Discussion in 'Alternative' started by Heart&Mind, Jun 29, 2014.
Every author has an agenda and edits out most which counter their agenda....nothin new here...
Such cynicism! And such a sweeping and indiscriminate condemnation is rather an extremist opinion, wouldn't you say?
I know you won't believe this, but not everyone is as self-serving as you assume us all to be.
For those who care, there is peer review – not flawless, but the best process we have. And certainly more forgiving than the assumption that everyone lies.
I will now attempt a bridging of the gap.
"Agenda". When I read all our thoughts on different subjects I think it's clear that we often react predictably according to our experiences and perspectives. It's a human factor. This could be defined as an agenda. Like wils crusade against tradition, and Thomas struggle against the secular, my refusal to take a stand on anything, and so on.
In most science we try to take the person writing a paper out of the paper, but in sociology, for example we often point out how the person can be biased and how it will effect the paper.
Agenda though have a negative connotation, implying control and manipulation. This, I don't think, is fair to assume in most cases. And I'm guessing that wasn't implied by wil.
What strikes me most about Gnosticism, as compared to Christianity, is this:
In Christianity, it is God's will that everyone comes to Him, the requirements to enter heaven are really quite minimal: Be good, love one another, be as little children ... the commentaries and writings of the Tradition affirm this again and again.
Of course the Sacraments, or Mysteries, are a given – Baptism, the Eucharist – but then initiation is a given in Gnosticism ... there's no 'self-initiation' in the latter, whilst it seems there is in the former.
But in Gnosticism, it's not about God's will, it's about the aeons, the demiurge, the fallen Sophia ... the 'gap' between God and man is absolute and infinite (cf The Gospel of Judas), whereas in Scripture God is right here.
The vast majority of humanity, the hylics, are predestined to perdition and, no matter what they do nor how hard they strive, they will never see God.
A lesser number, the psychics, have the potential to attain paradise if they are lucky enough to become disciples of a pneumatic, else they too are lost.
The pneumatic is vary rare indeed. They are infallibly predestined to paradise, and are above the law that binds the common man.
In the Gospel of Thomas, only one of the disciples – Thomas – actually attains this enlightenment. Jesus Himself is unable to open the eyes of the others.
And 'be as little children' is no good at all. One has to possess certain insights and keys of knowledge to see 'through' this world and into the next. This world is evil. Above you, there is a demiurge, a man god, who is actually working against your enlightenment.
Remember, in Scripture, the promise is given, indeed the simple people, the widow, the publican, are justified in the eyes of God. Not so in the gnostic cosmology.
In the Gospel of Thomas, there is only one – Thomas himself – the other disciples remain locked in their ignorance.
Then again, in the Gospel of Judas, only Judas comes close.
Curious how the gnostic gospels point to themselves, seem to be more involved with themselves as being the only ones to 'get it' ...
So it seems to me that if one takes the Scriptures at face value, it's quite an optimistic message. If one assumes Gnosticism, its pessimistic indeed, unless one assumes that either one is one of those one-in-a-billion pneumatics, or you've found a pneumatic guru to become the disciple of.
Then take the Essenes, the Cathars, the Bogomils – who instituted a rule far more severe than orthodoxy. Take Pelagius in his battle of self-determination v divine grace with Augustine ... if the gnostics are right, then only the most severe asceticism will do.
This post-war New Age liberalism? Not a snowball's chance in hell.
So what is the attraction of Gnosticism?
Well apart from the apparent 'fact' that one can construe it to be anything one likes, I rather think its appeal is that it's seen as anti-establisment, anti-authoritarian, anti-church.
Gnosticism is always presented as 'free thought v the constraints of orthodoxy', of 'self-determination v homage to the temple', 'spirituality v religion' ... but then with precious little evidence to assert these claims.
It's a popular image, because of the 60s zeitgeist:
The appeal of Gnosticism is summed up in that classic Brando movie, "The Wild One"
Mildred: Hey Johnny, what are you rebelling against?
Johnny: Whadda you got?
If one can construe Gnosticism to be anything one likes...
why do you construe it to be everything you dislike?
