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If protestantism is a modern form of gnosticism, will it come to an end ?


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#1 Aaron R.

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Posted 02 December 2011 - 03:22 AM

I'm a former protestant Orthodox convert. The more I learn of Orthodoxy the more I see the errors of protestants. I wonder if protestantism will one day fade into history as gnostism did? Any thoughts?

Kind regards

Aaron

#2 Olga

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Posted 02 December 2011 - 05:54 AM

Gnosticism is somewhat alive to this day, and finds expression in a variety of quasi-christian philosophies and sects.

#3 Kosta

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Posted 02 December 2011 - 10:54 AM

Many Fathers do believe that all heresies eventually come to an end. The thing with protestantism is that it simply splinters into subgroups by its very design. Most of the predominant protestant groups of yesterday are indeed dwindling and dying. On the other hand new forms are taking their place. Baptists have lost members but the pentecostal sect is growing. Pretty much all the liturgical protestant churches are on life support. The british exported soccor to all parts of the world, but their anglicanism wasnt as successful. I've lived my entire life in America and i've never met an episcopolean! Some say Orthodoxy are national ethnic churches, yet Presbyterianism is concieved as an obselete regional church of European roots, its a dying breed etc.

#4 Pr. Jay Denne

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Posted 02 December 2011 - 01:22 PM

Pretty much all the liturgical protestant churches are on life support. The british exported soccor to all parts of the world, but their anglicanism wasnt as successful.


Certainly, in North America and Europe, there has been declining membership, but Anglicanism and Lutheranism continue to boom in Africa:

The Anglican churches in Africa have grown by over 30 million members in the last 40 years or so:

http://pewforum.org/...Crossroads.aspx

The Lutheran churches grew by nearly 700,000 (a 3.7% increase) in only one year according to statistics released in Feb. 2011:

http://www.lutheranw...ady-growth.html

#5 Kosta

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Posted 02 December 2011 - 11:25 PM

Certainly Christianity is growing in Africa, its probably the only place in the entire planet where Christianity is experiencing substantial growth. As far as the numbers I'm really skeptical. I remember reading a few years back how the 7th Day Adventists were the fastest growing religion in sub-saharan Africa,. I really dont see why Africans would want to join these european sects, and I suspect their just the flavor of the month.

#6 Rob Bergen

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 01:31 PM

As an off-topic remark, I was listening to NPR las night and there was a report about the Russian Orthodox Church inside of Russia. The report claimed that if current tend continues, that by 2050 17% of the Russian population will be Muslim, making it the country's largest religious sect. Interesting.

#7 Aaron R.

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 05:12 PM

. The thing with protestantism is that it simply splinters into subgroups by its very design. Most of the predominant protestant groups of yesterday are indeed dwindling and dying. ! .


Thats a good point.

#8 Kosta

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 05:03 AM

As an off-topic remark, I was listening to NPR las night and there was a report about the Russian Orthodox Church inside of Russia. The report claimed that if current tend continues, that by 2050 17% of the Russian population will be Muslim, making it the country's largest religious sect. Interesting.


Well it will take more than 17 percent to make it the largest religion in Russia, unless by sect they mean minority religion. As far as i know Islam is already the second largest religious group in Russia.

Sub-Saharan Africa is the only place where Islam is shrinking where many convert to Christianity. In general though Christianity is shrinking. The two billion number is inflated while the number of adherents to Islam is underrepresented. Lets not kid ourselves, Islam has already surpassed Christianity in number of followers. As far as the OP, most of the 'old school' protestant groups are in decline worldwide except in Africa where basically everyone is seeing gains. And i suspect the success the established protestant groups are having in Africa is mostly due to the money their adherents donate to open clinics and other such social programs. Once the money dries up these groups will wither away in Africa as well.

#9 Rob Bergen

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 04:36 AM

I think they were making reference to those who profess religion. I.e., Russians who are members of the Orthodox faith and Russians who are Muslim. The vast majority of Russians are ambivalent at best towards religion.

#10 Bryan J. Maloney

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 12:45 PM

I think that Russian law uses "sect" in a specific way that excludes the Orthodox Church. Thus, 17% may refer to "largest non-Orthodox group".

#11 Ryan

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 04:12 PM

I think we should stop applying the term "Gnostic" to anything that seems to us to tangentially resemble Gnosticism. I'm not aware of any major protestant currents that could be reasonably characterized as "Gnostic."

#12 Rick H.

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 06:27 PM

I think we should stop applying the term "Gnostic" to anything that seems to us to tangentially resemble Gnosticism.



At the risk of being repressive, I agree with this statement 100%, I think we should stop doing this. Actually, I don't have a clue what is being talked about in this thread. One might as well start a thread with the topic being something like, "If protestantism is communist based, isn't this a contradiction and ultimately a fatal flaw?"

#13 Aaron R.

