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Gnosticism in Greece, Influence on Christianity, and refutation

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Submitted by Joe (United States), Mar 3, 2006 at 11:58

Gnosticism was a Greek religion circa 300 bc. It was a redemptive religion based on dualism. It involved an original world (this world), where the light of the world was manipulated by the mirrors of demons. Now we live in the shadow of the real world, and this world has no knowlege of itself. In fact, Gnosticism comes from the Greek word Gnosis, meaning knowledge.

The connection to Christianity is simple. Gnostics believed that God would eventually send down a Son, saying key phrases such as "I am the Light" or "I am the Truth". This son said that death would eventually bring you into the Light World. However, there was no moral connection in this world, because it was evil, and so the goal was completely otherworldly. To get into the next world you did not have to be good, you just needed Gnosis. The objective was to get out of this world, and so it did not matter how you acted in this one.

When Jesus came about 300 years later, Gnostics in Greece believed he was this Son sent down to Earth. Jesus did in fact conquer death, and there are similarities (I am the Light). However, Gnostics did not believe love or good works were needed, or that, there was no moral connection in this life to the next. Consequently, the idea of a different "Light world" actually brought into Christianity the idea of a better Earth as a Heaven, an Earth plus. This is reflected in 18th Century literature like "The Gates Ajar".

The Gnostic religions created a synchretism with Christianity. John (author of the Gospel) wrote many letters to fix their ideas about Christianity, and to differentiate between the two beliefs, as portrayed in the Letters to the Corinthians and Colossians. Likewise, later philosophers of Christian church (contrary to popular belief) refuted the ideas of Gnosticism (ie Origen). Because of the Hellenization after Alexander the Great, many philosophical beliefs and religions blended. Most of these beliefs were eventually assimilated to (rather than in) Christianity, and many people took their own spin on events (aka the Gnostic gospel). Theologically, these beliefs are not in the Bible or Church doctrine today.

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