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The Gnostic Genesis factor


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#1 David

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 03:47 AM

Hello all,

God Bless all of you....A short question... Does the Eastern Orthodox Church reconize or acknoledge any of the gnostic teachings about the creation of the world, and a creator above the creator God Himself??? This troubles my heart, and even frightens me...The inconsistancies in the Book of Genesis on the creation...Cain, Able, and Seth.....especialy the wife of Able...where did she come from when found by Able in the wilderness??? The gnostic bible on creation speaks of a Creator above God called Sophia...Can someone enlighten me please....

david

#2 Peter Farrington

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 10:50 AM

Dear David

I would counsel you to speak to your priest or spiritual father about these things. The Orthodox Church does not accept any of the gnostic teachings about other gods. I would urge you to stop reading any of these books that are confusing you, and take them to your priest and seek his advice.

Best wishes

Peter

#3 Irene

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 11:09 AM

Hello all,

God Bless all of you....A short question... Does the Eastern Orthodox Church reconize or acknoledge any of the gnostic teachings about the creation of the world, and a creator above the creator God Himself??? This troubles my heart, and even frightens me...The inconsistancies in the Book of Genesis on the creation...Cain, Able, and Seth.....especialy the wife of Able...where did she come from when found by Able in the wilderness??? The gnostic bible on creation speaks of a Creator above God called Sophia...Can someone enlighten me please....

david


David, you can read the thread on "Genesis - Truth and Metaphor" the link is at the bottom of this screen, however, I am really worried about who is talking to you or what you are reading. You must not let these thoughts get to you. You only need to go to Church regularly to know that the gnostic teachings are nonsense and a heresy.

The evil one is throwing everything at you to keep you away from the truth. Where there is disquiet and disturbance is where there is a soul that needs healing. There is no use you trying to find answers in study at the moment..

No matter what answers the good folk here have for you here at Monachos, you will not be able to hear them unless you are healed by lots of prayer, confession and communion, you need your Priest. You are not alone in your disturbance but you will always feel alone unless you do something about your spiritual health.

In Christ
irene

#4 Ryan

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 01:53 PM

It's not exactly right to say the Gnostics set Sophia above God. By Gnostic Genesis I think you mean the "Secret Book of John", which describes how the true God gave birth to a series of emanations, the last of which was Sophia, who made a fatal error of attempting to create without God, and gave birth to the monstrosity Yaldabaoth, who created the world as we see it (which the Gnostics regarded as fundamentally flawed from the beginning, being dualists), and who some Gnostics associated with the god of the Old Testament. In the Gnostic worldview, therefore, there is a true God and a false demiurge masquerading as god.

Needless to say the Orthodox Church never accepted any of this stuff.

#5 Kris

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 06:03 PM

God Bless all of you....A short question... Does the Eastern Orthodox Church reconize or acknoledge any of the gnostic teachings about the creation of the world, and a creator above the creator God Himself??? This troubles my heart, and even frightens me...The inconsistancies in the Book of Genesis on the creation...Cain, Able, and Seth.....especialy the wife of Able...where did she come from when found by Able in the wilderness??? The gnostic bible on creation speaks of a Creator above God called Sophia...Can someone enlighten me please....


Hi,

There is but one Creator and God: the Most Holy Trinity.

Christianity is strictly monotheistic. Any teaching of other gods, demi-gods, etc. is rejected as blasphemy.

In XC,
Kris

#6 Owen Jones

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 09:42 PM

Literalism is a curse of the mind and the soul. Yes, some things are to be taken only literally. Thou shalt not commit adultery is a literal command. But the Fathers taught us how to read and understand Scripture on various levels at once: 1) the literal/historical level is the most basic; 2) the moral level is next; 3) the figurative/mystical level is highest. Now, the question is how is one to approach Genesis 1. One can take the description of a creation in seven of our days and the creation of one particular man named Adam and one particular woman named Eve literally (which I don't by the way) but one is still left with the question of what it all means for us. That requires a mystical understanding of the text (which is also a rational understanding of the text). It does not require that we do an historical and psychological analysis of the text or seek to derive an "intended" meaning of the text.

In all of this is presumed a transformed intellect which allows us to "see" more clearly the hidden meaning of the text. And this transformed intellect is the role and purpose of the Church. It requires a constant state of repentance, conversion, practice of the virtues and attentiveness.

To give an example, the story of Joseph and his brothers, his "descent" into Egypt, his imprisonment, his rising to the right hand of Pharoah to prepare a place for his people is seen as the Fathers as a typology of Christ being wounded by his own brothers in humanity, his descent into Hell, his rising on the Third day, and his preparing a place for his people. This is not a literal/historical reading of the text. It is a mythical reading of the text. It is the myth that gives it the meaning, and the God who reveals himself to us in the myth. Without the myth, we would have some vague accounts of some ancient holy man who was put to death by the Romans for his rebelliousness, and according to some vague accounts later was seen walking around. All you have to do is watch A&E to see TV programs about such things all the time!!!!!

#7 Scott Pierson

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Posted 14 October 2006 - 12:38 AM

I think its important to have a balanced and patristic understanding of Genesis and not to read your own philosophy or "scientific"** presuppositions into it (like the "scientific" view that man came from an irrational animal for example). Its true that the Fathers often present allegorical, moral, etc understandings of certain versus of Genesis but the same fathers ALSO point out the truth of the literal understanding as well. There are a variety of levels of biblical exegesis and you cant throw out the literal just to make it say what one wants it to say ( the so called Gnostics do that very often). As St Gregory Palamas points out "Gregory the Theologian has called the tree of knowledge of good and evil "contemplation"... but it does not follow that what was involved is an illusion or a symbol without existence of its own. For the divine Maximus also makes Moses the symbol of judgment and Elijah the symbol of foresight! Are they too then supposed not to have really existed, but to have been invented 'symbolically'?"

