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  • Writer's pictureDavid and Marilynn Chadwick

Five Major Heresies in the Church: Gnosticism

by David Chadwick

Theology is one of our “Core 4” at Moments of Hope Church. Scripture, Theology, Wholeness, and Outreach are 4 pillars we believe create a healthy diet in maturing Christians.

Developing a strong understanding of theology is a crucial part of living as a mature Christ follower. It is important to understand the key doctrines of the Christian faith. But it is also important to understand the key heresies, which is what I am teaching you this week.

Today’s heresy is Gnosticism. This is the belief that the material world is bad and the spirit world is good. Therefore, God had to place many different “emanations” between him and the fallen, evil world. What are emanations, you might ask? Think of them as abstract layers in between God and this world. They become degrees of separation, distancing a perfect spiritual God from this evil world.

So, following this consistency of thought, Jesus had to be only spiritual in nature, not material at all. And salvation is only achieved through esoteric knowledge.

The term “Gnosticism” comes from the Greek word “gnosis,” which means “knowledge” or “to know.” It implies that there is a spiritual knowledge that only a few can actually attain.

Paul addresses Gnosticism in the book of Colossians. Take a look at Colossians 2:18, for instance, where he corrects the wrong thinking that only a few really understand and attain a certain level of spirituality: “Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.”

Bottom line is this - earth and matter is good because God created it. It’s the Lord’s earth (Psalm 24:1)! Yes, it’s tainted by sin, but still lovely in its beauty, productivity, and livability! Moreover, concerning Jesus, he was totally God and totally human at the same time–the major Christian tenets Gnosticism could not grasp nor believe.

May we never partner with this heresy of Gnosticism that creates an unhealthy chasm between the spiritual and the material. May we never teach a Gospel that is unattainable and unreachable, granting oversight to only a few elites.

Finally, may we followers of Jesus always live as ambassadors of the Kingdom of heaven, who reveal the many displays of the wonder of God in the midst of this broken world!

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