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Re: the value of prayer and fasting

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  • incognito_lightbringer
    Does this mean you had a beard and long hair but didn t wash it?
    Message 1 of 10 , Mar 8, 2003
      <<Incedentally, I do in
      fact respect the ability to be ascetic (and was once so myself). >>

      Does this mean you had a beard and long hair but didn't wash it?
      Pa-da-pum!
      this is a joke this is a joke this is a joke :P


      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pmcvflag <no_reply@y...> wrote:
      > What can I say to that, Gerry, but "ditto"! Incedentally, I do in
      > fact respect the ability to be ascetic (and was once so myself). I
      > realize full well that it is also relevent to our subject. It does
      > however seem to be a dangerous pitfall sometimes.
      >
      > PMCV
      >
    • incognito_lightbringer
      Gerry, I was wondering, how do you interpret the following?: Exegesis
      Message 2 of 10 , Mar 8, 2003
        Gerry, I was wondering, how do you interpret the following?:
        <<Again he said (cf. Lk 14:26), "If one does not hate his soul he
        cannot follow me." >>
        Exegesis on the Soul

        Also, how do you define sin, faith, and repentance? I'm asking
        because I've found that many times disagreements hinge on semantics
        rather than on actual differences in philosophy. These things become
        over-intellectualized to the point where the simple common sense
        meanings become obscured.

        I think there may be another meaning to <<14. Jesus said to them, "If
        you fast, you will bring sin upon yourselves, and if you pray, you
        will be condemned, and if you give to charity, you will harm your
        spirits. >>

        The problem is one of intent when doing the above. For example, if
        fasting was supposed to somehow provide a means whereby the
        individual could shift his focus from the material to the spiritual,
        from body to spirit, that's one thing. But when fasting itself
        becomes dogmatic, then the very action which you would use to free
        yourself becomes mired in the very thing you attempt to free yourself
        from. Obviously, there are written accounts where Jesus *did* fast.
        I'm not sure if I'm coming across clearly with this but if not, I'll
        try to state it differently (I hope).


        --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "Gerry" <gerryhsp@y...> wrote:
        > Reply to message #7253:
        >
        >
        > >>Dear Children of Light;
        >
        > The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our
        > Lord's passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the
        > Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting.
        This season of Lent provided a time in which converts to the faith
        were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when those who,
        > because of notorious sins, had been separated from the body of the
        > faithful were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored
        > to the fellowship of the Church. Thereby, the whole congregation
        was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in
        the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need which all Christians
        > continually have to renew their repentance and faith.<<
        >
        > Uh . . . pardon me for asking, but for which sins exactly are we
        asking for pardon and absolution? Perhaps I've been lurking at too
        many "gnostic" sites lately that seem to be dripping with the blood
        of the savior, so to speak, that I occasionally wonder whether I'm
        encountering actual Gnostic thought or disguised Orthodox agenda.
        >
        > I mean . . . I thought that Ignorance was the sin of Man. I don't
        quite see how either propitiating the Church or subscribing to its
        vicarious atonement is any more reliable at overcoming that error
        than simply conferring our alleged sins onto the head of an expiatory
        goat and giving it a slap on the rump as we send it off to die in the
        desert. If that's meant to cleanse our conscience, I'd have to
        question how much of a conscience we had in the first place.
        >
        > >>I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Holy Gnosis, to the
        > observance of a holy Lent, by self examination and by prayer,
        > fasting, and self denial; by reading and meditating on God's holy
        > Word.<<
        >
        > I'm trying not to come across as too reactionary here, James, but
        after such potential buzz-words as sin, repentance, and faith, we now
        come to advocating prayer, fasting, and self-denial. In a quick
        search of the NHL, it seems that most references of fasting are
        contained in the Gospel of Thomas. In that collection, there are
        four logia dealing with the subject-one of which uses it symbolically
        to emphasize nurturing of the spirit, and three which seem to be
        proscriptions against its ritualized use:
        >
        > 6. His disciples asked him and said to him, "Do you want us to
        fast? How should we pray? Should we give to charity? What diet should
        we observe?"
        >
        > Jesus said, "Don't lie, and don't do what you hate, because all
        things are disclosed before heaven. After all, there is nothing
        hidden that will not be revealed, and there is nothing covered up
        that will remain undisclosed."
        >
        >
        >
        > 14. Jesus said to them, "If you fast, you will bring sin upon
        yourselves, and if you pray, you will be condemned, and if you give
        to charity, you will harm your spirits.
        >
        > When you go into any region and walk about in the countryside, when
        people take you in, eat what they serve you and heal the sick among
        them.
        >
        > After all, what goes into your mouth will not defile you; rather,
        it's what comes out of your mouth that will defile you."
        >
        >
        >
        > 104. They said to Jesus, "Come, let us pray today, and let us
        fast."
        >
        > Jesus said, "What sin have I committed, or how have I been undone?
        Rather, when the groom leaves the bridal suite, then let people fast
        and pray."
        >
        >
        >
        > In his Insights from the Secret Teachings of Jesus: The Gospel of
        Thomas, Christian Amundsen speaks with an uncommon and refreshing
        candor about his own struggles to truly nurture his own spirit,
        rather than lead a life of simply going through the motions. Amid
        his reflections on the 14th saying from the GTh, he offered the
        following commentary:
        >
        > Guilt, shame and self-hatred are all part of the system that
        keeps the spirit locked away from knowing itself. That Christianity
        became a religion of self-recrimination and self-condemnation speaks
        volumes that it has very little to do with the teachings and insights
        of Jesus. (pg. 48)
        >
        >
        > I don't mean to suggest that such tools have no purpose at all, but
        especially when viewed in a context of "renewing one's faith," it
        would seem to belittle the importance of gnosis in favor of
        strengthening one's pistic conviction.
        >
        >
        > Gerry
      • Gerry
        Reply to post #7260 by Incognito Lightbringer: Okay . . . No, I didn t have a BIG breakfast . . . I just got sidetracked! J ...
        Message 3 of 10 , Mar 8, 2003

           

          Reply to post #7260 by Incognito Lightbringer:

           

          Okay . . . No, I didn’t have a BIG breakfast . . . I just got sidetracked!  J

           

          >>Gerry, I was wondering, how do you interpret the following?:
          <<Again he said (cf. Lk 14:26), "If one does not hate his soul he
          cannot follow me." >>
          Exegesis on the Soul<<

          I’m not trying to get purposely tangential here, but you’ve reminded me of a question that I raised here last April (post # 5788—which never got a response, BTW!), so I’ll back up just a bit and try to cover them both.  Let’s start with a larger view of that cross reference from Luke 14:

           

          26 If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers and sisters, and also his own soul, too, he cannot be My disciple.

