Gnosticism

Gnosticism is the perennial Christian heresy that says matter, and thus bodies, is evil. It’s a form of Platonism on steroids. Plato’s mouthpiece Socrates on several occasions speaks about the body as the prison of the soul, and also as death as the soul’s liberation from the body. Prisons are not nice places, and places from which one needs liberation are not nice places.

But let’s cut the Gnostics some slack. Briefly, at least. They weren’t simply crazy people hellbent on twisting Christian faith. They were dealing with the serious reality of pain and suffering in the world. And in their world in their heyday in the 2d-3d centuries AD there was a lot of serious suffering. You come to believe what Gnostics believe when you come to the point that you can’t reconcile a good God with the horrors evident in creation and the suffering experienced by human persons in their bodies. You want to be pulled out of the nightmare of the matrix, with its devious, satanic architect. You want the red pill.

And so a Gnostic, confronted by a corpse eaten and finally mortified by cancer, decides that the body is the problem, and that it must have been a lesser deity who created creation with its frail bodies. Experience leads them to filter divine Christian revelation through the lenses of Platonic ideology.

The red pill is a hallucinogen, however. The Christian holds to divine revelation, which teaches that God created everything good (Genesis 1), that God made our very bodies from the stuff of earth (Genesis 2), and that sin is a reality that makes bodies liable to death (Genesis 3). Divine revelation teaches that resurrection is the corollary of creation, that we get our bodies back, (2 Maccabees 7), transformed, glorified (1 Corinthians 15).

Gnosticism is salvation on the cheap, God helping us escape from the mess of matter. Christianity is God’s hard work of fixing what is broken, revivifying what is dead.

Do we trust God enough to believe him when through Jesus and the apostles he promises us he will raise the dead?

I believe–help thou mine unbelief.

 

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