Archive for Gnosticism

Gnostic Wisdom in New Testament

Posted in agnoticism, Atheism, Atheist, belief, Bible, Christianity, ecology, faith, freethought, humanity, life, prehistory, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 16, 2010 by chouck017894

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.”

“Born in Sin”

Posted in Atheism, Atheist, Christianity, history, life, random, religion with tags , , , , , , on July 10, 2009 by chouck017894

From the depths of antiquity the great no escape clause dreamed up by pretenders of religious knowledge has been that all life is “born in sin.”  The selling of “sin” has been a major part of Christian doctrine, with sexual magnetism cast as an especial reason for heaven’s rejection of one’s personal expression.

In life forms, including the human species, there are amoral elements encoded and blended in DNA and RNA that establish the physical sensory patterns.  These senses are not the evil or accursed condition of “inherited sin” that western religions have chosen to portray them.  The sensate nature imprinted in life forms is simply a part of the physical attributes by which material-energy conditions are confronted, experienced and qualified by individual awareness.

Life is energized out of amoral properties and is therefore guiltless when an energy-form identity is taken on, which means that life forms cannot be “born in sin.”  This is not to say that life cannot be born into conditions considered sinful.  There is irony in this, for a higher percentage of sinful conditions are most often directly linked to the intimidating interpretations that are inflicted from man-conceived and self-serving religious practices, not to the amoral elements encoded in the pattern of one’s biological nature.

Christianity owes its concepts of “born in sin” or “inherited sin” from the befuddled “saint” Augustine (354-430), who just happened to have converted to the Christian movement from the Gnostic sect Manicheanism that taught the concept of “original sin.”  Gnosticism regarded all things of the flesh as sinful, which is why they denied that god’s son and savior of man would have come in the flesh.  As all converts to any faith system tend to be, Augustine was adamant in his analysis of what constituted holy truth and fervently promoted the idea that man’s salvation from being born in sin could be achieved only through the grace of god.  This stance meant that free will could not be a factor in one’s salvation–a doctrinal arrangement that positioned the church as the only authority through which one could recieve god’s forgiveness and pardon. 

Augustine’s driving ambition to impose his interpretation upon the Christian corporate-style setup did not go unquestioned.  To a British monk named Pelagius (353-420?-430?), the idea that one was tainted with sin from birth did not match the declared efficacious grace of the maker.  It was a sane understanding that sin is not an infirmity of nature.  Pelagius taught that each person was born with free will, and asserted that man’s will is capable of spiritual good with divine aid being unnecessary.  Pelagius taught that every child is born in a state of innocence and that every person’s perseverance in virtue depends upon themselves.  This understanding, however, allowed the church too little power over each person’s life and thus threatened to cut into their potential material profits.

And so “saint” Augustine attempted vigorously to have Pelagius condemned by the church, but was for awhile unsuccessful.  This only added to Augustine’s divine detestation and he called upon political connections to persecute Pelagius—for god’s sake, of course.  Thus at several synods held between 412 and 418 Augustine managed to have Pelagius condemned and finally banished from Rome.  In 431, after Pelagius had died and could no longer defend himself, the Council of Ephesus confirmed the condemnation of  Pelagius.  With the chains of sin then firmly attached to man’s means of birth the church claimed itself to be the only means of a person being absolved of sin.

Keep ’em Dumbed Down

Posted in Atheist, Bible, Christianity, culture, enlightenment, history, humanism, life, logic, nontheism, prehistory, random, religion, science, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2009 by chouck017894

Knowledge or expanding one’s intelligence was not exactly a high priority in the early Christian movement. The pursuit of gnosis (Greek, meaning knowledge) was actually regarded as heretical by the early shapers of church thought such as Irenaeus, Hippolytus, and others. The pursuit of knowledge was regarded as a threat to the fledgling sect because those who sincerely wanted to know how the seen and the unseen interact would always ask too many unanswerable questions. This trait to seek out rational explantions is what is referred to in the book 1 Timothy 6:29 (written c. 103-105 CE) as “falsely called knowledge.”

This approach was introduced into the emerging movement’s literature with the character of Paul (c. 84-90 CE) who is presented as seeking to reach and shape adherents from the throngs of common people, i.e. the lesser educated masses. If one doubts that the struggling movement that was to become Christianity sought to keep people in ignorance look more closely at the New Testament for enlightenment. Matthew 10:16 (written c. 70-75 CE) equates wisdom with evil! Matthew 10:19 and Mark 13:11 (revised c. 70-80 CE) instruct persons not to study a problem but to pray and ask for divine guidance. In 1 Corinthians 3:15 (written c. 94-100 CE) it is declared that wisdom is foolishness! And the Roman mindset is disclosed in 2 Corinthians 10:5 (c. 100-105 CE) stating that every thought must be a slave of god—meaning that the church would do the thinking for each person. And because confession was regarded as good for the soul, it is admitted in 1 Corinthians 1:18 and in 2:16 that Christianity was directed to the ignorant, not to the learned and wise.

Wisdom and the quest for wisdom was regarded by the early church “fathers” as a menace, and later theologians captivated by this aversion to seeking genuine wisdom sought to rewrite history by declaring that pre-Christian Gnosticism had attached itself to Christianity like a parasite and drew sustenance from the narrow tenets of the movement! The Gnostics may have early-on expected the young movement to embrace a more rational system of belief, but they refused to knuckle under to what the Gnostics rightfully perceived as being the perversion of supernaturalism that was being marketed as “Gospel.”

Gnosticism sought to reconcile different beliefs through rational study using such interests as Greek philosophy, Jewish cabalistic mysticism, Babylonian mythology, Mithraism, and Persian dualism as inspiration. The Gnostics believed salvation was made attainable by resisting the temptations of the material world that such beliefs encouraged; the Christians and Jews, on the other hand, kept their tight focus on the material advantages harvested in life even as they condemned them.

There are few devoted Christians today who recognize the influence that Gnosticism had on Christian writings, for the church brought all its might to bear to eradicate Gnosticism as a “hated doctrine.” But the “fathers” were unknowingly outmaneuvered—and that is shown in the material presented as the book of Revelation (written c. 135-138 CE), which is a reworking of ancient Gnosis once taught by Pagan mystics. Certainly by c. 135 CE.  the character of Jesus had undergone dramatic psychological changes from the earlier portrayal of him as a gentle teacher, and in the final installment of the NT, Jesus acts more like  the son of the Demiurge who in an orgiastic frenzy passes judgment upon a ravaged world to bring his followers back to materialism (new Earth, new Jerusalem, etc) and his dictatorial order.