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Gnosticism and Gnostic Belief

John Baugh
August, 2008

·        Gnostics believed that they had a secret knowledge (gnosis) about God, humans and the universe that most of creation does not have. 

·        Gnostics believed that all matter was imperfect (evil, sinful).  This imperfect matter existed before creation.

·        The perfect God could not co-exist with imperfection.

·        Since God could not exist alongside imperfection, he could not (would not) have worked with imperfect matter to create the universe.

·        Therefore, in order to deal with matter and creation, God created multiple intermediate beings, called Aeons, between himself and matter, with each intermediate being further separated from God, with less perfection and less knowledge of God himself.

·        The final intermediate that created the universe was so far from God that the Aeon was actually evil and therefore creation was evil. Gnostics believed that the god of Genesis was this evil god. They believed that the God of the New Testament was the true God.

·        Gnostics believed that humans are made up of two parts, the physical (matter) which was flawed or imperfect, and the spiritual part, which still contained a “fragment of the divine essence”. They believed that most of mankind was ignorant of this divine essence, their true spiritual destiny and remained slaved to the flawed intermediate, who created the flawed world.

·        The intermediate desired to keep mankind ignorant of this “divine essence”.

·        A few, who gained Gnosis before death, would have had their divine spark liberated (liberating Gnosis) to be with the true God in Spiritual Paradise.

·        Gnostics did not believe in Resurrection of the body, only the spirit.

·        They believed that knowledge (gnosis) was required to free the spirit, and that not all would achieve that gnosis.

·        They believed and placed great emphasis on genealogy.

·        Gnostic beliefs combined elements from Hellenistic, Asian, Babylonian, Egyptian Greek and Syrian pagan religions, with astrology, Judaism and Christianity. 

·        Ancient Gnostic writings included:

The Gospel of Thomas

The Secret Gospel of James

The Gospel of Mary

The Gospel of Jude

Acts of Peter

Acts of Thomas

·        The influence of Gnostic thought was a great problem for the early Christian church. Both Paul and John wrote against the influence of Gnosticism in their letters to early Christian Churches. Paul considered Gnosticism to be a Heresy. Portions of Paul’s letters to Timothy Titus and Possibly all of Jude contain warnings about the influence of Gnostics and Gnosticism in the early Christian Church.

·        Modern Religions with Gnostic Influence include The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or Mormonism.

 

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