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8341Catholics and Gnostics

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  • pmcvflag
    Sep 26, 2003
      Ok, Josh... I am back :)

      >>I've ready so far, I feel as if the Valentinians are mystics
      employing the tools of reason, not rationalists first and mystics
      only on occasion. They are devoted to an eschatology and a first
      principle of reunion with an extra-mundane (in Jonas' words)
      divinity, though admittedly that reunion seems predicated upon the
      individual's recognition of a 'reality' that more 'reasonably'
      explains our present condition.<<

      Oh yes, I would not deny the mystical element at all... I simply
      doubt an exact equation with Gnosis. We should also probably point
      out a destinction between an experience that happens in life, and one
      expected after death. But, in the end, the most important point I am
      trying to make here is the difference in what the experience means.
      Two people haveing the same experience could understand it completely
      differently, since the experience it self my provide no connotation.
      I think this last part is the part that you have just expressed
      agreement on, and it is also this last part that throws these
      Catholic mystics outside the scope of our club.

      >>I like the example you offer, let me play with it a bit. Math is a
      set of purely rational deductions and conclusions. Once I have
      my 'eurika' moment - acheiving a fuller understanding of math - I can
      still disect my understanding into a set of rational conclusions that
      finally went 'snap!' in my mind. If gnostic inuition is comparable,
      then I should be able to logically disect the 'eurika' moment. Is
      there a set of rational ergo's to which the gnostic moment of
      intuition can be reduced? If so, would that run contrary to a
      grasping of 'inner meaning'?<<

      Well, we know that Gnosticism was in fact an initiatory movement
      designed for the express purpose of fostering that eurika moment...
      and thus I would have to guess the answer to your first question to
      be "yes". Otherwise the notion of passing on Gnosis becomes
      untenable. As far as grasping the inner meaning, do we completely
      remove that from grasping the entire meaning? Does one truely
      understand something if they cannot express it?

      Again, from your post: "Jesus himself did not equate with the divine,
      so much as identifying with it via a sort of umbilical recognition."
      Right before that, you say, "The Gnostic is able to repeat the
      statement of Jesus, 'I and the Father are one'..."

      >If I understand you correctly, the Gnostic recognizes that the human
      pneuma derives from a divine origin, the origin was also pneuma,
      therefore that which is derived shares a profound similarity with
      that from which it is derived. Would that be accurate?<

      Of course, to be true to the Gnostic intent we must use the
      term "divine" rather loosely. I am trying to remember if I have seen
      the prime source refered to as "pneuma" in any texts. In any event at
      the vary least I would agree that we see a description of Pneuma as
      an element of the image of the source, the Second Father, as it were.
      Since I don't see this second father explicetly stated in all Gnostic
      sources, it certainly may be that in some cases the connection was
      directly with the "Prime Source" rather than the less direct route. A
      better modern analogy though, may be the fact that while a cell in my
      thumb may contain my complete genetic makup, it does not have any
      similarity with my actual essential nature. It is certainly one with
      me, but it is not me.

      >It's interesting that you mention apophatic theology - since I was
      first introduced to Catholic mysticism, I've been struck by the
      conginitive disonence that seems to surround its apophatic
      tendancies. Teresa and John often invoke God's infinite
      absoluteness. Their way of prayer is markedly apophatic. Thanks to
      Father Keating and others - I mentioned Escriva before - apophatic
      prayer is even becoming something of a popular movement in the modern

      I should point out though that the Gnostic outline is apophatic in
      it's most severe usage... the Catholic apophatic notion is
      technically a description by negation, but not willing to cross into
      an absolute infinity idea of divinity. For instance... how can
      you "pray" to a truely apophatic "god"? The answer is, you can't. It
      is perhaps this that brings us back to that question of context that
      we started with. From Basilides...

      "There was when naught was: nay, even that "naught" was not aught of
      things that are. But nakedly, conjecture and mental quibbling apart,
      there was absolutely not even the one. And when i use the term "was"
      I do not mean to say that it was ;but merely to give some suggestion
      of what i wish to indicate, I use the expression "there was
      absolutely naught". Naught was, neither matter, nor substance, nor
      voidness of substance, nor simplicity, nor impossibility of
      composition, nor inconceptibility, imperceptibility, neither man, nor
      angel, nor God ; in fine, anything at all for which man has ever
      found a name, nor by any operation ehich falls within range of his
      perception or conception."

      >But let's face it, the Church has been and remains more
      focussed on keeping the flock under the 'Big Tent' than explaining
      how Catholic beliefs and ritual are compatible with apophatic
      mysticism. Personally, I believe there's room enough for both the
      katophatic and apophatic within the Church,<

      I think that there is where Valintinus would have agreed with you,
      though perhaps in a different way. I wonder what would happen if a
      neo-Valintinian order started to grow withing the Church again?

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