Were Gnostics the original Christians?

[this is a sample of text from the book “Living on the edge” by Jonathan Burke]

 

Were Gnostics the original Christians?

There is no evidence that Gnostics were the first Christians, or that the earliest Christians borrowed from Gnostic beliefs; Gnosticism did not even exist in the first century.[1] No Gnostic documents have been found which pre-date Christianity.[2] [3]

The earliest Gnostic written works found, all date to a time long after Christianity was well established.[4] There is no evidence that any New Testament books contain references to Gnosticism,[5] [6] and no evidence that Gnosticism was a rival to the earliest Christians.[7]

Gnosticism did not exist in the first century, only pre-Gnostic ideas which later became incorporated into Gnosticism during the second century.[8]

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[1] ‘But it is now widely agreed that the quest for a pre-Christian Gnosticism, properly so called, has proved to be a wild goose chase.’, Dunn, ‘The Cambridge Companion to St. Paul’, p. 9 (2003).

[2] ‘Even if it could be proven that any of the previously discussed works or, for that matter, any of the NH tractates are non-Christian Gnostic documents, that would not in itself be evidence for pre-Christian Gnosticism.’, Combs, ‘Nag Hammadi, Gnosticism and New Testament Interpretation’, Grace Theological Journal (8.2.207-208), 1987.

[3] ‘And even if we are on solid ground in some cases in arguing the original works represented in the library are much older than extant copies, we are still unable to postulate plausibly any pre-Christian dates.’, McRae, ‘Nag Hammadi and the New Testament’, pp. 146–47, in Combs, ‘Nag Hammadi, Gnosticism and New Testament Interpretation’, Grace Theological Journal (8.2.208) , (1987).

[4] ‘Egypt has yielded early written evidence of Jewish, Christian, and pagan religion. It has preserved works of Manichaean and other Gnostic sects, but these are all considerably later than the rise of Christianity.’, Unger, ‘The Role of Archaeology  in the Study Of the New Testament’, Bibliotheca Sacra (116.462.153), 1996.

[5] ‘Some modern researchers suggest that several NT and related texts evidence contact with “Gnosticism” in various stages of its development. Texts that especially stand out are Paul’s Corinthian correspondence, Colossians, Ephesians, the Pastoral Epistles, Jude, 2 Peter, and the letters of Ignatius of Antioch (d. ca. 115) and Polycarp of Smyrna (d. ca. 165) among others. But even here the issues discussed are diverse, demonstrating a complex assortment of competing new religious movements, but no evidence of “Gnosticism.”’, Freedman, ‘Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible’, p. 509 (2000).

[6] ‘Scholarship must in all likelihood abandon the hypothesis that a cohesive Gnostic movement204 is reflected in Paul’s letters.’, Lüdeman, ‘Primitive Christianity: A Survey of Recent Studies and Some New Proposals’, p. 150 (2003).

[7] ‘If in all likelihood, with the possible exception of the Simonians, there was no such thing as a rival Gnostic movement within or competing with Pauline Christianity, the question arises whether there ever was a specific Gnostic myth as an entity of its own.’ , ibid’, p. 151.

[8] ‘The full-fledged Gnosticism of later church history did not exist in the first century A.D.21 An incipient form of Gnosticism was present, but Schmithals makes the error of reading later Gnosticism into the first century documents.’, Schreiner, ‘Interpreting the Pauline Epistles’, Southern Baptist Journal of Theology (3.3.10), Fall 1999.

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Additional note:

Tim Wallace I remember when I did ‘text and traditions’ in year 12, the teacher explaining the the gospel of John was all about fighting gnostism… i vaguely remember learning about it. I had never heard about gnostism until that class.

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Living On The Edge It was an idea which gained some traction years ago, and took a while to be debunked. It hasn’t been taken seriously by the scholarly consensus for years, but plenty of textbooks are still being used which make this claim.

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Additional reading:

  1. Being Religious and Spiritual 5 Gnostic influences
  2. Missionaire hermeneutiek 1/5
  3. Challenging claim 1 Whose word
  4. The Song of The Lamb #3 Daniel and Revelation
  5. Marriage of Jesus 9 Reason for a new marriage

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  • Gnostic Media Flashback Interview: The Qabalah – Gene Odening (sgtreport.com)
    We continue our discussion on the Trivium and Quadrivium and go for a full-blown as we complete this series with the Qabalah and the mystery schools with Gene Odening.
  • Real Truth Will Set You Free (mylordmyfriend.com)
    in Colossians, the Apostle Paul, had to deal with false teaching called Gnosticism

    Gnosticism led to theological compromise, we can’t comprise The Truth of God’s Word. One of the compromises of Gnosticism was Christ Jesus was not unique, which opposes the Gospel message. If Christ is not so, Christianity is no worse but certainly no better than any other faith.

    Another compromise of Gnosticism, it lead to moral abuse, with a catch cry ‘Soma sema’, ‘The body is a tomb’. Our bodies are not tombs for the soul, but temples for The Holy Spirit to reside.

    Another compromise of Gnosticism led to false religious practices. Treating religious rules as if these rules could lead to God. If that wasn’t bad enough, early Gnosticism claimed that those who followed their teaching possessed wisdom {gnosis} and were superior.

