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Demiurge vs. Satan

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  • mercyboxfan
    What is the difference in the way that Gnostics view the demiurge versus the way Orthodox Christian view Satan? Seems to me that they are both perceived as
    Message 1 of 7 , Sep 3, 2005
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      What is the difference in the way that Gnostics view the demiurge
      versus the way Orthodox Christian view Satan? Seems to me that they are
      both perceived as evil and a misleader of humans? Also, there is the
      common trait of trapping the human's soul, either here in this reality
      or in hell.
      It just seems to me it is the same diabolism of a diety, just two
      different names. I guess that I just have a problem with fundamentalist
      views. I would appreciate any help or book references that you guys
      could give me regarding this question.

      Thanks in advance,
      Anne Marie
    • j.j.salt
      Dear Ann Marie, It is hard for me to imagine anyone grouping Gnostics in with fundamentalists, since fundamentalism refers to a literal interpretation of
      Message 2 of 7 , Sep 3, 2005
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        Dear Ann Marie,
         
        It is hard for me to imagine anyone grouping Gnostics in with "fundamentalists," since fundamentalism refers to a literal interpretation of scripture, whereas Gnosticism of all stripes posits that the overt, literal content of scripture is not its "real" meaning, that the truth can only be found by not only not taking scripture literally, but by a process of personal religious experience, namely Gnosis. 
         
        But while there are a few similarities between Satan as conceived by traditional Christianity and the Demiurge as conceived by Gnosticism, the differences are greater.  For starters, Satan, the fallen angel of Christian mythology, deliberately chose to be evil and defy the will of God the Father.  In Gnostic thought, the Demiurge is not so much evil as He is mistaken.  He is thought to honesly believe he is God Almighty, when he is not.  Thus he sets out to convince humans he is "The Lord Thy God" not to deceive them, but to convince them of what he believes to be the truth, but is not.  In Gnostic cosmology, the fallenness, the imperfection of the created world needs no "Satan" to account for it, because the world is, at least in part, the creation of the Demiurge, and this accounts for its imperfection.  But the imperfection of the world, according to the Gnostics, is in essence part of the plan, since the Demiurge is an "emanation" of the Eternal and Unknowable God, not an angel who chose to defy God.  The Demiurge's belief that he is "the" God is his own mistaken belief.  Thus, while the Gnostics are often criticized for being "dualistic" in viewing creation as imperfect, in contrast with an imagined perfect realm, there is a sense in which one can view Gnosticism as being more directed towards the unity of all things, because the imperfection of the world was an inherent part of the creative process, and not the result of anyone defying God's plan.  The imperfection of the world, in essence, came in as a result of the distance between God the "Forefather," the "real" God, and creation, much like a game of "telephone" in which each time a statement is repeated, errors inevitably creep in without the intent of anyone to deceive. 
         
        The "trapping" conceived of by the Gnostics is also intended as a description of humankind's current state, not a place to which souls are sentenced because of sins after death.  The means of escape from the trap is different, too, in Gnosticism versus conventional Christianity.  In Christianity as people usually conceive of it, one avoids hell by performing good works and by avoiding evil deeds, whereas the "official" position of organized Christianity is actually that one is saved from hell by "faith," although what faith is, exactly, is often debated in Christian circles.  Most Christians believe that "faith" means "believing that Jesus is Lord."  In Gnosticism, people are, while on earth, already in a "trapped" state, and one escapes from this only by "gnosis," that is, an intuitive process of coming to know the truth, and the truth sets one free.  What this "truth" is that frees is not stated explicitly by Gnostics, since just telling someone the truth is of no benefit, since to be "saved" the person must see the truth for themselves.  But the concept of gnosis is usually thought to include the ideas central to the Gnostic conception of reality, such as that scripture is not to be taken at face value, that the person in the Old Testament who claims to be "God" is actually the Demiurge, and so on. 
         
