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Why isn't Gnosticism a subset of the Christian DIR?

Discussion in 'Gnosticism DIR' started by Iti oj, Nov 24, 2014.

  1. Iti oj

    Iti oj Global warming is real and we need to act
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    I'm sorry for how the questions asked, i feel it sounds kind of ignorant, but why isn't gnosticism a sub set of the Christianity dir? What is and isn't Gnosticism? Whats is it I hear about battling the demiurge?
     
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  2. Sariel

    Sariel Heretic

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    Gnosticism was a religion that developed entirely separately from Christianity. It's main inspiration is NeoPlatononic cosmology and philosophy. Gnosticism began to intermingle very early into Christianity's history since both were flourishing around the same time. As such, some Gnostic sects became attracted to the figure of Jesus and added him to their writings.
    In Gnostic thought, the demiurge is a "lesser" god who fashioned the material imperfect universe and rules over it, he was commonly associated with the God of Abraham. Although mostly portrayed villainous, views on the Demiurge may differ. The original Demiurge in Neoplatonic writings was imperfect, but still well-intentioned, trying to hold the universe together. Some sects view the Demiurge as merely flawed, while some see him as just a figure representing carnal desires, while others view him as overtly malicious. The goal of Gnosticism to achieve gnosis and surpass the material world, ergo the domain of the demiurge.
     
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  3. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Turned to Stone. Now I stretch daily.
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    If Helen Pagel's research (as seen above) is reliable, then the Gnostics were fairly exclusive. They would not have allowed themselves to be included in the Christian section, preferring not to recognize it. A modern Gnostic, however might be different from that, maybe more like a Baha'i.

    Its very interesting, since the difference between the Gnostics and the Orthodox long ago keeps reasserting itself in the various descendants of the Orthodox. There is still a tendency to define a gnosis and to try to decide who has or doesn't have it. The original Catholic emphasis is to accept whoever comes, but the original Gnostic emphasis is to include only those who have gnosis. This was apparently one of the original differences between the historical Catholics and the Gnostics, but apparently getting rid of the Gnostics didn't get rid of the Gnostics. Both movements continued and integrated I guess. They seem to have borrowed characteristics from each other, too, over time. I don't know if the 'Gnostic' Christianity' you are talking about is the same thing as the older one? I'm not sure what modern Gnostics believe.

    This historian is speaking about a time shortly after the Hellenization of most of Christianity, and at this time the Catholics have adopted the previously Gnostic notion of exclusion. They specify a gnosis by which members will be judged: 1. creeds 2. canon 3. bishops This change in the body of believers was not accomplished without a lot of feuding and spat words for several centuries, so it appears that the venom between the schools of various kinds of believers actually drove a powerful mutation in them making it hard to know who or what is gnostic. Maybe modern Christians are gnostic?

    So the subject of what Gnostic Christianity is and what it was both strike a nerve with Christiany. It is like Tolkien's lost ring. Everybody wants to control it, but nobody can touch it. It has to do with the question of exclusion.
     
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  4. psychoslice

    psychoslice Veteran Member

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    That's a good question, I myself see Gnosticism as being the true Christians.
     
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  5. frangipani

    frangipani Member
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    At the core of what is to referred to as orthodox Christianity is the belief Jesus died for our sins, Jesus rose physically from the grave, people are saved because of Jesus's sacrifice.
    Gnostic Christians know Jesus did not die for our sins, only the body was killed to prove the Spirit was not and that Soul and Spirit lived on as one ascending to the Higher place. We also know that salvation comes through the knowledge that is Christ in us, becoming us and we becoming Christ like, us in Christ, Christ in us.
    Furthermore We believe in the True God, the Father of Christ. We believe in the lesser God, the creator of the matter universe, the one whom all the so called Christian churches erroneously think is the father of Christ. We choose to serve the Higher Power through Christ because we see the faults and flaws in the matter world and the Spirit within us yearns for perfection through Christ. I suggest you read 'The Secret Book of John' it will help you see the differences between Gnostic Christians and worldly orthodox Christians.
     
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  6. Pleroma

    Pleroma philalethist

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    We have major doctrinal differences and canonical differences with Catholicism.