          27 And whoever does not bear his cross and does not come after Me, he is not able to be My disciple.

           

          You can find a similar passage in Luke 9:23, and corresponding ones in and around Matthew 10:37 and 16:24, Mark 8:34, and Thomas #55.  What’s interesting about those cross references [no pun intended], besides the speculation I mentioned in that other post as to the dating of GTh, is that even in the canonical gospels, Jesus is cited as encouraging his followers to “carry their own crosses” several chapters before the narratives come to His own crucifixion.  As to my original musing, I have since that time seen it suggested elsewhere that the expression does indeed appear to be a vernacular idiom long in use even before Jesus might have walked to Golgotha.  IOW, because the Roman sentence of crucifixion had already been so widespread, there may be no need to infer from the use of that expression that a particular writer was necessarily familiar with the death of Jesus.  So much for my question—now, back to yours.

           

          I think we can safely rule out that Jesus is either counseling us to get ourselves crucified or to treat our parents as if we were Menéndez brothers.  To me, it would seem that both the notion of suffering (conveyed in “picking up our crosses”) and the apparent “hating” of our worldly loved ones is meant to emphasize our release from attachments—a necessary thing (even without becoming ascetic) in order to pursue a more spiritual path.  Even more specifically to the point of your question, I see that “hating” of our own psyche as a furthering of the same concept—that we need to let go of our self-perceived identities before we’ll know who WE truly are.  It’s sort of the reverse of the same device employed in teaching people how to love one another—since the point isn’t that we should love them just a little, or even a lot, we’re told to love them “as we love ourselves,” and it really seems to drive the point home.


          >>Also,
          how do you define sin, faith, and repentance? I'm asking
          because I've found that many times disagreements hinge on semantics
          rather than on actual differences in philosophy. These things become over-intellectualized to the point where the simple common sense meanings become obscured.<<

          Being in agreement with your observation about not needing to dissect our subject to the point that it is no longer recognizable, I don’t really think I need to “define” those words.  I’m confident that our “definitions” of the words themselves are quite nearly identical.  What I should point out, however, is the difference in the application of those definitions, which is exactly what I was trying to do in my reply to James.

           

          IOW, if we agreed that sin was “error,” there could still be a vast discrepancy between its use at a Gnostic site and in Orthodox circles.  Here, I should think that we view “sin” as being ignorant of our divine origin.  A more mainstream interpretation might be that since Adam & Eve’s transgression, all of us are automatically born despicably wretched (making Jesus want to puke, as Sister Mary would say!), and while virtually undeserving of love, God nevertheless finds a way to prove his love for us by killing his son.   [Well, you didn’t want to over-intellectualize . . . so I hope I didn’t oversimplify that, instead!]  ;-)

           

          Similarly, I wasn’t suggesting that we having nothing from which to be redeemed.  In fact, “gnosis” is all about redemption from our errant state of ignorance.  In a Gnostic context, it might be debated just how much of a role an individual is responsible for his own redemption versus being somewhat dependent on a Redeemer, but either way, it’s not the same as the situation involving the traditional Christian scapegoat.  A Gnostic approach requires a personal accountability which the other avenue tends to circumvent.  This incumbent responsibility is very much related to the point you make below:


          >>I
          think there may be another meaning to <<14. Jesus said to them, "If you fast, you will bring sin upon yourselves, and if you pray, you will be condemned, and if you give to charity, you will harm your spirits. >>

          The problem is one of intent when doing the above. For example, if
          fasting was supposed to somehow provide a means whereby the
          individual could shift his focus from the material to the spiritual, from body to spirit, that's one thing. But when fasting itself becomes dogmatic, then the very action which you would use to free yourself becomes mired in the very thing you attempt to free yourself from. Obviously, there are written accounts where Jesus *did* fast. I'm not sure if I'm coming across clearly with this but if not, I'll try to state it differently (I hope).<<

           

          No need to restate it, m’dear, I couldn’t agree with you more strenuously.  “Intent”. . . “motive”. . . whatever we call it, I think that a person’s underlying reason for doing most anything is of great importance.  As I stated at the end of that reply, “I don’t mean to suggest that such tools [as prayer and fasting] have no purpose at all….”  My point was merely that the focus of James’s post, as I perceived from its wording, was highly indicative of an Orthodox outlook, not a Gnostic one.

           

          Admittedly, I’m not exactly the type who responds well to things of a church-setting in the first place, but for a nice comparison (really a contrast), see how the EG deals with the same Lenten Service by speaking of overcoming “darkness and ignorance.”  In fact, the language is of a far more charismatic nature than I’m accustomed to, but it speaks to me in terms that don’t cause me to put my guard up for fear of being indoctrinated with mainstream hogwash.  That, in fact, has been my point all along when speaking of my own hesitation to engage in such a ritualized community.  It has nothing to do with not believing that others (even Gnostics) may find it helpful, but for me, when I’m encountering an abundance of vocabulary that is laden with mainstream baggage, it often distracts the higher focus I’m trying to maintain—my “intent” is sabotaged, IOW, which is not at all helpful.

           

          As for accounts where Jesus supposedly did fast, you’ll note that I didn’t state that those Thomasine passages proscribed such practices altogether.  I even quoted Logion 104, in which He mentions an instance where it would be appropriate to fast and pray, and that is where one has turned away from a pneumatic path—fallen short of the mark, as it were.  In such a case, it appears to me that the practice is still not meant to become dogmatic or habitual, but as a step designed to help a person regain that proper intent and focus.

           

          Gerry

           

           

        • incognito_lightbringer
          It s hate his own soul in Exegesis, and hate his own life in Luke. Both a rejection of the material physical life in favor of the spiritual life of the
          Message 4 of 10 , Mar 21, 2003
            It's "hate his own soul" in Exegesis, and "hate his own life" in Luke.
            Both a rejection of the material physical life in favor of the
            spiritual life of the Father. The body and the soul are still
            material products, versus the spirit which is from the Father. I
            suspect is that sometimes soul and spirit are used interchangeably in
            some gnostic texts as the same thing, whereas others state they're
            not, so you have to read carefully.

            The Gospel of Thomas expands on the hating of one's mother and
            father. His true mother and father give him life.

