Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Gnosticism: A Deadly Viral Infection

lest any man
 spoil you
 through philosophy 
and vain deceit, 
after the tradition of men,
 after the rudiments of the world, 
and not after Christ. 
For in him dwelleth 
all the fulness of the Godhead 
Colossians 2: 8-9 (KJV)

To me it is a "no-brainer": if the Bible doesn't teach it, it is heresy and needs to be thrown out. There are all kinds of false teachings out there, and I tend to bottomline these all into a single category of HERESY and DON'T GO THERE. Yep, simple, straight forward, the KISS method (Keep It Simple Stupid). It works for me. Every once in a while the Lord reminds me that there are people tangled up in this stuff for whom it isn't so easy, and that I need to dig a bit into the garbage pits and get my hands dirty so that perhaps I can be used by the Lord if He so desires, to reach some that are sincerely struggling and lost in these false doctrines.

My husband used to kid me and say "You don't need to examine every piece of garbage to know that it stinks" because I would look at many things going on today to try to understand many of the weird things that are going on these days...and if we are talking about myself only, he is of course correct. However, I do have friends and family that are tangled up in various philosophies of this world, and it would help if I knew the enemy which has them tangled so that perhaps I might better confront the errors that bind them. It isn't only all about me, and just because I have my life jacket doesn't mean I can sit pretty and not attempt to pass some of these life jackets out to those around me. If I truly believe there are people headed for hell, and I do, I should try everything I can to reach them with the truth and not hide my light under a bushel. That means I need to sharpen my understanding not only of what is true, but also learn a bit about the falsehoods that are tangling up those loved ones.

One of the main deadly heresies circulating today is gnosticism. Wikipedia gives it to be an ancient belief system (which it was) which taught esoteric (obscure) wisdom which could only be obtained through philanthropy.

Phil Johnson (a favorite pastor of mine) gave a series on heretical teachings entitled "A Survey of Heresies". He offers a very clear and concise view of gnosticism and the form it has morphed into in our modern times. He says it infects the church subtly. He says it attacks Christianity at it's very foundation, muddying up the person of Jesus Christ, that He wasn't really who He said He was, and that He didn't really do the things that He did, or that He didn't really come in the flesh but was some kind of spirit or mass hallucination. Pastor Johnson states that gnosticism takes many shapes, but that there are 3 common errors in all forms of gnosticism. These 3 errors are:

1. Dualism: everything in the universe is reducible to 2 fundamental realities (yin and yang, mind and matter, flesh and spirit) and this has a "Christian sound" to it, but it is very different.

2. Syncretism: the merging of 2 systems of beliefs (philosophy merging Judaism with Hellenism of his day -- about the time of Christ and the Apostle Paul)

3. Docetism: "to seem" which is to say that Christ only appeared to seem human but was something that was not actually human because all flesh is corrupted and therefore it was impossible for Christ to be human.

Phil Johnson points to some of the places we see modern gnosticism flourishing today, including "the Church" that it has infiltrated like a deadly virus (leaven; which always equaled sin in scripture in the parables of  Jesus, therefore sin permeating the kingdom of God) I would encourage anyone reading this and interested to know about this horrible infection that plagues us today to go to the link A Survey of Heresies.

.....Also the Jewish Encyclopedia has very detailed information on the topic of gnosticism.

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