Nag Hammadi writings Gnosticism

The Nag Hammadi writings are of “Gnostic” origin which were written during the first to fourth century A.D. The Gnostic heretics did cherish both the Old and New testament Scripture, but re-interpreted them in terms of a mythological Gnostic Redeemer. Gnosticism gave rise to the writings of a number of totally spurious apocalyptic books, false gospels and epistles that incorporated their own mysticism. Gnosticism was a movement that vigorously contended with Orthodox Christianity for supremacy. Writings by the early Church Fathers show how widespread and influential Gnosticism was; and it was combatted as a lethal threat to the proclamation of the Gospel. The bishops pointed out the great gulf between BiblicalChristianity and Gnosticism, even though the Gnostics made use of Biblical text. It is obvious that Paul, the Apostle, knew of the false ideas of Gnosticism, and spoke out against such doctrines several times in the Scriptures.

The Gnostics believed in the supreme being as an undescribable God. He is invisible, incomprehensible, and dwells unbegotten in eternal peace. Some names used to describe God and to stress His transcendence were “Father of All”, “The Unapproachable God”, “The Unknowable”. Such a God could not possibly have direct contact with the material world; therefore, He does so through intermediates, each one answerable to the other. Each intermediate in descending order is less divine and more earthy as the chain nears the material world.

Mr. Erickson spellbinds his listeners when he tells them that the Nag Hammadi writings confirm the Mormon doctrine of the Heavenly Mother! What he fails to tell them is that this Mother God of the Nag Hammadi is the “Holy Spirit.” Certainly this is in direct conflict with the Mormon concept of a Mother God, because in Mormon doctrine, the Holy Spirit is a male. The supreme being has a female counterpart which emanates from Him.She is known as “Mother of All” or “The Holy Spirit.” Other emanations that come forth from the Supreme Being in pairs are called AEONS; the lowest Aeon being “Sophia Akhamoth”, she was so full of passion to understand or know God that she fell and was placed outside the Pleroma, God’s heavenly dwelling. Because of her desire, she becomes fertile with a formless monster. This monster (Yaldabaoth, Samael or SATAN) is the Demiurge or inferior god who created this material world and brought forth man upon it.

According to the Gnostic, all matter is evil; therefore, only an inferior being could have created it. Satan is the creator-god of this earth and of man, and is an evil god. To the Gnostics, Satan is Jehovah of the Old Testament! After Jehovah (Satan) creates man and breathes life into him, he creates Eve. The demonic forces see the beauty of Eve, and proceed to rape her. Through this act, she conceives Cain and Abel. Mr. Erickson often refers to the Hypostasis of the Archons of the Nag Hammadi and being direct parallel to the Garden of Eden scene of the Mormon Temple Ceremony. However, he fails to inform his listeners that the Hypostasis of the Archeons tells of the demons raping Eve! Nor does he point out that the serpent in the garden is really the Holy Spirit coming to give Adam and Eve the “true knowledge.”

He neglects to mention to his listeners that the “god” who comes into the garden to ask Adam and Eve what they have done is not the “Heavenly Father” but is Satan the arrogant Archon, the evil god. In this instance, Mr. Erickson is, at best, mistaken about the facts – a fault which reappears throughout his lectures and tapes. The authors of the Nag Hammadi writings taught a form of re- incarnation, and that marriage was evil, because it is of the earth. They believed the begetting of children was from Satan, since it merely increases the number subjected to the evil angels. Resurrection of the flesh is denied by these Gnostics, since earthly flesh is in itself evil, and can have no part in the spiritual scheme of God. All of these concepts are not confirmations of Mormon doctrine, but are direct contradictions of it!

Mrs. Melaine Layton entitled: The Truth About the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi Writings in Reference to Mormonism
believersweb.org/view.cfm?id=601&rc=1&list=multi
Part I

Gnostic beliefs:
The Nag Hummadi find revealed that there was a broad range of beliefs among the various independent Gnostic systems or schools. However, the following points are believed to be generally accurate throughout the movement: Their Role: They believed that they alone truly understood Christ’s message, and that other streams of thought within Christianity had misinterpreted Jesus’ mission and sayings.

