Length of Days, Functional Gnosticism

The days are getting longer as Winter wanes Spring is nearer now.

I think I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I’m reading Metzger’s take on the development of the canon of the New Testament.  Thursday morning 29 January, during a seemingly interminable wait to see a bone and joint specialist about the shoulder that’s been tormenting me the past eight or so months,  I read these words (italics mine):

Valentinus’ system is an elaborate theogonic and cosmogonic epic.  It describes in three acts the creation, the fall, and the redemption; first in heaven, then on earth.  The spiritual world or ‘pleroma’ comprises thirty ‘aeons’ forming a succession of pairs (syzygies).  The visible world owes its origin to the fall of Sophia (‘wisdom’), whose offspring, the Demiurge, is identified with the God of the Old Testament.  Human beings belong to one of three classes, the spiritual people (pneumatikoi, or true Gnostics), those who merely possesses (sic) (psychikoi, or ordinary, unenlightened church members), and the rest of humankind, who are made up solely of matter (hylikoi) and are given over to eternal perdition.

Valentinus derived his teachings from his own fertile imagination, from Oriental and Greek speculations (including Pythagorean elements), and from Christian ideas…

(Metzger 80, 81)

My point in going on like this is not to interest the reader in the dead-end teachings of the so-called “Christian” gnostics.  Rather, I was surprised to find that my own functional worldview, unflattering as it is to admit the fact of it, (that bit I’ve italicized) is like unto that of an early Christian Era gnostic heretic.

Metzger, Bruce M.. The Canon of the New Testament: Its origin, Development, and Significance. 1. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997.

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9 thoughts on “Length of Days, Functional Gnosticism

  1. These classes seem to me somewhat coherant with the classes Platon proposes; the class of philosophers, the class of warriors, and the class of common people, the lost souls who need to be kept chained in their caves, and have to undergo the phantoms and shadows of reality, in order to be dependent and ready to slave for society.

  2. You’re right, of course. I find a lot of this dividing-into-three parts (Mankind, the human being, etc.) in religious discourse (I know little of philosophy and lack completely what used to be called a classical education – speaking, reading, and writing neither Latin nor Greek).

    I was just completely surprised to find my secret, true opinion (which I’ve arrived at after a lifetime of observation and interaction) about the people with which or whom I share the planet and the present so clearly set forth as part of an arguably botched pseudo-christian gnostic worldview. I found it a little shaming. On the other hand, it’s not completely anti-Calvin, as if that matters when thinking through truth of scripture (OT & NT) applied to one’s life (or one’s life, the smaller thing, applied to said truth) in time and circumstance.

    Babelfish and C-Factor are on my to-do list.

  3. Calvin was very strong on original sin and redemption, but I doubt his interest in deviding humanity in classes. The Calvinist view on humanity seems to be pre-socialistic and focused on being equal. It doesn’t matter in which class you’re born, in the end you have to take the punishment of living through the valley of tears alone, until you stand solitary with your sin and sorrow, to receive the final judgement.
    My to-do list is getting out of control lately, it says I still want to write about ableuts and gateways, and I have been thinking about dedicating a blog to Calvinism in the Netherlands, and the negative connotation this word has in nowadays lingo.

    • Yesterday evening, I spent some time with Babelfish translating C-Factor. I may have been able to at least work out the gist of those 25 questions. Some of the cartoons were pretty funny. Really liked the John Calvin windmills.

      Anyway, when I got to the final question, completed it, the final screen told me my C-Factor was “% Undefined.” Apparently one of those mysteries the existence of which I’m able to apprehend, but which I am unable to solve. And although I entered an email address, no C-Factor profile was sent me. Bummer.

      Functionally and in my experience with churches purporting to derive their doctrine and worldview from the teachings of Calvin, that variety of Calvinism is, in fact, all about dividing humanity. Some of that’s just standard Indo-European binary typing (saved and lost), but what I mean when I say that is the clerics leading those congregations see humanity divided into those predestined to eternal damnation, those who are the saved upon whom God’s irresistible grace effectively works, and a further division of the saved into the spiritual class of ordained leaders who must stand like Moses between God and the congregation. As if the the relationship between the saved and the God who saves is incomplete without the addition of denominationally ordained clergy (as opposed to congregational recognition of those also in the congregation functioning to serve God’s people in situ through whatever gifts of the Holy Spirit God has seen fit to distribute in that local group of those there called by him. That strong tendency in tandem with a botched understanding of Calvin’s teaching on work and standing in society serve to allow the ordained (the true Calvinist by this manner of reckoning) to identify the societal “places’ of individual congregants, and to tacitly there “keep” them.

      This is entirely at odds with the traditional Baptist belief in the priesthood of all believers.

      Currently my family and I are worshiping with a Baptist congregation also staunchly Calvinist, but apparently only to the degree Calvinism rightly apprehends the teaching of Scripture (canonical OT & NT). As the congregation grows, it will be interesting to see whether the creeping clericalism I’ve observed takes root there, as well. I’m hoping it doesn’t.

  4. OK, I see what you mean, and you’re right, of course. In the Dutch tradition of Protesantism it is often seen that congregations especially see the congregation they just split up with, as the worst heretics possible. It started with Arminius against Gomarus, about predestination. One of the last schisms started in 1944, when the country was still occupied by the Nazi’s (that winter is known in Holland as the winter of famine), a group of churches liberated themselves from the Gereformeerde Kerken van Nederland in a dispute about the availability of God’s grace for sinners outside of the true belief.
    It is often said that if everybody would become a Calvinist, in the end we’ll have as many (one man)congregations as there are people. I’m not sure that’s what the baptists mean with priesthood of all believers, but I do think this all leads us back to the pagan Hypocratus, who said that the closest a man can get to God, is in his own mind!

  5. So basically, I am thinking that all of this that I absolutely do not understand, may just possibly put me in the place out of the reach of God’s grace. Or- maybe I should become Catholic. Or maybe become really good friends with Christov. (tee hee)

  6. If you don’t got the gnosis you don’t get the grace? Nah. I don’t think so, but you should know that friendship with Christov has no salvific effect. On the other hand, most people not exhibiting florid psychosis tend to like me.

  7. I like Christov because of his writings, he makes me look up many words, and improves my knowledge of the English language. It started with flotsam and jetsam, salvific and florid were the last. Besides it appears I share many interests with him, eventhough when it comes to faith, we seem to differ a lot.
    In terms of religion or theology I would have to say I’m an atheist, that I don’t believe in ‘choosen people’, and sometimes I think it would have been better if Abraham/Ibrahim would never have left Mesopotamia.

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