Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Modern-Day Gnosticism

I feel like I posted this already, but I can't find it and it comes to mind again, so here goes.  This comes from a review by John Seel at Cardus:

What is Gnosticism for the layperson? It's a way of thinking that presents an alternative vision of the human problem and its solution. Creation and fall, according to the Gnostics, were the same event, which is a way of saying that our true state of grace was a kind of spiritual preexistence. Created reality is bad, part of the problem. We are condemned to spend our exile in creation—physicality is a tomb. Liberation is achieved by acquiring esoteric or secret knowledge, otherwise longing for a world of pure mind and pure spirit. As in the thought of Plato and Descartes, the nonphysical self, whether the spiritual self or the thinking self, is the most real. It denies the embodied self, the good creation, the Incarnation, and the bodily resurrection in favour of a disembodied spirituality, connecting my divine spark with the cosmic spirit. Yet, as C.S. Lewis concludes, "God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature. That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us. We may think this rather crude and unspiritual. God does not: He invented eating. He likes matter. He invented it."

Gnosticism is more common than many people think (Seel's point) and I hear it when I hear ministers say things like "God cares about the world but what he really wants to do is change people's hearts" or "the Bible teaches that both heaven and earth will be found in the post-return-of-Christ future, so we should be concerned with Christ now and can enjoy earth after his return."


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