    1. We reject bodily resurrection and accept only spiritual resurrection.
    2. We believe in the doctrine of emanationism and not in creationism.
    3. We believe in Gnostic Gospels such as Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Philip, Gospel of Judas, Gospel of Truth, Gospel of Mary Magdalene, Tripartite Tractate and other such works which were circulating in the early stages of Christianity apart from the Old Testament and the New Testament. Catholics reject Gnostic Gospels by saying they are non-biblical. Early Christianity was diverse and there was no orthodoxy in the early period but one fanatical sect persecuted others and came out as the winner by suppressing truth and their teachings.
    4. We reject Original Sin and believe that Christ did not died for our sins.
    5. We believe in realized eschatology meaning you can redeem yourself here and now. No need to go to a church or just blindly believe that Christ died for our sins.
    6. We believe that Christ was not sent by Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament, The Demiurge. Many present day Christians indeed have a lot of problems reconciling the wrathful Old Testament God with the all-loving God of the New Testament. Catholics believe God changed his nature after Christ arrived which is laughable but the truth actually is Christ was sent by an unknown Father above Jehovah.
    7. The doctrine of Trinity is a Gnostic doctrine which the Catholics follow without knowing that it supports emanationism rather than One God monotheism.

    Irenaeus was right our doctrines agrees next to nothing with Catholicism whom we consider to be lower psychic Christians who too will be saved at the end of the world. The Demiurge is actually the centurion who will come running towards Christ after realizing the truth.

    We should have been the orthodox Christians and I'm quite sure even if we show our love towards the Catholics they will persecute us and will not welcome us.

    Gnosticism is an umbrella term combining a lot of different sects so I would advice you to study individual sects if you want to dig deeper. There were Marconians, Ophites, Sethians, Valentinians, Basilideans, Paulinians and many other gnostic sects.

    Read the Sophia myth.
     
    #6 Pleroma, Nov 25, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2014
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  7. ELoWolfe

    ELoWolfe Member

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    This is an excellent question, and I don't particularly like some of the answers given.

    For example, it can not be because of the difference between Catholicism alone. If so, Nontrinitarianism would not have a DIR. Also, some of what is said, Pleroma, wouldn't apply to all Gnostics. And perhaps that is the problem. There is no established "Gnostic" universal aside from broad strokes of theology. The modern Gnostic Churches don't have a strong enough presence to be considered denominations yet, and many of them probably never will. Gnosticism is right now an individual's faith, but not a communal faith aside from where the individuals meet (if they do). So right now, if this is where many of us meet, we are ReligiousForum Gnostics, different from the now-defunct PalmTreeGarden Gnostics, for example.

    I don't find this completely acceptable though. It was decided some time ago (the post can probably still be found) that the board is decidedly Christian Gnosticism; we are not (Neo-)Platonic Gnostics. Perhaps it is not now, but at one time it was essentially written as a rule with general consensus. When this DIR was founded, it may have been founded on the concept of gnosis, a mystical (and hard to define) understanding of various religions united in spirit but divided by the letter. The difference of capitalization ('Gnostic' vs. 'gnosis') is still difficult to travel through, with some of the latter group taking jargon from the former but not being the same.

    Now on the subject of exclusivity, that is different and again, there can be no hard-set rules on it. Exclusive in our interactions? Hardly. Valentinians mingled with the proto-orthodox enough that they were called "wolves in sheep's clothing." Exclusive on who was allowed in? Yes, much like a Fraternity or other type of organization, because of the sensitivity of the information kept guarded. Pearls and swine. But this doesn't apply to modern Gnosticism, which appears increasingly open compared to the perceptions we have of ancient Gnostics. Because of the plethora of information we've found, and that have been made public, it is now an atmosphere of "does it seem right? Do you see Light? Or is this gibberish to you?" It is less of initiation and more of responding.

    With that said, I do think this should be a sub-DIR of Christianity. The flavor of the board is obviously Christian in nature. The fluidity and lack of concrete orthodoxy should not be a prohibition, any more that such fluidity allowing for Non-Denominational DIR or Non-Trinitatian DIR. By having Gnosticism DIR in "Other Revealed Religions DIR" it feels as if it is decided we are not Christian (but those groups are) and are in fact our own faith. Do we identify as Christian Gnostics, or Gnostic Christians?
     
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  8. nazz

    nazz Doubting Thomas

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    I wouldn't mind seeing a subforum for Christian Gnosticism. But then the regular Gnosticism forum doesn't see much activity these days. There are other forms of gnosticism that are not connected to Christianity.

    As for a definition you will hear many answers. My simplest answer is that it is the opposite of agnosticism. It contends that knowledge of spiritual realities and truths is possible.

