Are there any Gnostic Christian groups today?


#1

I'm talking about the movement or family of movements known as Gnostic Christianity that the Roman church eventually condemned as heretical, and that Protestants also would generally consider to be heretical.

Are there any real Gnostic churches alive today that actually teach and practice what Gnostics taught and practiced in the second and third centuries?


#2

There have been some attempts at revival in the past decades, but a genuine one, no. Gnosticism has a very low view of women, and also holds that the god who created the world is evil, and Christ is greater than him. There weren’t just Gnostic Christian movements - Manichaeism was a Gnostic religion.

There are some people who claim to be Gnostic Christians (Sylvia Browne :rolleyes:), but they tend to be pretty ignorant of what genuine Gnosticism was, thinking of it as some New Age mystical tradition.


#3

Gnostics Christians not to my knowledge, but if one was to look at the church of scientology, (which is a cult and not related at all to the Christian) its beliefs are loosely related to gnosticism.


#4

There’s this. Pretty much only on the East Coast.


#5

There’s the Ecclesia Gnostica in California. I was in contact with the presiding bishop about a decade or so ago…he was an ex-Friend.

And there’s the American Gnostic Church.


#6

There are no Christian gnostic groups that can actually trace themselves back to the early Church. All those existing now are revivalist movements generally branching off from Protestantism. As far as I'm aware the last true Christian Gnostics, the Manicheans, died off in the 16th century in China.

There are however at least a couple of non-Christian Gnostic groups which have survived, there are the Yazidi, who have taken a significant amount from Islam, I'm not sure if they evolved from an earlier group, and there are the Mandians, who are a Jewish Gnostic branch. They don't believe in Christ but they do hold John the Baptist as one of their prophets.


#7

The Mandaeans still survive (mostly in Iran). They are quite different from their Western Gnostic cousins, being influenced by Zoroastrianism: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandaeism


#8

But they aren’t Christian Gnostic, not believing in Jesus.


#9

Interestingly, the Yazidis are often called "Devil worshippers" by outsiders. You can read about them in various historical surveys and traveler's texts, such as Jules Leroy's "Monks and Monasteries of the Near East" (1958), which mostly focuses on Christians, but also has a section on "Sheik 'Adi - Sanctuary of the Devil Worshipers" (Lalish?), complete with some very interesting photos.


#10

Yes, there are several Gnostic Christian churches. I belong to one of them. :)

The Ecclesia Gnostica has been i the US since the 1950s, and originated in England. There are parishes in Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Salt Lake City, one somewhere in Arizona, and a new one starting up in Houston. There's also a parish in Norway. It's probably the most traditional of modern Gnostic churches.

Closely related is the Eglise Gnostique, of which there are at least a couple of branches, and it descended from the French Gnostic movement. They have more of a presence on the eastern side of the US, and generally have a good relationship with the Ecclesia Gnostica although they're separate traditions.

There is Ecclesia Gnostica Mysteriorum founded by Tau Rosamonde Miller. She was consecrated a bishop of the Ecclesia Gnostica in the early 80s, but broke away from the church and now has her own tradition with its own unique liturgy.

The Apostolic Johannite Church is also quite popular now, and it started in (roughly) 2002. They have parishes and groups all over the world. They claim to be based on a tradition of St. John, they have more of an occult leaning, and their apostolic succession is questionable. But I know some very nice Johannites, and they seem like good people.

There's also the Alexandrian Gnostic Church, which I don't know much about. They're part of the North American College of Gnostic Bishops that was established by the Johannite church, and also incorporates Thelemic bishops.

There are several other Gnostic churches around, but at least in the US, the Ecclesia Gnostica and Eglise Gnostique are the oldest. Many groups, like Sylvia Brown's, use the word "gnostic" but have nothing to do with ancient Gnosticism -- they're mainly just modern New Age groups that like to use the word "gnostic."


