By Philip J. Lee
Because the discovery of unique gnostic files at Nag Hammadi in 1945, many students have famous a well-recognized presence inside this historical heresy. to a couple authors the most good points of gnosticism--belief in a mystery revelation to be had simply to an initiated elite, rejection of the actual international, and get away into the self--seemed equivalent to smooth cult teams and secular activities. even if, 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 feel i've got pointed out the elusive smooth gnostics and they're ourselves," he writes. during this penetrating and provocative evaluation of the present country of faith and its impact on values in society at huge, Lee criticizes conservatives and liberals alike as he strains gnostic motifs to the very roots of yankee Protestantism. With references to a unprecedented spectrum of writings from assets as various as John Calvin, Martin Buber, Tom Wolfe, Margaret Atwood and Emily Dickinson between many others, he probes the consequences of gnostic considering on matters starting from politics to feminism, from ecology to parenthood. the moral ramifications of this sort of gnostic flip were unfavourable and scary, he keeps. The e-book issues to confident methods of restoring wellbeing and fitness to endangered Protestant church buildings. Calling for the recovery of a dialectical religion and perform, Lee bargains an time table for reform, together with a renewal of obedience to the scriptures and an confirmation of lifestyles and production in the circle of the nuclear family.
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Extra resources for Against the Protestant Gnostics
52 23 GNOSTICISM IN CONFLICT WITH THE FAITH Gnosticism cannot possibly pursue God in terms of natural cosmos or historical cosmos because both nature and history are alien factors to the eternal in humanity. The natural, the historical and matter itself must be overcome. Basilides is said to have taught: Through Christ, the spiritual man is freed from matter and purified, the spiritual element is released from the great and formless mound of the immanent world, the great differentiation begins.
Jonas observes: The gnostic systems compounded everything—oriental mythologies, astrological doctrines, Iranian theology, elements ofjewish tradition, whether biblical, rabbinical, or occult, Christian salvationeschatology, Platonic terms and concepts. 47 A modern writer, repelled by the strictures of what he feels to be an unimaginative orthodoxy, has called for a more syncretistic approach: "A single story . . "48 Gnostics, whether of the second century or the twentieth century, will not be constrained in the use of material.
Similar texts, of course, can be found throughout the New Testament to give credence to the gnostic cause. How then could the Church differentiate its own necessary thought patterns regarding salvation from gnostic patterns, especially when the two often sounded identical or, at least, very similar? First, there was on the part of the Church a clinging to Holy Scripture, primarily the Old Testament, as a revelation not of salvation techniques, but a revelation of God's mighty acts. Harnack—with his abiding Protestant suspicion of things Catholic—finds the only difference between the gnostic systems in their "acute" hellenization of Christianity and the Catholic system in its "chronic" hellenization of the faith to be that gnosticism rejected the Old Testament and Catholicism did not.
Against the Protestant Gnostics by Philip J. Lee