Journal of Heresies

My search for truth in a world of deceit.

Location: United States

I have what is probably an insatiable desire to search out the answers to what may be impossible questions.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

"The Gnostic Paul"

Last week, I finished reading a book called "The Gnostic Paul" There is more to the title, something about the gnostic exegesis of Pauls epistles. And its by a female author. Unfortunately, I don't have the book in front of me (I returned it to the library) to give you a proper reference, but I doubt there are many books like it, so it shouldn't be too hard to find if you are interested in it.

Anyway, its not a very long book, but it took me over a month to get through it, eventhough I am usually a very fast reader (I read the Da Vinci Code in 3-4 days). "The Gnostic Paul" was a challenging read because my beliefs are nearly as anti-gnostic as one can find. This book was basically a gnostic interpretation and commentary on Paul's epistles as represented in several sources especially the Nag Hammadi find.

Some people might wonder why I would spend time reading such a book. Afterall, gnosticism is a heresy right? And, we shouldn't learn false teachings right?

I think that many christians would be surprised at how gnostic our churches are. In fact, I suspect that most christians would have far less difficulty than I did in reading this book. I have been culturally a christian most of my life, and spiritually a believer since I was about 16 years old. Only in the past several months have I come to any understanding of what gnosticism is. Not only that, gnosticism is rather diverse and is easily cloaked by spiritualizing any popular belief. Without understanding what gnosticism is and teaches, how can anyone defend against it? Gnosticism isn't just a christian heresy, it is a way of seeing the world that can be found in any religion. To a gnostic, our great writings are not to be understood literally; everything is spiritual. All flesh is bad, everything spiritual is good. this is of course a simplification of gnostic belief. It is far more involved than this and sometimes surprisingly diverse. Or rather it appears diverse to literalists like myself, and I'm not even an extreme literalist.

Gnostics would readily identify with my blog description. For a gnostic, the place I am stuck is this fleshly world and the place I have alighted on is the spiritual world. A gnostic might expect from my blog description that I have become pneumatic, or spiritual. And that I feel bound to the fleshly world from which I will be fully released at death. They would however be sorely disappointed to find that in their opinion, I am only a psychic (or even of class of people they believe are destined to destruction).

I should explain I am NOT gnostic, regardless of how my blog description could be interpreted. I believe that the God of the "Old Testament" is the same God and Heavenly Father of the "New Testament" and that His name is YHVH. Gnostics believe that the Old Testament God was some evil being and a lesser "god" than the Father, God of the New Testament. In fact, I believe that that the teachings of the Old Testament are still valid and important for us today. I attempt to live my life in accordance with YHVH's commands. To a gnostic, all the commands found in Torah are irrelevent (and even oppressive) because they believe that they are saved by grace, the chosen and the elect who are sons of the Father, beings of light trapped in fleshly skin, and that their position in the kingdom is permanent and unconditional. To gnostics, they are essentially two people, a spiritual person, and a fleshly person, and whatever is done in the flesh is of no consequence because the flesh will die.

It is in fact my anti-gnostic beliefs that cause me to feel stuck, yet separate from popular beliefs. In the modern church's efforts to gain membership, it has become incredibly gnostic and has adapted gnostic technics, spirituallizing pagan and foreign practices so that it would be found acceptable to the cultures in which it resides. Gnosticism is alive and flourishing in churches today. It would be wise for christians to learn a little bit about it in order to stand against it. (I hope that those reading don't think they know everything about gnosticism by reading this journal entry... I have a very general understanding, and there is much more to gnosticism than I am writing about today.)

An obvious question that reading a book like this one would raise is: Was Paul gnostic? I don't think that anyone living today is really qualified to answer that question. Some might say that the heresy didn't exist in the church until a hundred or so years after Paul lived. Yet others would point out that Pauls epistles were highly favored by gnostics. The point of the book is to give a gnostic perspective of Pauls writings. Just because some people perceived Paul as gnostic does not make him gnostic; just as the description of my own blog could be perceived as gnostic but most certainly is not. Whether or not Paul promoted gnostic or gnostic-like teachings, the fact remains that many christian gnostics can easily refer to Paul as an esteemed representative and emmisary of their faith.

For those who aren't gnostic the important question is: Do the teachings of Paul agree with the teachings of the apostles, Yahshua and the Old Testament? It is clear from scripture also that all the apostles were capable of making mistakes. If Peter can be given "the keys of the kingdom" in one moment and called satan shortly thereafter, then Paul could certainly be walking in truth at times and speaking in error at other times. Its hard to even know for sure if the "errors" are Paul's or some scribes. Let every book of the Bible ('Old' and 'New' testaments) be a witness; those teachings that are consistant are those on which we can fully rely.


Blogger P. Douglas said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:43 PM, August 13, 2006  
Blogger P. Douglas said...

If you are interested, you can look at for how I navigate the mysteries of God, and how I use Gnostic and other valid texts that have been tossed out by the Orthodox Church, for political reasons.

The foundation of everything I do is the practice of
having faith consistent with Christ's intructions on how to do so - given in Mark 11:22-24. This is what critically allows someone to see the truth about everything. If a person does not have this valid foundation, he cannot see the truth, as the flesh will not let him.

Regarding the fact that some Gnostics don't believe the God or Gods in the Old Testament do not include the Father: Christ quoted from many books in the Old Testament - underscoring the validity of the text. In addition, in Pistis Sophia, which is a discourse between Christ and His disciples after His ressurection, Christ's disciples quoted extensively from Psalms as they explained to Christ the story He was relating about the being Pistis Sophia.

It is important to realize the situation mankind is in. At every turn we are assailed by wicked spirits living within us (the flesh), and all around us, which pollute everything we do, and cause us to err continuously. The only way we can overcome this situation, is to have faith correctly, and be empowered by God's angels (in particular the divine angels called the Holy Spirit), who allow us discern and know the truth.

1:48 PM, August 13, 2006  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

There are some good quotes indicating how people denigrated the flesh.

'There is nothing good in my flesh' - Paul in Romans 7

3:25 PM, August 13, 2006  
Blogger fencekicker said...

Thank you for your comments. I've also taken a look at both of your blogs. Its quite likely that I will be mentioning more about gnosticism in the future. I might also discuss some of the theology you have mentioned in your comments/blogs. Again, thank you for commenting and exploring my blog. I hope you plan to visit again.

8:11 PM, August 13, 2006  

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