        Gnostics usually view the number of those who "know" as being a distinct minority of people, although in theory, anyone is capable of gnosis.  Having entered into Gnosticism, myself, from the realm of Zen Buddhism, I tend to want to take the boddhisatva's vow--that of liberating all sentient beings--into my own version of Gnosticism, and therefore I want to bring Gnosis to all people, although that is, I have been told over and over, an unrealistic vision. 
         
        I guess we will see. 
         
        As far as books, a good and easily obtained introduction to Gnostic thought is to download the books of the Nag Hammadi Codex, although many of these are not easy reading.  Certainly, anyone who has never read the Gospel of Thomas ought to do so, in my occasionally humble opinion, as soon as possible.  This one is easy reading, and anyone familiar with the four Gospels in the New Testament will recognize many of the sayings of Jesus, although there will be some that will likely turn your head.  There is a Gnostic Christian website, "The Pearl," which provides some more easily accessible Gnostic writings.  A very interesting web site called "Metareligion" is also an opening into certain kinds of Gnostic thought, although there is a particular "slant" apparent in that site, which involves the heavy influence of the thought of one particular person.  Of course, the key to Gnosis is a personal experience of gnosis, that is, knowing by intuition, which can be obtained by anyone who practices any form of meditation or structured contemplation.  In my own experience, I came to Gnosticism primarily through my study and employment of Zen Buddhist spiritual technologies.  Many are the paths...
         
        In Unity,
        j.j.salt, aka Durak

        mercyboxfan <mercyboxfan@...> wrote:
        What is the difference in the way that Gnostics view the demiurge
        versus the way Orthodox Christian view Satan? Seems to me that they are
        both perceived as evil and a misleader of humans? Also, there is the
        common trait of trapping the human's soul, either here in this reality
        or in hell.
        It just seems to me it is the same diabolism of a diety, just two
        different names. I guess that I just have a problem with fundamentalist
        views. I would appreciate any help or book references that you guys
        could give me regarding this question.

        Thanks in advance,
        Anne Marie







        __________________________________________________
        Do You Yahoo!?
        Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
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      • Nick Lawrance
        From j.j.salt, aka Durak It is hard for me to imagine anyone grouping Gnostics in with fundamentalists, since fundamentalism refers to a literal
        Message 3 of 7 , Sep 4, 2005
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          From j.j.salt, aka Durak
          It is hard for me to imagine anyone grouping Gnostics in with "fundamentalists," since fundamentalism refers to a literal interpretation of scripture, whereas Gnosticism of all stripes posits that the overt, literal content of scripture is not its "real" meaning, that the truth can only be found by not only not taking scripture literally, but by a process of personal religious experience, namely Gnosis. 
          ..............................
          I really enjoyed reading your description of the demiurge and agree that when one studies the Gnostics texts he is found to be ignorant and foolish rather than evil, but I sometimes wonder if there is more to it than that for as quoted from another list in what I believe to be somewhat similar to Stephan Hoeller's view: "There is a point where Buddhism and Gnosticism part ways. Gnosticism holds that there is a continuous transpersonal consciousness that has an interest in keeping up the illusion, which means keeping the individual blind."
          Reading the Secret book of John always leaves me in a cold sweat for it certainly seems to agree with the view that ignorance has a rather active rather than passive role.
           
          Nick
          ----- Original Message -----
          From: j.j.salt
          Sent: Sunday, September 04, 2005 3:24 AM
          Subject: Re: [Gnosticism2] Demiurge vs. Satan

          Dear Ann Marie,
           
          It is hard for me to imagine anyone grouping Gnostics in with "fundamentalists," since fundamentalism refers to a literal interpretation of scripture, whereas Gnosticism of all stripes posits that the overt, literal content of scripture is not its "real" meaning, that the truth can only be found by not only not taking scripture literally, but by a process of personal religious experience, namely Gnosis. 
           
