True Gnosticism

As with any other resilient heretical or erroneous doctrine, there is a kernel of truth at the heart of Gnosticism: namely, that if you are *merely* worldly, then the world is indeed truly evil, and with it the whole of our existence in it. By itself the world cannot but redound to its own corruption and eventual certain dissolution, rendering all creaturely suffering endured along the way completely pointless, base, and stupid. Mere worldliness is no more than ugly death.

The world and our life in it can be good only insofar as we approach it sub specie aeternitatis. In the world, but not of it; that’s the ticket.

So anyone who enjoys life partakes willy nilly of its divine archetype, no matter what doctrines he ostends, or intends. Glad hearts cannot be nihilist, despite their protestations to the contrary. But some there be who are so determined upon their philosophy as to gut all their enjoyments and evacuate all mundane meanings. Such are philosophical Gnostics.

The whole effort of the Gnostic is to climb up out of his own mere finity into infinity, so as to heal the ugly breach in his own being. This he tries to do under his own steam, either by rising up the Great Chain of Being from strength to strength, or else by eliminating his own being one way or another. The former method cannot work, for finity is inadequate to infinity by definition. So generally Gnostics sooner or later settle upon nihilism and the elimination of the self and its inherently limited and thus in so far forth delusory notions.

There is another way, which is the genius of Christianity: to invite God into the created order – or rather, to remember that he is there to begin with, its source and end – and specifically into the Christian gnostic’s own heart, there to take up kingship and reign. Only infinity is adequate to itself; indeed, only infinity is adequate even to finity. So only by means of Incarnation can the rottenness of the created order be redeemed, and made worthy. Only then by means of participation in that Incarnation may the gnostic himself be redeemed and healed of his disease, so that he may then turn and simply enjoy life as he was originally meant to do before creatures got themselves busy with the creation, and so ruined it.

10 thoughts on “True Gnosticism

  1. Pingback: True Gnosticism | Neoreactive

  2. Pingback: True Gnosticism | Reaction Times

  3. Gnosticism trades on resentment and narcissism. Not only does no one like to feel inferior; no one likes to feel “the same as everyone else” – because there is no distinction in it. Indeed, people tend to resent superiority and to despise mediocrity because they fear that they belong to it. Gnosticism offers an easy solution to the fear of inadequacy. In its way it is childish. It is the equivalent, in weird myths that require endless, minute inspection in order to grasp, and in rituals of phony initiation the tedium of which only the fanatically assiduous can endure, of a secret decoder ring and a password to the Cereal Eater’s League. The Gnostic believes that he can take a short-cut through reality.

    Mastering a weird myth – like learning the ins and outs of Scientology – probably indicates a rudimentary intelligence, but that intelligence wastes itself in a pursuit of the grounds for self-adulation.

    A good example of the unformed, pubescent character of much of Gnosticism is any Tom Cruise movie.

  4. Gnosticism is a vague term in that it is more of an umbrella term. The standard brand objection to gnosticism is its “dualism”. But under that criteria , one could place Platonism under that tent just as easily as the teachings of Valentinus. In fact, some metaphysicians would place all theistic systems under the “dualist” heading.

    • The chief Gnostic trait is not dualism; it is “anti-Cosmicism” or just plain old Nihilism. Gnosticism is hatred of existence and the ferocious desire to abolish existence.

  5. Gnostic beliefs are interesting, but I think we can learn more from Gnostic behavior. After all, their beliefs are false but their behavior works. The most persistent characteristic of their behavior, so far as I can see, is appropriation and reinterpretation of the symbols of other religions. In this way Gnostics take control of the institutions, resources and followers of other faiths without the trouble of building their own institutions, amassing their own resources, or attracting their own followers. They are the cuckoo birds of the religious world, and if you look around the Christian churches you will see plenty of Christians cosseting Gnostic eggs.

  6. Pingback: A Brief History of Gnosticism | Σ Frame

  7. Pingback: The Religion of Gnosticism | Σ Frame

  8. Pingback: 10 Defining Traits of Gnosticism | Σ Frame


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