Hebrew Mind vs. Greek Mind
THE RISE OF GNOSTICISM
by Brad Scott
In the times of Yeshua' and Sha'ul, there were many thinking groups that would fall under the banner of gnosticism. The nihilists and the libertines would be two of these. Both of these groups would also be classified as antinomians or "against the law". This would be the definition as it is commonly known in the English. However, in the Hebrew the word for anti is tachat (תחת), which means instead of or in place of. You see, no one is really against laws, they simply deny YHVH's laws and replace them with other laws. Every society, large or small, has rules. One may think he is free when unrestrained by law but he soon comes up with his own. Since the rise of gnosticism, I believe the church has been theologically duped into believing that liberty is freedom from law. The only way that one could claim to be a Christian and hold this theology is to allegorize or spiritualize the text. This allegorization sprang forth from the early gnostics, and gnosticism is Hellenistic thought at it's best.
So, what is gnosticism? Literally the word gnosis, a Greek word, means knowledge. This way of thinking was also a religious sect at the time of Yeshua'. However, more appropriately it is a way of thinking. Notice I said it is a way of thinking, not it was a way of thinking. There is no way to define this word in a few sentences, so we will define it as we go. The whole idea of gnosticism dove-tails with the whole philosophy of the holy psyche or soul, and the evil body and physical world. There are degrees, if you will, of this philosophy. Much of what is taught in modern Christianity is very pale compared to some extremes of people like Simon of Samaria (Acts 8), Saturninus, Cerinthus, Valentinus, or even Marcion. If you begin with a relatively small, unscriptural doctrine, it soon leads to a big one. Many of these men (circa 1st-2nd century A.D.) concluded that Yeshua' was not a man, but the spirit of the Messiah. Why? Because the "deity" would not have an evil body since the flesh is by nature wicked. Marcion taught that Yeshua''s body was a phantom. Many early church fathers stood against this doctrine for a time, except for Clement and Origen, who were sympathetic to this doctrine. Fundamental to clearly gnostic systems is dualism, which opposes the transcendent God and an ignorant demiurge. (Remember, this was the caricature of YHVH). In some systems, the creation of the world resulted from the presumption of sophia (σοφία) (Gk. - wisdom). The material creation, including the body, was regarded as inherently evil. Sparks of divinity, however, had been encapsuled in the bodies of certain pneumatic or spiritual individuals, who were ignorant of their celestial origins. The transcendent God or demiurge sent down a redeemer (Christ), who brought them salvation in the form of a secret gnosis or knowledge. To the gnostics, salvation was not dependent upon faith or works but rather knowledge of one's nature, so there was much indulgence in licentious behavior. There were no rules for the body since the logos or ultimate knowledge was not interested in physical or material things. This also meant that marriage was held in contempt as well, for procreation involved the body. A "unisex" being was held in hopeful reverence. The two main religious ordinances of these sects were baptism and the Eucharist. The bottom line of gnosticism is an other worldly existence. Many New Testament doctrines are used to support this thought which we will put back into context later. Gnosticism, historically speaking, is simply the logical progression of Greek or Hellenistic thinking. This philosophy, several centuries later, led to the monastic system and eventually to the Papal system.We will reveal much, much more about this teaching as we get into the comparisons between the Hebrew and Greek minds. We are going to take several subjects and discuss them from these contrasting points of view. I think you will soon see how and why the modern Church believes and teaches some of the doctrines it does. You may begin to see why our culture is in the condition it is and why many other cultures collapsed. It may become clearer why so many Christians struggle with sin and cannot seem to conquer anything in their lives. The conclusion will be simple. The Greek/gnostic thinking of inwardness only sounds holy, good, and scriptural. The problem is this. Our mind and our bodies are created by YHVH and have natural needs and desires. These needs and desires are anticipated by our Creator, so He has rules for the mind and the body. If our theology denies these rules (the reason is really irrelevant), our mind and body will satisfy them some other way. This is why in much Christian theology the laws of YHVH (that is, the Old Testament "where there is no Holy Spirit"), are superceded by the "law of Christ" where there is the Spirit. God, who lives in the transmundane, is only interested in the spiritual and has no interest in the mundane cares of the world.
In lesson seven we will begin to compare these two contrasting world views. I will take you back to some more details of Greek philosophy as they apply.
Shalom Alecheim! ◊