          But while there are a few similarities between Satan as conceived by traditional Christianity and the Demiurge as conceived by Gnosticism, the differences are greater.  For starters, Satan, the fallen angel of Christian mythology, deliberately chose to be evil and defy the will of God the Father.  In Gnostic thought, the Demiurge is not so much evil as He is mistaken.  He is thought to honesly believe he is God Almighty, when he is not.  Thus he sets out to convince humans he is "The Lord Thy God" not to deceive them, but to convince them of what he believes to be the truth, but is not.  In Gnostic cosmology, the fallenness, the imperfection of the created world needs no "Satan" to account for it, because the world is, at least in part, the creation of the Demiurge, and this accounts for its imperfection.  But the imperfection of the world, according to the Gnostics, is in essence part of the plan, since the Demiurge is an "emanation" of the Eternal and Unknowable God, not an angel who chose to defy God.  The Demiurge's belief that he is "the" God is his own mistaken belief.  Thus, while the Gnostics are often criticized for being "dualistic" in viewing creation as imperfect, in contrast with an imagined perfect realm, there is a sense in which one can view Gnosticism as being more directed towards the unity of all things, because the imperfection of the world was an inherent part of the creative process, and not the result of anyone defying God's plan.  The imperfection of the world, in essence, came in as a result of the distance between God the "Forefather," the "real" God, and creation, much like a game of "telephone" in which each time a statement is repeated, errors inevitably creep in without the intent of anyone to deceive. 
           
          The "trapping" conceived of by the Gnostics is also intended as a description of humankind's current state, not a place to which souls are sentenced because of sins after death.  The means of escape from the trap is different, too, in Gnosticism versus conventional Christianity.  In Christianity as people usually conceive of it, one avoids hell by performing good works and by avoiding evil deeds, whereas the "official" position of organized Christianity is actually that one is saved from hell by "faith," although what faith is, exactly, is often debated in Christian circles.  Most Christians believe that "faith" means "believing that Jesus is Lord."  In Gnosticism, people are, while on earth, already in a "trapped" state, and one escapes from this only by "gnosis," that is, an intuitive process of coming to know the truth, and the truth sets one free.  What this "truth" is that frees is not stated explicitly by Gnostics, since just telling someone the truth is of no benefit, since to be "saved" the person must see the truth for themselves.  But the concept of gnosis is usually thought to include the ideas central to the Gnostic conception of reality, such as that scripture is not to be taken at face value, that the person in the Old Testament who claims to be "God" is actually the Demiurge, and so on. 
           
          Gnostics usually view the number of those who "know" as being a distinct minority of people, although in theory, anyone is capable of gnosis.  Having entered into Gnosticism, myself, from the realm of Zen Buddhism, I tend to want to take the boddhisatva's vow--that of liberating all sentient beings--into my own version of Gnosticism, and therefore I want to bring Gnosis to all people, although that is, I have been told over and over, an unrealistic vision. 
           
          I guess we will see. 
           
          As far as books, a good and easily obtained introduction to Gnostic thought is to download the books of the Nag Hammadi Codex, although many of these are not easy reading.  Certainly, anyone who has never read the Gospel of Thomas ought to do so, in my occasionally humble opinion, as soon as possible.  This one is easy reading, and anyone familiar with the four Gospels in the New Testament will recognize many of the sayings of Jesus, although there will be some that will likely turn your head.  There is a Gnostic Christian website, "The Pearl," which provides some more easily accessible Gnostic writings.  A very interesting web site called "Metareligion" is also an opening into certain kinds of Gnostic thought, although there is a particular "slant" apparent in that site, which involves the heavy influence of the thought of one particular person.  Of course, the key to Gnosis is a personal experience of gnosis, that is, knowing by intuition, which can be obtained by anyone who practices any form of meditation or structured contemplation.  In my own experience, I came to Gnosticism primarily through my study and employment of Zen Buddhist spiritual technologies.  Many are the paths...
           
