Let's talk about Gnosticism
Part one of ??? There's a lot to say.
Hello truth warriors!
It’s been a little while. I took a much needed break from writing at the end of the year, along with a break from social media. And then as we turned the calendar to another year I needed to focus on getting my own house, and my business, in order. But now I think I’m getting into a rhythm that’s letting me make room for non-work-related writing again, and I’m eager to tackle this subject.
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In my last letter, I touched on Gnosticism and its influence on the early Church, particularly on Augustine of Hippo, who is lauded as one of the “Doctors,” i.e. founders, of Roman Catholicism, and whose gnostic-influenced doctrines have persisted into reformed Protestantism and the modern-day Church-at-large. Before I delve deeper into the life, ministry and influence of Augustine, I feel like I need to camp out for a bit on Gnosticism – its past, present and future.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to understand this persistent and pervasive heresy, in all its forms. While the Apostles and the Apostolic Fathers – those early Church leaders who were directly taught by the Apostles or were directly in the line of succession from the New Testament writers – recognized just how dangerous a cancer this false alternative to Christianity was in their day, in our present day it often goes unrecognized, and tends to be underestimated by many of those who do see it.
In short, I believe that Gnosticism is a counterfeit religion created by Satan himself. It’s a Hydra with many tentacles that just keeps growing new heads and never dies. And it’s going to be the basis of the global religion and worship of the Antichrist during the Tribulation.
So yeah, it’s important.
What is Gnosticism?
According to Christianity.com:
Gnosticism was a notable heretical movement of the 2nd-century Christian Church, partially of pre-Christian origin. The gnostic doctrine taught that the world was created and ruled by a lesser divinity, the demiurge, and that Christ represented the remote supreme divine being. Also, that esoteric knowledge (gnosis) enabled the redemption of the human spirit.
The Gnostics believe that the spiritual world and things pertaining to the spirit are inherently good, that the material world, and particularly the human body, are inherently evil, and that only an evil being could have created the material world and imprisoned our spirits in these degraded bodies.
They believe that the true God is distant and unknowable. According to the Gnostic version of creation, this unnamed God emanated lesser gods, or Archons, from himself, and these Archons could get together and reproduce other Archons. The youngest of this first generation of Archons was Sophia, the spiritual embodiment of wisdom.
Sophia wanted to be like her father and create her own child without having to reproduce with one of her siblings. She somehow managed to accomplish this, and produced a corrupt being called the Demiurge, who calls himself YHWH. According to the Gnostics, this Demiurge created his own race of spirit-beings, whom we know as the angels, before creating the material universe and inhabiting it with the human race, created to be a race of slaves to serve the Demiurge and his angels.
When Sophia looked down and saw how her son was abusing his creation, she gave to some humans a “divine spark” that would enable them to achieve enlightenment through knowledge and wisdom. She also sent Lucifer to give knowledge and enlightenment to humanity so that they would be able to fight back and free themselves from the Demiurge’s enslavement.
But Yahweh continued to be a harsh and brutal God, destroying all who rebelled against him. So a remorseful Sophia went to her father — the “true” god — and confessed what she’d done. He sent his own son to earth to intervene. This Archon, known as the Christ, inhabited an enlightened man, an Ascended Master named Jesus, and through him gave humanity knowledge of the true God and of our inherent divine nature. This Christ being departed from Jesus before he was crucified (if he was crucified at all – various Gnostic sects differ on this point).
According to the Gnostic religion, salvation is not through faith in Jesus, but comes through attaining this knowledge of the true, esoteric origins of God and humanity, and only those who possess the divine spark can attain true enlightenment, escape imprisonment from their mortal bodies, and take their rightful place among the Archons.
Where did Gnosticism originate?
Unlike most religions or cults, Gnosticism doesn’t have a definitive origin. It has roots in the teachings of the Greek philosopher Plato, who taught of higher forms – that everything on earth is a flawed, imperfect shadow of a true ideal version that exists in the eternal, immaterial realm. Plato was a student of Socrates, who taught that death releases the soul from the being chained to the physical world and allows it to be united with the True Being.
Plato saw a dualistic divide between the soul and the body, with man’s consciousness trapped in between. He believed that the entire physical world is a prison that prevents us from perceiving the true nature of absolute Beauty, Truth, Justice and Goodness, and that while we’re alive, only the contemplation of philosophy could free our minds and bring us close to perceiving these absolutes.
Neoplatonism developed in the centuries following Plato’s death, and was incredibly popular with the Gnostics in the second and third centuries. The second-century Neoplatonic philosopher, Plotinus – whose writings were a big influence on Augustine – taught that man was suspended between the spiritual and physical, and could only attain perfection via mystical experiences attained via an enlightened mind.
These platonic ideas laid the groundwork for the Gnostic view of the immaterial being inherently good and desirable and the material being evil and undesirable, and of knowledge and enlightenment being the path to attaining the immaterial world.
But really, it all goes back to that first deception in the Garden of Eden: “Eat the fruit of knowledge, and you will be like the gods.”
Gnosticism in the Church
While Gnosticism didn’t fully develop into its own religion and gain a strong foothold until the second century, gnostic ideas were already permeating Jewish theosophical mysticism in early forms of what we know today as Kabballah. These ideas began to permeate the Church not long after its inception – because the devil doesn’t waste any time trying to corrupt God’s creations and institutions.
