by Tony Copple

"Heresies perish not with their authors, but like the river Arethusa, though they lose their currents in one place, they rise up again in another." - Sir Thomas Browne Religio Medici (seventeenth century)

Gnosticism, a characteristic of which is the promotion of "reason" rather than the Cross as the way to salvation (but a different salvation) was condemned by St. Paul and St. John, and rose up as the driving power behind the Rennaissance. In recent times it was embraced by Jung and Freud. In our day we see the characteristics of Gnosticism in satanic cults, occult lodges and secret societies, and New Age groups, all believing they possess special insights. After the French Revolution, Reason was enthroned in Notre Dame cathedral, Paris, and it was a prostitute who was paraded through the streets to the enthronement. At the heart of all Gnostic systems are the ancient fertility mysticisms; witness the symbol of the freemasons. In Gnostic mythologies, Satan has been re-engineered into an image of higher wisdom and enlightenment - Lucifer. "You shall not surely die because you eat of the Tree of Knowledge." The serpent tells that there is a way for the the human self to replace God. "You shall become as Gods" - plural and pagan.

Pre-rennaissance, man's great works were often directed primarily to the glory of God, sometimes taking generations to complete. Since the time of Leonardo da Vinci, man's ego has been manipulated towards an identity that he seeks to promote - and within his lifetime. God's place has been supplanted. Today, psychology and Gnostic ideology meet explicitly in the "New Age" - the very name of which is a lie - and the various theologies it has spawned. Liberalism in the church - the rise of Reason challenging the Word - is a modern resurfacing of Gnosticism. In Gnostic systems, atonement has no meaning. From earliest times, Gnostics would not accept the literal reality of Christ's resurrection, and turned it into a metaphor, a mere symbol. The influence of Jung has permeated today's theological colleges to the extent that The Rev. Dolores S. Williams, who teaches at Union Theological Seminary in New York City (a large and prominent seminary that has been training Gnostic clergy for mainstream churches for decades), eloquently declaimed, "I don't think we need a theory of atonement at all. I don't think we need folks hanging on crosses and blood dripping and weird stuff."

Lord, have mercy.

July 14, 2004

Reference: Jeffrey Satinover, from the booklet The Empty Self: Gnostic Foundations of Modern Identity, a reprinting of his lecture at the Pastoral Care Ministries Conference in Montreal, April 5-10, 1994. For his contribution as an expert witness to the same-sex marriage debate see NARTH interviews Satinover

Leanne Payne: