If you poll a number of Americans on the topic of religion, you’re likely to hear many of them say that though they don’t identify with “organized religion,” they do consider themselves to be “spiritual, but not religious.” But why is this individualistic, private, and unaccountable version of spirituality attractive in our day?
On this program, the hosts will be contrasting contemporary versions of spirituality, both inside and outside the church, with the beliefs and practices of classical Christianity as they continue their series on worship. Join us on this edition of the White Horse Inn.
“Ancient Gnosticism was an attempt to assimilate Christianity to Greco-Roman mystery religions and Neo-Platonism. Basically, everything turns on salvation of the individual soul from the body, time, history and this world – the return of the alone to the alone. Of course, this runs against everything in the biblical story – a good God creating a good world with sin entering the human race only when Adam and Eve transgressed God’s good command.
“In spite of their choosing Satan over God, Adam and Eve received a surprise announcement that God would crush Satan’s head and bring deliverance from the guilt, dominion and even presence of sin. It’s not by sloughing off our mortal coil, but by God, the immortal, assuming our mortality that he achieved this. So, our embodied life is not lost when we die but awaits the resurrection as we inherit by Christ’s victory that glorified human existence that Adam forfeited for us. That’s what we mean when we confess that we believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.”
Term to Learn
[Gnosticism] refers to secret doctrines and practices of mysticism whereby a person may come to enlightenment or realization that he or she is of the same essence as God or the Absolute. The Greek word gnosis means knowledge, though of a particular kind, namely the knowledge of one’s own divinity, acquired not by a rational exercise of the mind but by its very opposite, by mystical altered states of consciousness that seek to silence the mind. Knowing this, one is freed from the fragmentary and illusory material and intelligible world of the Creation and liberated from moral and physical control of Yahweh, the foolish Creator.
(Adapted from Russell Chandler, Understanding the New Age, by Peter Jones, author of The Gnostic Empire Strikes Back and Spirit Wars)