Gnostic Wisdom in New Testament

Over two thousand years ago the symbolism and mythology of several Pagan mystery sects were beginning to fragment while a multifaceted group was developing diverse interpretations which became lumped under the identity as “Gnostic”—from Greek gnostikos, “man of knowledge.”  The movement spread largely through men of culture who sought the secret of higher life.  Unfortunately, lofty thought became entangled with crude mythology and then floundered in mysticism.

Gnosticism was, for the most part, centered on the highest ethics.  To understand Gnostic thought, their concept of ethics was perceived from an amoral perspective.  Remember, amoral does not mean immoral: it is non-judgmental acceptance.  This is difficult for modern religionists to comprehend since standard religious instruction is to uncompromisingly classify things as good/sinful and black/white—with no shades of gray being allowed for consideration.  Unlike rigid religionism, Gnostics recognized that diverse energies found throughout the universe serve as the generative action responsible for all things in Creation.  For this reason the Gnostics regarded what we know as the Old Testament to be the shameful account of Jehovah’s crimes against humanity.  Yahweh/Jehovah was not accepted by them as the true God or the active Source, but as the identity of a demiurge—an energy involvement that fashioned the material world.  Such Pentateuch/Old Testament characters as Abraham, Moses and the like were consequently regarded as the henchmen of Jehovah who had been dedicated to misdirecting the souls of humans into matter and ignorance.

Since the original purpose of the early Christian literature was composed in Rome in the attempt to soften Jewish spiritual arrogance, the new cultists played down the Gnostic attitude to prevent a too strong direct offence to Jews.  Nonetheless, Gnostic influence was cautiously scattered throughout the New Testament.  Although Christianity owes  many planks of its formation and doctrines to Gnosticism, pure Gnosticism itself also represented one of the most challenging threats to the new Christian movement.  Specifically, it denied the keystone upon which the aspiring priestly hierarchy sought to establish itself.  If, as the Gnostics claimed, evil had existed in Creation from the beginning then Adam, meaning mankind, could not possibly have fallen and neither he nor Eve had chosen to disobey God in Eden.  It then followed that Jesus could not possibly be presented by the priesthood as God’s token of forgiveness for humankind’s entanglement with that inescapable condition.

There is a remarkable verse in the New Testament (Matthew 16:23, revised c. 75 CE) that pretty much states what is wrong with all hard-line and fundamentalist organized religions.  Jesus is portrayed as speaking to Simon Peter, saying, “…thou art an offence unto me: for you savor not the things that be of  God, but those that be  of men.”  The real kicker in this scene is that this reproach of Peter comes after verse 19, or immediately after Peter had been given the keys of the kingdom of heaven!  The implication is that the church that he is to establish is intended to be the challenger of the infinite creative powers that are personified as “God.”  There is profound Gnostic wisdom hidden here.

The reason for this rebuke of Peter by Jesus is that Peter stands as the representative of the continuity in matter-existence that resists the necessity of its own transformation.  Thus Jesus utters the accusation that Peter savours those thing that be of men.  What is illustrated with this peculiar scene is that the confinement of consciousness in our physical-matter forms is what traumatizes the human ego, for it is ego that is obsessed with material identity and wishes to dam the natural flow that we interpret as life/death.

Mankind has lost sight of the soul-saving truth that religion is made for man: man is not made for any particular religion.

Knowing this, we are justified in saying to hard-line and hierarchical style religions, just as Jesus is alleged to have said to Peter, “Get the behind me Satan: you are an offence to me.”

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One Response to “Gnostic Wisdom in New Testament”

  1. I’m trolling the net drumming up interest for my novel in progress, The Acts of Simon Magus, and you looked like someone who may find it of interest. It’s an epic historical fantasy from the point of view of Christianity’s greatest enemy, the original Gnostic AntiChrist, examining the events and characters responsible for the rise of Christianity and its consequences for the world. Here is a draft for my upcoming Indiegogo campaign, including video and link to some readings. All comments and suggestions welcome!

    http://simonmagus.com/indiegogo http://simonmagus.com/readings-2

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