  • An Ancient Theologian explains Tradition (notforitchingears.com) Originally posted on Dead Heroes Don’t Save:
    Irenaeus, a 2nd century theologian, defended Christianity from the Gnostic philosophies that were popular at the time. His 5 volume work, Against Heresies, dedicates the first two volumes to describing the Gnostic views and then precedes to dismantle them in the remaining volumes.
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    The heretics did not just offer a different worldview. They were using Scriptures to uphold their ideas – which centered on two gods – a good one and an evil one. It was the evil god who created the physical world that we must rid ourselves of.
  • Carl Jung: “Christ was referred to as the fish.” (carljungdepthpsychology.blogspot.com)
    Christ was referred to as the fish.

    In a papyrus which has recently been discovered and is in the British Museum he is referred to by the secret sign XP.

    The sign >!( is formed from it.

    These signs appear in Gnosticism, St. Paul’s sayings are undoubtedly connected with Gnosticism.

    On Gnostic gems we find the symbol of the vase, the vase of sin.

    The Gnosis is a disturber of the peace of the Church, but it is full of psychological truths, many yet undiscovered.

  • A Masonic One World Conspiracy – Freeman on GW Radio (gnosticwarrior.com)
    Freeman has lectured extensively on the secret signs and symbolism of Freemasonry, the ancient astronaut hypothesis, trauma-based mind control, social engineering, government conspiracy, human cloning, technologies of the future, and synchronicity.
  • New blog at Occult Minds (heterodoxology.com)
    esotericism scholars can learn from some of their colleagues studying Gnosticism.
  • Framing Paul: An Epistolary Biography by Douglas Campbell (Eerdmans, 2014) (andygoodliff.typepad.com)

    Too often Pauline scholarship operates with no overarching frame, no account of how the letters are related to one another, the order they come in and the underlying account of Paul’s life which explains their contingency. Campbell’s argument is that a biography, that arises out of the data in the letters, and at the same time explains them, this will ‘ground all subsequent interpretative work on Paul rather more accurately and firmly than hitherto has been the case’ (p.404).

    Campbell argues that to construct Paul’s biography we must begin with his letters and leave to one side the account of Paul’s life in the Book of Acts. We must begin with the primary data. Too many Pauline scholars too readily accept the account in Acts or work with an approach that borrows both from Acts and the letters as equal sources. Campbell’s approach builds on that done by John Knox and John Hurd.

Marriage of Jesus 9 Reason for a new marriage

Asherah goddess of heaven by some called also the Wife of Yahweh

 

Drawing on ancient inscriptions that mention “Yahweh and his asherah,” some scholars (notably William Dever in Did God Have a Wife? Archaeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel) have in recent years posited that the ancient Israelites worshipped Asherah and other deities alongside Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament. In the previous chapter I tried to show you that Yahweh’s supposed wife Asherah was no part of the real followers of the One True God YHWH יהוה {Jehovah} of Hosts is his Name, the Holy One of Israel or better:  the Set-apart One of Yisra’ĕl.

A Revealer between many gods

A certain Andy on the bible Gateway Blog writes:

That the ancient Israelites worshiped many different gods is not news to anyone who has read the Old Testament. Although God revealed himself to His people as the one and only true God (even singling out Asherah worship for condemnation), the Israelites, surrounded by other nations that worshiped many gods, constantly backslid into idolatry. This idolatry didn’t always take the form of an outright denial of God—rather than denying Yahweh, the Israelites would often start worshipping other deities (like Asherah) alongside Yahweh; or sometimes they would worship Yahweh in a way that he had expressly forbidden. Much of the Old Testament describes theforbiddenworshipofpagangodslikeAsherahandtheBaals and the failure of Israel’s leaders to outlaw such cults. {Did God have a wife?}

Cover of "Did God Have A Wife? Archaeolog...

Cover via Amazon

Writings from the world

In the previous chapter I showed you God’s amazement at Israel’s constant backsliding into idol worship, despite all that God had done for them. I mostly spoke about the Old World except at the end when I looked at the prophetic writings in the Bible and compared it to the situation today, about what we have seen happening in several churches.

 I also wanted to warn you how we do have to be careful for writings from the world and so called findings, which are not exactly historically proven to be genuine. We have seen that many people try to bring a lot of attention to the Gnostic writings and to more contemporary writings as the Da Vinci Code. In such writings there may be spoken of a wife for God and a wife for Jesus, but nowhere in the Bible is this even hinted at.

 It is not because we can find in those papyrus manuscripts chunks of the same Bible texts that we may assume they original writings to be taken serious. I do believe many of them were retroactively rewritten to falsify the record. As I told previously it is strange that God did not protect such writings like He did with the other canonic writings. Everything which was notated in one language and translated in other languages, could be compared to early and later writings, which compared with manuscripts found much later but written much earlier confirmed the writings we had or have so far.

Human or spiritual needing or not having sexual appetite

English: Noah's testament with God

Noah’s testament with God (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Abrahamic God is not a God recognisable as a human figure needing sex like the other gods of the pantheon. The God of Moses, who is the same God of Jesus has no sexual qualities or desires.

