"[Alfred the Great's] unique importance in the history of English letters comes from his conviction that a life without knowledge or reflection was unworthy of respect..."
Sir Frank Stenton
Great post! I so much appreciated the paragraph about the true hope of the Christian; that being the resurrection from the dead. I so often feel like an outsider with my hope not resting in the so-called immortality of the soul, but rather the resurrection from the grave. This being a belief that few hold where pastors constantly rail against it and deride any who hold such a belief. I truly hope this doctrine will be "resurrected" as it were from the Scriptures and embraced by believers regardless of how they may be mocked by most in the church.Blessings!
Thanks Michael. I have expanded on this at http://robinphillips.blogspot.com/2010/06/resurrection-or-disembodiment.html
Michael, there's been some comments over on my latest post on Gnosticism and resurrection that I'd love to get your response to.
It's interesting how we can so easily accept ideas and concepts as being part of historic Christian belief without even being familiar with historic Christian belief. Your list and so many other things today are readily accepted as "truth". The Reformation concept of the right of private interpretation has done much to foster this idea in fragmenting Christianity.
Robin, very interesting. I wrote my doctoral thesis on the Gnostic trends in local congregations (Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry-2007). It is a raging problem & is causing all kinds of damage. I believe Hans Jonas' shorthand definition of Gnosticism helps as well: anti-cosmic dualism.I really gained a lot from Philip Lee's book which you mention; "Against the Protestant Gnostics". I believe he has hit almost all the nails firmly on their "spiritual" heads...so to speak.
Brilliant! Lee's book (and T. Howard's Evangelical Is Not Enough) opened my eyes to the fullness of the catholic faith.
I find your observations relevant and to the point. You are obviously a person of research and thinking. I ask you to consider something that is of my opinion essential to do accurate research. You focus a lot on the differences between a christian vs gnostic standpoint in scriptural materials and ideas. My heartfelt thought is that you would do more good by focusing on the "validity" of such matters of the church, be they christian gnostics,or protestants, or what have you. Seeking the truth of what is, cannot offend God. God IS truth and can only be glorified in it. You may choose to not repost this but I hope you shall. There needs to be a fair discussion among God's children. I welcome a response with no ill will.May Christ be with you.Alex.
Thanks Alex. I agree completely. I have been discussing some of these issues with the people at Orthodox bridge at http://orthodoxbridge.com/
Robin,I've only recently stumbled across your internet writings and have had time only for a cursory glance at them. My initial impression (perhaps mistaken?) is that most folks would put you in the Reformed camp, maybe in the truly Reformed camp. Except ...Point 7: Knowledge saves. I concur with what you've written here. But, I wonder -- would this render Sproul "gnostic" when he insists that the "the gospel" is reduceable "believe that salvation is by faith alone apart from works?" And, then, there's ...Point 8: God doesn't work through means. Interesting, each week when the men of our parish meet for Evening Prayer, that liturgy concludes with a prayer that includes thanksgiving to God "for the means of grace," intending by that phrase to point (minimally) to the cardinal sacraments. Moreoever, we join our Lutheran, Roman, and Orthodox friends in believing in the Real Presence, and that baptism does something more than make someone wet.The point: why not ex opere operato where it is warranted, instead of repudiating it because the pre-Reformation Romans corrupted and abused the doctrine?Again, I ask, because some of my Very Truly Reformed brothers gag at the sacramental theology I've embraced in my dotage.Finally, have you yet written anything about the power of regular participation in liturgy as a sort of innoculation against all the gnostic errors you've surveyed above? If you haven't, give some thought in that direction. I know I've been thinking along these lines for several years now.
I agree with most of your points, but not totally sure I agree with #7. I do agree that knowledge alone doesn't save, but isn't knowledge of the gospel necessary for one to come to Christ? Can you clarify your point there?I don't agree with Wesley in his quote either by the way.
Clarification of what I meant on point 7 can be found by going to step 3 at http://liturgicalinstitute.wordpress.com/?p=646&preview=true
Have you any developed thoughts about Gnosticism among Catholics and Orthodox?
Robin, I came to this post (and followed it to several other of your writings) from http://crossed-the-tiber.blogspot.com/. I am adding you to my blogroll. This is good stuff, very well thought out and researched. I am a mid-40s, lifelong non-denominational Christian. My wife and I, along with our two young children attend a large evangelical church. Yet I have been thinking, praying, writing, and reading much for the past several years about some of the serious flaws in Protestant thinking. This is hugely helpful. Thanks!
Brother in Christ,I am a Lutheran pastor who has taught against many of the same errors, yet not as clearly identified with obvious Gnostic heresy alive and well in Christianity today. Very well done. God bless and keep you and yours.
Robin, great work! Not seeking a published comment here, but a pointer. I love how you "gnosticate" that "not a religion" bit, which I think ties both kinds of Modernism together at the Schleiermachian root, which I will be exploring in a current study. All that for this - what is the earliest source you can name to support that link of affective "relationship" to the "gnostic" mystery cults?
I think the term 'gnostic' is being thrown around a little too loosely here.To reiterate my comments when a friend of mine linked to this essay from Facebook, it is true that some Gnostic movements had doctrinal errors that resembled the doctrinal errors of some contemporary Christian groups. But that doesn't mean that the errors of contemporary Christians are Gnostic. What the mistaken men of old arrived at by a Gnostic route, contemporary Protestants arrive at by a rather agnostic route. (Heh!)Consider an analogy to Judaism and Islam. Both Jews and Muslims deny that Jesus, our Lord and our God, is the Messiah. Moreover, both deny that Jesus is God. But that doesn't mean that Muslims are making a Jewish mistake. Rather both are reaching the same erroneous conclusion through very different paths. The Jews arrive at their conclusion via the adoption of the 1st/2nd century Massoretic interpretation of the Old Testament as the standard for studying the Torah. The Muslims arrive at their conclusion via denying that the Torah itself is an accurate testimony to the prophets of God and by deferring to the witness of Muhammed. What is missing that would make these myths properly Gnostic is the primacy of a secret transmission of a doctrine of salvation privately through one apostle over what was publicly taught by Christ and all of the apostles. From that point of view, Mormonism has far more in common with Gnosticism than any contemporary branch of Protestantism.Rather, where appropriate, we should label myths as dualistic, rationalistic, or just plain confused, keeping in mind that some of the myths as stated are quite correct insofar as they go and they only lack proper breadth or depth of their subject matter. For example, #2 that salvation is going to heaven when you die. There is nothing wrong with this teaching so long as one realizes that it is only only one aspect of a much broader eternal truth. Salvation is now, yes, but not in the same way as at the end of days. The orthodox Christian doctrine is that salvation is past, present and future. We were all saved once and for all some two thousand years ago on Calvary. We are all now being saved as we work out our salvation in fear and trembling. We will all be saved at the end of days. Nothing in that is contradicted by the idea that being saved means going to heaven when we die. The "myth" is merely incomplete much in the same way that one's education in mathematics is incomplete if one stops at simple addition and subtraction.
I have now had a chance to develop some of these themes further in my book Saints and Scoundrels. http://robinphillips.blogspot.com/p/saints-scoundrels.html
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