    I define the demiurge as the creative force in and behind this universe. Not really something to fight but there are aspects of our nature to overcome.
     
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  9. frangipani

    frangipani Member
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    I agree with these comments, because Gnostics or rather real Christians are individuals. While Christianity is for all who will receive it, it is received by each individual individually through the inner knowledge of the Spirit, this is the sacred knowledge of the Christ.

    Quote from The Revelation of Adam. "Their fruit does not wither. But they will be known up to the great eternal realms, because the words they have kept of the God of the eternal realms were not committed to the book, nor were they written. Angelic beings will bring them, whom all the generations of people will not know. For they will be on a high mountain, upon a rock of Truth. Therefore they will be called words of incorruptibility and truth, for those who know the eternal God in wisdom of knowledge and teaching of angels forever, for he knows all things."
     
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  10. TheInfiniteLight

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    Gnosticism includes many different religions and ideas. There's many works written by people all around the world throughout history. Gnosticism is still being written today. There is no one text that is accepted as the sole authority of Gnosticism. Gnosticism is personal knowledge that the soul must attain in order to rise to it's height. Gnosticism even includes scriptures from other religions. Anything that is knowledgeable to truth belongs to Gnosticism. In some of gnostic teaching there is a demiurge or creator of creation. This person is not necessarily evil, however, he is not exactly good. Creation is a reflection of the Light. The light revealed creation through its manifestation. The battle with the demiurge is about creation returning to the light. As we must all return to the light. It really isn't a battle in the sense that creation can overcome the light. Creation becomes the light within an eternal process.
     
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  11. Saint Frankenstein

    Saint Frankenstein I'm not deaf, I'm just a real bad listener
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    Not all forms of Gnosticism are Christian. There are Gnostic Luciferians and Gnostic Satanists. I view myself as a Gnostic but would feel out of place if this was in the Christian DIR. I try to add some spice by representing LHP Gnosticism. :D
     
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  12. ELoWolfe

    ELoWolfe Member

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    That is valid. At the time of this topic's beginning though, the accepted thought of Gnosticism from ("active") members was Christian gnosticism.

    It can get quite hairy at times when people come in, claiming their gnosis is the only gnosis. The definitions before discussion are extremely important to see where the other individual is coming from.
     
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  13. Deadtroopers

    Deadtroopers Member

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    Satan and Lucifer are derived from the Christian Satan and Lucifer. 'Gnostics, so called' as Irenaeus described them were just competing versions of Christianity and possibly beliefs he took to be competing Christianities. 'Gnostics' and 'Gnosticism' are Christian ideas. Absent Christianity they wouldn't exist, Irenaeus' geographical location, in Lyon at the far end of the Med from the location of most of these ideas, is important. Orthodoxy remains comfortable with the idea of Gnosis. Reading the texts that have been recovered and what can be reconstructed from the hostile polemic of Irenaeus and Hippolytus it is clear there was no Gnostic religion as such. The main exasperation with Valentinians for instance was that they accepted everything that the proto-Orthodox believed but said the proto-Orthodox had not understood the nuances. The heresiarchs were trying to force a wide variety of disparate beliefs into one and seeing things through the lense of their own Christianity. We can see now, reading recoverd early Christian writings for ourselves that the heresiarchs were mistaken. But what must be remembered is that we have lost the context for these writings and that we continually fall back on the mistaken context ad narrative imposed in the second century. We cannot even be sure that recovered writings with the same or similar names as those attested millenia ago are actually the same writings. What must also be remembered is that these writings removed from a monastic library that had previously been seen as acceptable Christian writings. We should remember that when it was intact this library would have included the gospels now accepted as cannonical; such works as Hermas, Didache and Barnabas; Jewish works such as Jubilees, and 3 and 4 Maccabees; and many others. It was just the library of an ordinary Christian monastery before people with access to the state killing machine tookover the religion and decreed what was acceptable and what wasn't. Albigenses and Bogomils have some relation to these earlier beliefs, that is obvious; but they are essentially Mediaeval phenomomena. The same can be said for modern gnosticisms; they may be based upon and orientated towards the earlier writings but their context, their sitz em leben, is modern. Too much has been lost beyond recovery; they cannot be any other.
     
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  14. Saint Frankenstein

    Saint Frankenstein I'm not deaf, I'm just a real bad listener
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    Regardless of how it started, Gnosticism is now not solely Christian.
     