          In Unity,
          j.j.salt, aka Durak

          mercyboxfan <mercyboxfan@...> wrote:
          What is the difference in the way that Gnostics view the demiurge
          versus the way Orthodox Christian view Satan? Seems to me that they are
          both perceived as evil and a misleader of humans? Also, there is the
          common trait of trapping the human's soul, either here in this reality
          or in hell.
          It just seems to me it is the same diabolism of a diety, just two
          different names. I guess that I just have a problem with fundamentalist
          views. I would appreciate any help or book references that you guys
          could give me regarding this question.

          Thanks in advance,
          Anne Marie







          __________________________________________________
          Do You Yahoo!?
          Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
          http://mail.yahoo.com

        • j.j.salt
          Haven t gotten to the Secret Book of John, yet, but now it s at the top of my list as soon as I finish Pistis Sophia. Having had a lifelong fondness for the
          Message 4 of 7 , Sep 4, 2005
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            Haven't gotten to the Secret Book of John, yet, but now it's at the top of my list as soon as I finish Pistis Sophia.  Having had a lifelong fondness for the Gospel According to John (which may have some metaphysical relationship with the fact that I bear the name John), I expect to find this very interesting reading, although I'm sure there may be some doubt as to actual authorship, as there is with the Gospel itself. 
             
            Regards,
            j.j.salt, aka Durak

            Nick Lawrance <nicholson2000r@...> wrote:
            From j.j.salt, aka Durak
            It is hard for me to imagine anyone grouping Gnostics in with "fundamentalists," since fundamentalism refers to a literal interpretation of scripture, whereas Gnosticism of all stripes posits that the overt, literal content of scripture is not its "real" meaning, that the truth can only be found by not only not taking scripture literally, but by a process of personal religious experience, namely Gnosis. 
            ..............................
            I really enjoyed reading your description of the demiurge and agree that when one studies the Gnostics texts he is found to be ignorant and foolish rather than evil, but I sometimes wonder if there is more to it than that for as quoted from another list in what I believe to be somewhat similar to Stephan Hoeller's view: "There is a point where Buddhism and Gnosticism part ways. Gnosticism holds that there is a continuous transpersonal consciousness that has an interest in keeping up the illusion, which means keeping the individual blind."
            Reading the Secret book of John always leaves me in a cold sweat for it certainly seems to agree with the view that ignorance has a rather active rather than passive role.
             
            Nick
            ----- Original Message -----
            From: j.j.salt
            Sent: Sunday, September 04, 2005 3:24 AM
            Subject: Re: [Gnosticism2] Demiurge vs. Satan

            Dear Ann Marie,
             
            It is hard for me to imagine anyone grouping Gnostics in with "fundamentalists," since fundamentalism refers to a literal interpretation of scripture, whereas Gnosticism of all stripes posits that the overt, literal content of scripture is not its "real" meaning, that the truth can only be found by not only not taking scripture literally, but by a process of personal religious experience, namely Gnosis. 
             
            But while there are a few similarities between Satan as conceived by traditional Christianity and the Demiurge as conceived by Gnosticism, the differences are greater.  For starters, Satan, the fallen angel of Christian mythology, deliberately chose to be evil and defy the will of God the Father.  In Gnostic thought, the Demiurge is not so much evil as He is mistaken.  He is thought to honesly believe he is God Almighty, when he is not.  Thus he sets out to convince humans he is "The Lord Thy God" not to deceive them, but to convince them of what he believes to be the truth, but is not.  In Gnostic cosmology, the fallenness, the imperfection of the created world needs no "Satan" to account for it, because the world is, at least in part, the creation of the Demiurge, and this accounts for its imperfection.  But the imperfection of the world, according to the Gnostics, is in essence part of the plan, since the Demiurge is an "emanation" of the Eternal and Unknowable God, not an angel who chose to defy God.  The Demiurge's belief that he is "the" God is his own mistaken belief.  Thus, while the Gnostics are often criticized for being "dualistic" in viewing creation as imperfect, in contrast with an imagined perfect realm, there is a sense in which one can view Gnosticism as being more directed towards the unity of all things, because the imperfection of the world was an inherent part of the creative process, and not the result of anyone defying God's plan.  The imperfection of the world, in essence, came in as a result of the distance between God the "Forefather," the "real" God, and creation, much like a game of "telephone" in which each time a statement is repeated, errors inevitably creep in without the intent of anyone to deceive. 
             
