about Christian Gnosticism and Gnosticism in general. *not sure how many there are here? I have seen a few!

For now I am off to sleep. Tomorrow I will read my Gnostic Bible (hey that's literally the title
) for a refresher, then i'll contribute.

[edit on 21-11-2008 by Lucid Lunacy]

posted on Nov, 21 2008 @ 07:23 AM
reply to post by defcon5

It is possible to identify One who says "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life" with gnosticism, in the literal sense of knowledge. What distinguishes this gnosis, of knowledge of Christ, from Gnosticism (as the heresy) is that in Christ's identification of Himself as this Truth, and in the actions of His life, death and Resurection he makes this knowledge available to all, not a select few with special "gnosis."

It's what is so attractive in Gnosticism (and all heresies) that at it's core is some of that Truth. But to rupture that truth (not actually of course, but in one's presentation of and belief in it) makes it an untruth. Gnosticism flourished because Christ broke down the barriers between all categories: colour, gender, status, etc. etc. The intelligentsia found faith in Him attractive but not the beggars He brought with Him. So, they made a distinction between faith and reason, knowledge and piety. Gnosticism is an irregular verb: "I know, you believe, they are sheeple" and, without straying off topic, I think we might note that Gnosticism is the heresy that will not go away. Many who call themselves Christian, many who refute Christianity are Gnostics.

I don't know if you are familiar with Umberto Eco's book "Foucault's Pendulum" but towards the end of it there is a stunning paragraph which says that knowledge of Christ is a gnosis but Gnosticism isn't satisfied, it must claim something else which is exclusive. I'll quote it here and beg everyone to forgive the length of this extract, but it would be plain wrong to wreck it by editing or summarising:

A plot, if there is to be one, must be a secret. A secret that, if we only knew it, would dispel our frustration, lead us to salvation; or else the knowing of it in itself would be salvation. Does such a luminous secret exist?
Yes, provided it is never known. Known, it will only disappoint us. Hadn’t Aglie spoken of the yearning for mystery that stirred the age of the Antonines? Yet someone had just arrived and declared himself the Son of God, the Son of God made flesh, to redeem the sins of the world. Was that a run-of-the-mill mystery? And he promised salvation to all: you only had to love your neighbor. Was that a trivial secret? And he bequeathed the idea that whoever Ut- tered the right words at the right time could turn a chunk of bread and a half-glass of wine into the body and blood of the Son of God, and be nourished by it. Was that a paltry riddle? And then he led the Church fathers to ponder and proclaim that God was One and Triune and that the Spirit proceeded from the Father and the Son, but that the Son did not proceed from the Father and the Spirit, Was that some easy formula for hylics? And yet they, who now had salvation within their grasp—do-it-yourself salvation—turned deaf ears. Is that all there is to it? How trite. And they kept on scouring the Mediterranean in their boats, looking for a lost knowledge, of which those thirty-denarii dogmas were but the superficial veil, the parable for the poor in spirit, the allusive hieroglyph, the wink of the eye at the pneumatics. The mystery of the Trinity? Too simple: there had to be more to it.

posted on Nov, 21 2008 @ 07:24 AM
okay, 'twas me making the claim. before we get bogged down in detail, my premise for making the claim is that gnosticism, being a disparate and fractured belief system, can be defined in a very broad way by saying it is a belief system who's proponents believe that we each contain a divine spark by nature and are capable of direct communion with the divine and becoming christ like, that is, free of sin. they tend to believe that the earth, and earthly goods, are the property and tools of evil and that to enter into heaven, the trapping of these things must be shed.

rather than claiming that christ was a follower of any particular gnostic belief system, this has been done and leads to confusion and ambiguous results, i would argue that christs preaching was of a nature that suggests a gnostic outlook rather than an orthodox outlook.

the orthodox view, without question, says that humans are born in sin and can never be free of sin. it says that no direct communication can be had with the divine and it says that we only receive the divine spark with baptism, which is the holy ghost. it says that the world is neutral and that worldly goods hold no real impediment to heaven in and of themselves.

i do not believe this is in line with christs teaching and i believe i can show this based solely on the four canonical gospels.

in my considered opinion, the various scholarly details aren't particularly worth discussing unless the basic nature of christs teachings can be shown to be either orthadox or gnostic.

posted on Nov, 21 2008 @ 07:34 AM
reply to post by Supercertari

i don't agree that gnostisim can be said to be secretive by nature, certainly some systems require secrecy but not in the way you suggest.

gnostisim holds that god gives each of us personal information, for me to colour the information given to you by discussing the information i have would be counter productive. the route to knowledge is not hidden, but the destination is not discussed until it has been reached.

posted on Nov, 21 2008 @ 07:55 AM
My apologies for my input, my reading of the OP suggested we were being asked to discuss the historical heresy of Gnosticism in relation to the teaching of Christ. I wasn't aware it was someone wishing to seek to prove the validity of their own Gnosticism.

posted on Nov, 21 2008 @ 08:00 AM
So, give a detailed definition of Gnosticism for us kindergarden Gnostics.

