Birth as the “moral fault line of our time”

Birth Born Newborn Baby Child Healthy Baby InfantChristmas is about birth, Kevin Williamson reminds us, which is what reminds us most of our physicality.  No wonder, he says, birth is also “the great political and moral fault line of our time.”

Consider all of the moral issues that have to do with birth, whether preventing it or negating it:  abortion, sex outside of marriage, pornography, today’s much vaunted fantasy of sex with robots.  Consider the political and ideological issues:  fears of overpopulation, health care, feminism, child poverty, education problems, child-raising controversies, embryonic stem cell research, reproductive engineering, adoption, divorce, marriage, family values.

Williamson says that our confused attitudes about birth tie into our confused attitudes about the body.  One can see in his examples the current gnostic revival, which denies the spiritual significance of the physical realm (as in being “spiritual but not religious”) and rejects the body (as in transgenderism and in the transhuman dream of downloading our minds into the internet so that we don’t need our bodies anymore).

Against the gnostic worldview, we have the Nativity–the conception, birth, and infancy of God Himself as a physical, embodied human being–and the Holy Family.
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Now that men can become pregnant. . .

A_TransGender-Symbol_Plain2Now that gender has been disassociated from biology and is a matter of personal self-identification, a man can become pregnant.  (That is, someone born with female organs but who self-identifies as a man has to be considered as a man.  If “he” hasn’t had sex-reassignment surgery and has sex with a biological man–I suppose we would have to call “him” gay–then “he” could have a baby.)

Carl Trueman studies a military manual instructing officers how to handle transgender issues, including a male soldier who gets pregnant.

So the body is thought to have nothing to do with gender, with sex, with parenting, with personal identity.  Now Gnosticism has become our new civil religion.

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“Spiritual Communion”?

According to Roman Catholicism, you can receive “spiritual communion” even when you don’t take actual, physical communion.  That is, if you desire to receive the sacrament, that is almost as good as actually receiving it.  I learned this seeming bit of Gnosticism from a post by Nicholas Frankovich as part of the discussion about whether or not divorced and remarried Catholics should be allowed to receive the Sacrament.

Note too, in the excerpt after the jump, that whereas Lutherans believe that the Body and Blood of Christ are given and received specifically for the forgiveness of sins, Roman Catholics believe that sinners must not receive them.  More evidence that Lutherans actually have a higher view of the Sacraments than Catholics do! [Read more…]

Noah, the Kabbalah, and Gnosticism

If you’ve seen the movie Noah, you might have wondered about where the filmmaker is getting all of that extra-biblical stuff.  Adam and Eve as beings of light?  The angels imprisoned in matter?  Blessings from the skin of the serpent in the garden?  Brian Mattson shows that all of this and more–down to the names of the angels and jargon such as “Zohar”–comes from the Jewish gnosticism of the Kabbalah.

The use of the Kabbalah and gnostic texts is so blatant that Dr. Mattson asks how all of the Christian leaders who endorsed the movie could have missed it.  He calls on all seminaries to require their graduates to have read Irenaeus’ Against Heresies, since we are, in effect, he says, back to the 2nd century. [Read more…]

Non-biological bodies & digital immortality

The director of engineering at Google, Ray Kurzweil–who has written a couple of books on these subjects– told a conference that in about 30 years, we will be able to download our minds into the internet to achieve “digital immortality.”  We will also be able to dispense with our physical bodies in favor of “non-biological bodies.”

Think of these goals as the promises of a new religion for our day.  Note the gnosticism, that ancient but always recurring heresy that denigrates the body and the material creation.  No families would be needed, since there would be no need for reproduction.  This would seem to herald the end of sex, though perhaps it would simply be the next step in internet pornography replacing sex.  (Though what would be the locus of desire without bodies?)  Getting rid of biological bodies, of course, would mean killing them, so this opens the door to mass murders, but that would be all right since people’s “minds”–which is the only part that counts–would be downloaded into Google’s servers.  Not much privacy there, but we could access everyone else’s minds, which would be the new version of human relationships, replacing such retro concepts as love and community.

What else?  (After the jump, details from Kurzweil’s sermon to the futurist conference.) [Read more…]

The "Jesus' wife" fragment is from the internet?

One of my favorite courses in grad school was “Bibliography and Methods,” in which we learned about the scholarship of studying manuscripts, variant texts, printing evidence, textual editing, and other kinds of hard-core old-school literary research.  One of the things you can do with this knowledge is detect forgeries.

Scholars have found that the much-hyped manuscript fragment that refers to Jesus having a wife consists basically of phrases from the already-known gnostic text known as the Gospel of Thomas.  Not only that, it replicates a mistake in the transcription that is found only in a version posted on the internet!

See Gospel of Jesus’ Wife: Forgery Confirmed? » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog.