Quote for the Day

Monotheism believes that in the end all shall be well and all riddles will be solved. For this we need that patience or tolerance which will save our lives. Agnosticism lacks such endurance and is concerned with our concrete situation without eschatological promises (hallucinations or mirages). God may know all, but we are not God and certainly do not know all, not even in the most elementary things. We have to confess ourselves a-gnostics because we do not have the divine gnosis, the knowledge … [Read more...]

Concerning Gnosis and Gnosticism

Yesterday I made the following off-the-cuff remark in a comment to my post Theosis and Kenosis: It’s less about knowing who we are (that’s the error of gnosticism) and more about simply a way of being, a way of doing life. And in reply, a reader named Tomasis left a simple frowning (sad) emoticon:  :-(   To this, I replied, I don’t know if it’s ever possible to affirm what one believes without sooner or later saying something that will elicit a “frowning face” from those who walk a different path … [Read more...]

Holy Agnosis

Something that I keep mulling over is the relationship between gnosticism and agnosticism and how both of these categories relate to contemporary Christian mysticism and Christian spiritual practice.We know that Gnosticism was the first great Christian "heresy." But we also know that early mystics like Clement of Alexandria and Origen spoke of a holy gnosis as an essential part of the Christian experience. In our day, Christian wisdom teachers like Cynthia Bourgeault and the late Valentin … [Read more...]

Mysticism and Gnosis

The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that there is an essential difference between mysticism and gnosis.On the surface, both deal with the phenomenology of spiritual experience — direct encounter with the Divine Other, and/or the experience of Union with the Divine. But then there seems to be an essential ingredient that differentiates mysticism from gnosis, or vice versa.Gnostic spirituality seems to imply that direct personal experience always trumps the received wisdom t … [Read more...]

Redeeming Gnosis

Can gnosis be redeemed?Today I began reading Richard Smoley's Forbidden Faith: The Secret History of Gnosticism. Right away he sets up a tension that I don't buy into: a conflict between the gnostics — those who have direct mystical experience — and the religionists, those who are the custodians of doctrine and dogma and therefore tend to be suspicious of gnosis. Oh, I suppose it's a fair assessment of a real tension between those at the center of religious power, and those whose "power" (i. … [Read more...]