I Know I’ve Heard That Somewhere Before…

As religion and spirituality have continued to spiral into a personalized, individualized, compartmentalized, iPodized commodity in Western Civilization, you hear people saying things that sound almost like what the Bible says, but not.  When people decide that they’re equipped to create their own religion, essentially, keeping the things they like and ignoring the things they don’t, we quickly find out that the maxim from Ecclesiastes “There is nothing new under the sun” is really true.  More often than not, New Age, individualized spirituality tends to fall into predictable patterns that were known and rejected long ago as being incompatible with (or blatantly contradictory to) the Biblical witness.  As Christians, it’s good for us to know that just because something sounds kinda nice, doesn’t mean that it’s true, or that it’s Christian.

One of the earliest and most invasive heresies in Christianity was the Gnostic heresy.  Gnosticism did and does thrive on claiming to be Biblical and Christian, while twisting and mangling the theological cornerstones of the faith to turn the Biblical witness of a vibrant, real, communal faith into a personalized, spiritualized, gutted-corpse of a hope.  Gnosticism was soundly rejected by the early church fathers, despite it’s broad appeal.  And for good reason.  I think this handy little table is fantastic for identifying some of the key claims of Gnosticism, and comparing them to what the Bible actually teaches.  The only thing it lacks are specific Biblical references so that you know where and how the Biblical witness contradicts the teachings of the Gnostics. 

It’s important to be aware of these differences, because they are still quite prevalent today – even among people who claim to be Christians in good standing.  Oftentimes, these erroneous beliefs are an attempt to balance a very amazing Biblical God with our rationalist tendencies.  What we can’t understand, we explain away soas not to violate our intellectual groundings.  I suggest reviewing this every so often, particularly if you’re talking with folks who say they’re Christian, but seem to have some curious ideas about things. 

2 Responses to “I Know I’ve Heard That Somewhere Before…”

  1. Marie Says:

    I have found this with tv shows and movies — some seem to be really pushing a religious world view and then — boom — it all explodes. What I have often found is that the creators are public atheists, not trying to hide it at all, but they are good writers and even better marketers, and when you adopt themes and stories and rhythms and symbols from religion, it gives your story gravitas.

  2. Paul Nelson Says:

    An interesting point indeed!  Could the degeneration of the faith be in part due to it’s most active proponents (screenwriters, etc) actually being atheists, and either accidentally or intentionally altering the substance of portrayed faith?  Wow.  That’s even more depressing and pessimistic than I’m normally inclined to be!  But I’m warming quickly to the idea.  Seems to simply reinforce the importance of being in the Word, knowing what our faith consists of, and being willing to share this level of understanding with others – even within our own faith communities!

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