            The "trapping" conceived of by the Gnostics is also intended as a description of humankind's current state, not a place to which souls are sentenced because of sins after death.  The means of escape from the trap is different, too, in Gnosticism versus conventional Christianity.  In Christianity as people usually conceive of it, one avoids hell by performing good works and by avoiding evil deeds, whereas the "official" position of organized Christianity is actually that one is saved from hell by "faith," although what faith is, exactly, is often debated in Christian circles.  Most Christians believe that "faith" means "believing that Jesus is Lord."  In Gnosticism, people are, while on earth, already in a "trapped" state, and one escapes from this only by "gnosis," that is, an intuitive process of coming to know the truth, and the truth sets one free.  What this "truth" is that frees is not stated explicitly by Gnostics, since just telling someone the truth is of no benefit, since to be "saved" the person must see the truth for themselves.  But the concept of gnosis is usually thought to include the ideas central to the Gnostic conception of reality, such as that scripture is not to be taken at face value, that the person in the Old Testament who claims to be "God" is actually the Demiurge, and so on. 
             
            Gnostics usually view the number of those who "know" as being a distinct minority of people, although in theory, anyone is capable of gnosis.  Having entered into Gnosticism, myself, from the realm of Zen Buddhism, I tend to want to take the boddhisatva's vow--that of liberating all sentient beings--into my own version of Gnosticism, and therefore I want to bring Gnosis to all people, although that is, I have been told over and over, an unrealistic vision. 
             
            I guess we will see. 
             
            As far as books, a good and easily obtained introduction to Gnostic thought is to download the books of the Nag Hammadi Codex, although many of these are not easy reading.  Certainly, anyone who has never read the Gospel of Thomas ought to do so, in my occasionally humble opinion, as soon as possible.  This one is easy reading, and anyone familiar with the four Gospels in the New Testament will recognize many of the sayings of Jesus, although there will be some that will likely turn your head.  There is a Gnostic Christian website, "The Pearl," which provides some more easily accessible Gnostic writings.  A very interesting web site called "Metareligion" is also an opening into certain kinds of Gnostic thought, although there is a particular "slant" apparent in that site, which involves the heavy influence of the thought of one particular person.  Of course, the key to Gnosis is a personal experience of gnosis, that is, knowing by intuition, which can be obtained by anyone who practices any form of meditation or structured contemplation.  In my own experience, I came to Gnosticism primarily through my study and employment of Zen Buddhist spiritual technologies.  Many are the paths...
             
            In Unity,
            j.j.salt, aka Durak

            mercyboxfan <mercyboxfan@...> wrote:
            What is the difference in the way that Gnostics view the demiurge
            versus the way Orthodox Christian view Satan? Seems to me that they are
            both perceived as evil and a misleader of humans? Also, there is the
            common trait of trapping the human's soul, either here in this reality
            or in hell.
            It just seems to me it is the same diabolism of a diety, just two
            different names. I guess that I just have a problem with fundamentalist
            views. I would appreciate any help or book references that you guys
            could give me regarding this question.

            Thanks in advance,
            Anne Marie







            __________________________________________________
            Do You Yahoo!?
            Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
            http://mail.yahoo.com


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          • Gerry
            ... As hard as it may be to imagine, there are indeed people out there who are thoroughly convinced that their literal understanding of (select) Gnostic texts
            Message 5 of 7 , Sep 14, 2005
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              --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "j.j.salt" <jj_salt@y...> wrote:
              > Dear Ann Marie,
              >
              > It is hard for me to imagine anyone grouping Gnostics in
              > with "fundamentalists," since fundamentalism refers to a literal
              > interpretation of scripture, . . . .