When there is spoken about Asherah in the Bible she is not depicted as God’s wife. The true believers of God do not need to see or find a God with the same attributes as themselves or as any human being. We are made in the likeness of God, so naturally many attributes we do have come from God. But because God is a Complete God of gods, without any deficiencies we may assume that those elements which can weaken us can not be found by the Most High God. Sexuality is such one of the elements God does not have to have.

Canaanite and other gods

Robert Wright writes in his book The Evolution of God:

Many scholars have said no. Indeed, in Kaufmann’s view, the “non-mythological” nature of Yahweh “is the essence of Israelite religion” and sets Israelite religion “apart from all forms of paganism,” certainly including native Canaanite religion.

There is doubly bad news for those who, like Kaufmann, would hail Yahweh as a clean break from pagan myth. First, there are signs that the break wasn’t so clean—that, like so much else in the history of religion, it was more evolutionary than revolutionary. Second, when you try to trace this evolution, you see that Yahweh’s family tree may contain something even more scandalous than an early fusion with the Canaanite deity El. It may be that Yahweh, even while inheriting El’s genes, somehow acquired genes from the most reviled of all Canaanite deities: Baal.… {Did Yahweh have a wife? Excerpt from Chapter 5: Polytheism: The Religion of Ancient Israel}

Virgin Queen of heaven

Astarte, the goddess, the Queen of Heaven, whose worship Jeremiah so vehemently opposed.

From the previous posting you may also have come to the conclusion that God Himself who told Jeremiah that He was grieved by the idol worship of the “queen of heaven“, would than also not be married to such a queen. Many ancient sky goddesses got that title and later the Roman Catholic Church added their “queen of heaven”  or the “Blessed Virgin Mary”  The fact that archeologists have found Asherah in Samaria is not surprising when you know that according to biblical history, about half of the kings of Israel worshipped other gods and built altars and Asherah to them.

Concerning that wife of Yahweh, I presented Biblical writings where the position of the Only True God and His people is presented, under the figurative way of speaking about the relationship and bond or covenant between a husband and his wife. I do hope that you  readers came to see that  “that wife” is not Asherah or any other cultic goddess. The wife is none other than God’s people. In the Word of God (the Bible) the Creator compared His relationship with a young man youth who married a virgin, and as the bridegroom at such an occasion would rejoice, joyeth over the bride,
so shall He who is the God of gods, the Elohim rejoice over them.

“For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee; and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.  (6)  I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that are Jehovah’s remembrancers, take ye no rest,  (7)  and give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.  (8)  Jehovah hath sworn by his right hand, and by the arm of his strength, Surely I will no more give thy grain to be food for thine enemies; and foreigners shall not drink thy new wine, for which thou hast labored:  (9)  but they that have garnered it shall eat it, and praise Jehovah; and they that have gathered it shall drink it in the courts of my sanctuary.” (Isaiah 62:5-9 ASV)

Zion and Backsliding children

God could only see His people wandering off many times, though He often called them and asked them to remember what He had done for them:

“Return, O backsliding children, says Jehovah; for I am married to you. And I will take you, one from a city, and two from a family; and I will bring you to Zion.” (Jeremiah 3:14 VW)

aka. the Moabite Stone (2007-05-19T14-10-19.jp...

aka. the Moabite Stone (2007-05-19T14-10-19.jpg) Mesha Stele: YHWH, the god of Israelites as mentioned in the Moabite inscription in line 18 (context: and I took from there tvessels (or hearths) of YHWH and I dragged them before the face of Kemosh). Transliteration (modern Hebrew characters): יהוה (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This Zion is also a bride to the Most high. in Jerusalem shall be His bed, his throne, which will be given to one of the sons of Adam, who would be the righteous son of Abraham and son of king David. This young man would become the new wife but also the new husband. Zion or Tzion for The God of Abraham is the spiritual point from which reality emerges, located in the Holy of Holies of the First, Second and Third Temple. It was that what was build up by God. as happens more in the Holy Scriptures Jerusalem and the Jewish people are personified. Naming the holy city “daughter Zion” was a common practice in the Hebrew language. Not only Jerusalem was called this way, but also Babylon, Tyre and Tarshish were referred to as “daughter”. In the New Testament the Daughter of Zion is the bride of Christ, also known as the Church, according to the writer of the book of Hebrews (see Hebrews 12:22). In this sense the lower hill with the temple mount is of course the Daughter of Zion as a geographical or ‘earthly’ manifestation of spiritual reality, as well as the lively and alive place of the human congregation.

“on the contrary, you have come to mount Tziyon, that is, the city of the living god, heavenly Yerushalayim; to myriads of angels in festive assembly;” (Hebrews 12:22 CJB)

God having been married to Israel, the People of God; His son Jeshua (Jesus Christ) shall be married to the spiritual Israel, which is the Body of Christ or the Church.