            Carrying one's cross is bearing up with ones suffering. Because if
            you recognize the world for what it is, that's certainly what's going
            to happen to you. Gnosticism is not a happy religion; it's not a
            celebration of this world. On that note, I'm very interested why
            Klaus bothers so many people here. Brusqueness and lack of
            explanation and insensitivity aside (and there are other posters who
            do the same), he's taking the philosophy to its logical conclusion
            and it terrifies most people. Because he states it so plainly?

            I have no idea what the author of GoT may have known but isn't it a
            safe bet to say he knew the entire myth, idioms or not?

            <<IOW, if we agreed that sin was "error," there could still
            be a vast
            discrepancy between its use at a Gnostic site and in Orthodox
            circles. Here, I should think that we view "sin" as being
            ignorant
            of our divine origin. >>

            Is it? I'm not so certain anymore. What if you know, but choose to do
            otherwise? Not merely error but choice. The easy way out, from
            laziness or fear or greed or because you don't care. Wherever that
            knowledge comes from, not from organized religious doctrines but from
            your inner self. Not bearing your cross?

            I find that the discrepancy is more in the motives of those who use
            the terms. Those who abuse it seek power and control in diametrical
            intent to the philosophy they claim to embrace. The hypocrites,
            lawyers, Pharisees that Jesus rants about.
            In any case, the words sin and repentance no longer bother me.
            What is "the traditional Christian scapegoat"?

            --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "Gerry" <gerryhsp@y...> wrote:
            >
            >
            > Reply to post #7260 by Incognito Lightbringer:
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > Okay . . . No, I didn't have a BIG breakfast . . . I just got
            sidetracked! J
            >
            >
            >
            > >>Gerry, I was wondering, how do you interpret the following?:
            > <<Again he said (cf. Lk 14:26), "If one does not hate his soul he
            > cannot follow me." >>
            > Exegesis on the Soul<<
            >
            >
            > I'm not trying to get purposely tangential here, but you've
            reminded me of a question that I raised here last April (post # 5788-
            which never got a response, BTW!), so I'll back up just a bit and try
            to cover them both. Let's start with a larger view of that cross
            reference from Luke 14:
            >
            >
            >
            > 26 If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother,
            and wife, and children, and brothers and sisters, and also his own
            soul, too, he cannot be My disciple.
            >
            > 27 And whoever does not bear his cross and does not come after Me,
            he is not able to be My disciple.
            >
            >
            >
            > You can find a similar passage in Luke 9:23, and corresponding ones
            in and around Matthew 10:37 and 16:24, Mark 8:34, and Thomas #55.
            What's interesting about those cross references [no pun intended],
            besides the speculation I mentioned in that other post as to the
            dating of GTh, is that even in the canonical gospels, Jesus is cited
            as encouraging his followers to "carry their own crosses" several
            chapters before the narratives come to His own crucifixion. As to my
            original musing, I have since that time seen it suggested elsewhere
            that the expression does indeed appear to be a vernacular idiom long
            in use even before Jesus might have walked to Golgotha. IOW, because
            the Roman sentence of crucifixion had already been so widespread,
            there may be no need to infer from the use of that expression that a
            particular writer was necessarily familiar with the death of Jesus.
            So much for my question-now, back to yours.
            >
            >
            >
            > I think we can safely rule out that Jesus is either counseling us
            to get ourselves crucified or to treat our parents as if we were
            Menéndez brothers. To me, it would seem that both the notion of
            suffering (conveyed in "picking up our crosses") and the
            apparent "hating" of our worldly loved ones is meant to emphasize our
            release from attachments-a necessary thing (even without becoming
            ascetic) in order to pursue a more spiritual path. Even more
            specifically to the point of your question, I see that "hating" of
            our own psyche as a furthering of the same concept-that we need to
            let go of our self-perceived identities before we'll know who WE
            truly are. It's sort of the reverse of the same device employed in
            teaching people how to love one another-since the point isn't that we
            should love them just a little, or even a lot, we're told to love
            them "as we love ourselves," and it really seems to drive the point
            home.
            >
            >
            > >>Also, how do you define sin, faith, and repentance? I'm asking
            > because I've found that many times disagreements hinge on semantics
            > rather than on actual differences in philosophy. These things
            become over-intellectualized to the point where the simple common
            sense meanings become obscured.<<
            >
            >
            >
            > Being in agreement with your observation about not needing to
            dissect our subject to the point that it is no longer recognizable, I
            don't really think I need to "define" those words. I'm confident
            that our "definitions" of the words themselves are quite nearly
            identical. What I should point out, however, is the difference in
            the application of those definitions, which is exactly what I was
            trying to do in my reply to James.
            >
            >
            >
            > IOW, if we agreed that sin was "error," there could still be a vast
            discrepancy between its use at a Gnostic site and in Orthodox
            circles. Here, I should think that we view "sin" as being ignorant
            of our divine origin. A more mainstream interpretation might be that
            since Adam & Eve's transgression, all of us are automatically born
            despicably wretched (making Jesus want to puke, as Sister Mary would
            say!), and while virtually undeserving of love, God nevertheless
            finds a way to prove his love for us by killing his son. [Well, you
            didn't want to over-intellectualize . . . so I hope I didn't
            oversimplify that, instead!] ;-)
            >
            >
            >
            > Similarly, I wasn't suggesting that we having nothing from which to
            be redeemed. In fact, "gnosis" is all about redemption from our
            errant state of ignorance. In a Gnostic context, it might be debated
            just how much of a role an individual is responsible for his own
            redemption versus being somewhat dependent on a Redeemer, but either
            way, it's not the same as the situation involving the traditional
            Christian scapegoat. A Gnostic approach requires a personal
            accountability which the other avenue tends to circumvent. This
            incumbent responsibility is very much related to the point you make
            below:
            >
            >
            > >>I think there may be another meaning to <<14. Jesus said to
            them, "If you fast, you will bring sin upon yourselves, and if you
            pray, you will be condemned, and if you give to charity, you will
            harm your spirits. >>
            >
            > The problem is one of intent when doing the above. For example, if
            > fasting was supposed to somehow provide a means whereby the
            > individual could shift his focus from the material to the
            spiritual, from body to spirit, that's one thing. But when fasting
            itself becomes dogmatic, then the very action which you would use to
            free yourself becomes mired in the very thing you attempt to free
            yourself from. Obviously, there are written accounts where Jesus
            *did* fast. I'm not sure if I'm coming across clearly with this but
            if not, I'll try to state it differently (I hope).<<
            >
            >
            >
            > No need to restate it, m'dear, I couldn't agree with you more
            strenuously. "Intent". . . "motive". . . whatever we call it, I
            think that a person's underlying reason for doing most anything is of
            great importance. As I stated at the end of that reply, "I don't
            mean to suggest that such tools [as prayer and fasting] have no
            purpose at all.." My point was merely that the focus of James's
            post, as I perceived from its wording, was highly indicative of an
            Orthodox outlook, not a Gnostic one.
            >
            >
            >
            > Admittedly, I'm not exactly the type who responds well to things of
            a church-setting in the first place, but for a nice comparison
            (really a contrast), see how the EG deals with the same Lenten
            Service by speaking of overcoming "darkness and ignorance." In fact,
            the language is of a far more charismatic nature than I'm accustomed
            to, but it speaks to me in terms that don't cause me to put my guard
            up for fear of being indoctrinated with mainstream hogwash. That, in
            fact, has been my point all along when speaking of my own hesitation
            to engage in such a ritualized community. It has nothing to do with
            not believing that others (even Gnostics) may find it helpful, but
            for me, when I'm encountering an abundance of vocabulary that is
            laden with mainstream baggage, it often distracts the higher focus
            I'm trying to maintain-my "intent" is sabotaged, IOW, which is not at
            all helpful.
            >
            >
            >
            > As for accounts where Jesus supposedly did fast, you'll note that I
            didn't state that those Thomasine passages proscribed such practices
            altogether. I even quoted Logion 104, in which He mentions an
            instance where it would be appropriate to fast and pray, and that is
            where one has turned away from a pneumatic path-fallen short of the
            mark, as it were. In such a case, it appears to me that the practice
            is still not meant to become dogmatic or habitual, but as a step
            designed to help a person regain that proper intent and focus.
            >
            >
            >
            > Gerry
          • Gerry
            ... material products, versus the spirit which is from the Father. I suspect is that sometimes soul and spirit are used interchangeably in some gnostic texts
            Message 5 of 10 , Mar 21, 2003

