We can get to the historical aspects of Gnosticism later. I think now would be a good time to turn to practical matters. Once you have a clear idea of what the three cosmologies are, you can easily intuit who belongs to which group, but people are complex. I know plenty of Christians, and by that I mean people that I don’t doubt are saved, who nevertheless happily blather Gnostic bullshit. I mean, all the time. With the messy business of understanding people, you’ll almost always find overlap in their cosmologies, and thus incoherent worldviews. If people had to have a coherent worldview to survive, we’d be extinct.
BTW, there are plenty of Pagans out there who believe all sorts of Gnostic folly. Of the three cosmologies, Gnosticism is the parasite, the perversion of either of the other, or both simultaneously. The game is to figure out to what degree a person is Gnostic. Is that person’s infection minimal, so he got the flu? Or is that person terminal, and riddled with cancer? Like I said before, nobody calls themselves Gnostics, so by nature it has to latch onto the other cosmologies. But with it’s ascendency in the West, to the point that it’s the overwhelmingly most powerful worldview, it’s getting much harder for it to hide.
There are many people who stink so badly of this cosmology that you can easily classify them. For others, you may not be smelling a Gnostic, but you’re definitely getting a big whiff of Gnosticism. The following is far-and-away the most common Gnostic idea in our culture:
Equality. Boom, that’s the big one, the neon sign of the Gnostic Cult In Charge. By equality, I’m referring to how the GCIC defines it, which is a universal equality in human potential. They believe that people are blank slates at birth (although many today also believe a version of the ancient Gnostic idea that everyone is born with a divine spark), and if we construct the right system, then all people will be free to realize their roughly equal potential. All people will be free to be good, teachable, caring, talented, responsible etc. etc. blah blah blah. If you hear someone speak about equality this way or express this principle during conversation, what you’re smelling is a big Gnostic turd. The equality giveaway is the easiest to spot, but on occasion it might slip past you.
I’ll give you an example of one that almost got past me. A friend of mine, who’s about as Christian as you can get, was talking with me about the schools in our town. Demographically they’re all about 50/50 Black/White. And, as anybody but Gnostics can talk about, we started discussing the, ahem, unequal distribution of good grades, and what might possibly perhaps maybe sorta be the reason for the er, um, uh… disparity. I trust that you get my drift. In the middle of the conversation he said something like, “If any of those kids were given to my wife and me when they were babies, they’d grow up making grades just as good as the white kids. We’d make sure of that.” Catch that? Here was a Christian, expressing the blank slate belief of a Gnostic. The conversation went on, but after a few minutes it struck me, and I came down on him. He argued back, but we argue about everything, which is why we’re friends. His argument was the standard “It’s the culture, not the people” canard. I pointed out that culture is made by distinct peoples, so basically he was saying “It’s the people that made the culture, but they can’t be held accountable for what they’ve made.” IOW, it’s the people, not the people. Anyway, that’s a pretty good illustration of GCIC smog seeping in through the cracks.
So, don’t Pagans and Christians believe in equality?
Not as defined by the GCIC, which is a universal equality of human potential.
To our Pagan friends, like Derb, equality of this kind is irrational and impossible. Their idea of equality would be much more generalized, and therefore have no real significance socially or personally. They would say, for example, that all humans are equal in that they are all equally hominids, or all equally mammals, which is about as emotionally charged as saying that all water is equally wet. As an (irrefutable) rational argument against GCIC equality, they would (correctly) insist that for there to be human equality there must be sameness, which is manifestly not what we observe. A Gnostic might counter that human DNA is something like 99% identical, but the Pagan would counter back that the 1% difference is a doozy. When it comes to people and people groups, no honest person can say they don’t see a tremendous amount of variety, and where there’s variety, there’s inequality.
The Christian and Pagan cosmologies agree here, but Christians add the testimony of Scripture, as well. But hey! What about Galatians 3:28? Doesn’t that teach the equality of all mankind?
In Galatians 3:28, Paul is referring to a spiritual condition among Christians. It isn’t speaking about our earthly conditions. Since, to a Gnostic, the spiritual is all that matters and the created order is to be disdained, then their busted logic leads them to believe that since everyone is equal before God spiritually, and the spiritual is all that matters, then everyone is equal, period. I know that sounds stupid, but this kind of thinking, this perversion of Scripture, has crept into the Church of late.
The Christian cosmology, to be more specific, believes that everyone is equal before God, meaning we are equally accountable before Him, and that He is no respecter of earthly status. But as for His Church while we’re on this planet, Scripture is replete with examples in both the Old and New Testaments of God establishing hierarchical systems, and those were, and are, for our benefit. Hierarchy = inequality, therefore God is the author of inequality. Christians (should) understand that hierarchy/inequality is not a bad thing. Our God is a God that loves variety, and he gives differing abilities and gifts to all, and to His people. Those with lesser gifts and abilities are still afforded value and dignity. It’s by faith that we accept the station that God has placed us in, trusting that He is good, and loves us, and we are to be grateful for the gifts He’s given us, so we strive to use them well. That’s not to say, however, that there’s no upward or downward mobility.
GCIC equality is a crock, but it’s a powerful crock. Look around you. You can get seriously canned for publicly, or, in Paula Deen’s case, privately, saying anything that is deemed raciss, sexist, homophobic, etc. etc. blah blah blah. In Europe or Canada, you can get arrested, jailed, and/or fined into bankruptcy. Come to think of it, that’s starting to happen here, if you’re a baker that refuses to bake for a gay wedding.
To be continued…