Well it seems the case that many do, that was my point. But there are those who are more concerned with it actually said, rather than what they want it to say.
Because it's such a pessimistic message.
Gnosis as such, is something else altogether, and is a 'component' of any authentic religious tradition, but the Gnosticism being discussed here, that had its heyday during the 2nd-4th centuries, sits on a really negative and dubious metaphysic.
It's this Gnosticism that the Abrahamics, the Stoics, the Platonists refuted. Everyone knows that Irenaeus tore into it as a belief system, but then so did Plotinus, as well as others who didn't have a Christian axe to grind.
I can't see its appeal, that's all. It's so elitist.
I don't see how it can't, unless the content is pure empiricism ... and perhaps even then.
But I find the assumptions that everyone is agenda driven just a tad crass. I had a Greek scholar on my course who told me he spent 90 minutes on one word in a text, trying to get to the author's meaning. That says something about an endeavour above self-serving agendas. He had to look up every instance of when the author used that word, the word in common contemporary usage, context, etc.,
Perhaps not, but then such sweeping generalisations are rather glib and pejorative, and in the case of good scholarly practice, just not true.
Cynicism?? Every author has an agenda is FACT!
And they use whatever they can to support their agenda...
Matthew Mark Luke and John....for instance....
Or you....or me.
we all have our notions and are doing our level best to defend our notions and beliefs...
nothing new here...
Someone's agenda may be to create peace in the world...
or interfaith harmony....
who says having an agenda is negative...
then you have Fox News or MSNBC.... both sides create their hyperbole to support their agenda and don't mention any evidence or discussion that would counter that.... This is oh so common in books, book reviews, letters to the editor...Religious texts, religious criticism...
How can you deny it?
I think you both hold your idea of 'agenda' to tightly to understand one another.
I think Cathar morality only mattered to their Pirs and clergy. But the others, the average Cathor would be saved wholesale by the powers of the Cathar clergy taking them in job-lots along with them. If I understood them correctly?
The gnostic may have been too clever for their own good; or too clever for someone else's evil. When offered an evil lunatic tribal god, they had not choice but to revolt against such a primitive cult for some type of higher ideal; the unknown god.
Saint Paul inadvertently got this ball rolling with his talk of 'the unknown god' which could not have been the revealed god Jehovah.
general Valentin gnosis
And I should accept your opinion as FACT, er, because it's your opinion?
You might think it's OK for an author to conflate texts and invent quotes, on the basis that everyone does ... I don't.
You choose to believe so, but in the absence of evidence, I keep an open mind on the matter.
By conflating texts, invent quotes or simply ignoring the contrary viewpoint?
Sorry pal, YES.
YOU PROVE MY POINT!
Let me explain:
OK. I'll take your word for it.
How common is it, do you think, that people falsify data, because that's what we're talking about?
Does it apply in every case, your Fox/MSNBC hyperbole and sleight-of-hand?
No, of course not. But you're telling me it's so common, we can assume so, for the sake of argument?
So you're saying (nearly) every author, every reviewer, every writer, every commentator, every critic, is no better than your Fox/NSNBC example?
That's cynicism, right there.
This seems a pretty negative opinion of the motives of those who speak or write.
Again, I keep an open mind. I think people are, by majority, honest.
I find your position too one-sided. Too narrow-minded.
Your position? Don't have to. You've made my point for me.
I am not saying they all falsify data...
I am saying they choose not to report data that doesn't fit their paradigm.
too funny...we know Matthew, Mark and Luke were written for different reasons and to different audiences... you saying we don't?
Tell me according to those books...when was the stone rolled away, how many soldiers/guards were there or not there, which women went to go check how many angels were there, what were they told??
All the stories have a different version....did they falsify data? Or were they writing for their purpose and leave other data out??
So you still don't see the error in your thinking, even when I illustrate it with your Fox/MSNBC rant?
You lack discrimination, Wil.
I'm not saying Pagels ignores data (although she does), I'm saying in this instance she falsified it.
I am not talking about, nor interested in, your straw-man 'they', whoever 'they' are.
I have enough books, sound scholarship, to know that your blanket statements evidence a cynical dismissal of those who make credible efforts to advance our understanding of the world.
