Sunday, July 10, 2011

What The Gnostics Believed

Gnosis is a Greek word that means “know” or “knowing,” but it’s not knowledge that comes from believing doctrine, having faith, or practicing a certain religious discipline. It means understanding received from God through a direct, personal experience of him. Let’s be really clear about this. Knowing God this way means knowing he is part of us, seeing ourselves in him, and merging into that kind of experience as our felt reality. The Gnostics believed Jesus not only modeled this kind of relationship with God but taught that we have exactly the same. We say we want a more experiential kind of relationship with God. If so, it will require letting go of some very deeply preconceived beliefs which may be difficult for us because we've learned to call them "the truth".

These are some of those traditional beliefs with Gnostic understanding by comparison.

Traditional: God exists in a heavenly realm apart from his creation. (Although the church teaches that he is omnipresent and that his spirit lives in us, it doesn't examine the fullness of that position. Instead, our prayers, songs, and day-to-day dialogue speak a separation into existence that creates our true experience).                                                                     
Gnostic: Rather than see God as an entity that exists outside the universe, Gnostic writers believed in a oneness of everything in existence. Not only is God the creator, he is the stuff out of which all things are created. His kingdom is not a distant place or future thing, but “an immediate and continuing spiritual reality” that we can experience at any time.

Traditional: Jesus was the only child of God.                                                            Gnostic: We are all children of God, created from his own spirit (in his image and likeness). Rather than claim any special position, the Gospel of Thomas quotes Jesus as saying, “I am not your master. He who will drink from my mouth will become as I am; I myself will become he. When you come to know yourselves you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living Father.” In the Gospel of John Jesus says, “I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one - as you are in me, father, and I am in you. May they know you love them as much as you love me.” These statements not only recognize oneness, they clearly demonstrate that each of us has the ability to wake up from the illusion that we are separate from God.

Traditional: Man is born in original sin.                                                                            Gnostic: Man is born in goodness that can never been lost. His sin” was the result of the development of the ego which seduced him into believing he was independent and separate from God. 

Traditional: God demands retribution for man’s sin.                                                  Gnostic: If there is no sin there is no need for retribution. Man does not and cannot exist outside of God. Waking from the ignorance of his false identity (separate) is all that’s necessary for man to restore oneness with him. 

Traditional: Jesus died to pay for man’s sin.                                                             Gnostic: Jesus allowed himself to be crucified to demonstrate that we are not the body and that our real life is eternal. He proved it by appearing several times in different ways after his resurrection. 

Traditional: We only have one life. When our bodies die our souls go to an everlasting reward in heaven or an everlasting punishment in hell.                                              Gnostic: We are eternal spiritual beings having a momentary physical experience, very likely one of many - perhaps countless. This particular experience will end, but our real life in God never does. As such there is no need nor possibility of reward or punishment. 

Traditional: Jesus will come again, descending from heaven on a cloud the same way he left.                                                                                                                             Gnostic: The “second coming” of Christ will be a spiritual manifestation - a critical mass of believers finally seeing the illusion and coming to their senses, and to true Christ-likeness.   

It's important to remember that our brains filter information like this through beliefs we already hold. Because the Gnostic understanding of God is so different from what the church has taught us it's no surprise that we could have some difficulty with it. But we must always remain open to what the spirit would show us. God's revelation did not end with, and is not limited to, the four books of the canonized bible. In the Gospel of Thomas Jesus said, "Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find. When they find, they will be disturbed. When they are disturbed, they will marvel, and will reign over all. And after they have reigned they will rest."

What excites me personally is how science is beginning to prove what many of Jesus’ early followers believed. When examined from the standpoint of Quantum Physics, many of the Gnostic Gospels reflect the intimacy with God that we’re looking for. 


  1. The gnostic belief that we have many lives is what I have believed for years. We are here to learn lessons for our own spirit as well as God. God is always part of us as we are always part of him. After several past life hypnosis sessions I have no doubt that I have been here before any number of times. I have gone through two of my own deaths on this earth. Each time it felt as I was going home. I know many people do not believe in hypnosis, but with no knowledge of what I said until after I heard the recordings of myself, I am convinced of this truth. Maybe the fact that I am jewish and do not have a belief that Jesus is my savior made this simpler for me to believe. In the hypnosis sessions I spoke the in the coloquial manner of the time period.

  2. Hello Jim,
    I am greatly encouraged at the things you write. It is very evident that you have gotten a handle on the reality of it all. I appreciated how you contrasted the traditional views with the gnostic thoughts. From both a quantum physics and a gnostic perspective we can really start to understand our TRUE nature and begin to enjoy some fearlessness- after all, when we realize we are one with the source of everything what could we possibly be afraid of!?