Quantcast


Twitter icon


Facebook icon

About this site
About us
Our beliefs
Is this your first visit?
Contact us
External links

Recommended books

Visitors' essays
Our forum
New essays
Other features
Buy a CD of this site
Vital notes

World religions
BUDDHISM
CHRISTIANITY
Christian def'n
 Shared beliefs
 Handling change
 Bible topics
 Bible inerrancy
 Bible harmony
 Interpret the Bible
 Persons
 Beliefs & creeds
 Da Vinci code
 Revelation 666
 Denominations
HINDUISM
ISLAM
JUDAISM
WICCA / WITCHCRAFT
Other religions
Cults and NRMs
Comparing Religions

Non-theistic beliefs
Atheism
Agnosticism
Humanism
Other

About all religions
Main topics
Basic information
Gods & Goddesses
Handling change
Doubt & security
Quotes
Movies
Confusing terms
Glossary
End of the World?
True religion?
Seasonal events
Science vs. Religion
More information

Spiritual/ethics
Spirituality
Morality & ethics
Absolute truth

Peace/conflict
Attaining peace
Religious tolerance
Religious freedom
Religious hatred
Religious conflict
Religious violence

"Hot" topics
Very hot topics
Ten Commandments
Abortion access
Assisted suicide
Cloning
Death penalty
Environment

Same-sex marriage

Homosexuality
Human rights
Gays in the military
Nudism
Origins
Sex & gender
Sin
Spanking
Stem cells
Transexuality
Women-rights
Other topics

Laws and news
Religious laws
Religious news

Sponsored links

 

!!!!!!!! Search error!  If the URL ends something like .htm/  or .htm# delete the character(s) after .htm and hit return.

Christian history and faith groups

Menu

Gnosticism: ancient and modern

horizontal rule

Sponsored link
horizontal rule

Summary:

Gnosticism is a philosophical and religious movement which started in pre-Christian times. Some religious historians believe that it had is source in the Jewish community of Alexandria and was later picked up by some Christian groups in Judea and the Galilee. 1

The name is derived from the Greek word "gnosis" which literally means "knowledge."  However, the English words "Insight" and "enlightenment" capture more of the meaning of "gnosis."  It is pronounced with a silent "G" (NO-sis). Gnosticism is not factual, intellectual, rational knowledge, such as is involved in mathematics and physics; that would have been more accurately represented by the Greek world "episteme." Rather, Gnosticism involves the relational or experiential knowledge of God and of the divine or spiritual nature within us. A visitor to this web site wrote:

"...we believe that gnosis-knowledge requires ultimate transcendence of the merely intellectual to be actualized." 2

Gnostics believe that they have secret knowledge about God, humanity and the rest of the universe of which the general population was unaware. It became one of the three main belief systems within 1st century Christianity, and was noted for four factors by which differed from the two other branches of Christianity:
bulletNovel beliefs about Gods, the Bible and the world which differed from those of other Christian groups.

bullet Tolerance of different faith groups within and outside of Gnosticism.

bullet

Lack of discrimination against women. Although Jesus treated women as equals, and Paul mostly did the same, the other Christian belief systems started to oppress women in later generations. This is readily seen by reading the books in the Christian Scriptures that say they were written by Paul, but were -- according to many mainline and liberal Christian theologians -- in fact forgeries written by unknown authors long after Paul's death either:

  • During the 1st Century CE, like Ephesians and 2 Thessalonians, and

  • During the 2nd century CE like the Pastoral epistles: 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus.
bullet

A belief that salvation is achieved through relational and experiential knowledge. In the words of The contemporary Gnostic Apostolic Church, humanity needs to be awakened and brought:

"... to a realization of his true nature. Mankind is moving towards the Omega Point, the Great day when all must graduate or fall. This day is also the Day of Judgment in that only those who have entered the Path of Transfiguration and are being reborn can return to the Treasury of Light." 3

The movement and its literature were almost wiped out before the end of the 5th century CE by Catholic heresy hunters and the Roman Army. Its beliefs are currently experiencing a rebirth throughout the world, triggered in part by the discovery of an ancient Gnostic library at Nag Hammadi, Egypt in the 1940s, and the finding of the Gnostic Gospel of Judas at El Minya, Egypt, in the 1970s.

One modern Gnostic faith group is Novus Spiritis. It has churches in San Jose, CA; Renton, WA; and Las Vegas, NV. Their glossary of religious terms defines Novus Spiritus as:

"A Gnostic Christian Church, that believes in reincarnation, the duality of God as both masculine and feminine, and in tenets that explain how we can best advance our souls for God -- while living with the negativity here on Earth. Founded by psychic Sylvia Browne on 1986-APR-14, Novus Spiritus is based on a long line of Gnostic churches that have existed for over 7,200 years. The first church service was conducted on 1986-JUL-12. Gnostics believe in finding their own truth, and don’t believe in “hell,” “sin,” or that Jesus came to die for our sins -– but was a human messiah who served as a living example of how we should think and behave. Church members believe in an all-loving, all-merciful and benevolent God, in the power of prayer, and that we write a 'chart' for each life, to learn the life lessons we have chosen to learn through experience – to reach our own desired level of perfection for God, who loves us unconditionally and equally."4

Novus Spiritis' lack of belief in "sin" may well be surprising to many. According to GotQuestions.org:

"Gnostics assert that matter is inherently evil and spirit is good. As a result of this presupposition, Gnostics believe anything done [while] in the body, even the grossest sin, has no meaning because real life exists in the spirit realm only." 5

horizontal rule

Topics covered in this section:

bulletHistory of Gnostic Christianity. Sources of information
 
bulletGnostic beliefs and practices
 
bulletGnostic leaders. Interaction between Gnostic & Pauline Christianity
 
bulletBooks on Gnosticism
 
bulletLinks to Gnostic web sites

horizontal rule

Collection of Gnostic literature:

Logos Bible Software is considering publishing a Gnostic and Apocryphal Studies Collection  on ten CDs. For details, see: http://www.logos.com/

horizontal rule

References used:

  1. Birger Pearson, "Gnosticism, Judaism and Egyptian Christianity." Augsburg Fortress Publishers (1990). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store. Also available at a reduced price in Kindle ebook format.
  2. Email received 2005-APR-09
  3. The Gnostic Handbook," from the Gnostic Apostolic Church
  4. Email received 2011-MAY-18 from Judy Thomas, Minister in training, at the San Jose church.
  5. "What is Christian Gnosticism?" GotQuestions.org, undated, at: http://www.gotquestions.org/

horizontal rule

Sponsored links:

horizontal rule

Site navigation:

 Home > Christianity > History, beliefs... > History > here

or Home > Christianity > Meta groups, wings.... > Faith groups > here

or Home > List of religions, ethical systems, etc > here

horizontal rule

Copyright © 1996 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2014-FEB-15
Author: B.A. Robinson

line.gif (538 bytes)

horizontal rule

Go to the previous page, or to the "History of Christianity" menu, or to the "Christian faith groups" menu, or to the "List of religions" menu, or choose:

Google
Web ReligiousTolerance.org

Go to home page  We would really appreciate your help

E-mail us about errors, etc.  Purchase a CD of this web site

FreeFind search, lists of new essays...  Having problems printing our essays?


Twitter link

Facebook icon

Google Page Translator:

This page translator works on Firefox,
Opera, Chrome, and Safari browsers only

After translating, click on the "show
original" button at the top of this
page to restore page to English.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sponsored links