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Preceding articles:

 Marriage of Jesus 1 Mary, John, Judas, Thomas and Brown

 Marriage of Jesus 2 Standard writings about Jesus

 Marriage of Jesus 3 Listening women

 Marriage of Jesus 4 Place of the woman

 Marriage of Jesus 5 Papyrus fragment  in Egyptian Coptic

 Marriage of Jesus 6 Jesus said to them “My wife”

 Marriage of Jesus 7 Impaled

 Marriage of Jesus 8 Wife of Yahweh

 To be continued with:

 Marriage of Jesus 10 Old and New Covenant

 

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Additional reading:

  1. Another way looking at a language #6 Set apart
  2. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #4 Transitoriness #2 Purity
  3. Catholicism, Anabaptism and Crisis of Christianity
  4. Looking for True Spirituality 6 Spirituality and Prayer
  5. How long to wait before bringing religiousness and spirituality in practice
  6. Self inflicted misery #7 Good news to our suffering
  7. Signs of the Last Days
  8. Misleading Pictures
  9. A Living Faith #4 Effort
  10. Reflect on how much idolizing happens
  11. 8 fears caused by the fear of Man
  12. Wishing lanterns and Christmas
  13. Christmas, Saturnalia and the birth of Jesus
  14. Irminsul, dies natalis solis invicti, birthday of light, Christmas and Saturnalia
  15. Easter: Origins in a pagan Christ
  16. Hellenistic influences
  17. Position and power
  18. Politics and power first priority #1
  19. If we, in our prosperity, neglect religious instruction and authority
  20. God’s wisdom for the believer brings peace
  21. Worship and worshipping

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Also of interest:

Did God Have a Wife?

  • Never Mind Jesus–Did God Have A Wife? (theatlantic.com)
    The recently revealed “evidence” that Jesus had a wife deserves those quotation marks. As various people have argued, a fragment of text written centuries after the crucifixion doesn’t carry much weight as a biographical source. However, when it comes to the question of whether Jesus’s father had a wife, the evidence is stronger. And I’m not talking about Joseph, but, rather, about Jesus’s heavenly father–God.
  • Asherah, Wife of God (fractalfortress.wordpress.com)
    Asherah is a Semitic “mother goddess” who appears in several ancient sources. She was loved by the Jews, Akkadians, Hittites, Canaanites, Sumerians, and possibly the Ancient Egyptians. Due to syncretism, she absorbed the traits of the Goddess Athirat. Her titles are similarly many and include Queen of Heaven, Creator of the Gods, Lady of the Sea, and Holiness.Contrary to what you may believe, Jews were not always monotheistic: the worship of many deities was at one time a common and acceptable practice. Monotheism came late to Israel’s history. During this early time period, some scholars believe, the Goddess Asherah was worshipped alongside Yahweh, the god of the Bible. We can find evidence of this in the “Good Book” itself: in 2 Kings 21:7, Manasseh builds a statue of Asherah, and Solomon builds temples to many deities. Goddess figurines, along with numerous references to “Yahweh and his Asherah,” have also been unearthed in Israel. Furthermore, biblical verses that describes God as mother [Deut 32:18; Num 11:12-13; Isa 45:9-10, 49:15; 66:13] were probably absorbed from Asherah.
  • Asherah – the Queen of Heaven, who is Astarte and Ishtar (magickwyrd.wordpress.com)
    In biblical text the Goddess Asherah was worshiped in the temple Solomon built for Yahweh in Jerusalem. In the Book of Kings, we’re told that a statue of Asherah was housed in the temple and that female temple personnel (2 Kings 21:7) wove ritual textiles for her. Ancient texts, amulets and figurines unearthed primarily in the ancient Canaanite coastal city called Ugarit, now modern-day Syria, include reference to Yahweh and Asherah. Inscriptions are found asking for blessings together from Yahweh and Asherah, which reveals that God was not alone and his wife was a revered Goddess who had a part in religious practice and belief. All of these artifacts describe that Asherah was a powerful fertility goddess. As time passed, and over centuries, Asherah has been carefully edited out by authors who put bible texts together, to clear the way for focus on the worship of a single male god, Yahweh.
  • Asherah: Was God’s wife edited out of the Bible? – Christy Choi (bharatabharati.wordpress.com)

    “What remains of God’s purported other half are clues in ancient texts, amulets and figurines unearthed primarily in an ancient Canaanite coastal city, now in modern-day Syria. Inscriptions on pottery found in the Sinai desert also show Yahweh and Asherah were worshipped as a pair, and a passage in the Book of Kings mentions the goddess as being housed in the temple of Yahweh.” – Christy Choi
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    “Traces of her remain, and based on those traces … we can reconstruct her role in the religions of the Southern Levant,” he told Discovery News.

    Yahweh & AsherahAsherah, he says, was an important deity in the Ancient Near East, known for her might and nurturing qualities. She was also known by several other names, including Astarte and Istar. But in English translations Ashereh was translated as “sacred tree.”

    “This seems to be in part driven by a modern desire, clearly inspired by the Biblical narratives, to hide Asherah behind a veil once again,” Wright says.

