Gnosticism

8 ways you may have accidentally become a Gnostic

We all know the early Apostles struggled with Gnosticism influencing much of the Church. In fact, frequently in the New Testament we find the authors addressing some of these Gnostic beliefs. However, few of us think about Gnosticism in the context of today.

The sad truth though, is that Gnosticism is perhaps even more common today, than it was in the first century.

There are dozens of beliefs that are rooted in Gnosticism but here are 8 common ones. If you find yourself agreeing with any, you have a good indication that you are one of the countless believers who have ignorantly bought into the Gnostic beliefs being taught today as the word of God.

1) You think your body is sinful and your spirit is perfect

Your body has been redeemed along with your spirit. While you still have a new body to come, this one is not inherently evil, it’ll do you just fine. God didn’t create Adam and Eve with a corrupt body, yours is just as good as theirs was before the fall (better according to Paul in fact – 2 Cor 5). If you think you have a sinful flesh I encourage you to read this article on the sinful nature.

2) You think the world is evil and only Heaven is good.

The world is not evil. “Worldly” behaviour is evil but God created this world for us to enjoy and be fruitful upon as we walk with Him. When He created this Earth and all that was on it, he called it “good”. According to Isaiah, His glory completely covers it (Isaiah 6:3).

3) You think money is evil and Christians should be poor.

Money is not evil, loving money more than God is. The simple fact is this, money enables you to be who you are, to more people, in a greater way. If you are generous and loving, then with lots of money you will have more options to be generous and loving. If you feel called to take orphans and give them homes, a couple of million in the bank sure would help! Here are some thoughts on how money simply reveals who we are.

4) You think that sex is a requirement to reproduce but God finds it dirty and distasteful.

Sex is really good. Trust me. Not only that but in the healthy confines of marriage Paul commands it – now there’s good reason to be more “Pauline” in your gospel interpretation! You and your spouse are to enjoy each other – I encourage you to get as fleshy as possible today with one another!

5. You think since your body is sinful, you might as well keep sinning. We are getting rid of the bodies anyway!

This is really stupid. Yet, if you don’t believe that what God has done in you is a complete work, you can easily fall into this trap. Your body was redeemed along with your spirit. Expect your spiritual fruit to have a tangible physical manifestation in and through you, as you embrace this reality.

6) You think that Christian’s should sacrifice all pleasure for God.

Interestingly enough, this is the polar opposite of number 5. Yet it’s very real. The previous point says “our flesh doesn’t matter so lets enjoy ourselves, in the flesh, as much as possible”. This point says “our flesh doesn’t matter, so let’s not enjoy ourselves at all!” Listen, you were born to enjoy yourself. The goal is to find that pleasure in God. It won’t take too much Bible study, before you find that enjoying God is something you experience in every part of you – body, soul and spirit! God delights in us, His kids, and wants us to enjoy ourselves.

7) You think that God only values the spiritual, anything we do in the physical has no value at all

God loves the natural. Many Christians have a disdain for things that are not overtly supernatural. But the truth is that God created us to live in this world. If He didn’t value the physical, he wouldn’t have made an entire universe of physical stuff! He would have made us as spirits and had us floating around in Heaven for eternity.

8) You think that Jesus couldn’t possibly have come as an actual man.

He was merely God pretending to be a man or possessing a man, right? Wrong. Jesus was absolutely, 100% a man… in all His fleshy glory! Not only that but He will now FOREVER be a man. That’s right, God loves “flesh” so much, He decided to become it for eternity in the person of Jesus. For more on this see “God’s the man

Can you think of any more?

These are the 8 most prevalent ones I could think of in today’s Church. However, since Gnosticism can ultimately be boiled down to us believing that God only values the spiritual and denies the value of the physical there are countless manifestations – I have left many out for the sake of brevity.

What are some Gnostic beliefs you have encountered in the Church and what do you think the truth is we need to be preaching? Leave a comment below and let me know.

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62 Comments

  1. I’ve been told basically that any alcoholic beverage is bad. I think it’s getting drunk on it is not good because we should be full of Him – but I’ve lost all guilt over having a glass of wine or a margarita at a Mexican restaurant. A little is good for the soul! Thank God for his vineyards of pleasure.