Yes there is one sect of gnosticism namely Valentinianism which is monistic in its character. Gnosticism doesn't have to be inherently dualistic. Gnosticism is apparently dualistic in its character in the sense that matter is evil and Father is good. Father is real and Matter is unreal. By stating that Father is the sole reality and nothing exists apart from him certain gnostic sects are ultimately monistic in their approach so much so that you can become the Father. Father and I are one. (Gospel of John).
"People cannot see anything in the real realm unless they become it...if you have seen the spirit, you have become the spirit; if you have seen Christ, you have become Christ; if you have seen the Father, you will become the Father" (Gospel of Philip 61:20-32 cf. 67:26-27).
Demiurge is the Mediator, the law giver, the creator of the world. He is neither the Devil nor the Father.
Sophia is Wisdom, one of the lower Aeons of the Pleroma who because of her passion to know the Father caused a great unrest inside the Pleroma and this gave rise to error and ignorance and error grew dense like a fog and to correct this error this world was created. Sophia indirectly sows the spiritual seed in all of us and guides the Demiurge and uses him for her own ways which the Demiurge does not know and he thinks that he is acting alone.
"Just as the Demiurge secretly moved by Sophia thinks that he acts alone the same with human beings" (Excerpt of Theodotus).
Saint Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles was himself a gnostic so if you are a gnostic you can consider yourself to be more orthodox than Catholics or Protestants or any other Christians denominations for that matter.
It was the Sethian gnostics who said that the creator and the creation is evil but the Valentinian gnostics strongly criticized Sethians and they do not consider the creator and the creation to be evil instead they just consider it to be neutral or just. But see what the Gospel of John itself says on this topic.
15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.…(Gospel of John)
Yes it literally denies the existence of the physical world.
"Do not assume that the resurrection is an illusion, it is not an illusion in fact one ought to maintain that the world is an illusion rather than resurrection." (Treatise on Resurrection)
Yes it is true. Gnosticism and Science are mutually exclusive. They both are oil and water. They don't mix well.
According to the Sethian gnostics yes he is and according to the Valentinian gnostics he is not evil.
Gnostics have no interests in such speculations because the goal of ancient gnosticism is neither to return to heaven nor to hell but to return to Pleroma the abode of the Father.
He is one of the Aeons in the Pleroma, the Nous and was sent by the supreme Aeon of the Father. Jesus the son of God was sent by the demiurge and Christ was sent by the Holy Father. So there is salvation for both orthodox Christians as well as gnostic Christians. Gnostic Christians upon receiving gnostics redeem themselves here and now but Psychic Christians who possess blind faith and interpret the Bible literally wait for the second coming of Christ and finally they too will be allowed to enter the Pleroma.
I seriously doubt that because gnostics were emanationists and they literally believed that their myth was more real than ordinary reality. So they literally believe in the existence of the Aeons or syzgies i.e. male and female pairs.
Finally Gnostics are not anti-semitic because majority of the gnostics were Jews.
Hi Ammonius, and welcome.
Aren't all the sacred scribes?
I don't think there's such a thing as a 'gnostic religion' really, there's just different dispositions towards the received tradition. Authentic traditions caters for all tastes, gnosticism becomes a limitation when it puts itself first, as if the 'Gnostic Christian' is better or special, compared to the 'Christian'.
So I tend to reject 'Gnostic Christianity' as elitism, whereas 'Christian gnosis' is just what is.
Christian gnosis is not like 'common gnosis' – by which I mean those gnostic systems that share complex cosmologies – because Christian gnosis seeks to remove the veils that we tend to erect, and emphasises the Immanent Presence of the Divine.
It's a different order of gnosis altogether, compared to the teachings that Paul, John and Peter were confronted with. Paul warns against the 'pseudo gnosis' (cf 1 Timothy 6:20) of the world, and points to the 'gnosis of the crucifixion' (cf 1 Corinthians 1:22), which heterodox gnostic systems try and explain away.
Ooh, careful ... that does rather come across as a rather elitist viewpoint? It runs the risk of echoing the rich man and the publican syndrome (cf Luke 18).