  • Know Your Bible Lesson 14: Ahab & Elijah (Period 5) (924jeremiah.wordpress.com)
    By now we’ve learned that wives have a powerful spiritual influence over their husbands. Every time the Israelite men jump in the sack with some idolatrous women, they turn away from Yahweh to worship other gods. We saw this happen during the wilderness journey in Period 2, and we saw King Solomon take himself down by collecting lovers from all over the pagan world. We’re going to see this pattern again with Ahab, but somehow we get the feeling that Ahab knows what he’s doing when he rushes out to marry a sexy Baal worshiper.
  • Celebrating the Wiccan Way on Litha (anytimecostumes.com)
    Held on June 21st, the longest day of the year, this exciting holiday is a celebration of light, power, fertility, and nature. It’s meant to honor the Sun God when he is at his strongest and the Goddess pregnant with life before the harvest. It’s a bittersweet occasion as well, though–once it ends, the days begin to get shorter and shorter, marking the decline summer and the beginning of winter.
    +
    There are a few different stories Wiccans retell during the Litha Sabbat (holy day).
    +
    Since it’s a time of fertility and communion, marriages and handfastings are often held on Litha. One of its bynames–Vestalia–comes from the Roman goddess Vesta, the ruler of the hearth, and so, marriage. Juno, the goddess of union, is also the presiding deity over June, making it a popular day for couples to tie the knot…or jump the broom, depending on your preference.
  • Asherah, Part I: The lost bride of Yahweh (pterprof.wordpress.com) > Asherah, Part I: The lost bride of Yahweh + Asherah, Part II. + Asherah, Part III: The Lion Lady « Queen of Heaven

    The archaelogical record suggests that Asherah was the Mother Goddess of Israel, the Wife of God, according to William Dever, who has unearthed many clues to her identity. She was worshiped, apparently throughout the time Israel stood as a nation.  In many homes, images like the one above decorated household shrines.

    +

    In Ugarit, She was known as Athiratu Yammi, She who Treads on the Sea.  This suggests She was responsible for ending a time of chaos represented by the primordial sea and beginning the process of creation.  The Sea God, or Sea Serpent Yam is the entity upon which She trod.  In a particularly bizarre and suggestive passage in the Bible, 2 Kings 18:4, one monotheistic reformer, pursuing the typical course of smashing sacred stones and cutting down Asherahs records this additional fact: He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan.)

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    Asherah, Part II: The serpent’s bride

    In Minoan Crete a mysterious goddess bearing serpents is very ancient; in classical Greece, Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, bears the serpent covered head of Medusa on her shield.  Throughout ancient Canaan, images can be found of a goddess holding or surrounded by serpents.  Some believe she is Astarte (the Canaanite version of Ishtar, who is in turn the Babylonian version of Inanna).  Inanna is said to have stolen the me, the magical tablets of wisdom, from Enki, and to have delivered that knowledge to her own people. Others believe the Canaanite serpent goddess is Asherah, in part because this goddess is often depicted standing on a lion and Asherah is also called the Lion Lady (a topic for another day).
    Asherah, Part III: The Lion Lady « Queen of Heaven
    The flower and the nudity are natural symbols of fertility; the snake is associated with wisdom. This fits with the archaelogical evidence that Asherah was worshiped by the Canaanites and later Israelites as the Mother Goddess and the Tree of Life.  (See Asherah Part I and Part II.) But why is Asherah the Lion Lady?

  • Asherah, Part I: The lost bride of Yahweh (farpointe.wordpress.com) Originally posted on Queen of Heaven
    They worshiped Her under every green tree, according to the Hebrew Bible (what Christians call the Old Testament).  The Bible also tells us Her image was to be found for years in the temple of Solomon, where the women wove hangings for Her.  In temple and forest grove, Her image was apparently made of wood, since monotheistic reformers demanded it be chopped down and burned.  It appears to have been a manmade object, but one carved of a tree and perhaps the image was a stylized tree of some kind.
  • Know Your Bible Lesson 13: Warring Kingdoms (Period 5) (924jeremiah.wordpress.com)
    In Lesson 10, we learned about how there are two different series of books which give us chronological summaries of the kings of Israel. One is the Samuel-Kings series, and the other is the Chronicles series.
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    David’s line is the true royal line—anyone else is just an imposter. The only time we hear about the kings of the north in 2 Chronicles is when they have an interaction with the kings of the south. So Chronicles is about the kings of Judah, while the author of Kings leaps back and forth between the two nations.

Being Religious and Spiritual 5 Gnostic influences

Diagram of a Religious experience

Diagram of a Religious experience (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The religious and the spiritual person may be looking for certain experiences which can occur at several levels: physical, emotional, cognitive, pertaining to the mental processes of perception, memory, judgement, and reasoning, as contrasted with emotional and volitional processes, and transcendent. For the religious person there is the groups-feeling which shall be important to give him or her the appropriate feelings. The belonging to a community or parish shall fuse the personal feeling and the feeling of being part of something more than the self. The individual is not as such concerned about his individuality in the universe but more about his unit or union with others in the world. “Belonging to” is the feeding ground for the religious person.

The spiritual person is not so much connected to a reason to belong to a group or being part of a community or parish. The Self and especially the inner-self are the motives underlying his quest and behaviour. His or her search to the inner-self are the grounds for a quality that can infuse experience in a wide variety of settings. Spiritual experience can be both transcendent and immanent: it can be both an experience of transcending worldly concerns and an intense present-moment perception that the ground of all being permeates all things. for the individual it is not a groups matter but a personal and an intense aliveness and deep sense of understanding that one intuitively comprehends as having come from a direct, internal link with that mysterious principle which connects all aspects of the universe. In Christianity and Ecclesiastical Terms the immanence came to be the relation to the pantheistic conception of God, as being present throughout the universe. A person could come to a state where he or she could make himself or herself free from the limitations inherent in matter, becoming Theol (of God) having continuous existence outside the created world in a well-built relationship with the Most High Creator God or with a godly being.

