Sunday, March 13, 2011

Is Joseph Smith also among the Gnostics?

Joseph Smith embodied many of the tenets of classical Gnosticism which I have outline here. He did this in some of the explicit ways: for example, teaching an infinite regress of divine beings, holding out to his followers the promise of hidden knowledge and secret oracles, introducing an elaborate system of rites and ceremonies and levels of initiation and advocating.
While these facets of Smith’s religion had an almost point-by-point correspondence with the particulars of classical Gnosticism, it was his elitist ecclesiology that is perhaps the most significant since resonation so deeply with the broader spiritual narratives of the age. His thought was animated by the paradoxical conjunction of populism and elitism that was a key feature of classical Gnosticism’s dialectic. It was through colluding with the fashionable Platonism within 3rd century Mediterranean culture that classical Gnosticism developed its distinctively elitist tenor. Mormonism would also come to appropriate this symbiotic interplay of apparent opposites.  

Further Reading

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