    • Ah yes, that is a big one, especially in the USA. I was shocked when I first got there. I’m from Europe so it would be quite common to go out for lunch with the pastor after church and see him have a pint with his lunch. Some American’s would have him sacked immediately for this. There are a few over here with the same intensity over alcohol but it is thankfully very rare. We forget that Jesus would primarily have drank wine. Drinking water wasn’t very safe at that point in history, people did it but favoured the safer alcoholic drinks if they couldn’t have a source of fresh clean water. We don’t like that picture of Jesus though, drinking wine and worse of all… making more!

  2. Good Stuff, Phil. Too the point with humor, intended or not, it could just be me! I tend to laugh at the absurd most of the time!!

    • Haha – it’s just clear evidence we should be friends Lynn :) Anyone who finds me funny is someone I like!

      Hope you are having a good start to the week, give my love to Ray :)

  3. Good stuff. Gnosticism is an interesting and important subject. Unfortunately, Gnostic thought has influenced much of the church and Christian and secular thinkers today.

    One disturbing teaching that echoes some Gnostic thinking is the idea that Jesus did not become the Christ until he was anointed by the Spirit at the baptism of John. This is common is some Charismatic circles, but lacks a good understanding of the nature of Jesus as the eternal Son of God. Jesus was born the Christ by the power of the Spirit. And he was both God and man from birth.

    • That’s really interesting Jon, I’ve heard people talk about that but never met someone who believes it. It really is fascinating to see the different guises Gnosticism tries to reappear under.

  4. The above-mentioned definition of Gnosticism is new to me.
    Isn’t Gnosticism, according to 1 John 1:6-10, the belief that one has no sin, therefore does not need Christ, because “since one has no sin, there is no requirement for forgiveness of sin”? People with that mindset say they have no need of Christ.

    • Hey Phil, good post. I remember in college studying this stuff for my bib lit degree. Gnosticism has always been a core deception for Christians. In fact all of Johns writings strategically target their doctrines to expose the truth to people who have enmeshed Gnosticism with Christianity. It’s a great study and can blow you’re mind to understand the subtlety of the truth and what we (Christians) still get confused with truth. There’s also the whole psychosomatic side of it. That is, the wounds and offenses we carry and belief systems we inherit because of other’s wounds that lead to these extremely strong and resilient belief paradigms. Things this big are worth our time and thoughts. Keep it up bro!

      • Thanks Jason, appreciate you sharing, that certainly is a big side to the whole topic! It’s great to see you on here, hope you are doing well :)

    • Hi Christopher, I would say that is a fruit of the root belief of Gnosticism.

      So for example in your 1 John situation what is happening is that these people are doing crazy things (orgies etc) and saying “it doesn’t matter it’s just my flesh so it isn’t a sin” – they had separated their body and spirit. Believing their Spirit is pure and their body can’t sin because the body doesn’t matter.

      Does that make sense? You are absolutely right though, that is an evidence of Gnosticism.

    • That’s what I always thought, someone who believes they have no sin. While I have heard of these things listed, I did not know they fell under this subject.

  5. I find the last one to be the most perplexing. So many Christians believe that Jesus healed people and performed miracles for the purpose of proving he was God, and that we are not to do what he did, and that doing so is elevating ourselves beyond our “place.” … completely ignoring what Christ has already done for us… that we are seated in heavenly places with Him. They’ll give lip service to the fact that he humbled himself and became man, but they don’t really believe it if they say “Only Jesus could do that.” I think they have him confused with Superman. ;)

    • Yes – they say He is fully God and fully man. But when you peel back the layers it does appear that they don’t really believe He was fully man.

  6. Seems like you need to add a few words to clarify what you mean on the first point above.

    I don’t believe we have a sinful nature, as that is gone and completely changed after salvation. We have a completely new nature.

    It does say that “…you have received a spirit of adoption as sons…” (Rom 8:15), but it also says that “…we…groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for…the redemption of our body” (Rom 8:23). And also that “If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness” (Rom 8:10).

    So the body isn’t “saved” yet and that is a problem that needs a solution because our body is involved in ministry to the Lord, and also to others.

    I think that is why Paul says to present our members before the Lord. And, why John says to walk in the Light. Because when we do these things our outer body is continually cleansed.

    • More specifically, you say that “Your body has been redeemed along with your spirit.”

      But the scriptures say to those who have Christ living in them (and who have a completely new core nature), that “the body is dead because of sin.”