Gnosis: Knowledge to them was not an intellectual exercise; it was not a passive understanding of some aspect of spirituality. Rather, knowledge had a redeeming and liberating function that helped the individual break free of bondage to the world.

Deity: The Supreme Father God or Supreme God of Truth is remote from human affairs; he is unknowable and undetectable by human senses. She/he created a series of supernatural but finite beings called Aeons. One of these was Sophia, a virgin, who in turn gave birth to an defective, inferior Creator-God, also known as the Demiurge. (Demiurge means “public craftsman” in Greek.) This lower God is sometimes called Yaldabaoth or Ialdabaoth Jaldabaoth – from Aramaic words meaning “begetter of the Heavens.”

This is Jehovah, the God of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). He is portrayed as the creator of the earth and its life forms. He is viewed by Gnostics as fundamentally evil, jealous, rigid, lacking in compassion, and prone to genocide. The Demiurge “thinks that he is supreme. His pride and incompetence have resulted in the sorry state of the world as we know it, and in the blind and ignorant condition of most of mankind.” Duality of spirit and body: Spirit is of divine origin and good; the body is inherently earthly and evil. Gnostics were hostile to the physical world, to matter and the human body. But they believed that trapped within some people’s bodies were the sparks of divinity or seeds of light that were supplied to humanity by Sophia
.
Salvation: A person attains salvation by learning secret knowledge of their spiritual essence: a divine spark of light or spirit. They then have the opportunity to escape from the prison of their bodies at death. Their soul can ascend to be reunited with the Supreme God at the time of their death. Gnostics divided humanity into three groups: The spiritual, who would be saved irrespective of their behavior while on earth. The Soulish, who could be saved if they followed the Gnostic path. The carnal who are hopelessly lost.

Evil: They did not look upon the world as having been created perfectly and then having degenerated as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve. Rather the world was seen as being evil at the time of its origin, because it had been created by an inferior God.

Snake Symbol: Some Gnostic sects honored the snake. They did not view the snake as a seducer who led the first couple into sinful behavior. Rather, they saw him/it as a liberator who brought knowledge to Adam and Eve by convincing them to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and thus to become fully human.

Christ: The role of the redeemer in Gnostic belief is heavily debated at this time. Gnostics seem to have looked upon Christ as a revealer or liberator, rather than a savior or judge. His purpose was to spread knowledge which would free individuals from the Demiurge’s control and allow them to return to their spiritual home with the
Supreme God at death.

Some Gnostic groups promoted Docetism, the belief that Christ was pure spirit and only had a phantom body; Jesus just appeared to be human to his followers. They reasoned that a true emissary from the Supreme God could not have been overcome by the evil of the world, and to have suffered and died. These beliefs were considered heresy by many non-Gnostic Christians. Some Gnostics believed that Christ’s resurrection occurred at or before Jesus’ death on the cross. They defined his resurrection as occurring when his spirit was liberated from his body. Many Gnostics believed that Jesus had both male and female disciples.

The Universe: This is divided into three kingdoms: The “Earthly Cosmos”: The earth is the center of the universe, and is composed of the world that we know of and an underworld. It is surrounded by air and by 7 concentric heavenly spheres: one for each of the Moon, Venus, Mercury, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. (Although the planet Uranus is visible to the naked eye, it was not recognized as a planet in ancient times.) Beyond Saturn resides Leviathan, a snake coiled in a single circle, devouring its own tail. Within these spheres live demonic, tyrannical entities called Archons.
Beyond them lies Paradise which contains the “Tree of Life”, he “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil”, and the flaming, turning sword of Genesis 3:24. Beyond Paradise was the sphere of the fixed stars, divided into the 12 signs of the zodiac.
.
religioustolerance.org/gnostic2.htm

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.