I would say Traditional Christian gnosis (pre-Reformation) is all about caritas, it's a dynamic of meanoia-kenosis-theosis. I can't think of anything 'more gnostic' than that!
The elements of an authentic Christian gnosis I would say are the orthodox Christian Mysteries: Baptism and Eucharist, Cross and Resurrection, Incarnation and Trinity ... whereas the Gnostic Christian movements tried to make Christianity fit in their box, as it were.
Gnosticism is indeed a limitation followed by only an elected few individuals and considers others as ignoramus people. Pneumatic Christians are better than Psychic Christians and Hylics are the worst people of all. Of course we have to treat them as individual traditions like the Sethians, Valentinians, Marcosians, Ophites etc.
I think you are conflating Christian mysticism with Christian gnosticism both are two different things and both are right. St. Teresa of Avila is a good example for Christian mysticism and Valentinus is a good example for Christian gnosticism. Christian gnosticism is superior than Christian mysticism. Gnostic Christianity is indeed elitism.
I am sorry, the Pastoral epistles, Philemon and Thessalonians are all fake letters in the name of Saint Paul and the original gnostics did not cited them as authentic works of Saint Paul. The orthodox church Fathers wrote those books fearing the growing rise of gnosticism in and around them. Computer studies, works of Elaine Pagels, S.E Porter and quite a few other scholars know that Pastoral epistles are fake letters in the name of Saint Paul and it served only one goal to suppress gnosticism. There are countless literature out there on this issue you can refer to them.
"Valentinians were the great Paulinists" - Einar Thomassen
Valentinians knew about a second Baptism and there is the holy of the holiest, the Bridal Chamber which the orthodox church didn't knew and Valentinians also truly received the apostolic tradition from Saint Paul. Therefore gnostic Christians are more orthodox than Catholics or Protestants or Mormons or any other denominations for that matter.
Well that's rather a telling point, isn't it? It's spiritual elitism.
This has dogged esotericism down through history. Once again, every tradition comprises the esoteric and the exoteric in a harmony. Once one tires to extrapolate the esoteric alone, then you're left with nothing but egoism.
Exactly. Sheer nonsense, sheer arrogance. Who decides who is who? The self-styled pneumatics, of course, who sit in judgement on everyone else. How do they know? Easy: If your audience adores you, they are psychics, if they don't, they're hylics.
It's utterly contra-Christian. Scripture is replete with examples of those whom the elite would write off as hylic as being 'justified' by God – the widow, the publican, the tax collector ... I'm sure the sacra doctrina of the other Traditions tells the same story.
No, I am saying more than that.
'Christian mysticism' and 'Christian gnosticism' is a tautology. To qualify Christianity with 'mysticism' or 'gnosticism' as something other than Christianity-as-such is an error, although an understandable one. American Christianity seems to be just secular Christianity – a romantic humanism by which a 'mystery religion' is stripped of its 'mystery'!
But the point is, how can a religion not be 'mystical', or 'gnostic'?
The distinction is artificial and usually judgemental. People qualify themselves as a 'Christian mystic' or a 'Christian gnostic' to distance themselves from your average Christian, whom they usually describe in quite pejorative terms.
Yes, I suppose, in context, one could say that. Teresa's insights and inspiration, her theology and psychology far outstrips Valentinus!
LOL! Actually it's the other way round.
Yes it is. And it panders to the 'conspiracy theorist' in us all.
No need to apologise, we all know that. Philemon and 1 Thessalonians are widely regarded as authentic, btw, but we know the Pastorals as not from Paul's own hand. It seem to be a bigger stumbling block for you than for us.
Ah, you're prejudices are showing! The Pauline Corpus was written before the Age of the Fathers, so the above claim is somewhat anachronistic and inaccurate.
I would rather say the pseudo-Pauline letters were written around the time the Church was organising itself to cope with its expansion, and certainly with a view to combatting 'gnostic' interpretations of the Christian mysteries, which is understandable. But were they written by 'the orthodox church Fathers'? I don't think so, that infers a later date. Orthodoxy was taking shape when these letters were written.