      My point is that if you just leave your statement as it is above, I feel that people will miss the provision of God and need for to walk inside Him where our body is continually cleansed. Believers are righteous on the inside because we have His righteousness. Our humanity needs it too because “…the body is…for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body” (1Cor.6:13). People need to learn to let Him touch their humanity because when He does that our body is made just as holy as the inside.

      God says to us, “…I am the Lord who sanctifies you” (Lev 22:32). And, “…I urge you…to present your bodies…to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Rom 12:1). And speaking of our body it says to, “…present your members…resulting in sanctification” (Rom. 6:19). We need to present our body before the Lord because that is how our body is sanctified — made holy.

      If our body has been “redeemed along with your spirit,” as you say, why would Paul tell us to present our body before the Lord –> resulting in sanctification (resulting in it being made holy)?

      We are to present our body before the Lord for cleansing because that solves the problem of a body that isn’t fully redeemed yet. This is why Paul says, “I…I urge you…to present your bodies…to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Rom 12:1)

      Please understand that I am not trying to be a trouble maker on this. I just believe it is really important to be clear about it.
      .

      • Hi Barry,

        The article is intentionally brief and I did link to the article on sinful nature and the flesh for people who didn’t like the brevity of the article.

        You raise some great scriptures and unfortunately I just don’t have time to get into a very in-depth discussion over this.

        I for the most part agree with what you are saying although disagree quite strongly with the wording. I don’t agree that body is continually cleansed but has been once and for all cleansed we simply make a continual choice to walk in that by our beliefs and our faith.

        I’m not trying to change your mind, you are welcome to disagree with my statement but I do stand by my statement, sorry I don’t have time to go into it (I was off this weekend for a wedding and I have several hundred emails to catch up with this morning)

    • Our body isn’t saved yet?

      If that is true, then maybe the Holy Spirit shouldn’t be living inside of me – ? Paul said in Corinthians: 19 “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” Jesus said It Is Finished (100%) at the cross. I take that to mean my body as well as my spirit and soul. I know our “new body” is coming, but after being redeemed at the cross, aren’t we wholly justified? I’m guessing Adam and Eve enjoyed wine at dinner with God in the garden of Eden. (Eden is defined as pleasure, delight). I am not saying everyone should go and get hammered on alcohol. Asolutely NO – but a little wine is sweet and enjoyable. I used to think it was a sinful and corrupt thing to even drink alcohol. I was in bondage! Our church forbade alcohol. I am saying – enjoy life and your body. it is a gift from God. I’ve been set free from that condemnation. Even communion contains bread and wine. I think it honors God when we enjoy the freedom he paid a heavy price to give. Just as a parent wants to see their children enjoy good gifts, I think God does just as much if not more.

  7. I would add to #5: if you believe the physical body will be sloughed off for a transparent, ethereal form at the end of time. Our bodies will be resurrected as Jesus’ body was. Luke 24 describes it as “flesh and bone” and capable of being touched. Certainly there are interesting characteristics–but it is a physical body (the word “soma” implies physical). I’ve often thought the RSV had an unfortunate translation of 1 Corinthians 15:44 (“it is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body”). The contrasting words are psuchikos (soulish, natural) vs pneumatikos (spiritual). This is more a description of the body in its present decaying and dying state versus the body raised never to die again. (Note the “it” that is buried is the “it” that is raised!).

  8. Wow, how enlightening. I am a Gnostic and I don’t believe any of that crap. But thanks for playing and God bless.

    • Bless you Dave,

      Thanks for sharing – I don’t pretend to share all that Gnosticism encompasses, I’m merely pointing out the areas that it primarily influenced the early church that the NT authors specifically addressed.

      I’m sure there are a lot more elements to it and I’m sure you would be a lot more qualified to point them out.

  9. Hi Phil,

    To an extent, you have mischaracterized the ancient Gnostics, although you’re spot on in many respects. You have to keep in mind this:

    –The ‘Gnostics’ got their marching orders from Saint Paul (aka Simon Magus). The foundation of their theology in the 2nd century was mostly based on the Pauline corpus (spread likely by Marcion and initially rejected by many Christians). Furthermore, they never agreed on all issues even within different cults.
    -Many of the elements you are describing are Orthodox Christian teachings. There is nothing wrong with that. Maybe God created the world, but Satan and his angels are pretty much in charge of material affairs (as you may conceive them). Biblically, it’s a sound and reasonable case to make. Sin runs the universe, as it did from the beginning.