In the 19th century several people became convinced that society and its institutions — particularly organized religion and political parties — ultimately corrupted the purity of the individual.

Among others New England congregationalists, rejected predestination, and they emphasized the unity instead of the trinity of God. The many people who had seen how in Europe the church had corrupted the real Truth of the Bible, the infallible Word of God, were also convinced the dogmatic teaching of a Tri-Une God, three persons coexisting consubstantially as one being or homoousia (consubstantialis), had brought man away form the commandments of God not to worship pictures or sculptures of any heavenly being nor of Him, the God of all things. The Gnostics were the first theologians to use the word “homoousios”, while before the Gnostics there is no trace at all of its existence. Jesus, who was placed by God on this earth, was well aware of his position, being lower than the heavenly beings (the angels) and his Father, without Him he could do nothing and who is the Most High of all.

“You* heard how that I said to you*, I go away and I am coming to you*. If you* loved* me, you* would have rejoiced, because I said, I am going to the Father: because the Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28 MLV)

“But Jesus answered them, My Father works until now and I work. (18)  Because of this, then the Jews sought even more to kill him, because he did not only break the Sabbath, but also called God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
(19)  Therefore Jesus answered and said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you*, The Son can do nothing from himself, unless he sees what the Father is doing: for* whatever things he does, the Son is also doing these things similarly. (20)  For* the Father loves the Son and shows him all things that himself does and greater works than these he will show him, that* you* may marvel. (21)  For* just-as the Father raises the dead and gives-life to them, even so the Son also gives-life to whom he wills. (22)  For* the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son; (23)  that* all may honor the Son, just-as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son, does not honor the Father who sent him. ” (John 5:17-23 MLV)

Already soon after the rabbi Jesus his death, his disciples were confronted with teachers who twisted Jesus his words and his teachings and mixed them with the Greek-Roman culture of that time. Lots of theories of the Greek philosophers did find their way in the faith of many early Christians, though the apostles kept warning for such false teachings. (See the Acts of the apostles and the many letters to the different communities.) Jesus of Nazareth never required his followers, many ordinary craftsman or fisherman, to follow theologian studies. But those who brought in all those studies of philosophers wanted their followers to learn them thoroughly. Therefore they created special institutions where this mix of teachings could be learned. by the years more time was spent on the teachings of the philosophers than on the Words of God. The early church theologians were probably made aware of the Gnostic concept, and thus of the doctrine of emanation, by them. {Aloys Grillmeier, Christ in Christian Tradition, vol. 1, From the Apostolic Age to Chalcedon (451) (London: Mowbrays, 1975), p. 109.}

It was what so many spiritual people kept busy, finding substance between generating and generated, getting to the identity of substance between things generated of the same substance that brought several people away from the Biblical Truth, finding the early Gnostic religious teacher Basilides in Alexandria, Egypt who taught from 117–138 CE.
Basilides believed faith was merely

“an assent of the soul to any of the things which do not excite sensation, because they are not present”.

He also believed faith was a matter of “nature,” not of responsible choice, so that men would

“discover doctrines without demonstration by an intellective apprehension”. {St. Clement of Alexandria, Stromata Book ii. Chapter iii.}

Image of a fiery purgatory in the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

Because Basilides believed faith was a matter of nature, doubtlessly he pushed election so far as to sever a portion of mankind from the rest, as alone entitled by Divine decree to receive a higher enlightenment. In this sense it must have been that he called “the election a stranger to the world, as being by nature supermundane”. {St. Clement of Alexandria, Stromata Book iv. Chapter xxvi.} It was also this teacher who brought in that Jesus his death was not enough to get liberated of sin. According to such a teaching it denies the value of the sacrifice of Christ by who’s death we can be adopted as a child of God and be reconciled, having paid for our sins by our death. The idea was created that people only could receive ‘reconciliation’ when they belonged to the Roman Catholic Church and had received a sacrament in which repentant sinners are absolved and gained reconciliation with God and the Church. Basilides deprived men of a salutary fear by teaching that transmigrations are the only punishments after death. In later years many churches used purgatory and hell-fire to frighten the people and to get them in their system as angst-ridden followers. Many denomination used it as the big stick to keep people in their flock, also telling them they only could be saved and could come in heaven by being a member of their church. Today we still notice such a preventative measure against going astray or leaving that church still works. The fear of loosing their heavenly life makes that many people do not dare to question those theologian doom teachings. Because Basilides held to a fatalistic view of metempsychosis, he believed the Christian martyrs were being punished not for being Christians, but for sins they had committed in the past. This made that people became afraid to loose their life when they would keep on to the teachings of the apostles and early followers of Jesus, who took him as the son of God and not as god the son. Taking on the symbols and worship methods of the Greece-Roman culture made them one of them and would give them less reasons to be killed.

Lots of religious people took the sign of the god of evil Tamuz, the cross, as the sign of the death of their god. The Only One God can not die and never did have an end to His life which is eternal, meaning ‘with no beginning and no end’. Jesus had a beginning, his birth and an end, his death. The ones from the New World had seen how the European churches not only brought in false doctrines like the trinity, but resisted also many other Christian doctrines which had become considered conventional for the Christian Faith. Searchers for the truth like Joseph Priestley, one of the founders of the Unitarian movement, defined Unitarianism as the belief of primitive Christianity before later corruptions set in. Among these corruptions, lots of people had taken on several pagan rituals and had made them custom actions in their religious life.

