Sunday, May 8, 2022

Gnosticism - A Religious tradition I can get behind

I'm not religious (surprise), but there is 1 religion I could get behind if I was a believer. Gnosticism.

Gnosticism has gained traction once again starting in about 1950 after the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, starting around 1945.

So what is Gnosticism (G is silent)? It is a very early type of religion that was founded by some followers of Jesus. It was quite big in the 1st and 2nd centyuries.

Before Rome decided in about 380 which of the Bible books were cannon and which were not. Those Bible "books" that were not "cannon" - i.e. not approved for the official "Bible" - were widely destroyed and their followers killed. This was the plight of the Gnostic churches. The records found in the Dead Sea Scrolls were some early books of the Bible that were banned by Rome.

The term Gnosticism is derived from a Greek word meaning to seek knowledge.

I am going to cheat here and let Wikipedia explain it, because they do a simple job of it.

These various groups emphasized personal spiritual knowledge (gnosis) above the orthodox teachings, traditions, and authority of religious institutions. Viewing material existence as flawed or evil, Gnostic cosmogony generally presents a distinction between a supreme, hidden God and a malevolent lesser divinity (sometimes associated with the Yahweh of the Old Testament)[2] who is responsible for creating the material universe.[3] Gnostics considered the principal element of salvation to be direct knowledge of the supreme divinity in the form of mystical or esoteric insight. Many Gnostic texts deal not in concepts of sin and repentance, but with illusion and enlightenment.[3]

So the old Testament God is a lesser divinity.

Jesus is the example of true light, knowledge and truth. Some Gnostics believe Jesus was born from the Hidden God, and others that he achieved full enlightenment and that Hidden God accepted him. Either way, Jesus provides a path through the material world to godliness with enlightenment, knowledge and a direct interaction with the divine.

For me, who sees the old testament God as an entity that promotes murder, killing of innocents, infidelity, polygamy and war, for us God is not such a great guy.

Jesus, on the other hand, speaks of humility, good works. He speaks of turning the other cheek, of helping others less fortunate than you. And, some Gnostic books, he speaks of striving for enlightenment.

So yeah, that religion does resonate with me.


*In this piece I am defining only 1 type of Gnosticism, but it is the type I like.

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About sums it up