    As someone who deems himself a Christian (and most disagree), I would also make an objection to the idea that money isn’t evil. You can only serve one master, and Mammon is one of your choices. If moneylenders could be convinced to move their tables away from what is Holy, someone would have asked them in the first place.

    But all these issues were debated 2000 years ago, and are still being debated.

    • Hey Miguel,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

      This is definitely not an expose on all that Gnosticism teaches or believes but rather an overview of the ways it specifically was addressed in the NT by the authors and how those same issues are present in the church today.

      I know that it has massively evolved over the years and so, much like Christianity as a whole there are lots of nuances to it and not everyone believes the same thing.

      I hope I didn’t cause any offence in my article, that was definitely not the intention, it was merely to show Christians a few simple Gnostic beliefs that were addressed by John/Paul etc that they might have bought into themselves unwittingly.

      As I said to Dave I’m sure there is a lot more to Gnosticism than I’ve outlined, some I know of and lots I don’t! I’m most certain you would be a lot more qualified to point them out. :)

      As for money, I think the key here is “serving” money. You can either serve money or have it serve you. Jesus had money and used it… but it served his purpose. This is what I’m talking about, not loving money but having money serve your purpose to love the Lord and everyone else. Hope that clarifies what I’m saying, although I know many would disagree with that and as you said, these things have been debated for over 2000years… they aren’t going to be sorted out on an exchange over a wordpress blog comments :)

      Thanks so much for sharing and also for tweeting the article, it has brought some great people on here and I’ve enjoyed speaking with them.

  10. I’m a Gnostic and none of these are taught in the Gnostic system I practice. This list has more to do with Calvinism. Actually the whole post is rubbish. If you don’t understand something, don’t comment on it.

    • Thanks for sharing Richard, sorry you didn’t like the post, as I’ve said to a few people further up in the comments. This is simply addressing aspects of Gnosticism that were influencing the early church, specifically the ones that Paul and John spoke out against. This is not supposed to be a summary of the Gnostic’s tenants of faith. Sorry if it caused you offence but I do stand by what I posted :) Bless you my friend!

      • Phil I don’t say that you are rubbish. Let’s be clear on that. But most of what is taught about Gnosticism in the church is. For one thing, the term and label wasn’t invented until the 17th Century. How could Paul and John oppose a group who didn’t exist? Paul plainly held some of the beliefs you state make someone a Gnostic.

        Also the term “Gnostic” in the Orthodox Church is used to bully people into accepting Papal authority. If their popes had authority from God, they wouldn’t need to bully people.

        Mostly remember that Gnosticism is a modern invention. The root belief comes from ancient Christianity. The things you list as Gnostic are things many Christians have believed at different times.

        I believe that this world is false but I am not a fatalist. Through Christ things will get better. Currently Christianity has been subverted by a focused political group. They conform to the Anti-Christ in The Revelation. They are being dealt with. Witness that their churches are shrinking and their political power is fading.

        • Don’t worry Richard, I didn’t think you had said that.

          Thanks for elaborating on your views. I absolutely agree that through Christ all things will get better and we will see His Kingdom expand and everything else fall away. I pray for both of us that He would continue to lead us into all Truth :)

          Bless you my friend.

  11. I used to be # 6 & 7…..but thank God for revealing His AWESOME grace to me!! now I know I can be who He made me to be & He wants us to have fun & enjoy life!!

    • That’s great news Rosemary! You are blessed you only had 2 to work through! haha I’ve had a whole bunch of them in the past :)

  12. # 9 – You think that Jesus wasn’t “in all points made just like us” physically.
    – You think Jesus had Holy Blood and yours was sinful. His flesh was Holy, and ours Sinful.

    #10 – Because of this, you don’t think Jesus was Tempted just like us.
    -He might have looked like a man, but really, he couldn’t possibly have been tempted both internally and externally as we have, and really, he might be an ideal to live up to, but surely not an example to ACTUALLY follow.

    #11 – All sins are equal. Therefore You believe that God saves you in spite of anything you could possibly do against him, and not from your sins.
    – Since the Body is Sinful, and we cant obey God anyway, and there is no living example of obedience to God in our condition, and no action is more wrong than another, yet God saves, then surely you could never sin away your salvation. Its “Special Knowledge” that you have that really matters, and not actually bearing fruits of righteousness.