The Hymn of Colossians, for example, is a profound theological commentary of 'Christian gnosis' as opposed to 'Gnostic Christian' doctrines. It's also assumed to be a hymn sung in the early Liturgies. Is it from Paul? Probably not. I like to think not. Like the Letter to the Hebrews, I like to think Paul was not the only one with some theological insight. Does it matter? Not really. It's the content that counts.
D'you not think it reasonable that the Church preserve itself from error?
Every Gnostic claimed to be in possession of 'secrets' imparted by Christ to him and him alone. Christ seems to have tricked a number of Gnostics into believing they alone had these keys
But then, these 'secret keys' and rites and initiations were the Gnostic's USP. Without them, they've got nothing, really ...
According to Valentinus. From Theudas, but then we have no evidence to suggest that Theudas ever existed And if he did, we have not the least idea of whether he was a good Pauline student, or a complete numbskull! Certainly Paul never endorsed him to anyone ...
So that is a really dodgy thesis ... I wouldn't risk it.
Nah. Only if you have absolute faith in Theudas ... which I don't.
But here's the point:
What did Valentinus teach?
Not the usual stuff, common to mystical speculation generally, but the 'secret apostolic teaching' he's supposed to have received from Paul?
We have not the feintest idea.
None of his writings are extant except those quoted by his critics who refute his teachings, therefore it's unlikely they would transmit anything 'useful'. And his followers modified his teachings to make them their own, as is common among Gnostics, where it's almost de rigueur to alter a received doctrine to make it your own, so we're on no better ground there
So you're left hanging, really ... the distortions of Valentinus' teaching could be greater than any distortion of the orthodox, in fact it's more likely, as the orthodox was subject to more checks and balances.
Really, I would have thought anyone who thinks they're following an authentic Gnostic teaching today is pursuing a chimera.
All you've got is generalisms, the filtering of Christian ideas through Platonism or some other branch of speculative thinking.
There's no way in the world one can argue that it's authentically Christian.
Secret knowledge indeed exists and Western Esotericism is slowly entering the academia with the efforts of Wouter Hannegraff and others. Do you know what Gospel of Philip says?
"Knowledge of the truth merely makes such people arrogant, which is what the words, "it makes them free" mean. It even gives them a sense of superiority over the whole world. But "Love builds up" (1 Co 8:1). In fact, he who is really free, through knowledge, is a slave, because of love for those who have not yet been able to attain to the freedom of knowledge. Knowledge makes them capable of becoming free."
- Gospel of Philip
Yes gnostics are extremely arrogant but they are also one of the most kind-hearted persons in the world. Kindly show me a gnostic persecuting anyone, in fact gnostics through out history have faced consistent persecutions from the orthodox church and by other established religions. Such persecutions and bigotry will not happen in future if it happens we will not reply in kind towards the orthodox church.
Not really, the doctrines of gnostics are openly available to anyone who have interests in them. Gnostics loved magic and rituals and the methodology for those rituals are openly available to all those who have done deep research in them and gnosticism is always an individualistic religion, we have no interests in proselytizing other people to our religion, we have no interests in establishing a church, in fact we do not like mass worship at all. What connects us is our gnostic visionary experiences and nothing else. Anyone can experience it on their own, one is free to do it or not. Its quite amazing how gnosticism has survived for millennium of years despite its not organized and faced so much suppression from orthodox religions.
No, hylics are materialists who loved matter and did not believed in Christ, mainly atheists, secular humanists, apostates all fall into that category. The widow, the publican, the tax collector are not hylics.
Christianity is indeed a mystery religion but fundamentalist Christians having interpreted their scriptures too literally have stripped off its mystery and in order to distance themselves from such Christians the label Gnostic Christians are applied to those people who interpret the scriptures allegorically rather than literally.
A religion is both mystical and gnostic but not its followers and that's the point.
Its not artificial or judgemental they distance themselves because they have genuine doctrinal differences with each other. For example orthodox Christians believe in bodily resurrection while Valentinian Christians believe only in spiritual resurrection.
Valentinus is called as the gnostic for all seasons and Teresa of Avila is an infant compared to the knowledge of the giant Valentinus whose school flourished worldwide and still does.
