10678Re: The Golden Rule (reciprocity)
- Feb 14, 2005--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "gich morgan" <gich2@b...> wrote:
> Hey Mychael!himself concept...'
> You write: 'Gnosticism seems, on the surface, an every-man-for-
>a 'community' dimension.
> That's exactly how I see it at the moment. I can't seem to find
>Hi, Gich. Actually, I observe a seeming dichotomy here. On the one
hand, yes, a Gnostic awakening is certainly a personal one, but it
doesn't happen in a vacuum. Individual ancient Gnostics did not
literally have reserved seating on isolated mountains only doing
their own thing. Socially, the ancient Gnostics were part of
initiatory communities with peers and teachers, assisting individuals
in their personal inner paths.
We see teachers (examples: Ptolemy's Epistle to Flora and Treatise on
Resurrection) and sermons (for instance, in Zostrianos and The Gospel
of Truth) -- a real community effort aimed at guiding the individual,
not numbing the masses. ;-)
The Valentinians with their Christological ties had a strong sense of
community, yet they did so with an eye of caution to (a) offer
assistance to those who *wish* to arise and focusing on those who
were awakened, yet (b) on the other hand, not lose what they had
gained by mistakenly focusing on impeding influences that they had
"Make steady the feet of those who have stumbled, and stretch out
your hands to those who are sick. Feed those who are hungry, and
unto those who are weary give repose; and awaken those who wish to
arise, and get up from your sleep. For it is you who are unsheathed
intelligence. If strengthening is thus, it is truly strong.
"Focus your attention upon yourselves. Do not focus your attention
upon others, that is, ones whom you have expelled. Do not return to
eat what you have vomited forth. Do not become eaten by moths; do
not become infested with worms; for you have already cast him out.
Do not become the place of the devil, for you have already brought
him to naught. Do not strengthen the elements that impede you --
those who fall -- supposing that this is a kind of improvement. For
the lawless is nothing. Treat such a one more forcibly than the
just, since the lawless acts on the supposition of being lawless,
while the just acts toward others on the supposition of being just.
For your own part, then, do the will of the father, for you are from
him." (_The Gospel of Truth_)
It seems to me that if the Valentinians considered themselves "from
him," from the father, then although they were still very human, they
possibly would have felt better equipped to focus on the restorative
aspect of this acquaintance with the father. This might have helped
in making wiser judgment calls regarding reciprocity within their own
social community, but obviously eventually didn't fare well in the
larger Christian environment as time went on and the moths and worms
of political forces were hell-bent on their destruction.
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