    • Thanks for sharing Kevin.

      I like the first two but I have to disagree with the third.

      I believe that God does save us irregardless of our sins or actions towards Him. That it is only by our faith that we are saved, NEVER by any form of works. Works only come after we embrace His gift of faith.

      I don’t believe that we can lose our salvation and also believe that all sin is treated equally… it’s forgiven.

      Maybe we will have to agree to disagree on that one :)

    • Thanks for sharing Villemo, sorry you didn’t like the article. I didn’t mean to offend you and as I’ve said numerous times in the comments above, this isn’t meant to be an outline of what Gnostics hold to be true as core beliefs. Rather it is a list of beliefs that Gnosticism introduced to the early church that the Apostles specifically dealt with and weeded out of the church. It is merely a call to those in the Christian faith not to go back to those beliefs that these groups of Gnostics were bringing into the 1st century church.

      Bless you my friend!

  13. Somewhere I ran across the idea that Gnostics believed that a select…knowing…group could understand higher (or more obscure) meanings in scripture which the ordinary reader could not detect. If Scripture is actually a secret code book, then you can ignore the plain sense and go whatever direction you please!

  14. It may be a moot point, but in all this talk of “sinful natures” we have to remember that the Greek word for sin is an archery term that simply means “to miss the mark”. So of course we would have a sinful nature, because we need to learn how to aim. In this way we can see all sin as equal because a miss is still a miss, and yet we strive to improve our aim. This is a common misunderstanding in orthodoxy that Gnostics realized, sin is not a state of being or an object or an action in itself. It just means we didn’t hit what we aimed for.

    As to a “secret knowledge” or gnosis, let’s look at the root of that word. Gnosis is a Greek word for knowledge, but in a different context from book learning or “episteme”. Gnosis is a knowlege gained from experience. It’s like saying I know how to drive from here to Los Angeles. I can know from looking at a map and seeing what roads to take, memorize that map and probably tell you how to get there, but I’ve not been there myself. This is episteme. Gnosis, on the other hand, is getting in the car and actually driving to and from Los Angeles, knowledge that comes from experience. In the same way, we know Christ not because we read about him in the Gospels, but because we have experienced his presence within us. If we have a “secret knowledge” it comes from revelation based on our experience of the Divine.

    • Thanks for sharing David. Some great thoughts on sin there… Although I would say that it is important to remember that our goal as Christians however is not to avoid sinning but rather to focus on the reality that Jesus has dealt with sin once and for all. Our goal is not to work on our sin but discover and enjoy our righteousness.

  15. I’ve read quite a bit of the “Gnostic Gospels” and I hadn’t found these thoughts you’ve listed. Although the thoughts you’ve listed are quite common within much of the Christian societal construct, I think these misconceptions about God come from centuries of political rule of a religious hierarchical system commanding people to believe and live a certain way or face an extreme penalty or even death. And I think we as “Christians” are still on our way to coming out of those ways of thinking.

    As for point 3, you’ve said “loving money more than God is (evil).” Which would suggest that you can love money, just not as much as God. Perhaps that is not at all what you are suggesting, but I’ve noticed a pattern over the years of the verse which states “the love of money is the root of evil” to “don’t love money more than God” which I believe is an perversion of the truth. Not meaning to be down on money, it’s simply an abstract symbol most of humanity has accepted to believe as a representation of wealth (neither good nor evil in itself).

    Anyways, I am curious to learn more about your correlation between the thoughts listed above and what makes them “Gnostic” in nature? Which, I suppose, would probably need to begin with knowing how you would define Gnostic, historically and/or how people interpret the word in today’s time.

    Thank you for your inspiring post! It’s given me much to think about :)

    • Hi Dylan,

      Again as explained to other people in these comments. These are not tenants of faith of Gnosticism but evidences of Gnosticism. They are fruits that come from some of the primary underlying beliefs. The primary one being that the flesh is evil and therefore God cannot become actual flesh. This of course has had a lot of knock on effects on various things we believe.

      A great series on Gnosticism is available here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cedJVyTk2Wo&feature=c4-overview-vl&list=PLEE4D89D5173A151C

      It goes into much more depth than I could here – Hope it helps.