              Reply to Incognito’s message #7309:

               

              >>It's "hate his own soul" in Exegesis, and "hate his own life" in Luke. Both a rejection of the material physical life in favor of the spiritual life of the Father. The body and the soul are still
              material products, versus the spirit which is from the Father. I
              suspect is that sometimes soul and spirit are used interchangeably in some gnostic texts as the same thing, whereas others state they're not, so you have to read carefully.<<

              As well as watch what you read.  When I first noticed I was focusing more on Luke than the other while writing that reply, I decided to just go with it since they were close enough.  Which Bible translation are you using?  The KJV has it as “life,” but the Greek clearly uses “soul” (psychen) in that text.

               

              >>The Gospel of Thomas expands on the hating of one's mother and
              father. His true mother and father give him life.

              Carrying one's cross is bearing up with ones suffering. Because if you recognize the world for what it is, that's certainly what's going to happen to you. Gnosticism is not a happy religion; it's not a celebration of this world. On that note, I'm very interested why Klaus bothers so many people here. Brusqueness and lack of
              explanation and insensitivity aside (and there are other posters who do the same), he's taking the philosophy to its logical conclusion and it terrifies most people. Because he states it so plainly?<<

               

              Speaking for myself, I have been quite clear that I actually empathize with his view.  What I have not cared for is the way and degree in which he has chosen to articulate that view in his replies to others.  IMO, Klaus gets as good as he gives, and in many cases, he has gotten way better than he deserved.  If, as he said in his last post, he still sees gnosis as salvation from the world itself (as opposed to our errant attachment to it), then the logical means of achieving the liberation he so strongly advocates is suicide.  I have found his rationalization against that suggestion to be in contradiction with his beliefs—as he espouses them.

               

              >>I have no idea what the author of GoT may have known but isn't it a safe bet to say he knew the entire myth, idioms or not?<<

               

              My point was not to suggest that the writer(s) of GTh had no familiarity with the entire myth, but merely that one shouldn’t view the inclusion of that expression (bearing one’s cross) as definitive proof that such awareness were the case.  There is disagreement as to the dating, and I haven’t seen any figures that indicate a redaction prior to when Jesus might have died.  Perhaps someone else has some information in that regard.  Still, is it not somewhat telling that mention in that text goes only so far as “one’s cross” and not a detailed account emphasizing the crucifixion of Jesus?

               

              >>What if you know, but choose to do otherwise? Not merely error but choice. The easy way out, from laziness or fear or greed or because you don't care. Wherever that knowledge comes from, not from organized religious doctrines but from your inner self. Not bearing your cross?<<

              You’ll probably have to clarify that for me.  Again, if you see “sin” as being the same between Gnostic and Orthodox views, which is the difference I was trying to point out, then what purpose does gnosis serve?  It looks like you’re talking about knowing better, but willfully making poor choices in spite of that knowledge, not because of Church, but because of your inner self.  In that case, I’d suggest that you’re talking about listening to that middle ground of the soul, which can aspire to pneumatic thought, or hylic.  How do you purposely pursue a hylic direction and think it’s not error?

               

              >>I find that the discrepancy is more in the motives of those who use the terms. Those who abuse it seek power and control in diametrical intent to the philosophy they claim to embrace. The hypocrites, lawyers, Pharisees that Jesus rants about.  In any case, the words sin and repentance no longer bother me.<<

               

              The words “sin” and “repentence” don’t bother me, either, but in a Gnostic context, I do see a clear distinction from their Orthodox usage and felt it important enough to mention. 

               

              >>These things become over-intellectualized to the point where the simple common sense meanings become obscured.<< (#7260)

               

              I’m curious why you have less trouble quibbling over the difference between “knowledge” and “acquaintance” within a Gnostic context, but no problem whatsoever with ignoring the differences between Gnostic and Orthodox interpretations of other terms?  For me, the former is almost too subtle to mention, while the latter is painfully obvious.

               

              >>What is "the traditional Christian scapegoat"?<<

               

              Aww, now I’m disappointed you missed some of my colorful ranting about being bathed in the blood of the savior!  LOL  If you’ll think back to Catechism, though, that “vicarious atonement” is exactly what I was talking about.  The Jews used a goat, the Christians used a Jew.  Either way, it’s easier to dismiss personal accountability when you can sit back and simply let someone else take the fall.  We had similar discussions about the crucifixion some time ago.  In its allegorical sense, I have no problem with it.  In a literal context, however, I fail to see a Gnostic relevance.  If a man’s murder was important for everyone else’s salvation, then once again, “gnosis” serves no purpose whatsoever.  It’s little more than blood-sacrifice to appease a tyrannical Demiurge.  There would be no point in looking within, since we could look up at the cross and realize that someone else was already framed for our “sin” and has already taken the heat for it.  Of course, that’s also dependent upon seeing “sin” only in its Orthodox usage, and if someone chooses to dismiss the Gnostic understanding of the term, then there’s no point in discussing the Gnostic relevance in the first place.  We’d see one another in church and discuss our faith in his dying for us—all in a non-Gnostic setting.

