Friday, April 07, 2006

Gnosticism verus Proto Christianity...

This should be a relatively short and simple post, but one that is necessary as a foundation for the following ones because it will explain the us versus them mentality protochristians/christians used in defining themselves, and in turn why some books and ideas were banned for all time from the early Christian cannon leading into modern times.

The first thing you must understand is that in the first century, even into the second century of Christianity's rise there was no real term, "Christian". Hence we call those who followed Christ as Messiah, protoChristians, becuase most still believed themselves to be at most, a very progressive form of Judaism. This Judaic tie was severed within the second century or no later than Constantine's conversion. Then we call the followers, proto-orthodox Christians, because their form of the religion became the dominant one followed till today. Those who were "Christian" in one form or another, but were not believers in our orthodox version became known as Gnostics. Gnostic comes from gnosis which is knowledge in Greek I believe. And here is one of the great divides between the Gnostics and the Proto Christians, but to be called simply Christians henceforward, even if a misnomer.

Gnostics sought through wisdom, and knowledge the key to returning to the higher plane of creation. Christians on the other hand for at least 1500 years sought "salvation", to be had through belief in Christ as Messiah, and that his death would cleanse us and thereby return us to Heaven. The key that ties them together is a belief in Jesus Christ, as a man, and perhaps demigod if not too blasphemous to call him that, by Christian standard. For, there are still those who are "Christian" that do not believe in the full trinity, which means they view Jesus as more than prophet, but less than the Triune Godhead.

This search for wisdom is heretical because one it denies Christ as God, and two it says that his death and resurrection did not save us from our mortal sin, merely it showed us how to also be reborn through ressurrection to return to the higher plane of existence. To believe this was to believe that Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament for Jews and Christians, is actually a demi God who broke off of the True God, Sophia. She is the actual creator of "Creation". Yahweh is merely the creator of Earth, Heaven, and Hell. He is but a petulant child that decided to be a little creationist out of jealousy, much like the story of Satan's fall because he wished to create and take God's throne. But I digress.

So to be Gnostic is to deny Yahweh/God his omnipotence and singularity. Christianity was not about to have a polytheistic outlook, seeing as it came from Judaism which had purged its own polytheistic beliefs roughly five thousand years prior. The seeking of knowledge is actually considered a sin in modern Christianity, if you did not know this already. Why? Well, one because Satan is considered the ultimate seeker of knowledge and power. But, think of what I just wrote, it was made sinful to seek "knowledge" because the protoChristians wished to deny any ties to the Gnostics and to make their entire faith system heretical and seeminly tied to Satan is a great propoganda scheme. This role of propoganda and parallel sin/defamation of character will come up again as we delve more into the Gospels and heretical/apocryphal gospels.

This is a good beginning. Gnostics seek knowledge. Christians sought faith and absolution. Each evolved out of Judaism and then split into new faiths. One last thing, if you believe it was easy for orthodox Christianity to win out, you are mistaken. They nearly lost, and what really helped tip the scales was one minor event in Oct 312 AD, when the Battle at the Milvian Bridge took place. Constantine became his quest and success as becoming the sole Emperor of the Roman Empire. His acquiescence to the Christian faith after it having been outlawed for so long, groomed Christianity to rise, and his interference with any who were seen as heretical to proto orthodoxy sealed the fate of both Gnostics and Christianity. One won out, and the other faded into obscurity, with only a few texts lasting more than another century or two. It wasn't until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Nag Hamadi texts that we found what had only been hinted at by scholars of the second and third century AD.

Here is the conclusion of a minor and very brief summary of Christianity, and Gnosticism as they paralled to each other. Any questions please feel free to email me or make a comment here, and I'll try to clarify or look up the answer. Next post shall be the importance of the texts, such as the Gospels, the faith of the Gnostics to the Christians, and how it leads to the Gospel of Judas Iscariot. The last post will then be on what The gospel supposedly says, and why it matters if at all to modern Christians...


Blogger RamJam said...

More detail on how Christianity became the pop-religion post Constantine please.

7:19 PM  

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