              As hard as it may be to imagine, there are indeed people out there who
              are thoroughly convinced that their literal understanding of (select)
              Gnostic texts is the only true Gnosticism. Perhaps not so
              surprisingly, they frequently hold up Marcion as an exemplar of this
              tradition (which ought to tell you something about their perspective).

              They generally have the anti-cosmic attitude down pat. They also tend
              to be antinomian, anti-Old Testament, anti-YHWH, and often downright
              anti-Semitic. Personally, I have occasionally wondered if an interest
              in Gnosticism were nothing but an ill-chosen cover for certain
              individuals suffering from that particular prejudice. At any rate,
              while I could probably list another whole paragraph detailing what all
              they are against, it is probably the fact that they generally exhibit
              such rigorously *antisocial* behavior that keeps them from being
              allowed to post here anymore.

              Gerry
            • Gerry
              ... To me, Anne, the difference would be like comparing apples and oranges . . . from different markets, no less. If you re trying to bridge that chasm (that
              Message 6 of 7 , Sep 14, 2005
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                --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "mercyboxfan" <mercyboxfan@y...>
                wrote:
                > What is the difference in the way that Gnostics view the demiurge
                > versus the way Orthodox Christian view Satan? Seems to me that they
                > are both perceived as evil and a misleader of humans? Also, there
                > is the common trait of trapping the human's soul, either here in
                > this reality or in hell.
                > It just seems to me it is the same diabolism of a diety, just two
                > different names. I guess that I just have a problem with
                > fundamentalist views. I would appreciate any help or book
                > references that you guys could give me regarding this question.
                >
                > Thanks in advance,
                > Anne Marie



                To me, Anne, the difference would be like comparing apples and
                oranges . . . from different markets, no less. If you're trying to
                bridge that chasm (that Thomas aptly depicted) and get that
                fundamentalist Satan properly behind thee, you may want to consider a
                simpler comparison that would still yield a world of contrast:

                What is the difference in the way Gnostics and orthodox Christians
                view Christ?

                Gerry
              • Mike Leavitt
                Hello Gerry ... Some gnostics postulate both the demiurge and the devil, if they are the same, why. Of course their devel is a little worse than old Saklas.
                Message 7 of 7 , Sep 14, 2005
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                  Hello Gerry

                  On 09/14/05, you wrote:

                  >
                  > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "mercyboxfan" <mercyboxfan@y...>
                  > wrote:
                  >> What is the difference in the way that Gnostics view the demiurge
                  >> versus the way Orthodox Christian view Satan? Seems to me that they
                  >> are both perceived as evil and a misleader of humans? Also, there
                  >> is the common trait of trapping the human's soul, either here in
                  >> this reality or in hell.
                  >> It just seems to me it is the same diabolism of a diety, just two
                  >> different names. I guess that I just have a problem with
                  >> fundamentalist views. I would appreciate any help or book
                  >> references that you guys could give me regarding this question.
                  >>
                  >> Thanks in advance,
                  >> Anne Marie
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > To me, Anne, the difference would be like comparing apples and
                  > oranges . . . from different markets, no less. If you're trying to
                  > bridge that chasm (that Thomas aptly depicted) and get that
                  > fundamentalist Satan properly behind thee, you may want to consider
                  > a simpler comparison that would still yield a world of contrast:
                  >
                  > What is the difference in the way Gnostics and orthodox Christians
                  > view Christ?
                  >
                  > Gerry

                  Some gnostics postulate both the demiurge and the devil, if they are
                  the same, why. Of course their devel is a little worse than old
                  Saklas. Now the Cathars equated the devil and the demiurge, but
                  their view of him still differed from the orthodox devil.

                  Regards
                  --
                  Mike Leavitt ac998_@_lafn._org remove -'s
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