               

              Gerry

               

            • incognito_lightbringer
              Online searchable handy bible
              Message 6 of 10 , Mar 23, 2003
                <<Which Bible translation are you using? The KJV has it as
                "life,"
                but the Greek clearly uses "soul" (psychen) in that text.>>

                Online searchable handy bible translation. It's Luke 14:26. I went
                back to see which version and it's New American Standard (which I
                liked because it's paired with a Strongs number data base, which I
                should have used!) You're right, life is the Greek psukay, which they
                claim means either the breath of life or soul. I didn't realize that.
                Here I naively thought that life was, well, life. Even more
                interesting, no one's translating as soul. I went through a whole
                list of various Protestant translations, over a dozen, and they all
                have "life". Is soul too scary to use? So now this gets me wondering
                about "John 12:25 He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates
                his life in this world will keep it to life eternal" which now
                becomes "he who loves his soul loses it, and he who hates his soul in
                this world will keep it to eternal life" Life here being Zoe. Eternal
                here is Aionios. Aeons?
                Holy smokes! Time to learn Greek and Aramaic and Hebrew, Ernst may be
                right after all.

                <<If, as he said in his last post, he still sees gnosis as salvation
                from the world itself (as opposed to our errant attachment to it),
                then the logical means of achieving the liberation he so strongly
                advocates is suicide. I have found his rationalization against that
                suggestion to be in contradiction with his beliefs—as he espouses
                them.>>

                Klaus is no worse than Ernst, and writes shorter posts!

                Do historical gnostic texts see gnosis as salvation from the physical
                world versus attachment to it? Why do you interpret as only
                attachment?
                I see a great deal of both, am I misreading or are some of those
                texts then more orthodox than gnostic (as in Nag Hammadi)?
                And would the Cathar consolamentum be considered suicide?
                The problem with suicide as liberation from a gnostic view is that
                some texts tell you that you can cast back into the flesh as a means
                of entrapment. If that's the case suicide is not necessarily a way
                out, although it could be, I suppose, under certain conditions.

                This talk of suicide reminds me of a book I read by Lawrence Durrell
                title Monsieur (Monsieur is Satan himself). There's an Ophite sect
                based in the desert, who ingest hallucinogenic mixed in wine, as well
                as mummified flesh, who quote from Pistis Sophia and refer to
                themselves as gnostics, and claim that the God is dead or in exile,
                that the Prince has supplanted him, and that a demon called the Fly
                has taken over nature (waves to Klaus), and who engage in mutual
                suicide. They claim self-destruction is forbidden (but don't explain
                why) so they go around killing each other at random times drawn by
                lots. We need a bizarre gnostic fiction book list in this clubs
                files. I have more than a few strange titles.

                <<Still, is it not somewhat telling that mention in that text goes
                only so far as "one's cross" and not a detailed account
                emphasizing
                the crucifixion of Jesus?>>

                The whole work seems to be a compilation merely of sayings, rather
                than any kind of biographical data or longer parables. My impression
                was that someone created it as a list of sayings from various sources
                (like the hypothetical Q for example) for convenience because there
                doesn't seem to be a continuity between sayings.

                <<You'll probably have to clarify that for me. Again, if you
                see "sin" as being the same between Gnostic and Orthodox
                views, which
                is the difference I was trying to point out, then what purpose does
                gnosis serve? >>

                I'll ask you a question in return. Why would gnosis serve no purpose
                if free will is taken into account? And why does the definition have
                to include either or and not both, error and choice? In the NT it's
                that business about the spirit being willing but the flesh is weak.
                Simply knowing isn't enough, some kind of effort/will has to take
                place on the part of the individual to enact his own salvation, which
                you seem to agree with.

                There are gnostics who argue there is no sin at all. Not having
                created the mess we're in we shouldn't be blamed for having problems
                with it.
                Of course, you can contrast with sin as blame versus sin as
                ignorance. And blame on the initial state is placed on events in
                spiritual realms. Blame can also be placed on forces within our world
                that act against us, creating "heavy hearts" and "fog". But again, if
                there has to be an effort undertaken by the individual, then free
                will still comes into play. And if you start interpreting along
                psychological lines as those forces are within us, then you really
                confuse things.


                <<How do you purposely pursue a hylic direction and think it's
                not
                error?>>

                Because pain is difficult to bear. It's like the movie Matrix. The
                traitor knows the truth but would rather live in a comfortable lie.

                <<I'm curious why you have less trouble quibbling over the
                difference
                between "knowledge" and "acquaintance" within a
                Gnostic context, but
                no problem whatsoever with ignoring the differences between Gnostic
                and Orthodox interpretations of other terms? For me, the former is
                almost too subtle to mention, while the latter is painfully obvious>>

                You're going to have to elaborate a bit, with examples please, I'm
                not getting you.
                (If I am) the answer is simple; the Orthodox versions are more about
                historical abuse of the terms and less about philosophical
                difference. (The subtlety between knowledge and acquaintance is
                important to me that's why I quibble).
                All sin can be defined as error or as falling off a path or being
                in a seperated state from the Father. There's that question though,
                how does free will factor into the equation, how much are external
                forces not in your control responsible, and what do you do about them?

                Jesus, interestingly, has sayings such as "angels and demons are part
                of the inner man" and "you will accuse yourselves".

                <<Aww, now I'm disappointed you missed some of my colorful
                ranting
                about being bathed in the blood of the savior! >>

                I have back reading to do! (And I wish Yahoo hadn't killed most of
                the past posts on this group. Is there no way of getting them back?).

