Against the Protestant Gnostics by Philip J. Lee

By Philip J. Lee

Because the discovery of unique gnostic files at Nag Hammadi in 1945, many students have well-known a well-recognized presence inside this old heresy. to a couple authors the most positive aspects of gnosticism--belief in a mystery revelation on hand merely to an initiated elite, rejection of the actual global, and get away into the self--seemed akin to glossy cult teams and secular pursuits. in spite of the fact that, Philip Lee, noting that the majority of the early gnostics have been firmly ensconced in the Church, locates sleek gnosticism in the Protestant institution itself. "As a Protestant, i think i've got pointed out the elusive sleek gnostics and they're ourselves," he writes. during this penetrating and provocative evaluate of the present nation of faith and its impact on values in society at huge, Lee criticizes conservatives and liberals alike as he lines gnostic motifs to the very roots of yankee Protestantism. With references to a rare spectrum of writings from resources as assorted as John Calvin, Martin Buber, Tom Wolfe, Margaret Atwood and Emily Dickinson between many others, he probes the consequences of gnostic pondering on matters starting from politics to feminism, from ecology to parenthood. the moral ramifications of this sort of gnostic flip were detrimental and scary, he keeps. The booklet issues to confident methods of restoring health and wellbeing to endangered Protestant church buildings. Calling for the recovery of a dialectical religion and perform, Lee bargains an schedule for reform, together with a renewal of obedience to the scriptures and an confirmation of existence and production in the circle of the nuclear family.

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Salvation from the world by any other route than through the world will be called a fraud. The author is so adamant in this direction that he does not mention the love of God itself in a positive sense. The real test of the spiritual journey is this: "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. "61 The contrast between gnostic escape from the world and Christian pilgrimage through the world can be understood in terms of the conversion experience. The contrast is clear.

116 In gnosticism, God elects, not a people, but individual persons: persons who have a nostalgic yearning for the higher life, persons who have some spiritual insight, persons who are creative enough to see beyond the written text a meaning hidden to the many. This election resulted, negatively, in certain oblivion for the somatics, the mere animals who happen to be in human form. 118 And the psychics, in the middle, could go either way. Through the help of a pneumatic, the psychic might be brought out 35 GNOSTICISM IN CONFLICT WITH THE FAITH of ignorance into knowledge and salvation.

The blessings, if they are 8 to mean anything at all, must be accompanied by the woes. When teachings or practises emerge that are wholly different from those of the community of faith, they must be opposed, even though they come from within the body of faith. Irenaeus found himself with no choice but to strike out against heresy in the second century. Irenaeus was far from narrow-minded. He tolerated the Montanists and was even attracted to them. He criticized, by letter, the bishop of Rome for his uncompromising attitude regarding the date of Easter.

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