Soho House in Handsworth, Birmingham, a regular venue for meetings of the Lunar Society

At Daventry, Priestley was sufficiently grounded in Latin and Greek to hold his own in subsequent disputes with university-trained scholars. He was more generally introduced to a range of subjects in natural philosophy, but more significantly, he was there formally instructed in logic and metaphysics. In Birmingham he became preacher at New Meeting House, one of the most liberal congregations in England, and was soon associated with the Lunar Society, an informal collection of provincial intellectuals, scientists, and industrialists. Taking the Bible as the main guide for his study about God to compare with the historical writings about Jesus and his followers, he became the chief propagandist and protagonist for Unitarian beliefs in England, writing annual defences against attack, and developing in various historical and polemical works (for example, An History of the Corruptions of Christianity [1782] and An History of Early Opinions concerning Jesus Christ [1786]) a rationalist theology that suggests, in some measure, the ideas of textual and “higher criticism” of the New Testament. In the eyes of the church establishment, he came to represent the intolerable encroachments of dissent, and on him was focused their theological and political animus. {Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 2008} when he had to escape from conservative England he emigrated to the United States in 1794 where president John Adams and George Washington were welcoming his teachings and made him to feel at home.

Those people looking to save their life found in the religion preached by those theologians of the Old World could feel ways to feel at ease with the many traditional movements done by the people around them. Instead of abstaining them form those worldly actions they now could take part without hesitation and fear, being part of the world. For many it was quite easy now to be religious, because according to the teaching of the apostles and the non-trinitarians or unitarians, people themselves were responsible and had to make choices themselves to make sure they would be worthy salvation. In the gnostic and Roman Catholic Church and later in several protestant churches they could blame their faults to a devil, called Satan or Lucifer, and always could find penitence even when they kept doing the same bad things. In many cases churches were willing to accept money for pardoning.

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Preceding articles:

Being Religious and Spiritual 1 Immateriality and Spiritual experience

Being Religious and Spiritual 2 Religiosity and spiritual life

Being Religious and Spiritual 3 Philosophers, Avicennism and the spiritual

Being Religious and Spiritual 4 Philosophical, religious and spiritual people

Next: Being Religious and Spiritual 6 Romantici, utopists and transcendentalists

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Read also:

  1. Idolatry or idol worship
  2. “Who is The Most High” ? Who is thee Eternal? Who is Yehovah? Who is God?
  3. God of gods
  4. Some one or something to fear #6 Faith in the Most High
  5. יהוה , YHWH and Love: Four-letter words
  6. Praise the most High Jehovah God above all
  7. Praise and give thanks to God the Most Highest
  8. Christ Versus the Trinity
  9. Altered to fit a Trinity
  10. Reasons that Jesus was not God
  11. Jesus begotten Son of God #13 Pre-existence excluding virginal birth of the Only One Transposed
  12. Through Christ’s death you can be adopted as a child of God
  13. Sharing thoughts and philosophical writings
  14. Morality, values and Developing right choices
  15. Science and God’s existence
  16. Seeing the world through the lens of his own experience
  17. Leaving the Old World to find better pastures
  18. Emotional pain and emotional deadness
  19. What happens when we die?
  20. Fear and protection
  21. Heavenly creatures do they exist
  22. Satan or the devil
  23. Satan the evil within

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Additional reading:

  1. Paradise, the First Sin, the Fiery Sword, and the Path to Rectification
  2. Fear
  3. All trust, no fear
  4. Trinity And Pagan Influence
  5. Trinity: A False Doctrine of a False Church
  6. Part 2) God is not a Trinity
  7. The Trinity: paganism or Christianity?
  8. Unitarianism and the Bible of the Holy Trinity

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  • A New Gnosticism (supertradmum-etheldredasplace.blogspot.com)
    Well, after several months of thought, and being a bit dense, I figured out that Christian Scientism was a new Gnosticism. I suppose other people have known this, but I have beenin discussion with a friend who is a Christian Scientist and it finally dawned on me. She thinks that all reason is empiricism, so that is a confusion immediately seen.To the Catholic, reason and faith are two pillars of our spiritual life.

    For the Gnostic, the material world is evil. God is not part of the material. What the CS does with Genesis, in which we read that God created the world and everything in it and saw that it was good.

    For the Catholic, creation was created good by a good God. For the Catholic, Christ was Incarnated, became Man, became material. The CS does not accept this. To them, God is a principle not a person.