#11

I’m curious, where did you get the idea that Gnosticism has a very low view of women? Gnostics have always been egalitarian, and even in the Gnostic scriptures, Mary Magdalene had the most prominent place among the apostles. Gnostics even ordain female priests, and there’s presently a Gnostic female bishop who was consecrated over 30 years ago.

Also, the demiurge who created the world isn’t considered evil by Gnostics, just ignorant. Christ is definitely greater than him, because the demiurge isn’t God.


#12

[quote="gnosisofthomas, post:11, topic:297040"]

Also, the demiurge who created the world isn't considered evil by Gnostics, just ignorant. Christ is definitely greater than him, because the demiurge isn't God.

[/quote]

This is clearly something that differentiates modern Gnostics from the original variety. Gnosticism has without a doubt considered the demiurge, and the material world, evil, throughout its continuous history.


#13

Have you read Gnostic scripture? There were some Gnostic sects who considered the world more evil than others, but that just depends on the particular Gnostics you’re talking about. Most of Gnostic scripture is very world-affirming, because the Divine permeates all of reality. The Gospel of Thomas says, “Cleave a piece of wood, and I am there; lift up a stone, and you will find me there.”

The demiurge is considered imperfect, and ignorant of his origin. In the Gnostic myth, demiurge believes the power he has comes directly from him. When he sees human beings starting to wake up and realise they come from a much higher source than him, he gets nervous and tries to keep them ignorant. The very existence of the demiurge and his archons depend on keeping people ignorant, and dependent on the systems the archons have put in place. But they aren’t outright evil.


#14

[quote="gnosisofthomas, post:13, topic:297040"]
The demiurge is considered imperfect, and ignorant of his origin. In the Gnostic myth, demiurge believes the power he has comes directly from him. When he sees human beings starting to wake up and realise they come from a much higher source than him, he gets nervous and tries to keep them ignorant. The very existence of the demiurge and his archons depend on keeping people ignorant, and dependent on the systems the archons have put in place. But they aren't outright evil.

[/quote]

Purposefully withholding information and manipulative for his own ends not outright evil? I don't follow...


#15

That’s what’s difficult about talking about something that exists outside of time… He’s still ignorant of where he came from, he can’t see the realm above him, and believes he is the only god there is. Despite all the evidence in front of him, he’s still ignorant.


#16

[quote="gnosisofthomas, post:15, topic:297040"]
That's what's difficult about talking about something that exists outside of time... He's still ignorant of where he came from, he can't see the realm above him, and believes he is the only god there is. Despite all the evidence in front of him, he's still ignorant.

[/quote]

The more you describe it, the more it sounds intrinsically evil. On top of being manipulative, he's also self-deceptive despite the evidence. I'm still not following...


#17

[quote="AlexPetrosPio, post:16, topic:297040"]
The more you describe it, the more it sounds intrinsically evil. On top of being manipulative, he's also self-deceptive despite the evidence. I'm still not following...

[/quote]

Is a mentally handicapped person intrinsically evil if they do something without understanding what they're doing?


#18

[quote="gnosisofthomas, post:17, topic:297040"]
Is a mentally handicapped person intrinsically evil if they do something without understanding what they're doing?

[/quote]

No, but the handicap (not the person) is intrinsically evil as there is a deficiency in the good.


#19

I have read Gnostic scripture. I’ve also looked at how the gnostics actually practiced their religion, and I’ve read the writings of Gnostic leaders. Add to that looking at how other groups reacted to them (for example the Church prohibiting abstinence from a large number of activities if you are abstaining out of a belief that they are materially evil), and the impression is inescapable, the Demiurge (I’m personally a fan of the Sethian name, Ialdabeoth), and the material world he created, is evil.

You really can’t get everything out of reading books. You need someone to interpret it in the terms of the writers. This is a flaw with much of Protestantism, and one the Neo-Gnostic movement has kept with itself when it migrated from that movement.


#20

I’ve always thought of this particular Catholic church in our area to be at least quasi-Gnostic. (They might be considered a splinter group; it’s a little unclear to me how Catholic they are.)

companionsonthejourney.org/history.html


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