                <<In a literal context, however, I fail to see a Gnostic relevance>>

                The problem between a literal versus gnostic context is that we live
                in a literal material world and the gnostic context attempts to
                explain it. There are forces within this universe that control it.
                Literally. What some gnostic texts imply is that some kind of
                metaphysical alteration in the the universe occurred after the
                crucifixion. For example, the rulers, powers, authorities have their
                powers diminished. Or Satan is bound up. Is this merely psychological
                allegory or is it more? We're still in a world of "more than that".
                Perhaps the need to externalize a supernatural conscious force is
                some kind of childish naive romantic whimsy, like Santa Claus.
                Perhaps not. Perhaps the explanation is even more complicated, it's
                both external and internal somehow. Especially when you have the
                claims that consciousness orders and creates the physical reality
                that you're in, and that that physical reality is an illusion, albeit
                one that you're trapped in and experience as solid reality.
                I'm not saying I understand it, or know which is which, I'm just
                hesitant to completely reject any possibility. Then there's the
                concept as above so below. That this world is a counterfeit
                image of higher planes. That patterns from there repeat themselves
                here. Is that too merely psychological allegory? Isn't there upper
                and lower crucifixion in gnosticism? The upper Christ suffers by
                descending? Christ is the soteriological emanation of the Father
                specifically to find our way back. Thus, only through him can we know
                the Father from an orthodox perspective becomes equally valid from a
                Gnostic one. Christ being a door or a path, a metaphysical roadmap of
                the Godhead, a tool we use, or the part that guides us back.

                The fundamentalists have taken that and altered it. Since Jesus saves
                1) they don't have to do anything themselves and 2) anyone else not
                yelling Jesus in their specific Christian religious tradition will go
                to hell and 3) if they're naughty by their own definition of the
                word and yell Jesus they're saved, but if someone else follows all
                their own stated precepts to a T and doesn't adhere to religion then
                they're damned. The logic is twisted, I grant you.

                <<Either way, it's easier to dismiss personal accountability when
                you
                can sit back and simply let someone else take the fall. >>

                That's an interesting way of putting it. Because there's this
                conundrum I can't wrap my brain around. Many gnostic texts tell us
                that the Father is all knowing all powerful etc..(yes, in apophatic
                terms, but nonetheless that's what's implied). After the fall of
                Sophia measures are taken to stabilize the other aeons and/or to
                redeem her. Why was her initial fall allowed then? Especially since
                the Pleroma is "one" and in that sense a part of the Father has
                fallen. The blame for evil in this world is placed on this series of
                events that are/aren't unintentional mistakes, and on the
                demiurge. But the "error occurred because of him (Father) not from
                him" is still not entirely satisfying.
                In a way, this question of the existence of good and evil is very
                close to the paradox of fate and free will. I read a Sufi saying that
                this is a mystery that can't possibly be understood in dualistic
                terms, in our universe, or our minds. But that's not satisfying
                either.



                --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "Gerry" <gerryhsp@y...> wrote:
                > Reply to Incognito's message #7309:
                >
                >
                >
                > >>It's "hate his own soul" in Exegesis, and "hate his own life" in
                Luke. Both a rejection of the material physical life in favor of the
                spiritual life of the Father. The body and the soul are still
                > material products, versus the spirit which is from the Father. I
                > suspect is that sometimes soul and spirit are used interchangeably
                in some gnostic texts as the same thing, whereas others state they're
                not, so you have to read carefully.<<
                >
                >
                >
                > As well as watch what you read. When I first noticed I was
                focusing more on Luke than the other while writing that reply, I
                decided to just go with it since they were close enough. Which Bible
                translation are you using? The KJV has it as "life," but the Greek
                clearly uses "soul" (psychen) in that text.
                >
                >
                >
                > >>The Gospel of Thomas expands on the hating of one's mother and
                > father. His true mother and father give him life.
                >
                > Carrying one's cross is bearing up with ones suffering. Because if
                you recognize the world for what it is, that's certainly what's going
                to happen to you. Gnosticism is not a happy religion; it's not a
                celebration of this world. On that note, I'm very interested why
                Klaus bothers so many people here. Brusqueness and lack of
                > explanation and insensitivity aside (and there are other posters
                who do the same), he's taking the philosophy to its logical
                conclusion and it terrifies most people. Because he states it so
                plainly?<<
                >
                >
                >
                > Speaking for myself, I have been quite clear that I actually
                empathize with his view. What I have not cared for is the way and
                degree in which he has chosen to articulate that view in his replies
                to others. IMO, Klaus gets as good as he gives, and in many cases,
                he has gotten way better than he deserved. If, as he said in his
                last post, he still sees gnosis as salvation from the world itself
                (as opposed to our errant attachment to it), then the logical means
                of achieving the liberation he so strongly advocates is suicide. I
                have found his rationalization against that suggestion to be in
                contradiction with his beliefs-as he espouses them.
                >
                >
                >
                > >>I have no idea what the author of GoT may have known but isn't it
                a safe bet to say he knew the entire myth, idioms or not?<<
                >
                >
                >
                > My point was not to suggest that the writer(s) of GTh had no
                familiarity with the entire myth, but merely that one shouldn't view
                the inclusion of that expression (bearing one's cross) as definitive
                proof that such awareness were the case. There is disagreement as to
                the dating, and I haven't seen any figures that indicate a redaction
                prior to when Jesus might have died. Perhaps someone else has some
                information in that regard. Still, is it not somewhat telling that
                mention in that text goes only so far as "one's cross" and not a
                detailed account emphasizing the crucifixion of Jesus?
                >
                >
                >
                > >>What if you know, but choose to do otherwise? Not merely error
                but choice. The easy way out, from laziness or fear or greed or
                because you don't care. Wherever that knowledge comes from, not from
                organized religious doctrines but from your inner self. Not bearing
                your cross?<<
                >
                >
                >
                > You'll probably have to clarify that for me. Again, if you
                see "sin" as being the same between Gnostic and Orthodox views, which
                is the difference I was trying to point out, then what purpose does
                gnosis serve? It looks like you're talking about knowing better, but
                willfully making poor choices in spite of that knowledge, not because
                of Church, but because of your inner self. In that case, I'd suggest
                that you're talking about listening to that middle ground of the
                soul, which can aspire to pneumatic thought, or hylic. How do you
                purposely pursue a hylic direction and think it's not error?
                >
                >
                >
                > >>I find that the discrepancy is more in the motives of those who
                use the terms. Those who abuse it seek power and control in
                diametrical intent to the philosophy they claim to embrace. The
                hypocrites, lawyers, Pharisees that Jesus rants about. In any case,
                the words sin and repentance no longer bother me.<<
                >
                >
                >
                > The words "sin" and "repentance" don't bother me, either, but in a
                Gnostic context, I do see a clear distinction from their Orthodox
                usage and felt it important enough to mention.
                >
                >
                >
                > >>These things become over-intellectualized to the point where the
                simple common sense meanings become obscured.<< (#7260)
                >
                >
                >
                > I'm curious why you have less trouble quibbling over the difference
                between "knowledge" and "acquaintance" within a Gnostic context, but
                no problem whatsoever with ignoring the differences between Gnostic
                and Orthodox interpretations of other terms? For me, the former is
                almost too subtle to mention, while the latter is painfully obvious.
                >
                >
                >
                > >>What is "the traditional Christian scapegoat"?<<
                >
                >
                >
                > Aww, now I'm disappointed you missed some of my colorful ranting
                about being bathed in the blood of the savior! LOL If you'll think
                back to Catechism, though, that "vicarious atonement" is exactly what
                I was talking about. The Jews used a goat, the Christians used a
                Jew. Either way, it's easier to dismiss personal accountability when
                you can sit back and simply let someone else take the fall. We had
                similar discussions about the crucifixion some time ago. In its
                allegorical sense, I have no problem with it. In a literal context,
                however, I fail to see a Gnostic relevance. If a man's murder was
                important for everyone else's salvation, then once again, "gnosis"
                serves no purpose whatsoever. It's little more than blood-sacrifice
                to appease a tyrannical Demiurge. There would be no point in looking
                within, since we could look up at the cross and realize that someone
                else was already framed for our "sin" and has already taken the heat
                for it. Of course, that's also dependent upon seeing "sin" only in
                its Orthodox usage, and if someone chooses to dismiss the Gnostic
                understanding of the term, then there's no point in discussing the
                Gnostic relevance in the first place. We'd see one another in church
                and discuss our faith in his dying for us-all in a non-Gnostic
                setting.
                >
                >
                >
                > Gerry
              • Gerry
                ... back to see which version and it s New American Standard (which I liked because it s paired with a Strongs number data base, which I should have used!)
                Message 7 of 10 , Mar 23, 2003