  • Embracing the Body as a Spiritual Path. (elephantjournal.com)
    The belief from many traditions is that we suffer precisely because we identify with our bodies, and that freedom is (somehow) somewhere beyond that mistake. But what I found over the years is that in fact the opposite might be true: we suffer when we do not embrace our bodies, and in fact it is our suffering in the first place that makes us reject, disconnect from and seek to be somewhere other than our bodies.chakrasHealing lies in coming home to the body. Whether it is recovery from trauma, abuse or addiction, learning to manage stress and be present with feelings, or releasing shame and media-conditioning to embrace our bodies as they are.
  • Um, Since When Does Jesus Have Skeletons in His Closet?: A Research Paper on Christianity (Part 1) (kosmosys.wordpress.com)
    Gnosticism is known to have correlations with Christianity based on its status of heresy with the Roman Catholic Church. Without going into specifics just yet, one can assume that “correlations”,”similarities” mean concepts, persons, principles, histories, what have you. Another interesting (or troubling?) thing about Gnosticism is that it actually Predates Christianity, meaning that it was in existence Long before Christianity. The understanding of the term “heresy” (and we will officially define it later) is that it is a corruption or perversion of scripture already in existence. How can Gnosticism corrupt or pervert Christianity IF Gnosticism was already in existence? So, if we are supposed to believe that Christianity is “self-existent” (meaning that the events in the Bible Actually happened and the people in the Bible were Real) how is it possible for it to be influenced by a School of Thought older than it? How can Jesus’ teachings exist Before He was supposedly born?
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    Um, Since When Does Jesus Have Bones in His Closet?: A Research Paper on Christianity (Part 2)
    What doctrine was the Church trying to silence? So by using Gnosticism, we can then get a new perspective on Christianity. We can look at its behavior, if you will, and understand exactly what, if anything, it is hiding in its closet.
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    According to NewAdvent.org, certain aspects of Gnosticism was in existence before that of Christianity, although at the time it was not called Gnosticism, as you can imagine, because Gnosticism itself was/is a spin off of older doctrines. One of the parent faiths of Gnosticism was the Babylonian Mandean faith, which I won’t even get into here. It is also pretty obvious that Gnosticism was not called such until it reached Greece seeing as the root of Gnosticism is “gnosis” meaning knowledge and is a greek word. So, according to this particular source, NewAdvent.org, “it is beyond doubt that Gnosticism existed independent of and anterior to Christianity.” Which means that there is no way that Gnosticism could come as a perversion of Christianity because it was here first.
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    As Christians have we not been trained to not think? What about the questions wehave been asked thathave been answered with a “don’t test God” or “God’s mysterious ways.” How many times hasCreflo dollar told us “don’t think! Sow!” How many times have we wondered where all our tithes and offerings are going? Who is spending it and on what?It is clear what the Church thinks about people with knowledge, people who think. Was Jesus not the reason for the slaughter of dozens of innocent men, women, and children during the Salem Witch Trials? How many of you knew the TRUE meaning of the terms listed above?
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    All I’m saying is that we need to open our eyes more. Ask questions. Understand things. Obviously there is more to be see than just meets the eye. There is more that needs to be learned. Otherwise, why would the Church cause so much bloodshed to silence the knowledge?
  • My Experience In The Word Of Faith Pt. 7-Watchman Nee,Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis (christianreasons.com)
    Pay careful attention to the reference regarding a deeper spiritual life. That will become important when we discuss the Keswick movement. The main thing I want to demonstrate is the link to Roman Catholic mysticism.Although the “Cross” is emphasized with the Higher Life advocates, the Sanctifying effects of union with Christ is stressed almost to the exclusion of the Justifying effects and the forgiveness of sins. I have a real problem with that. It is also common among Classic Wesleyans and Pentecostals to over-emphasize the more subjective aspects of Sanctification than the objective work of Christ in Justification.
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    The focus on the intuition as the real means of grasping truth, rather than through the specifics (including the wording) of Scripture is a definite type of Gnosticism, complete with its arrogance and exclusivity (regardless of intentions to the contrary). His claims that the conscience is based on one’s intuition opens wide the door for being directed by a supposed inner voice from God rather than taking God’s written Word as the true basis of conscience training. The conscience is only as accurate as the training upon which it is based. development of a rather complicated system, with its own specific terminology, which means that the uninitiated cannot really grasp the “deep teachings” of God. The focus on the intuition as the real means of grasping truth, rather than through the specifics (including the wording) of Scripture is a definite type of Gnosticism, complete with its arrogance and exclusivity (regardless of intentions to the contrary).
    +My Experience In The Word Of Faith Movement Pt. 6-Watchman Nee, Miss Margaret E. Barber, Roman Catholic Mystics
    + Pt.1, Pt. 2, Pt. 3, Pt. 4, Pt. 5.
    It has been in my exposure to the Reformers that I learned the broken ladders that the little theologians of glory in us love to use to get to God.
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    In The Normal Christian Life, (probably one of his more popular titles), Nee writes: “Righteousness, the forgiveness of our sins, and peace with God are all ours by faith, and without faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ none can possess them.” His whole exposition on the Blood of Christ in this book is very orthodox, and insightful. As far as it goes, it’s theologically sound.
  • Is It O.k. for Christians to Do Martial Arts? (prayers4reparation.wordpress.com)
    Many of the martial arts popular in the West have origins in parts of the world where Buddhist and other forms of religious philosophy are (or were) prevalent. Such philosophy is not essential to discipline and exercise, and indeed we can bring a Christian approach to bear, especially since we strive to focus not only on our own well-being but on selfless charity to others.
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    If it is simply a question of breathing exercises or seeking peace and harmony of soul, without the imposition of Pagan beliefs, then we can take part, though in our own practice we can bring to bear our Christian faith in which Christ is our peace, and the values of self-discipline and care of our physical health are seen in the context of a spiritual life in accord with the teaching of the Gospel.