12955Re: The Old & New Inquisition against the Gnostics this Sun on CCG!!!
- Feb 11, 2007Well, I know that Miguel is aware that we try to open these topics
up to commentary, criticism, observation, and I guess that no one
here would be particularly shocked that this particular one would
cause me to raise my eyebrow a bit and feel the need to comment
Unfortunately I was unable to catch the show (as I was with the
Turner interview, though I did hear at least part of the latter). I
did want to, but because I couldn't I am not able to comment on the
show itself... only the subject matter. I think the subject if VERY
important, though, because it raises the issue of a particular
misunderstanding that many modern readers have IMO.
To start with, I do wish to make the disclaimer that I am not very
familiar with Dr Versluis' work. I have only thumbed through a
couple articles that he did, and he seemed to be a sober and
critical thinking... at least at a quick glance. I notice that his
specialty is a bit wider than Gnosticism, and covers many forms of
esotericism (including modern forms). My observations have nothing
to do with him in particular (since I don't know how he presented
the subject)... just the subject matter at hand.
My only purpose is to offer a couple of counterpoints so that we can
look at the subject matter here from more than one angle...
hopefully eventually finding a critical middle. I don't particularly
LIKE defending the church fathers *lol*, but we don't want to
present the topic from ONLY a sensationalist perspective either. SO,
the devil's advocate.....
>>>--How the Heresiologist's duality of `right thinking' (Orthodoxy)and `wrong choice' (Heresy) were the foundation for the Inquisitional
pathology and Totalitarian mind set for centuries to come.
--How the crusades against the Cathars crystallized the Inquisition
and Totalitarian mind set by creating a system of victimology against
one's own population.
--Clear evidence that many of Totalitarian leaders of the Twentieth
Century were directly influenced by intellectuals who believed in the
Inquisitional model and the dangers of any Gnostic ideology.
--How Gnosticism, from the Classic Ages to modern times, has always
been one of the boogie men for those seeking strict order in their
--Even though religion went from the hunter to the hunted in modern
times, the Inquisitional model was still used with the Gnostics in
--Sifting through the terror of the `Satanic Panic' of the Eighties
and the secret Christian organizations that to this day are
attempting to quell Freethinkers and the Gnostic revival.
--A look into some Gnostic secret societies that are ensconced in the
Eastern Churches of the world that have avoided the eyes of the
heresy hunters for centuries..<<<
I think no one can deny that the people in power have often misused
it. Before the Inquisition existed, Roman rulers tried to stamp out
the Greek mysteries. At times, factions of Christianity have been
far from blameless in this regard. Of course, on the other end there
is a spectrum of people who love to be misunderstood martyrs for
their cause (I will avoid speculation about the psychological
mechanics at this point). For example, consider how some (generally
younger) modern Wiccans seemed so keen to talk about the "Burning
Times". The whole idea that the "Catholic Inquisition" burned
millions of witches simply is not something that has turned out to
be true, and even more thoughtful Wiccans realize this.
I don't think the ancient Gnostics thought of themselves via this
kind of victimology, but in the past we have had some others in this
forum who have seemed to feel this is the case (though I would
challenge it). Gnostic sources could be just as brutal in their
attack of what they viewed as heterodoxy. I think that we must be
careful not to make the mistake of setting up "Orthodoxy" as a
boogieman for for a construct of Gnosticism that never existed.
I think another misunderstanding that is common with us modern would-
be Gnostics is the growing desire to paint the ancient Gnostics as
some kind of mystical anarchists in line with popular postmodernist
thinking. Just as I would debate Jonas for trying to make them the
ancient Existentialists, I think the attempt to make the Gnostics
into the ancient New Age movement is misguided.
In opposition to this view, I would point out that in some ways the
ancient Gnostics were sometimes quite a bit MORE strict and
structured than the "Orthodox" church. At least some of them seemed
to view themselves as a HIGHLY intellectual movement in contrast to
the overly free UNthinking masses of pagan (and I mean "pagan" in
the literal usage) Christianity that we now often think of as
orthodox (or "Orthodox"). It is possible that the reason some of
them fizzled is because they were TOO structured and TOO exclusive,
while the "Orthodox" were frankly more open to a wider set of people.
How many here think they would stick with a traditional Gnostic
system if they had the chance?
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