      • So, what you’ve listed are what you believe to be the fruits of the tenets of Gnosticism? As “tenets” can be easily defined as the “primary underlying belief.”

        I am not meaning at all to defend Gnosticism, merely that “Gnostic” is a term that can be applied to mean very different things, so my questions are in a quest to discover what it is your post is more deeply meaning.

        The “fruits” you’ve listed are ones which most of us have quite likely experienced frequently, especially those of us whom have been in the church for most of our lives, but is holding the views of those listed mean that you are being a Gnostic, or are they originated by anything else? Are you inferring that these views were the views held by the first century Gnostics (a term applied to their sect by their opponents), and so to hold them today would be the culmination of the Gnostic viewpoints as they have migrated through time until now?

        • Hi Dylan, great points and a good question… what is my point? haha

          First of all I absolutely agree, most of these beliefs are found throughout most of Christianity in one shape or another. That’s really the point I’m trying to get at here, that our Christian beliefs have been more shaped by Gnosticism than we know and we need to start whittling out these beliefs and go back to the simplistic gospel that the Apostles were helping establish and trying to protect from Gnosticism.

  16. I posted this comment on your “Romans 7” article, but thought it made more sense here…

    Hey Phil, Interesting post…I was taught that the spirit is perfect…not necessarily that the flesh is evil, but I was taught the spirit was perfect, do you think that is still Gnostic? I’ve lived with that knowledge a few years now and tried to live it out…I thought that was just ‘walking in the spirit’ as opposed to ‘walking in the flesh’…Like Jesus says the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak…maybe our spirits isn’t necessarily perfect but is our lifeforce, e.g. James 2:26 the body without the spirit is dead. And spirit is pnuema which is figuratively described as breath/air…so we know we need air to live since we breathe it, therefore maybe our spirit is our life and can do things the flesh can’t do, but isn’t necessarily perfect? Also what do you think it means if our spirit isn’t perfect? Maybe it could sin or be oppressed? If you have time to reply, what do you think Phil? :)
    God bless!

    • Hi Chris – I replied over in the other article but here is my reply again because I think it’s important I’m clear on what I’m saying as apparently what I wrote can be misunderstood.

      Please do understand I am not saying the Spirit is imperfect… I’m simply saying that to believe since the Spirit is perfect our flesh must be the problem is not a belief that is very healthy and is in fact the root of many Gnostic beliefs. We must understand that our flesh has been just as redeemed as the spirit.

      Thanks for asking that man! I had not realised what I had written could be read that way.

  17. Thanks for your thoughts Phil very helpful, also thanks for not going too deep I love that our faith should be a childlike faith. May God continue to bless you and yours bro.

  18. Some don’t believe our bodies are redeemed, but I think they are confusing “redeemed” with “perfected.” Redeeming is buying back, paying for. Our whole being, spirit, soul and body has been redeemed. However, only our spirit has been perfected. Our spirit, that which is now at one with God, cannot sin. Clearly our soul (mind, will and emotions) is not perfected and can sin even though we no longer have a sin nature. Our spirit is our nature, our identity, and that has been perfected. Because the rest of us, while redeemed, is not yet perfected, is why we need the renewal of the mind and the healing of our bodies. My two cents!

    • Thanks for sharing Ray.

      I’d just pose one question to you… How do you define perfect? I used to think the same thing about the soul but here’s the thing… Perfection isn’t deemed by its ability to do good or bad!

      Adam and Eve were perfect but they were also perfectly able to sin! Did they have perfect spirits and sinful souls? I don’t think so!

      So the question is, how do we define perfect.

  19. I may be wrong but perfection is measured subjectively and objectively. The problem for Christians seems to be that they see the falling short (sin) which the measure against the law and say therefore, since I see it objectively I am not perfect; a self fulfilling statement. They hear God tell them that they are no longer sinners but saints but feel that God is subjective in His viewing of you. A bit like we see our children fail but still see gold in them and they seem just a little bit better than other children. Ok so we think God is just biased. In actual fact because what we got when we got Jesus is got His righteousness . The reality is that God is objective and we are subjective. We don’t see ourselves as He sees us. Stop trying to measure up and rest. Ahh; that’s better. If I had one verse to give a new believer it would be; it is finished!

