Here’s another nice quick Dana Horton guest post. Enjoy:
Is Gnosticism a Thing?
(4 minute read)
What is it? Gnosticism is a collection of belief systems that arose in the 1st and 2nd century among Christian sects. In this context, it is separate from the idea of being agnostic.
What’s the main point? For the Gnostics, salvation was not about obeying specific rules and repenting for your sins. Rather, it was about finding a personal and mystical relationship with the Divine. They had a lot of other interesting and (very) detailed ideas about the creation of the universe, relationships among divinities, etc. We will not go down any of those rabbit trails, at least not this week.
Did you say these were Christian sects? Yes. But it was much less structured than the ‘mainstream’ Christian movement at the time. We can even see the influences of Judaism, Zoroastrianism (Persia), and Platonism in the Gnostic thinking.
Why haven’t we heard more about the Gnostics? The Gnostics could never get themselves organized. Which makes sense, because one of the main premises of Gnosticism is that you don’t need an organization to be one with God.
Plus the early Christian leaders were not exactly tolerant of competing belief systems. Ultimately, over dinner one night they came up with the idea to eliminate this alternative Christian movement. They did not like the idea of a direct mystical experience with the Divine. If too many people preferred that belief system, it would put the founding fathers out of business. So they used up a lot of energy, and a lot of papyrus, to criticize and ultimately destroy most of the written works of the Gnostics. Fortunately, some forward-thinking Gnostics saw this coming and buried a bunch of their texts in jars in a place called Nag Hammadi in Egypt, to be discovered in 1945.
Where was Jesus in all these discussions? Ummmmm.
But this Gnostic idea sounds a lot like the New Thought ideas of one-ness. You bet. Modern writers such as Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer could have been Gnostics back in the day. But the term Gnosticism does not roll off the tongue like New Thought, New Age, or Science of Mind.
We’re out of time. We’ll explore more of these gnostic ideas in future weeks. We’re not quite sure about some of the hierarchical structures within the spirit world that is in some of these Gnostic texts; that might be a bit much to handle. But we’ll see.
Dana Horton is from Ohio, United States and is currently (though not for much longer) working full time as Director of Energy Markets a large utility company. In August 2019, he earned his ministerial license through an organization called Centers for Spiritual Living based in Denver, Colorado. This is a New Thought organization following the principles of Ernest Holmes. He acted as interim minister at the Columbus Center for Spiritual Living and, after eight months, he decided to leave and has no interest in returning to a formal religious organization. But he enjoys investigating spiritual principles, how they originated, and how they might be applicable to everyday living. I also enjoy discovering the history of both the Old and New Testaments, and how it differs (greatly) from the traditional Christian interpretations.
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