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 06:39 AM

At the risk of being repressive, I agree with this statement 100%, I think we should stop doing this. Actually, I don't have a clue what is being talked about in this thread. One might as well start a thread with the topic being something like, "If protestantism is communist based, isn't this a contradiction and ultimately a fatal flaw?"


(This is a good summary of what protestants and gnostics have in common . I did not write it but got it of this blog http://josephpatters...stant-gnostics/)

"Gnosticism was an early heresy that challenged Christianity by believing the spiritual to be good and the material world to be evil. The Gnostics believed that salvation involves an escape from the body and the material world to become a purely spiritual being. The way to accomplish this kind of salvation is through higher and higher degrees of knowledge (the Greek word for knowledge is gnosis). A good book on this subject is Against The Protestant Gnostics by Philip Lee. This book articulated for me the Gnostic tendency in some contemporary forms of Protestant Christianity.

Many Protestant churches have come to treat the creation as something evil while quoting Genesis 1 which calls the creation good. Some Protestant groups teach that alcohol is evil so that anyone drinking a beer is living in sin. This is treating a created good thing, beer, as evil. Another way some Protestants have some Gnostic tendencies is the way that some talk about life after death. I have talked to many modern, conservative Protestants who believe that they will live in heaven for all eternity as a pure spirit but of course this is in direct contradiction to the Christian teaching of the resurrection of a physical body at the Lord’s second coming. Many Protestant funerals do not even mention the resurrection of the body in their funeral services.

A clear place that reveals the Gnostic tendency of Protestant Christianity is in the Protestant view of Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper. The Protestant view usually denies that Jesus Christ is present in the bread and wine of Holy Communion. One view is that Holy Communion is merely a remembering of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. According to this view, knowledge of Jesus is what is important and so what the believer receives in the Holy Communion is simply a remembering knowledge (gnosis) of Jesus. One wonders why we need bread and wine to remember Jesus… could not someone just read their Bible?

Another Protestant view is that the believer partakes of the body of Jesus Christ but only in a spiritual manner. This view denies that the bread and the wine become the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ. These views in practice assert the spiritual over the material just like the early Gnostics. The Christian view is that the material elements of bread and wine are offered to God in Holy Communion and God changes the bread and wine into the very body and blood of Jesus Christ our Lord. This is indeed a mystery of God but the point is that we partake of God through matter that God has called tov meod (very good).

As an Anglican I thought that I was avoiding gnostic tendencies until one day I started thinking of Gnosticism in terms of the Anglican view of the church. I later discovered that every Protestant Church including Anglicanism has to define the one body of Christ, the Church, in a Gnostic way. The Protestant has to define the “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church” as is confessed in the Nicene Creed in a spiritual sense because she does not share any visible unity with the other churches. However, in order to interpret the Nicene Creed in its ancient context, the Church has to be visibly one as Christ is visibly one and united because the Church is the body of Christ. Christ was physically and visibly one, so to define the church as a spiritual unity is in a practical way denying the incarnation of the Word of God and to hold a view that is really Gnostic.

There are only two churches that are visibly united and claim to be the “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church”. They are the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. So there are only two options for those who want to avoid a Gnostic understanding of the church (ecclesiology) and maintain an incarnational view of Christ and His Church. It was when I discovered this that I really started to be concerned about my Anglican ecclesiology because I had been trying hard to avoid Gnosticism. This really leads to an interesting study in seeing how a church’s ecclesiology does or does not fit orthodox Christology which is something I began to struggle with."

Edited by Olga, 08 December 2011 - 07:07 AM.
added paragraph breaks for easier reading


#14 Rick H.

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 12:39 PM

(This is a good summary of what protestants and gnostics have in common . I did not write it but got it of this blog http://josephpatters...stant-gnostics/)



Thank you for making the question of this thread clearer.

I read the blog and see what you mean. Normally to set up a straw man and then attack it involves exaggeration and distortion. The blog writer did not exaggerate or distort, but this is a very weak article and is a good example of what Ryan says above I think.

To talk about those who believe drinking a beer will send you to hell is to talk about those who hold a wrong belief, not Gnosticism.

To talk about those who hold a different view of the state of man in the afterlife, as he did, is to talk about those who hold again, wrong belief not Gnosticism.

The point about protestant thinking in general and the ecclesiology most protestants does not take into account the huge mystical basis behind their thinking about life in the Spirit and the work of the Holy Spirit.

The same point made about the Lord's Supper in varying forms of protestantism can be made about Orthodox as shown in the threads here in monachos where people argue strongly for differing positions about the bread and wine.

Many forms of protestantism are very mystical, some to the point of a neurotic mysticism . . . this in itself challenges the premise. But, again there are many different forms of protestantism, and again and again this is why it is not to smart to try too write about the protestants or refer to a group as "The Protestants" as if they are one group that actually exists in reality . . . Hmmm, yes the Gnosticism of the group that does not exist in reality! That's good! ;0) Now there's a topic for a blog.