    • That’s a great way to articulate it Michael – something people really struggle with. We deem what is true based on our 5 senses, based on our personal experience and deduction. The problem is that just isn’t what God is basing the truth on. He’s basing it on “the Word” – Jesus. What Jesus has done for us and in us. Namely, killed our sinful self and raised us up as righteous, holy, saints.

      A lot of the problem seems to come from the fact that we don’t understand that righteousness and holiness are not things you do or ways of life. They are states of being.

      From those things we might do something righteous. But holiness is who you are.

      God is not holy because he does the right things… He is holy because that is who he is! Therefore he has righteous actions. But His actions do not dictate who He is, who He is dictates His actions.

      It should be the same for us but we love to put the cart before the horse!

      Thanks for sharing man!

  20. So what if this is me? I mean…everything you are talking against, is what’s been modeled and taught to me forever.

    • Hey Hunter – great question. I grew up in church that taught a lot of these things and honestly moved to churches that focused on these things more and more before I realised that this was not the Jesus represented in scripture and the Gospel preached by the apostles in the NT.

      Firstly we have to have grace for ourselves – we believe what we believe because we have been taught that way. God gets that and has grace for us. We need to have grace for ourselves.

      Secondly we need to repent – “Change our minds”. The scriptures say we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. As we realise we’ve been taught some things that might be incorrect (and we all still have some of those in our lives!) we thank God for showing them to us and we ask Him to reveal the truth to us, the Holy Spirit’s job is to lead us into all truth and so if we ask – He’s jumping at the bit to do so :)

      As we have truth revealed to us and we start to believe it we will start to see transformation. At that point we are going to start seeing transformation of those around us as they see the power of God at work in our lives.

      Feel free to read more stuff on this site – or what might be especially helpful would be the audio/video messages and the podcasts. They have a lot more depth and practical outworking within them.

      Hope that helps – you can always email me via the contact form :)

  21. Hey, stick to your faith and I’ll stick to mine. It’s obvious you know precious little about Gnosticism, for you seem to be confusing the tenets of the Ophite sect with the whole of Gnosticism.

    Gnosticism is not a heretical sect of Christianity

    Gnosticism is a distinct, pre-Christian religion. Its roots are in Alexandria in Egypt, about 2200 years ago, where a “café-society” of Greek-speaking and educated Jews were syncretizing the myths of the ancient world with Judaism and classical Greek philosophy.

    These communities and their ideas greatly influenced Christianity as it later emerged. As Christianity struggled in its first four centuries to distinguish itself from the pagan world, it slowly began to reject some of these Gnostic influences. But most of the people who still favoured these ideas considered themselves devout Christians, not heretics.

    Let us not forget that the most common topic in the New Testament—more common than the power of love or redemption or the sacrifice of the cross or even the divinity of Jesus—is that “other Christians are getting it wrong”. Paul condemns James as a heretic. Jesus refers to Peter as “Satan”.

    Gnosticism is a lot like Buddhism

    Because of Gnosticism’s insistence on personal responsibility and ethics, its emphasis on singular prayer, the practice of compassion, detachment from materialism and the striving for enlightenment, it has been called “the Buddhism of the West”. The similarities between Gnosticism and Mahayana Buddhism are so strong it has been speculated that there may have been ongoing contact between the two religions.

    The Gnostic Scriptures are, for the most part, contemporary with Christian canon

    None of the four canonical Gospels were written in the first century. Mark was not written by Mark, nor Luke written by Luke. John was written in two distinct phases, the first of which showed significant Gnostic elements, and the latter a retraction and condemnation of those elements. These were based on first century oral traditions which varied greatly from region to region, but did not exist in written form until at least 100 years after the events they describe. Paul is the only first century Christian writer we have, and much of his writings were edited centuries later into the form we have today.

    The Gospel of Thomas, for example, is contemporary with the later half of John, and there is some evidence to support that John’s later editors were familiar with Thomas. The scriptural authors of the second century were reaching for meaning, using their interpretation what they had heard, their intuition, their creativity, and their yearning for [email protected]

    Gnostics do not hate the physical world

    Gnostic scripture frequently invokes favourably the beauty and power of the natural world; the symbolism of pregnancy, midwifery, childbirth, newborns, storms and ripe crops are frequently employed by Gnostic authors. Gnostics do not view the flesh as evil, but rather as temporary when contrasted with the immortality of the soul—a view shared by most if not all Christians.