Also, how do we know if anything coming out of an openly corrupt sustem can be trusted? I am speaking of First Council of Nicaea in which they burned the books of those who had a disagreement with the 'majority".

The emperor carried out his earlier statement: everybody who refuses to endorse the Creed will be exiled. Arius, Theonas, and Secundus refused to adhere to the creed, and were thus exiled, in addition to being excommunicated. The works of Arius were ordered to be confiscated and consigned to the flames.[20] Nevertheless, the controversy, already festering, continued in various parts of the empire

So, the church and state was already in the inquisition business before the actual founding of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. (motherf$%ers)

The hsitory of the "church" is full of torture, book burning, thwarting freedom, self mutilation, excess, people burning etc etc..........

It has not changed much as US and Canadian churchgoers are the biggest war mongers on earth. I wonder if the blood of the innocent children killed in Iraq will rest more on the hands of us church goers then President Bush???

Anyways, Gnostics...have Platonic duelism as thier tenet and they find that denial of food, water, sex helps to keep ones "evil" body in check in order for the spirit or light to become manifest.

Gnostics believed that denial (aka John the Baptist) brought us closer to the way. They thought that even in the "light" forms of darkness have crept in. as there was a huge battle over light and darkness.

If you read the Book of John....the first chapter seems to be very Gnostic...does it not? The main theme being that light conquers darkness as well as the relationship of Christ with Logos.

I am very curious toward the ATS point of well as the OP.

My personal belief is that the message of Jesus Christ needs no organisation of any sort behind it besides that of simple gatherings with the practice of humility between the believers.

Paul would be the person who organized the church in houses and prisons. To go beyond his system, and to mix the church with the state is as deadly for the church as it is for a state.

Enough of my uneducated dribble...I will let you define Gnosticism.

posted on Nov, 21 2008 @ 08:15 AM
reply to post by defcon5


If my understanding of the term isn't too flawed, it seems as if the original teachings of Christ were indeed "gnostic" in nature. From what I can gather, Jesus spent many years studying with the wise men of the east, and was very clearly influenced by Buddhism. I've always interpreted his vision of the "way to the father" as a direct, intuitive experience - intimate personal knowledge available to all men. The Gospel of Thomas, in particular the "secret sayings of Christ", is full of amazing aphorisms almost koan-like in nature. Beautiful writing in any case.

Of course, I am simply a student of the universe, not a theologian, and I look forward to what the knowledgeable members of the forum have to say on this topic.

Thanks for the thread,

Edit to add: I've been very curious about the Cathars lately. Can anyone tell me more about them than what little seems to be available online?

[edit on 21-11-2008 by Nox Vulpes]

[edit on 21-11-2008 by Nox Vulpes]

posted on Nov, 21 2008 @ 08:23 AM
Gnosticism also recognizes the sacred feminine. Something the church does not do. Remember every thing has it's opposite. Gnostics also do not categorize Mary Magdalen as a whore, but rather as Jesus' wife. Remember Jesus was a teacher and a devout Jew. He would have been married according to Rabbinic law. Peter and Paul were notorious women hater's, and have influenced the church towards this view as well. I think Jesus did not share their view on this. There are many more reasons why I think gnosticism deserves another look.IMHO

posted on Nov, 21 2008 @ 08:25 AM
apologies to me i assume? first of all, i'm not claiming here to be gnostic, i'ld prefer you didn't put words in my mouth.

secound, i disagreed with your assessment of gnosticism because i think you're wrong in your belief that it is inherently secretive. i felt it was worth addressing the idea because it is a common misconception, IMO, and if it is true, christ was clearly not a gnostic. if you believe yourself to be correct you can always counter argue my point rather than my motivation.

mr annunuki,
orthodoxy could be said to worship the divine feminine, in the form of mary, mother of god. while not an equal duality to the masculine aspects she is worsipped in line with the prevalent traditional view of women.

[edit on 21/11/08 by pieman]

posted on Nov, 21 2008 @ 08:29 AM

Gnosticism also recognizes the sacred feminine.
reply to post by Mr Anunnaki

That is a good thing in my opinion.

Females have been hunted, burned and tortured for far too long. The two latest slave scams would be the "woman in the kitchen" scam or woman in the office slave scam.....both produce slaves to the system.