Not really, get ready to drop Gospel of John and the genuine Pauline Epistles from the Biblican canon of the Catholic church because these books is more in light with gnosticism than with the orthodox church. The truth is out there for anyone who does more research and slowly the church will lose new visitors and its already happening worldwide.
No, Gnosticism is supported by scholarly evidence, scriptural evidence and also by empirical evidence. No need to be a conspiracy theorist, all one has to do is offer good arguments, the evidence is out there for anyone to see it.
So you openly accept that your church fathers manipulated scriptures for their own selfish reasons and you are quite proud of it? Isn't it? Saint Paul was never against gnosticism in fact the irony is he was the sole initiator into the mysteries of gnosis.
Both Colossians and the letters to Hebrew are from Saint Paul and when one studies his letters in the original language it was written which is Greek then one easily finds that Colossians is full of references to gnosticism.
Perhaps its time to do some self introspection for the Church and consider herself to be in error. The only thing the church did right was including Gospel of John and the authentic Pauline Epistles in its biblical canon. Which is enough for gnosticism to raise again.
Jesus said, "Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find. When they find, they will be disturbed. When they are disturbed, they will marvel, and will reign over all. [And after they have reigned they will rest.]" (Gospel of Thomas)
Christ taught us to seek. He said seek until you find. Gnostic were the ones who sought and found gnosis and redeemed themselves. The others remained as ignoramus because they did not understood what the Savior was saying to them because their hearts were too psychic in nature, for they failed to understand the esoteric teachings of the post-resurrected Christ.
The work of Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Paul and Spiritual Seed: The Church of the Valentinians by Einar Thomassen slams orthodox church straight out. The orthodox Church has got nothing to be apologetic now because it has been proved beyond doubt that St. Paul was a gnostic. In fact many serious Christians are asking the question can St. Paul be trusted? So the best place where the Pauline Epistles should exist is in the Gnostic Bible not in the New Testament.
Christ and the gnostic Saint Paul together can take Christianity to the far reaches of the world and can make Christianity live forever. Valentinus did not invented anything new he exposed what was already codified by Saint Paul in his letters in a quite elegant and in an apostolic traditional manner. The truth is in the Pauline letters we don't have to go anywhere for it.
Ptolemy, in his letter to Flora which is truly a gem and one of the beautiful gnostic works says to Flora that "We too have received a genuine apostolic tradition".
I do. I don't rate it.
Definition of Arrogance:
"The offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride."
haughtiness, conceit, hubris, self-importance, egotism, sense of superiority; pomposity, high-handedness, swagger, boasting, bumptiousness, bluster ...
Arrogance is a vice, not a virtue.
Oh, good grief ...
Well there's a thing!
Here's a Catholic saying that Hebrews and Colossians were not written by Paul, and a gnostic saying they were! Who'd have thought that!
You do know it's said that John refused to share the same airspace as Cerinthus, an early gnostic, and that the Johannine Epistles were expressly written to refute his dualist teachings, and, by the way, the teachings contained in the Gospel of Philip?
The idea that man is above sin is typical of Gnostic arrogance.
We know that pride is the greatest sin.
15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.…(Gospel of John)
27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.…(Romans 3)
We have no authority to boast anything about ourselves. Your false portraying of all gnostics as being arrogant is not true at all.
The first commentary on the Gospel of John was written by a Valentinian gnostic named Heracleon. Many of the verses in the Gospel of John were added later to refute the gnostics.
"Gnosis (knowledge) of the Father removes the power of sin. Those who have gnosis (knowledge) are theoretically free of sin. The Gospel of Philip says "The one who has knowledge is a free person. But the free person does not sin, for the one who sins is a slave of sin " (Gospel of Philip 77:15-18 cf.. John 8:34). Spiritual people by definition do not sin. Through knowledge they die with regard to sin and are raised up again with Christ (Excepts of Theodotus 77:1). Gnosis (knowledge) eliminates their inner demons and gives them a "pure heart" which allows them to lead a sinless existence (Valentinus Fragment 2/H). "
Its our doctrine because we place the Fall with 'Fall of Sophia' not with 'Fall of Adam'. We reject the whole concept of original sin.
Separate names with a comma.