Gnosticism and Docetism

The Pleroma in the Valentinian System

The Pleroma in the Valentinian System

On Sunday, October 25, 2015, elder Wayne Wylie taught on Gnosticism, and introduced Docetism in his series on Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Elements of the ancient heresy of Gnositicism include the ideas of dualism, the elitist attitude of the “Gnostikoi” who are the chosen few favored with secret knowledge of Gnostic doctrine, and some discussion of how this two-tiered attitude is reflected in various Christian movements to this day. Another prominent custom among modern Christians which bears some parallel to the notion that Christians have direct knowledge of God apart from Scripture is in the notion of receiving individualistic “guidance by the Holy Spirit,” often appealed to in day-to-day decision making. Important varieties of Gnosticism, such as that of the arch-heretic Marcion and the school of Valentinus were also introduced.

In Gnosticism, knowledge of Gnostic doctrine, rather than faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, is the key to a redemption comprised of the escape of the spirit from the body at death.

Docetism was also introduced. “The word [Docetism] is derived from the Greek dokeo, meaning “to seem” or “to appear.” According to Docetism, the eternal Son of God did not really become human or suffer on the cross; he only appeared to do so. The heresy arose in a Helenistic milieu and was based on a Dualism which held that the material world is either unreal or postitively evil. The basic thesis of such docetics was that if Christ suffered he was not divine, and if he was God he could not suffer [from class handout].”

Listen to “Gnosticism and Docetism” at mcopc.org.

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2 Responses to “Gnosticism and Docetism”

  1. Reblogged this on The Misadventures of Captain Headknowledge and commented:

    “[T]he idea of the presence in man of a divine “spark”…, which has proceeded from the divine world and has fallen into this world of destiny, birth and death and which must be reawakened through its own divine counterpart in order to be finally restored. This idea…is ontologically based on the conception of a downward development of the divine whose periphery (often called Sophia or Ennoia) has fatally fallen victim to a crisis and must–even if only indirectly–produce this world, in which it then cannot be disinterested, in that it must once again recover the divine “spark” (often designated as pneuma, “spirit”).”

    –Congress on the Origins of Gnosticism in Messina, 1966 (cited in Rudolph, Kurt; Gnosis: The Nature & History of Gnosticism. Harper & Row, 1987)

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