  15. ELoWolfe

    ELoWolfe Member

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    On the one hand, I think this is reason that Christian Gnosticism should have a name, if we are to lump them together (Sethians, Valentinians, etc).

    But this also happened with Christianity. Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Mormon, etc. etc.
     
  16. Deadtroopers

    Deadtroopers Member

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    Apart from LDS these are all Chalcedonian Christianities. The differences between Valentinians and Sethians were far wider. No one can come up with an acceptable definition of the ancient phenomena. See King, What is Gnosticism? and Williams Rethinking Gnosticism. From an outsider perspective and from the declarations of their writings it is what Christianity was at the time: very diverse. Also at the time we are talking about Christianity blurred into Judaism and Hellenistic religions. "Gnosticism" (if there was such a thing) is now not solely Christian because Christianity became much more narrowly defined and because Gnosticism is a modern (re)definition.
     
  17. Tomas Kindahl

    Tomas Kindahl ... out on my Odyssé — again!

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    The Christianity DIR won't like it, and I wouldn't like it. I don't regard myself as Christian, and I regard their theology as detestable. We would not only be battling the demiurge, we would discuss in a tedious uphill fight what evil is – they would say it is bad morals, and I would say it is the entropy of the universe, they would call us "heretics" while I would try my very best to rip the rug under their feet by explaining that their New Testament was collated by a Church Father in the 150:ies, not in the period 70-90 AD. I would call them pseudo-scientific persons professing adherence to an evil god. I have had enough of Christians in my life.
     
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  18. Rakovsky

    Rakovsky Active Member

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    As I understand it, some Gnostics like Marcion were dedicated to Christ, and thus could be called Gnostic Christians, ie. Gnostic followers of Christ. However, there were Gnostics like Dositheus who preceded Christianity. So someone could be Gnostic and not be a follower of Christ. So it makes sense if the forum doesn't want to put it in the Christian directory. The categories could overlap because some people and groups can be both professed followers of Christ like Marcion, yet others can belong to only one group or the other.

    You can read Irenaeus' first paragraph and second paragraph on the following page about Cerinthus that would also seem to put him in the category of Marcion:
    CHURCH FATHERS: Against Heresies, I.26 (St. Irenaeus)
    Here, Cerinthus' idea was that the ultimate God is good, and that Christ came to teach about Him, and that people should obey the Torah rituals of the Old Testament, but that there is a demiurge who made the world who is bad.
    Cerinthus may be the author of the Apocryphon of James that I have been writing about here:
    The Apocryphon of James (1st - mid-2nd century) Questions.
     
  19. Ella S.

    Ella S. Existentialist Anarchist

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    There are probably three main reasons.

    The first is that "Christianity" is usually taken to refer to Abrahamic, Nicene Christianity, which is why the Church of the Latter Day Saints and the Jehovah's Witnesses are sometimes considered "not Christian," even in (especially in) Christian forums.

    The second is that there are Gnostic sects who aren't Christian and explicitly reject Christ, such as the Cainites or the Mandaens. Indeed, if we use "Christ" to mean "Jewish Messiah," then almost no Gnostic sect believed they followed the teachings of the Jewish Messiah, because they rejected the God of Abraham.

    The third is that Gnostics have a fairly controversial place, sometimes seen as a New Religious Movement, sometimes seen as a Reconstructionist Movement, sometimes seen as a denomination of Christianity, so I imagine it's easier to just put it in a separate category. There's a lot of variety in Modern Gnosticism, many self-identified Gnostics today don't consider themselves Christian at all. Since you can opt-in to post in more than one forum, then a Gnostic Christian can choose to post both here and in the Christian forum, so this choice might have the least negative impact.
     
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  20. Goldemar

    Goldemar A queer sort

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    Good question.
    Gnosticism comes in many different forms and means different things to different people. Whilst it is true there are Gnostic Christians, there are some of us who reject Jesus and Christianity altogether (as I do). So I would not be comfortable with putting the Gnosticism DIR under Christianity.
    The Demiurge is for me as for many Gnostics the evil, lower creator of the material world, not to be confused with the Primal Parent, Who is the Source of all spirits, including human spirits. The Demiurge traps human spirits in his world and it is for us through gnosis to realise our true origins, set ourselves free and actively battle the Demiurge and work for the dissolution of his world. That would be one very brief account of who the Demiurge is and what it means to battle him.
     
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