Here a few good patristic quotes on the topic :

"Those who do not admit the common meaning of the Scriptures say that water is not water, but some other nature, and they explain a plant and a fish according to their opinion... But when I hear "grass", I think of grass... I am not ashamed of the Gospel.. some have attempted by false arguments and allegorical interpretations to bestow on Scripture a dignity of their own imagining. But theirs is an attitude of one who considers himself wiser than the revelations of the Spirit and introduces his own ideas in pretense of explanation. Therefore let it be understood as written" Saint Basil the Great in his Hexaemeron.

"No one should think that the Creation of six days is an allegory, it is likewise impermissible to say that what seems, according to the account, to have been created in six days, was created in a single instant and that likewise certain names presented in this account either signify nothing, or signify something else. On the contrary, we must know that just as the heaven and the earth and not something else is understood under the names of heaven and earth, so also everything else that is spoken of as being created and brought into order after the creation of heaven and earth are not empty names, but the very essence of the created natures corresponds to the force of these names" St Ephraim the Syrian, commentary on Genesis.

"Perhaps one who loves to speak from his own wisdom here also will not allow that the rivers are actually rivers, nor that the waters are precisely waters, but will instill, in those who allow themselves to listen to them, the idea that they (under the names of rivers and waters) represented something else. But I entreat you, let us not pay heed to these people, let us stop up our hearing against them, and let us believe the Divine Scriptures, and following what is written in it, let us strive to preserve in our souls sound dogmas." Saint Chrysostem

"Although both the light and the clouds were created in the twinkling of an eye, still both the day and the night of the first day continued for twelve hours each." Saint Ephrem the Syrian

"At this saying all the dense woods appeared, all the trees shot up... Likewise, all the shrubs were immediately thick with leaf and bushy ; and the so called garland plants.. all came into existence in a moment of time, although they were not previously on the earth. "let the earth bring forth" this brief command was immediately a mighty nature and an elaborate system which brought to perfection more swiftly than our thoughts and countless properties of plants." St Basil the Great

" He (Moses) did not look forward to a late and leisurely creation of the world out of a concourse of atoms " Saint Ambrose

***Many of the things discussed in the book of Genesis (revealed mystically to Moses who actually saw what took place <such as the earth and life existing before the sun!) lead me to believe that the laws of nature were radically different before the fall and the entrance of sin into the world. This would include the time in which the animals, plants and man were created. If this is true then science can not provide us with answers on the issue of the origin of mankind or posit that humans evolved from ape like irrational animals which evolved from... all the way down to bacteria, simple because science requires uniformity of natural laws (which we don’t have) to be able to shed any light on the issue. Evolutionary scientist research biology under the current laws of nature, they notice that mutations take place and they notice that natural selection brings out increases in the prevalence of certain recessive traits in populations ( like the beak sizes of the Galapagos finches for example ), etc , they then formulate theories based on research undertaken under the current laws of nature ( for example the theory ( I would say assumption) that (despite the fact it has never been observed happening) generational INCREASES of genetic info take place ) and then apply all this to a time in which none of this is relevant.

So basically I find no reason to interpret the book of Genesis or the fathers with the assumption that man came about via a process of evolution because of "science". The transcendence of the pre fallen world and the unknown nature of its laws prevent people from using scientific information gathered under the current fallen system and applying it to the old un-fallen world system. I also find no reason theologically for embracing the idea. The very fact that we have over 2,000 years of Church history in which this theory is never adopted by any of the saints is reason enough for me to consider it a theological innovation . Come to think of it I don’t know of any modern saints (we have hundreds of people recognized as saints who lived after the advent of the theory) who accept the theory either. I have seen some people make some painfully contrived attempts to interpret some of the fathers as teaching a common ancestor for all life and man evolving from an irrational animal , etc.. but they always make use of such extreme allegorazation that it would make even Origen embarrassed. Its like they gave the text to a lawyer and said " find some way to read Darwinism into this for me please"

#8 Andrew

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Posted 14 October 2006 - 08:18 PM

I agree with you Scott. The entire cosmos suffered death and corruption, including time itself. Christ came into the world, and the Church is called to, indeed, "redeem the time." Modern physicists are coming to see that natural law is not such a fixed matter, that matter itself is largely unknown, and that this is a much messier, crazier universe than the Enlightenment thinkers would have us think. So, if we humans can't even reach to the deepest depths of the Earth, or of jungles for that matter, then how can we know the process in which we came from? The implications of Darwinism and evolution just overthrow a lot of the wisdom of the Fathers, and can lead into really weird, contrived interpretations of Genesis. I'd rather just humble my mind and accept what my fathers have believed before I came into this world.

#9 Byron Jack Gaist

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Posted 28 November 2006 - 07:01 AM

I'd rather just humble my mind and accept what my fathers have believed before I came into this world.

It seems to me this is important for any Christian with a questioning mind to be able to do. In the final analysis, it is Scripture and the holy fathers we need to return to. At the same time, there does exist a thirst for knowledge, and that is frequently what the various gnostic heresies appealed to, even if at the end of the long path into deception, they failed to satisfy it anyway.

My question is, is this thirst for knowledge in itself a bad thing? Is it only part of our fallen nature? Presumably not, or else Eve may not have been tempted.

In Christ
Byron

#10 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 28 November 2006 - 01:46 PM

My question is, is this thirst for knowledge in itself a bad thing? Is it only part of our fallen nature? Presumably not, or else Eve may not have been tempted.

I do not see it as a "bad" thing, but like every other "thing" it has its good and bad uses. I suspect DISCERNMENT plays a part here, perhaps?




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