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13143Re: Gnostic beliefs on matter

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  • pmcvflag
    Sep 10, 2007
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      Hey Mark

      You state...

      >>>At times when reading the Gnostic texts and some of their
      interpreters, I often wonder to what degree an "historical" Gnostic
      practitioner might have presented, or appeared, as a modern day

      Could you help me by telling me what you mean by "charismatic"? I am
      not sure if you mean this in the generic, or if you mean it in the
      modern evangelical sense, or if you mean it etymologically.

      >>>Thus, I think experience was important, maybe even critical, to
      Historical Gnosticism. But such an experience only helped to start
      them on the path, and it was not the whole of the path. If you want
      to find a person who has lost faith, then find a charismatic who can
      no longer experience the "Spirit." I think Historical Gnosticism
      would agree with the idea that faith may be initiated through an
      experience, but faith grows through an act of will. Experience is
      the proverbial icing on the cake. Without a doubt, beautiful and
      delicious, but without a substance that sustains and nurishes.<<<

      This could raise an interesting question for another thread. One may
      wonder exactly what function pistis, praxis, and gnosis have in the
      larger concept of Gnosis (with a capital "G") for historical (and
      traditional) practitioners. Is there a correct mix or specific
      interaction that one can find stated (or even implied) in the texts?

      >>>I am a fairly firm believer that every generation castrates
      the previous one in order to individuate themselves. Or to put it
      differently, each generation has the right or obligation to recast in
      their own terms/lingo that which their ancestors held as sacred.
      This is not the same as rejecting. Many, perhaps due to an
      intellectual laziness, find it easier simply to reject tradition,
      instead of re-interpreting it. Tradition, in its most meanigful
      sense, however, is this very process of re-interpretation through

      Interesting point. I find I can't disagree.

      There is, as you point out, a move to reject all notion
      of "tradition" itself. I find it interesting that the rhetoric used
      in these cases are very often based on singular experience and a
      reaction against that experience (people who were raised with strict
      fundementalist backgrounds). This is then cast in a lingo that is
      very closely related to racist doctrins, i.e., all notion of
      tradition or structure of any sort must be spiritually dead (the
      proof being their personal experience with one single false claim)
      and need not be examined or understood before making such a

      More important to our subject is how shockingly many people who are
      interested in Gnosticism are very much using Gnosticism (and by this
      I mean the historical texts) as a weapon for this kind of reaction
      without really wanting to try and understand the texts in and of
      themselves (I am tempted to call it the Da Vinci code complex, but
      maybe there are better terms).

      >>>When it comes to the questions of what is outdated and what must
      be changed, I think we need to be careful to distinguish between
      the "form" of the Gnostic "truths" and the "content" of those
      truths. In other words, there were many social and political norms
      that "formed" the Gnostic content and we must account for these,
      which is the domain of hermeneutics. Nonetheless, I think there are
      some spiritual truths that worked then and that work now, regardless
      of the "forming" influence of culture. In this sense, these texts
      are not just "moldy old texts and docrines," but give "form" to a
      spiritual "content" that speaks to us today.<<<

      In the end, that may be key to the whole issue. When you state this,
      though, do you have any specific examples in mind? If not, could we
      impose upon you to find a couple? It seems to me that the point may
      be too core to the conversation to be left abstract.

      >>>What is the "truth" the texts intend?<<<

      Well, I guess I could counter by asking "what is truth", but I think
      Darkchylde already does this. Frankly, though, it isn't so much my
      point. Rather, I was trying to raise the question of whether the
      authors of the texts believed in a "truth" or whether they were
      relativists like the modern popular postmodernists (or maybe bits of

      To be fair, let me try to give my own perspective on the texts and
      some examples of what they may posit as "truths".

      For one, I think they intend their cosmology as a genuine
      functional "truth" (whether that cosmology is literal or allegorical
      may be a different question, but from the functional perspective it
      may not matter).

      I think they intend to offer a specific soteriology as a literal
      truth based directly on the functionality of the cosmology (again,
      whether that cosmology is literal or allegorical).

      I am open to debate on these points, as always, but I just wanted to
      offer what I think to be the intended function of many of these
      texts so that it doesn't seem like I am standing outside the issue.

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