In short, I think the blog article is written by someone who had an idea one day and tried to develop it . . . more of a position paper than a research paper. I think most students will agree it is easier to pop-off a position paper than a research paper.

#15 Ryan

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 04:11 PM

As I suspected, the word "gnostic" is being used as a rhetorical gimmick without much substance behind it. It attempts to establish some guilt by association rather than actually addressing what's wrong with Protestantism. Orthodox online polemicists seem to have an arsenal of such terms: "Western", "Latin", "modernist", "fundamentalist", "gnostic", or even "Protestant" itself (when directed against certain Roman Catholics or Orthodox with whom one disagrees).

If we want to convince Protestants of anything, we need so show some basic respect and honesty.

I'd be curious if the author of this article could, A. spell out the differences between gnosticism and Platonism; and B. address certain passages of classic Orthodox spiritual works (such as The Ladder) where the flesh, the world, etc. are addressed as "enemies."

"Many Protestant churches have come to treat the creation as something evil while quoting Genesis 1 which calls the creation good. Some Protestant groups teach that alcohol is evil so that anyone drinking a beer is living in sin. This is treating a created good thing, beer, as evil."


I wonder what the author thinks of, say, ingesting psilocybin mushrooms. They're created by God too- they have an advantage over beer in that they come straight from the earth, no fermentation required. So munch away... unless you're one of them Gnostics.

Another way some Protestants have some Gnostic tendencies is the way that some talk about life after death. I have talked to many modern, conservative Protestants who believe that they will live in heaven for all eternity as a pure spirit but of course this is in direct contradiction to the Christian teaching of the resurrection of a physical body at the Lord’s second coming. Many Protestant funerals do not even mention the resurrection of the body in their funeral services.


I would be curious to see which major Protestant currents actually deny the bodily resurrection, the opinions of some individuals notwithstanding. Not mentioning it enough for our taste doesn't count.

A clear place that reveals the Gnostic tendency of Protestant Christianity is in the Protestant view of Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper. The Protestant view usually denies that Jesus Christ is present in the bread and wine of Holy Communion. One view is that Holy Communion is merely a remembering of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. According to this view, knowledge of Jesus is what is important and so what the believer receives in the Holy Communion is simply a remembering knowledge (gnosis) of Jesus.


Here the basic argument is remembrance= knowledge = gnosis = gnosticism! Does the author realize that the word "gnosis" has a place in Orthodox spirituality as well?

Like Rick said, we would do better to simply address the errors of the various Protestants directly, rather than sidestepping the discussion by attempting to draw a link between Protestantism and some commonly abhorred bogeyman.

I would like to think that the blog entry was done more as a thought experiment and that the author did not intend these arguments to be used in serious debates.

#16 Aaron R.

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 04:02 AM

Rick and Ryan thanks for your comments. You both raise some good points.

#17 Jan Sunqvist

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 05:13 AM

To be honest, I read many threads on this forum that mention 'gnosticism' but I don't feel many people really have an idea of what it is in essence. Perhaps for the better, I don't know.

#18 Owen Jones

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 03:41 PM

One common element in protestantism is the desire, need, requirement to "know" God. Orthodox believe that God is unknowable in His Essence, a distinction of course that protestants do not make. There are quite a number of discreet examples from various protestant movements in the reformation, most notably in Germany, that form the basis and foundation for modern gnostic secular ideologies. Hegel, btw, defined the Protestant Principle as "the mind of God and the mind of man have become one."

#19 Ryan

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 03:55 PM

One common element in protestantism is the desire, need, requirement to "know" God.


Like the Platonists? What do the protestants mean by "know" anyway? Are we putting all our attention on the word "knowledge" (gnosis) while ignoring the many contexts it can be used?

Orthodox believe that God is unknowable in His Essence, a distinction of course that protestants do not make.


How many would disagree in principle? Not many, I'm guessing.

Hegel, btw, defined the Protestant Principle as "the mind of God and the mind of man have become one."


That's not particularly gnostic, nor, I'm guessing, would many protestants accept such a characterization.

There are many small groups today who could actually qualify as Gnostics and even describe themselves as such. None of them are particularly well-known or influential.

#20 Pr. Jay Denne

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 01:28 PM

One common element in protestantism is the desire, need, requirement to "know" God. Orthodox believe that God is unknowable in His Essence, a distinction of course that protestants do not make. There are quite a number of discreet examples from various protestant movements in the reformation, most notably in Germany, that form the basis and foundation for modern gnostic secular ideologies. Hegel, btw, defined the Protestant Principle as "the mind of God and the mind of man have become one."


The "common element" of which you speak is not present in Luther's theology - he wrote about the distinction between the "hidden God" (Deus Absconditus) and the "revealed God" (Deus Revelatus).




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