Gnostic Immanence, Orthodox Eminence
- Immanence, and EminencebyBishop Tom SaundersIn the "Gnostic Secrets of the Nasserrenes," Mark Gaffney, confronts the 'Gnostic Question' of the origins of Christian Gnosticism. In the center of Orthodox, and Heterodox Christianities is the question between, Immanence, and Eminence. This question is still haunting people today, even those who are not aware of the difference in their own beliefs.This can be a painful confrontation with yourself, and very difficult in dealing with others who are bound in a particular belief of God, one who controls you and your fate, as well as the fate of the universe. Your self image and the image of the world and your role in it, can be actually effected by this belief.Gaffney, Pagels, Davies, Ehrman, and other modern scholars are quickly learning there is more history to the first Christians than anyone since the 5th century could have known. Some of the underlying belief systems of first century Christians are coming to light for the first time in 1700 years. Mistake after mistake has been made by scholars about the "Nag Hammadi Library," and the "Gospel of Thomas," because as new information comes to light, old thoughts perish, that do not apply.One real question for the modern Gnostic is to figure how far to push someone who is "Eminence Bound," to realize the divinity within himself, and how extensive the 'immanence,' or divinity is within the self. It can start with one question, "Do you feel there is a divine part of God within yourself?The warnings about those that are polaric in thinking that God, is in strict "eminence" with the Church are very abundant in Gnostic texts. So much so, much of the "Gospel of Thomas," dedicates many kinds of warnings about approaching the uninitiated. (By 'Eminence Bound,' I mean like being 'Culturally Bound,' like being bound in your native dialect and language codes.)Pre-Christian groups of Hermetics, Pythagoreans, Mandaeans, Nasserrenes, and other "Gnostics" set the state of Immanence, the belief that the spark of divinity within the self is real. This was very misunderstood and can be related in the writings of Gnostic detractors. Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Tertullian, Jerome, and Eusebius, are particularly telling in their misled accounts of Gnostics. In Tertullian's "Tristease of the Soul" every reference to a Pythagorean is tainted so as to say nothing significant.If you want 'significant' information about the Philosophers denoted by Tertullian, look them up in Clement's writings and verified sources that are not among the detractor's mentioned. Otherwise, Irenaeus, Hyppolytus, and Tertullian and the information they relate regarding the nature of the Heterodox, is not to be trusted. There are some truths in detractor's work, just not enough.Willis Barnstone's, "The Other Bible" reviews the comparison of Irenaeus, (Eusebius), accounts of the philosophies of Basilides. They don't match. In my opinion neither is correct about the philosophical values of Basilidians. Gaffney in his work on the Nasserrenes, also mentions that their are 'two' Hermes' to consider in Christian philosophy. Both "Asclepius," and the "Discourse of the 8th and 9th," are clearly references in Hermetic thought to Hermes Trimegistus, a contemporary of Abraham, in the "Old Testament." (Much of Heremtic Philosophy is legend, as is that of the Pythagoreans)Pythagoreans, the followers of Pythagoras existed about 500 years before Jesus, and it clearly appears they shared many philosophical ideas with the Hermetics. Hippolytus, in his "Against All Heresies" Chapter 5, mentions Empedocles, which clearly links the Nasserrenes to the concepts of Pythagorean Monadologies, and the idea of Gnostic salvation, which is directly linked to the idea of immanence. It is very likely that Empedocles drew on a vast knowledge of the I Ching, and Tai Chi of Taoism, as well as Persian lore.Immanence lies in the question, "Do you think there is a piece of God, somehow in yourself?" How does this idea fit in with your life? The very dangerous question comes up next, "What is the organized Church, which more than suggests that salvation is only with the unity of the Church, doing to fuel the 'spark' of divinity within yourself?"The Church in the first three-hundred years was a compendium of belief systems tied to Jesus in one way or the other. Too many ways. The belief in Magic is a factor, and can be eliminated in Thomasine Gnosis. Johnite Gnostics can be linked to magic, which is a really surprising irony for the Orthodox, should they wish to support that view today. Some Gnostics bought into magic, they all bought into the "Occult."(Occult meaning 'that which is hidden.') Gnosticism promotes the idea that there is a direct union possible with your idea of God, and this is the key to salvation.Without this union, to the Christian Gnostic, the inner divinity cannot live beyond physical death. The warnings to those that can achieve Gnosis, which means exactly the same thing as Buddhist Satori, (with extended but subtle differences, which serve to explain the process of both,) exist in the idea that some don't ever come out of the idea of "Eminence." Others are classified in the ancient texts as 'hylic,' meaning like animals in many ways, most not good.Early Gnsotics existed as a 'little church, within a church,' and were hated by the Orthodox, who wanted domain over the transubstantiation of the Holy Spirit, within the confines of the Church. They defended the idea of Eminence, as did Paul. No Gnostic of the time in the first centuries would have doubted a connection to Eminence, if it leads to Gnostic understanding or un-locking the divine part of one's soul. They could not, however make the scientific distinction between trick, illusions and magic, including the power of sex.The Orthodox became dominant from force, tyranny, and human slaughter. Gnostics just saw them as those who could not or would not achieve Gnosis, or Enlightenment, and it is not the domain of the Gnostic to save Hylics. The next level up is Psychic, and those perhaps are the human animal that can be saved. The 'spirit bearers' mentioned above are those called in some references 'Pneumatics.' The highest state to Pneumatic is through the process of spiritual transcendence, which means in the broadest sense Enlightenment as it is meant both East and West, everywhere.Gnosticism is not the total rejection of Eminence in natural law in regard to the human psyche, the earthly domain, and the Heavenly domain. Eminence is the 'capacity' of someone caught in the realm of belief that they are controlled by an external force, they are not a part of. This is the cost of Eminence.This is the belief that demons can come out of Hell into the Kenoma, out of the Cosmos, into the Kosmos of earth and matter, as well as an angry God.For the Gnostic, and as stated in both the writings of Hippolytus, Jerome, and Gnostic Scripture, the exploration of Immanennce, is connecting you to God in a way that Eminence cannot do. Irenaeus, Eusebius, Tertullian, Jerome, and others that rejected the idea of Gnostic Transcention, were those who did not know about it, in a way to command the proper view. Jerome in letters speaks bluntly about the Orthodox view that the reincarnation is about coming back into the flesh. The Gnostic view is remaining alive in the form of spiritual union with the Holy Spirit, which you must do through cultivation of the union, and your own "Soul."The Orthodox view to this day is that the idea surrounding the "Kingdom of Man" is Heresy. The "Gospel of Thomas" is Heresy, and the idea that Jesus is the 'Monad" proposed by both early and late texts of the Nag Hammadi, is definitely, Heretical. (Apocyphon of John is early, the "Valentinian Exposition" is later) It is very clear in Gnostic works whether they be doctored versions by Gnostic detractors, or the real deal in the Bruce, Askew, Berlin, 'Nag Hammadi,' and other sources, that Immanence is a general theme. In some works this is explained as the Human Soul bonding with the Heavenly Soul, and this is the basis of being Pneumantic. (I mean this in the broadest sense of Enlightenment, Gnosis and Satori, being almost synonymous.)The answer to salvation beyond death is everyone's concern, who calls themselves Christian. The respected Bible Scholar William Arnal, is correct in assuming the 'Gospel of Thomas' is an ascetic text. You must find yourself and God alone. Gnosis or Enlightenment cannot be done without spiritual change in the self, and self development. Christian Gnostics, are reborn to this generation, and if the Orthodox does not kill Gnostics all first, again..... this time the idea of Immanence may prevail as the ascending dominant belief in Christianity.