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Gnostic beliefs on matter

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  • Timothy Fuhrmeister
    Several years back I started studying the Bible and I was confronted by a diety that I could not understand as supremely good judging by his actions in the old
    Message 1 of 48 , Aug 11 11:22 PM
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      Several years back I started studying the Bible and I was confronted
      by a diety that I could not understand as supremely good judging by
      his actions in the old testament. This is what attracted me to
      Gnosticsism,becuase it gave some answers to the behavior of God-er the
      Demiurge-that I could understand. However I find myself having a hard
      time accepting the Gnostic views on the inherent evilness of our
      planet and of our bodies and agree more with the Greek pagan view that
      this world-and us in it-is inherently good.Any thoughts?
      Tim.
    • pmcvflag
      Hey Mark You state... ... interpreters, I often wonder to what degree an historical Gnostic practitioner might have presented, or appeared, as a modern day
      Message 48 of 48 , 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
        charismatic.<<<

        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
        time.<<<

        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
        judgement.

        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
        both).

        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.

        PMCV
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