8341Catholics and Gnostics
- Sep 26, 2003Ok, Josh... I am back :)
>>I've ready so far, I feel as if the Valentinians are mysticsemploying 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 aset 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 humanpneuma 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 wasfirst 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 morefocussed 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?
- << Previous post in topic