Friday, February 21, 2014

Church History: The Heretics-Part 1- The Gnostics

  Even  before the close of the New Testament, heresies began to  crop up in the young church.  Both Paul and  John wrote of the growth of these harmful philosophies and the threat they posed to Biblical  Christianity. Here we will cover, one by one, 5 major heresies that showed up in the first 400 years of Christianity, and how some of these ideas  are still around today.

Gnosticism is as old as the Garden of Eden. At its heart is the idea that man learns about life, death, salvation, etc not  from the word of God, but from his own experiences and  education. In Gnosticism, the Bible isn’t the final authority, it’s just one of many sources of information by which a man  learns about reality.  This is of course contrary  to the word of God which points to God himself, and his words as the source of all knowledge, and wisdom and light.

  Gnostic schools, which had their  heyday in the  early Roman Empire, had a structure by which a  student was brought into higher and  higher levels of knowledge.  “Truth” could  only be taught  by a  Gnostic of a higher level who would guide his pupil “into the light”. 
This sort of  thing still shows up in Freemasonry teaching.

  Having rejected God’s light, the Gnostics came up with some  amazingly foolish ideas on their own.
“In the Gnostic view, there is a true, ultimate and transcendent God, who is beyond all created universes and who never created anything …..” 

“One of the beings who bears the name Sophia (“Wisdom”)… came to emanate from her own being a flawed consciousness, a being who became the creator of the material and psychic cosmos, all of which he created in the image of his own flaw. This being, unaware of his origins, imagined himself to be the ultimate and absolute God..“

  Gnostics teach that most  of mankind lives, unaware of their dual nature ( physical and spiritual), and that enlightened people (like themselves) have to teach man so that man can  ascend.  Some Gnostics taught that by denying the physical ( scourging, fasting, etc)  you could make yourself more aware of the spiritual and free yourself. This philosophy survives in Hinduism, and most reincarnation religions as well as in certain parts of Roman Catholicism

“Gnostics do not look to salvation from sin (original or other), but rather from the ignorance of which sin is a consequence. Ignorance -- whereby is meant ignorance of spiritual realities -- is dispelled only by Gnosis, and the decisive revelation of Gnosis is brought by the Messengers of Light, especially by Christ, the Logos of the True God. It is not by His suffering and death but by His life of teaching and His establishing of mysteries that Christ has performed His work of salvation.”

According to Gnosticism, the  real mission of Jesus wasn’t the salvation of men’s souls, but the freeing of men’s minds. The Gnostics claim in “The Gospel of Judas” that the other Gospel writers  were confused on this, and only Judas understood what Jesus’s real mission was.

  Gnostics also  cite a book called “The Secret Book of James” to prove that there was a split in the early church. In Gnostic mythology, the good guys ( like Judas) tried to lead man towards light and freedom while the bad guys ( like Paul)  tried to tie people to  religious bondage with rules and regulations.
 Gnosticism got a foothold in the hearts of some in the early church because they wanted to sound smart to the intellectuals in the Greek and Roman world. This still happens when Christians abandon their Bibles and "the faith once delivered to the saints" so that they can run to  vain philosophies like evolution or multiculturalism in order to  be considered 'smart'. They forget that God chooses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise.  They forget that friendship with the world is enmity with God.  They forget that the fear of man brings a snare.
  If you are saved, and you waste your life apologizing for the word of God while  trying to  appear 'relevant' or 'intellectual' to a bunch of unregenerant flops, you will always wind up looking like a chump in the end. They will never think you're cool, they will never think you're smart. They will understand in their heart of hearts that  you are a compromiser, and as a redeemed  child of God you will stand shoulder to shoulder with his enemies before it's all over with if you're not careful.
   Men, according to scripture, do not reject the Bible because it is  unbelievable or because it is a burden that cannot be  borne. They reject the Bible because they love light rather than darkness, and Gnosticism, just like the other beliefs that will be examined, are nothing but an empty philosophical pillow case in which a sinner can  hide his head on his way to the lake of fire.

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