Gnosticism and Orthodox Christianity: Similarities
Posted by turmarion
As we move along seeking a Gnostic Orthodoxy, it will be useful to see points of commonality between the two worldviews. The following is a revised and expanded version of comparisons discussed back here.
1. Both orthodox Christianity and Gnosticism agree that there is one God, and that He is infinitely powerful, completely good, perfect in all ways, and composed purely of spirit.
2. Both systems agree that God’s original creation was of the bodiless intelligences (pure minds—the Pleroma) and that this original creation was perfectly good.
3. At some point posterior to its creation, there was a rupturing of the unity of the Pleroma as a result of the actions of some of its members.
4. The material world was created posterior to the spirit world, and posterior to the rupture of the Pleroma (orthodoxy isn’t completely consistent on this, since there are differences of opinion on the “time” scale; but the Fall of Lucifer is always set before the Fall of Man, and usually before the creation of man altogether, if not the whole cosmos).
5. Beings consisting of a body and a soul–humans–are created and placed in the material cosmos.
6. The material cosmos, at least as currently constituted, is deeply flawed and has many evils, imperfections, etc.
7. The material cosmos as currently constituted will not endure forever, instead coming to an end at some point.
8. At least some humans (universalists such as myself would say “all”, but that’s for a future series), either in their souls or their complete being will return to God and/or the Pleroma at the end of time.
In a more general way, I’d add two other commonalities:
9. Both Gnosticism and orthodoxy are religions of the Book. Many religions have sacred scriptures, but in most (e.g. Hinduism) the scriptures are the provenance of specialists (e.g. Brahmins or monks) and are almost irrelevant in day-to-day life for most believers. The Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) are different in that they give their holy books a centrality lacking in other religions. Gnosticism is even more enthusiastic about scriptures, having produced far more of them than the orthodox. Jeremy Puma has felicitously referred to many of Gnostic scriptures as “fanfic”; and I think that properly understood, this is a very good (and not at all derogatory) description. It applies, in fact, to much orthodox scripture as well, in my opinion.
10. As I’ve discussed at greater length before, both religions, to an extent that perhaps neither likes to admit, are very much dualistic.
Posted on 22/09/2012, in Christianity, Gnosticism, religion and tagged Gnosticism, metaphysics, orthodox Christianity, philosophy, religion, theology, Towards a Gnostic Orthodoxy. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.
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