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Gnosticism

“Another reason we have lost respect for bodily purity is that we moderns have a tendency towards gnosticism, the belief system which in the early years of the Church was the greatest competitor with Christianity. Gnosticism privileges the mind and denigrates the body…But while we moderns are gnostics in our spiritual lives, our economic science is comically materialistic. Despite every evidence that economic development is mostly about innovation–that it is centered in the “artist’s moment” wherein we discern the “logos” in some thing or material or problem, and embody that insight or principle so that it may be shared with others–we remain terrified that the finitude of today’s resources must inevitably lead to the lack of tomorrow’s bread.” (Timothy G. Patitsas)


“As I delved into the world of psychology and the behavioral sciences, I encountered a hostility to the physical body that resembled that of the ancient Gnostics. Utopian ideas about technology often animate such hostility. One very common narrative says that our materiality represents a type of fall from which our machines can liberate us. The most obvious manifestation of this Gnostic-like hostility toward the body is the Silicon Valley futurists working on the next phase of human evolution, one in which machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, and in the process liberate us from the constraints of an embodied existence.” (Robin Phillips)


“A disembodied spirituality many adhere to today that creates a false dichotomy between the spiritual and material and treats the body almost like an evil prison we seek liberation from is nothing new. It’s just old heresy endlessly recycled. The Gnostics preached this in Christ’s time and many new age and other spiritualities preach it today. It’s false. We don’t exist apart from embodiment and in the age to come when all is restored as it should be we will have, as Christ’s resurrection and teachings show us, an incorruptible body.” (Sacramental Living Ministries) 


“Unlike the religion of Gnosticism—which teaches the separation of soul and body, with the physical world seen as evil and something to be overcome—historic Christianity teaches the unity of body and soul, with the physical world being transformed and made new in Christ….Christ’s ministry among us was thoroughly engaged with the material world. He healed with spit and mud, and bathing in water. His feeding of the 5,000 was not anti-material nor ignorant of their hunger. It wonderfully expanded the reality of five loaves and two fish such that created limits shared in the abundance of heaven itself.” (Abbot Tryphon, Fr. Stephen Freeman)


“As Paul speaks against the deception of Gnosticism, we learn about the different kinds of knowledge that can help us grow in faith and life. The basic word “gnosis” is a term for general knowledge of things earthly or heavenly…But Paul prays for a more precise, correct, and complete comprehension of a specific topic. Thus, he prays for “epig’nosis,” that is, thorough familiarity with the Lord’s will (Colossians 1:9) and an increase of the full acquaintance with God (Colossians 1:10)…Another mode of understanding (sunesthee’o) is based on the root of “putting together.” It denotes penetrating perception…Thus, St. Paul asks the Lord to give the believers at Colossae a keen insight into spiritual things.” (Fr. Basil)


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