                   

                  Reply to Incognito’s message #7328:

                   


                  >>Online
                  searchable handy bible translation. It's Luke 14:26. I went
                  back to see which version and it's New American Standard (which I
                  liked because it's paired with a Strongs number data base, which I
                  should have used!) You're right, life is the Greek psukay, which they claim means either the breath of life or soul. I didn't realize that. Here I naively thought that life was, well, life.<<

                   

                  Well, since you didn’t write the book, or translate it, I won’t sue you this time.  ;-)  Oddly enough, I normally jump straight to a KJV when looking up references people mention, just because it’s handy, but that particular time, I had cracked out the big Greek/Hebrew Interlinear.  While I might not have articulated it as I wished, the point I was trying to make initially was that it was far more compelling to suggest that one should hate his own psyche.  IOW, even in a mainstream context where one anticipates richer rewards in the hereafter, we all might be seen as world-haters.  In such a case, it’s almost easy to say that you hate a given life, even your own, in the same was as any other.  To speak of one’s soul, however, sort of implies a greater degree of one’s identity (at least the way I see it).  In THAT sense, it makes the case that we need to release that ego and move beyond the individuality.  That may make a person “think” about what’s at stake more so than simply talking about how things of the Spirit should come before the Flesh.

                   

                  >>Klaus is no worse than Ernst, and writes shorter posts!<<

                  Sometimes terseness, such as when combined with unabashed and venomous directness, isn’t necessarily less insulting, but I suppose I could see the blessing in its brevity.


                  >>Do historical gnostic texts see gnosis as salvation from the physical world versus attachment to it? Why do you interpret as only
                  attachment?<<

                   

                  I’m speaking off the top of my head there, but let me see if I can clarify my thoughts for you.  Assuming that the world itself and our physical bodies are evil, then I don’t see the Gnostic experience as liberating us from that . . . after all, we’re still here.  It seems to me that the imperative goal for one who held such beliefs would be to bring about the end of the world and everyone in it, along with his own life.  When I see such a person still here, still bitching over the Internet about how rotten everything is and longing for release from it all, I have to wonder why he doesn’t simply go for it?

                   

                  On the other hand, if the Gnostic experience is to bring about an awakening to the true nature of the world around us and help us realize that we need to transcend our attachments to things worldly, then it’s less of a surprise that we’re still here struggling, trying to maintain and improve that perspective until such time as we should “naturally” be released from our physical bodies.


                  >>(Gerry)<<How do you purposely pursue a hylic direction and think it's not error?>>

                  Because pain is difficult to bear. It's like the movie Matrix. The
                  traitor knows the truth but would rather live in a comfortable lie.<<

                  That’s my point.  To know that it’s a “lie” is to recognize the error.  At this point, I don’t even recall the original context of that part of the discussion, but your answer here is to a “why” question about somebody’s motives, not to “how” it could be seen as something other than error.


                  >>I have back reading to do! (And I wish Yahoo hadn't killed most of
                  the past posts on this group. Is there no way of getting them back?).<<

                  Seeing how they never gave any of us an answer, I think we can safely assume that two years worth of archived posts won’t be mysteriously showing up here one day.


                  >>The problem between a literal versus gnostic context is that we live in a literal material world and the gnostic context attempts to
                  explain it. There are forces within this universe that control it.
                  Literally . . . . Christ is the soteriological emanation of the Father specifically to find our way back. Thus, only through him can we know the Father from an orthodox perspective becomes equally valid from a Gnostic one. Christ being a door or a path, a metaphysical roadmap of the Godhead, a tool we use, or the part that guides us back.<<

                  Jesus said, “I am the door” and “I am the true vine.”

                   

                  Was he a door?—a vine?

                   

                  Sorry, but that was one of my favorite lines from Helena Bonham Carter in Lady Jane.  She was pretty spunky in that film.  Anyway, I don’t see the fact that a Gnostic outlook tries to explain the literal world as being a problem.  Where I see the problem is in looking for too much literalism within the Gnostic outlook.  Since I’m capable of following that you don’t mean to say that Christ was literally a roadmap, I’m also able to gain insight from the notion of resurrection without having to actually believe that someone was necessarily crucified for me.  There are so many interpretations of that event, among those who claimed that such an event transpired.  Being so far removed from the era when those historical events might have taken place, it really seems pointless to me to debate the nature of Jesus, or to decide on some dogmatic belief that was contingent on him being nothing but spirit, nothing but flesh, some mixture of the two, etc.  Perhaps something did happen, and perhaps it had profound ramifications at some celestial level, but guess what . . . I’m still stuck here.  With that in mind, it just seems that there must be something more I’m supposed to get out of it than just belief in the literal course of events.

