Saturday, November 03, 2012

On 20th Century Gnosticism

"By the twentieth century, this separation of matter and spirit not only permeated universities like Oxford and Cambridge but had affected the outlook of much of the British church. In the Church of England, it began to be seen as a badge of intellectual sophistication for clergy to water down, and sometimes even reject completely, the supernatural aspects of the Christian faith. The Anglican laity were hardly any better, having imbibed a sentimentalized, moralistic faith that had become unhinged from any spiritual reference point. Even those Englishmen committed to espousing a biblical faith often colluded with the modernist separation of the physical from the spiritual. This false separation resulted in the British church imbibing a Gnostic-like spirituality which failed to see how the world of ordinary things—work, matter, creativity, culture, to say nothing of the universe itself—was spiritually infused and dynamic….The false separation of the physical and the spiritual had led to an unofficial theology which stressed that the fundamental Christian hope is immortality rather than physical resurrection. This notion was reinforced by the Platonic bent of post-Victorian evangelicalism, in which the word “resurrection” began to be used simply as an approximation for the soul’s immortality. It even became fashionable for Anglican bishops to spiritualize away Christ’s own resurrection." Saints and Scoundrels, page 299

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