Jesus Christ stood squarely if the path of the system. Peacful resistance was understood by both Paul and Jesus Christ...although Jesus was far more militant as he went after the made men in the Temple.

posted on Nov, 21 2008 @ 08:39 AM
If Christ was Gnostic, and I believe he was in the purest sense, if my understanding is correct, was he not simply furthering the idea of "secret knowledge "...i.e. the Pearl of great Price ...with the idea of a balanced life...i.e. wine, wedding, celebration....and the idea of the Superman Spiritual guy......i.e. healings, raising the dead......bringing the whole human experience/trip both heavenly/spiritual as well as earthly/flesh to culmination...i.e. wine, woman and song???

edit for spelling and other stuff

[edit on 21-11-2008 by whiteraven]

posted on Nov, 21 2008 @ 08:49 AM
reply to post by whiteraven

My feeling is that Christ fully understood the illusory quality of the material world and was a true master of the mind. I believe he was teaching practical methods of transcendence, like his predecessor Siddhartha. The secret seems to be that we all possess this potential, but not all us will learn to access it in our current incarnations.

posted on Nov, 21 2008 @ 09:00 AM
Many things Jesus said were not interpreted correctly. Such as the Lords Prayer. It in and of itself is not a prayer. It is a model to show us HOW to pray to God. The church has turned it into a prayer, and thus it losses it's passion and becomes something to say by rote. A hollow recitation of little real value. When Jesus gave us the prayer he says "pray in this MANNER..." the words of the prayer tell us how to approach God with reverence and love and respect and gratitude and bring forth our petition with confidence that God will be faithful to HIS words and provide for our needs.

posted on Nov, 21 2008 @ 09:07 AM
unless christ believed there to be no valid pertition outside of our daily bread and forgiveness for our sins in the manner which we forgive.

i'm not saying that you're wrong, only that interpretation is difficult in that sense because it is a personal perspective of a secound hand account.

posted on Nov, 21 2008 @ 09:21 AM
The church fathers, Roman Catholics in other words, did reject Gnosticism, but it was mutual. Roman Catholicism had a bit more power obvieously and basically killed off the Gnostics and their texts. Islam did this similarly with Zoroastrianism in Persian and they had to flee to India. Very tolerant these two groups are, thou shalt not kills sort of goes out the window.

Sethians thought of Seth as their Christ figure and say that the teaching goes back that far, Sethians are also Gnostic. So Gnosticism does predate Christianity. Gnosticism isn't exclusivly Greek because it had influence all over. By weeded out if you mean killed and destroyed, then yes, it was weeded out quiet well. Gnostic Christianity was quite popular in early Christianity. There was a lot of diversity up until about 400 AD.

Valentinius, however you spell that, traced his teachings back to one of the apostles as well and he is generally considered the most famous Gnostic. He was about to become Pope the story goes until they got light of his gnostic ideas. I've read a couple of times similar accounts where the gnostic teachers trace their teaching back to an apostle.

[edit on 21-11-2008 by ghaleon12]

posted on Nov, 21 2008 @ 09:27 AM

Originally posted by Mr Anunnaki
Gnosticism also recognizes the sacred feminine. Something the church does not do.

I am gnostic, and I have been finding within myself more and more that at the last day when everything is complete that it is the woman or the 'outside/opposite' that plays the vital role in completing the man 'inside', just as Jesus predicted in his verse about the woman who washed his feet in oil and perfumes and dried them with her hair.

Symbolically the woman sanctifies the God son outwardly, showing him his errs and reconciling him back to his Father. In this way, she cleanses his lowest portions and reunites him to his position of authority.

The female aspect plays a crucial (if not irreplaceable) role in the sons of God mission while in the heart of the earth.

posted on Nov, 21 2008 @ 12:41 PM
defcon5 and Lucid Lunacy, may I suggest that the two of you, if you're interested in arguing this topic, consider becoming Fighters and doing so in a structured way in the Debate Forum?

It wouldn't take the place of this thread, and it could wait until this thread has run its course, but I think it would be very interesting.

And you could start with some sort of agreement about what texts you'll refer to, and what you mean by "gnostic", since obviously Christ wouldn't have been a modern-day post-feminist gnostic

I have nothing to actually contribute to the topic of this thread right now, so I'll sit back and watch how it plays out.

posted on Nov, 21 2008 @ 12:47 PM
from what I understand, gnosticism encourages deep question asking of any subject or matter, something that is typically not a practice in Christian and catholic sects. Gnosticism also does not encourage blind faith, meaning, it gives one the tools to have direct experiences of/with god. So, Id say gnosticism is the real thing, and christianity is a way to attempt to keep people hoping, confused, divided and shopping at walmart. I do however believe that sort of faith works as well for many, although it may not be so great for the intellectual aspect of living, but then again, who knows what god bestows on those. I imagine, some people just have an innate experience of god and so fundamental christianity works for them, but I find the gnostic message, akin to eastern philosophy, encouraging philisophical debate and much contemplation and meditation.

edit to add: Ive seen many hardcore atheists turn into gnostics. Ive seen a few become born again christians too, but the conversation is not nearly as philosophically invigorating or thought provoking as with the gnostic crowds.

[edit on 11/21/2008 by psychedeliack]

posted on Nov, 21 2008 @ 01:41 PM
reply to post by Mr Anunnaki

Didn't Peter's wife go with him when he traveled to preach? Not sure, just seems I remember reading where Paul said some of the disciples took their wives with them.


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