                   

                  If he overcame something in a literal and substantial sense, then once again, why would a Gnostic, or anyone else for that matter, have to bother?

                   

                  Gerry

                   

                • incognito_lightbringer
                  Okay, you ve opened up another can of worms here. Do historical Gnostics view the world and the flesh/physical body as evil? I agree this is psychological
                  Message 8 of 10 , Mar 27, 2003
                    Okay, you've opened up another can of worms here.
                    Do historical Gnostics view the world and the flesh/physical body as
                    evil?
                    I agree this is psychological allegory, but is it *only*
                    psychological allegory?
                    Also, if you transcend attachment, then why stick around in that
                    case? What's the difference between being naturally and unaturally
                    released?
                    Hoeller had a flip but fascinating point, he disagrees with suicide
                    because "something interesting might happen" and you'll miss it LOL!
                    Who can argue?
                    Buddha, upon attaining enlightenment, had to make a choice whether to
                    stick around or immediately enter nirvana. He decided to stick around
                    to teach others, an act of love. Mara was pissed, he was urging
                    Buddha to leave immediately.




                    --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "Gerry" <gerryhsp@y...> wrote:
                    >
                    >
                    > Reply to Incognito's message #7328:
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > >>Online searchable handy bible translation. It's Luke 14:26. I
                    went
                    > back to see which version and it's New American Standard (which I
                    > liked because it's paired with a Strongs number data base, which I
                    > should have used!) You're right, life is the Greek psukay, which
                    they claim means either the breath of life or soul. I didn't realize
                    that. Here I naively thought that life was, well, life.<<
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > Well, since you didn't write the book, or translate it, I won't sue
                    you this time. ;-) Oddly enough, I normally jump straight to a KJV
                    when looking up references people mention, just because it's handy,
                    but that particular time, I had cracked out the big Greek/Hebrew
                    Interlinear. While I might not have articulated it as I wished, the
                    point I was trying to make initially was that it was far more
                    compelling to suggest that one should hate his own psyche. IOW, even
                    in a mainstream context where one anticipates richer rewards in the
                    hereafter, we all might be seen as world-haters. In such a case,
                    it's almost easy to say that you hate a given life, even your own, in
                    the same was as any other. To speak of one's soul, however, sort of
                    implies a greater degree of one's identity (at least the way I see
                    it). In THAT sense, it makes the case that we need to release that
                    ego and move beyond the individuality. That may make a
                    person "think" about what's at stake more so than simply talking
                    about how things of the Spirit should come before the Flesh.
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > >>Klaus is no worse than Ernst, and writes shorter posts!<<
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > Sometimes terseness, such as when combined with unabashed and
                    venomous directness, isn't necessarily less insulting, but I suppose
                    I could see the blessing in its brevity.
                    >
                    >
                    > >>Do historical gnostic texts see gnosis as salvation from the
                    physical world versus attachment to it? Why do you interpret as only
                    > attachment?<<
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > I'm speaking off the top of my head there, but let me see if I can
                    clarify my thoughts for you. Assuming that the world itself and our
                    physical bodies are evil, then I don't see the Gnostic experience as
                    liberating us from that . . . after all, we're still here. It seems
                    to me that the imperative goal for one who held such beliefs would be
                    to bring about the end of the world and everyone in it, along with
                    his own life. When I see such a person still here, still bitching
                    over the Internet about how rotten everything is and longing for
                    release from it all, I have to wonder why he doesn't simply go for it?
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > On the other hand, if the Gnostic experience is to bring about an
                    awakening to the true nature of the world around us and help us
                    realize that we need to transcend our attachments to things worldly,
                    then it's less of a surprise that we're still here struggling, trying
                    to maintain and improve that perspective until such time as we
                    should "naturally" be released from our physical bodies.
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > >>(Gerry)<<How do you purposely pursue a hylic direction and think
                    it's not error?>>
                    >
                    > Because pain is difficult to bear. It's like the movie Matrix. The
                    > traitor knows the truth but would rather live in a comfortable
                    lie.<<
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > That's my point. To know that it's a "lie" is to recognize the
                    error. At this point, I don't even recall the original context of
                    that part of the discussion, but your answer here is to a "why"
                    question about somebody's motives, not to "how" it could be seen as
                    something other than error.
                    >
                    >
                    > >>I have back reading to do! (And I wish Yahoo hadn't killed most
                    of
                    > the past posts on this group. Is there no way of getting them
                    back?).<<
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > Seeing how they never gave any of us an answer, I think we can
                    safely assume that two years worth of archived posts won't be
                    mysteriously showing up here one day.
                    >
                    >
                    > >>The problem between a literal versus gnostic context is that we
                    live in a literal material world and the gnostic context attempts to
                    > explain it. There are forces within this universe that control it.
                    > Literally . . . . Christ is the soteriological emanation of the
                    Father specifically to find our way back. Thus, only through him can
                    we know the Father from an orthodox perspective becomes equally valid
                    from a Gnostic one. Christ being a door or a path, a metaphysical
                    roadmap of the Godhead, a tool we use, or the part that guides us
                    back.<<
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > Jesus said, "I am the door" and "I am the true vine."
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > Was he a door?-a vine?
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > Sorry, but that was one of my favorite lines from Helena Bonham
                    Carter in Lady Jane. She was pretty spunky in that film. Anyway, I
                    don't see the fact that a Gnostic outlook tries to explain the
                    literal world as being a problem. Where I see the problem is in
                    looking for too much literalism within the Gnostic outlook. Since
                    I'm capable of following that you don't mean to say that Christ was
                    literally a roadmap, I'm also able to gain insight from the notion of
                    resurrection without having to actually believe that someone was
                    necessarily crucified for me. There are so many interpretations of
                    that event, among those who claimed that such an event transpired.
                    Being so far removed from the era when those historical events might
                    have taken place, it really seems pointless to me to debate the
                    nature of Jesus, or to decide on some dogmatic belief that was
                    contingent on him being nothing but spirit, nothing but flesh, some
                    mixture of the two, etc. Perhaps something did happen, and perhaps
                    it had profound ramifications at some celestial level, but guess
                    what . . . I'm still stuck here. With that in mind, it just seems
                    that there must be something more I'm supposed to get out of it than
                    just belief in the literal course of events.
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > If he overcame something in a literal and substantial sense, then
                    once again, why would a Gnostic, or anyone else for that matter, have
                    to bother?
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > Gerry
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