Sunday, August 06, 2006

Gnosticism from the other side

A few weeks ago I poked at the emerging church a little bit by calling us out for Gnostic attitudes, in thinking that we’re the enlightened ones who were able to figure out all the errors of the Constantinian, institutionalized church, and get things back on track. By the way, Charlie put the posts about all that in the July edition of Next-Wave.

Anyway, I just want to clarify that while Gnostic attitudes may be there in the emerging church, I believe they’re far more prevalent in the modernistic church still operating under the notions of Christendom. This morning I heard a perfect example. A missionary (who to be clear, has admirably given over 35 years of his life to minister to the poor and outcast) made reference to a phrase I’ve heard about conversion for my whole life – “We need more people to share their faith and bring others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.” Wow – that’s a line that almost slipped by me undetected because I’ve heard it so much. But for whatever reason, I caught it this time – is that what we’re really after? Exactly what is saving about a knowledge of Jesus? I kinda thought it had to do with holistically following Jesus, not merely intellectual assent to the identity of a brilliant revolutionary. I know some bright and moral and pleasant atheists that know a heckuva lot about Jesus. Obviously, the reference is to a more spiritual knowledge of Jesus – but isn’t even that a Gnostic kind of thing? It’s subtle, but seems to be pervasive.

O.k., so nothing profound here – just another in a long line of observations of how easy it is to miss the point.

posted by Steve at 12:10 PM
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Anonymous harpcat commented at 4:58 PM~  

WHat exactly is gnosticism to you?

I am not sure you are expressing the idea. Gnosticism claimed special revelation, and diverged from what was the truth of the gospel. I know I would be wrong to say that this defines the emergent church as well, but with the growing compendium of emergent church leaders that are abandoning the atonement, the trinity, and the very bedrock and uniqueness of Christianity, they are abandoning the defining truths. Without those things, Christianity is not Christianity.

Gnosticism questioned the identity of Christ, to which the forefathers responded defending his humanity and divinity. Why does his divinity even matter?
Because of the great cost that would be necessary in paying for our sins, and having a righteousness to give us.

I am sure you are more than familiar with these terms, but it is ultimately the abondonement of these principles that defined gnosticism, and I feel that the foremost presenters of the movement called emergent are defined by the same kind of heresy.

While it is true "seeker sensitive:, "purpose driven" "prayer of Jabez" thinking is troubling, it is less gnostic than the abandonment of Christ's identity as historically and biblically expressed.

I do not know where you are specifically on this, but we need to call an expression that erases the atonement, and the incarnational idnetity of Christ as more than heresy, and most assuredly anything but Christian.

I would rather be dejected an rejected and stand as the last person in the church (Which I am VERY far from being) than try to preach a new form of social gospel, clinging to a form of Godlioness and denying the power thereof.

Why did the martyrs die? What were they protecting? Truth. We should not take that truth so lightly just to reach the world with a gospel that doesn;t matter, because all that made it special has long been discarded.

If this continues, I may actually long for what you call gnosticism over the alternative presented by Burke, McClaren and others.

Blogger Petey commented at 1:38 PM~  

Martyrs died "protecting..truth"? As if truth is the president and they stepped honorably in the way of a bullet of un-truth? Nice.
Crazy that I always thought they died for living like Jesus.

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I'm Steve Lewis. This used to be my blogging home. My online home is now at When this blog was my active online home, I lived in Seattle. Now I live in London, UK. I follow Jesus (poorly most of the time), worship simply, read a lot, watch culture, go to school, listen to music, write, enjoy art, and drink a lot of coffee.
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