What is Gnosticism?

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Gnosticism is derived from the Greek word gnosis, meaning “to know.” It is a modern name for varied ancient religious ideas. Some forms were completely unrelated to Christianity and can be traced back to Plato, Zoroastrianism, and Buddhism. Other beliefs were considered a higher type of Christianity and surfaced in Jewish milieus in the first and second century CE. A treasure of Gnostic documents were found at Nag Hammadi. These included several works for Jewish Gnosticism which contradicts the truths about God as presented in the Old Testament.

Generally, Gnostics believe that the material world is evil and the spirit world is good. The material world is under the control of evil. They add that a divine spark is trapped in some humans and it alone, of all that exists in this material world, is capable of redemption. To the Gnostics, God is good and could not have created an evil world. Our world, therefore, was created by an evil god. The good God created beings (Archons). And the evil Archon who created our world and pretends to be God, hides truth from humans, but sparks Sophia (wisdom) in some humans to make them want to return to the Pleroma or divine realm.

The Gnostic believes in acquiring mystical knowledge as the means for salvation which is contrary to the biblical message of salvation through the blood of Christ alone (Acts 4:12). In other words, a human depends on self-redemption. And instead of seeking to be transformed by Christ, he seeks by his inner “spark” to find the knowledge needed to free himself from his material body and reach God. This belief contradicts the biblical teaching that: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Without God man can’t achieve salvation (John 15:5).

Gnostics believe that matter is corrupt, therefore, the body must be corrupt also. This thinking led them to conclude that the divine God could not become a real human being with a fleshly body in Christ Jesus. Thus, they deny the deity of Christ. And while the majority of Gnostics, teach that the body must be disciplined by strict asceticism,  some Gnostics teach that they can have fleshly desires since the body is helpless and can’t be restored to God’s image.

Today, Gnosticism has evolved and branched out from the exclusively spiritual into the secular. And the Gnostic is pursuing goodness outside the Bible. But the Scriptures teach that there is no true knowledge apart from God,  “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction”( Proverbs 1:7). And it also teach that those that hold beliefs that contradict God’s law and the testimony of the prophets have no truth in them (Isaiah 8:20).

Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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