Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Gnosticism vs. The Church

I am often amazed how "gnostic" I was in my beliefs and how its subtle influence effectively prevented me from considering Catholicism. The simplified version of gnosticism is this:
"spirit=good, body=bad." Therefore, if the item under consideration is related in some way to the physical- material world , it is earthy, wordly and can't be spiritual and good. Based on that, Catholicism had to be wrong because of its very visible presence. Furthermore, all of the sacraments were "hinged"* on material objects. Water for baptism, oil for confirmation, bread and wine for the Eucharist.
Unfortunately, this false paradigm undermines the very tenets of Catholicism. The Incarnation itself shows us how this construct is wrong. The Church was started to be a visible vehicle for conveying God's grace. God physically entered the world in the flesh, and the Church He established should mirror this principle. Jesus was never meant to be separated from the Church, His grace was always intended to flow through the sacraments, not separate from them as mere symbols. Read this post here on Principium Unitatis for an excellent discussion on gnosticism and the Church.

*Tertullian said "flesh is the hinge of salvation."


Blogger Gretchen said...

Great post. Christian Science, which is nominal religious background I came from, is the ultimate outcome of gnosticism. If only I had known of gnosticism's claims long ago I could've seen Christian Science for what it was.

January 11, 2008 3:33 PM  
Blogger MMajor Fan said...

The best antidote to gnostic and its ilk would have been mindful reading of the Bible. Throughout the Old Testament even the greatest of the prophets never prayed to God for "more spirituality" or "detachment from the body." Hannah prayed for a male child, who she promised she would dedicate to the Lord, and of her was born Samuel. Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah will eat milk and honey. He did not prophesy that the Messiah would travel through time and space in his great mind. In the desert the people of the Exodus pined for the fruits and vegetables of Egypt. God made himself more physical, not less, in order to meet face to face with Moses. Moses never prayed that he should become "more spiritual." There really is nothing in the Bible at all that supports detachment from the body. Rather there is consistent dignity of the body as the temple of the soul. I am always sad when I observe how simple it would have been for anyone to read the Bible with more trust and simplicity and less predisposition to contamination with philosophies that are pagan, truth be said, in origin... *sigh*

Well, I am glad that you are blogging about it, in this and your subsequent posting. There is nothing in the Bible, Old Testament or New (or in the Qur'an for that matter) that has the slightest encouragement of "astral mind" or denigration of the holy temple of the personal body in favor of being "more spiritual" or "detached from the body."

January 13, 2008 1:27 AM  
Blogger Jordan Stratford+ said...

"spirit=good, body=bad."

No, this is Augustinian dualism. Gnosticism is Platonist monism cum panENtheism, describing everything as an aspect of the infinite one-ness of God (cf. the "Fullness" or Pleroma).

Your "detachment from the body" fixation is simply not found in Gnosticism. You've confused Gnosticism with later Manichaeanism. It's just sloppy.

January 13, 2008 10:57 PM  

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