The docetic heresy, which held that Jesus only seemed to come in the flesh, but was really spirit, took hold quickly. These early gnostics within Christianity tended to split into two major camps – the ascetics, who deprived and punished their bodies to free their minds, and another group that indulged in all kinds of depravity – especially the sexual kind – because, they reasoned, since only the spirit was truly alive, it didn’t matter what their bodies did.
We can see allusions to — and refutations of — gnostic teaching in the Epistles. Paul’s treatise on the resurrection body in 1 Corinthians 15 appears to be specifically refuting the Gnostic belief that there won’t be a physical, bodily resurrection, while John states in both 1 John 4:2 and in 2 John verse 7 that the Gnostic belief that Jesus Christ didn’t come in the flesh is the spirit of antichrist.
Paul also seems to be addressing the Gnostic practice of asceticism – the denial and punishment of the body in order to free the mind to achieve enlightenment – in 1 Timothy 4, calling it a teaching of demons before admonishing Timothy to have nothing to do with “irreverent, silly myths” (1 Timothy 4:7, ESV).
Peter appears to give the most vehement takedown of false teachers trying to introduce gnostic ideas in 2 Peter 2 (sentiments that are echoed in Jude’s epistle). He refers to these teachings and practices as destructive heresies and blasphemies, promises condemnation and destruction for those who spread them, and compares them to the sinful angels in Genesis 6, who, as explained by the book of Enoch, didn’t only corrupt humanity’s DNA through sexual relations with women, but also traded forbidden, destructive knowledge in exchange for their human wives.
In other words, there was nothing new about Gnosticism. It’s the very same false religion that Satan’s been peddling since he used it to tempt Eve.
Many of the early Church Fathers, most notably Irenaeus, wrote multiple volumes disputing the heretical teachings of Gnostics like Valentinus, who claimed to have knowledge of “true Christianity,” as well as Gnostic pseudepigraphal writings, like the Gospel of Thomas, that began to crop up in the second century.
While Gnostic conspiracy theorists like to claim that the Council of Nicea was formed to cover up these “true” writings, the reality is that the Council was convened to affirm that the writings of the Apostles formed the canon of New Testament scripture and to set down the fundamental doctrines of Christian faith in credal form.
And yet, despite multiple dire warnings from early Church leaders and directly from the pages of scripture, it continued to persist and proliferate, taking on several different forms in the early centuries. As we saw in my last article, the School of Alexandria, led by Origen, opened the door to gnostic ideas creeping back into Christian thought when they adopted an allegorical hermeneutic and began interpreting scripture through the lens of pagan philosophy.
And then came Augustine of Hippo, influenced not only by Origen and the Alexandrians, but also by Neoplatonic teachings, and by a particularly insidious Gnostic sect called the Manichaeans (more on them later). Augustine is still going to get his own entire article, but he not only introduced a plethora of gnostic interpretations of scripture, he got them accepted as the official position of the Catholic church – and many of them continued to be accepted by the Reformers and are upheld as sacred traditions in Mainline Protestant denominations to this day.
These gnostic-influenced doctrines include:
Amillennialism – denial of a literal, physical, earthly future Kingdom in favor of belief in a spiritual kingdom that currently resides in our hearts.
Post-millennialism / Kingdom Now theology – similar to Amillennialism, except that the Church is supposed to conquer the physical world and bring everyone on the planet to belief/enlightenment (by force if need be, per Augustine and Calvin), and then Jesus will return and reign.
The Calvinist doctrine of election – eerily similar to the gnostic “divine spark” – selective regeneration (which both precedes and enables faith) only given to a few elect souls of God’s mysterious choosing.
Replacement theology – replacing the earthly Israel with a spiritual Israel, i.e., the Church.
Gnostic thought is also evident in all of the charismatic abuses and New Age practices in the New Apostolic Reformation and Word of Faith movements, as well as in progressive Christianity, which embraces Christian gnostic mysticism and the Universal Christ Consciousness. Progressive spiritual formation isn’t about becoming more Christ-like, but it’s about becoming Christ – attaining personal godhood through knowledge and enlightenment. It’s pure Gnosticism.
This is already long, so I’ll leave off here. Next time we’ll look at how Gnosticism spread and evolved outside the Church, the forms it’s taking presently, and where I believe it’s headed in the not-very-distant future.
Below are my sources and supplemental info, so you can check my work and educate yourself.
“Gnostics: Did you know?” Christianity Today - https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-96/gnostics-did-you-know.html
“The Heresy that Wouldn’t Die” Christianity Today - https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-96/heresy-that-wouldnt-die.html
“Gnosticism” Christianity.com - https://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/timeline/1-300/gnosticism-11629621.html
“Plato and the Physical Body” Robin Mark Phillips - https://robinmarkphillips.com/plato-physical-body/
“Manichaeism: The Ancient Religion that Rivaled Christianity” Ancient Origins- https://www.ancient-origins.net/history/manichaeism-one-most-popular-religions-ancient-world-002658
Amir Tsarfati: The Illuminati and the One-World Government
Until next time,
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