    What Gnostics reject is not the earth, but the system: the artificial world of injustice, prejudice, institutionalization and materialism.

    Gnostics do not repudiate salvation through Grace

    The role of Grace, and of the Holy Spirit, is of paramount importance to the Gnostics. Where Gnosticism differs from Christianity is that Gnosticism says that “blind faith” does not grant salvation. To be saved from the forces of deception and ignorance (maya in Buddhist parlance) one must attain enlightenment: the direct experiential intimacy with [email protected] that is gnosis. This experience is the birthright of every aware human person.

    Gnosticism is not elitist

    Do Christians distinguish between the saved and the unsaved? Is this elitism? Gnostic teachings frequently reinforce the idea that liberation via gnosis is available to everyone; that such distinction is a matter of reclaiming birthright, of intent, choice, and effort. In fact, Gnostic theology tends to support the idea of apokatastasis, of universal salvation.

    Gnosticism is not Utopian.

    There is nothing in Gnostic scripture to support the idea that Gnostics wish to make “heaven on earth” from human efforts, and no connection whatsoever between Gnosticism and the reshaping of society; neither from fascism nor socialism. There is no “immanentizing the eschaton” in Gnosticism: Rather, this idea is the hallmark of millennialist Christianity.

    Most basic tenets of Gnosticism are supported by Christian scripture

    In fact there is a litany of Christian saints who are blatantly Gnostic; St. Francis of Assisi, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Hildegard of Bingen and St. Joan of Arc all described in detail the integrity of their experience of gnosis.

    Paul says “The Kingdom of God is within you” which is probably the best single summation of Gnostic theology. Jesus says “My kingdom is not of this world” (Jn 18:36).

    Gnosticism serves as a bridge between world religions

    Gnosticism stands at the crossroads of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, representing a common ground. Historically Gnosticism influenced Judaism in the development of Kabala, and Islam in the development of Sufism; it both encouraged and challenged Christianity through its early centuries and contributed profoundly to Christian theology and identity.

    • Thank you so much for saying this! I was worried I was the only person who knew how to think, instead of being a simple minded sheep

  22. So, if I may ask, what are the sources of this information, its seems like libel to be honest. There aren’t any citations, nor do you have any quotes. If you’d like, we could discuss this this privately via email, but I would greatly appreciate a response.

    • Hi Nick,

      Thanks for sharing – I understand your concerns regarding it feeling libel… I totally agree I haven’t given sources, citations nor quotes.

      The reason is that it’s a simple 10 minute post highlighting a few of the beliefs that the Early Church Fathers (as recognised by Orthodox Christianity today) saw to be Gnostic and fought against.

      I understand that Gnosticism is a very complex deal – especially with the Nag Hammadi library in the 40s which has opened it up to a much broader scope than a lot of our “Christian” writings have discussed.

      I can’t speak for Gnosticism as it exists today – but my post was meant to highlight that many Christians today adhere to what were considered Gnostic beliefs. Things such as Marcionism – that of “Christian dualism” which the Church overwhelmingly labeled to be a Gnostic heresy – but many churches today actively preach although they might not recognise they do!

      I can’t say I could off the top of my head grab sources for each of these points – the blog is very much meant to be an informal gathering of thoughts so you will rarely see me do so – I keep such efforts to more permanent works like my books.

      However most of my views on what I am labelling Gnosticism here come from the Early Church Father’s writings. This I admit can be a bit hard to work with because what is considered Gnostic today by Gnostics is very different to what the Church back then would have called Gnosticism. For example some people like Iraneus considered any heresy to be Gnostic at it’s root and therefore called many things Gnostic that would not fall into either of our categories.

      Hope that helps and I’m very sorry if I’ve caused any offense.

  23. As a guy who has recently been fascinated and studied the Gnostic teachings and beliefs, I am lost for words about how you can claim any of the above points relate in any way to the Gnostic world view.

    NONE of the 8 points you mention have anything to do with Gnostism & I am surprised anyone agrees with you

    Hopefully everyone does their own research because what you puport is actually the opposite of Gnostism, but you are a Christian so that explains it

  24. Well Paul said that now we see through a glass darkly… and this whole conversation is living proof! Even the most intellectual of us eventually back themselves into a corner. But then Jesus called us His sheep… so that is my plea when I don’t understand.

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