The phrase "gnosticism" is a term used in modern study. It was coined by the English poet and philosopher of religion Henry More (1614–87), who applied it to the religious organizations known as gnostikoi in ancient texts (Greek: "those who have gnosis, or "knowledge").
Gnosticism is a name given to a series of beliefs and practices that developed some two millennia ago among people living in the Middle East and Europe. They were popular with intellectuals and writers who wanted to distinguish themselves from other people. Some scholars say these people formed their own secret societies, while others argue they created their own religions.
In its most general sense, to use the term "gnostic" is to claim knowledge of a higher power or powers not available to ordinary people. This knowledge can be achieved through spiritual experience or through learning certain facts about the universe through science.
People born into Christian cultures are often told their parents' behavior shows that they are unworthy sinners who will go to hell after dying. To protect them from this fate, God sent his only Son to earth to suffer and die for our sins. Through Jesus' sacrifice, everyone who believes in him is granted eternal life. This is the central message of Christianity that has been passed on from generation to generation by word of mouth and written down for us by many saints over the centuries.
But there are many other religions in the world too.
Gnosticism (from Ancient Greek: gnostikos, romanized: gnostikos, Koine Greek: [gnosti'kos], 'knowledge') is a group of theological doctrines and systems that emerged in the late first century CE among Jewish and early Christian factions. They include beliefs about salvation and the nature of God.
Gnostic means "knowing how little we know." The term originally described Jews who believed that only a few people were able to access the knowledge of an esoteric tradition preserved within them. But it has since been used to describe other groups that share this belief, such as early Christians. Today, "gnostic" is used to describe individuals or groups that believe there are many ways to reach enlightenment, either through personal effort or through affiliation with a teacher or school.
In the Bible, gnosticism is mentioned several times. In Acts 26:26, Paul refers to some Galatians as "false brothers," which some scholars think may be a reference to Gnostic teachers who came to Galatia with Paul's help.
Other scholars think it more likely that Paul was referring to members of the Church at Galatia who wanted to introduce divisions into the church by promoting different teachings. Either way, it shows that the early Christians had concerns about heresy, and these references help us understand what some people might have believed systemically instead of exclusively within the boundaries of orthodox Christianity.
The word Gnosticism was derived from St. Irenaeus' (c. 185 AD) use of the Greek adjective gnostikos (Greek gnostikos, "learned", "intellectual") to characterize Valentinus' school as he legomene gnostike haeresis "the heresy called Learned (gnostic)." Irenaeus used the term to describe a heretical movement that had arisen in his time and which taught a dualism similar to that of Plato and Aristotle.
Gnosticism is the name given to a series of doctrines and practices that developed from about 150 AD to about 500 AD. Although they were widely believed to be Christian teachings, many Gnostics were actually doing quite the opposite of what they thought Jesus wanted. They believed that human beings could reach spiritual maturity by themselves, so there was no need for any form of salvation through faith in Christ. Instead, they sought enlightenment by reading sacred texts and learning for themselves how to build living objects like statues or portraits with their minds alone without using their hands.
Gnosis means "knowledge" or "awareness" and has nothing to do with religion or spirituality. So Gnosticism is not a type of Christianity, but an alternative philosophy that developed among early Christians.
Although early Christians were opposed to Gnosticism, it was very popular in its time. It offered people an easy way out by denying God's existence and offering them something instead.
Gnosticism is related with spiritual understanding. This is comes from Greek and means "wisdom." The word is said to have been used by Christian authors to refer to spiritual understanding. This knowledge is neither intellectual or scientific in nature, but rather knowledge or a solid confidence in divine power. It has nothing to do with science or reason.
Gnostics believe that human beings can know some things directly through inspiration or revelation from God. However, they also believe that there are other things which cannot be known with certainty, such as natural laws or moral standards. They claim that this lack of knowledge causes people to make judgments about what they can't know, resulting in religious ideas such as sin, heaven, and hell.
Agnostics are people who don't know if God exists or not. An agnostic will not make any judgment about it because they think it's impossible to know for sure one way or another.
Some gnostics believed that Jesus was a great prophet who had many insights into the nature of reality, but that he also revealed much about the state of humanity when he said "ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." This means that there is a part of him that is human and therefore subject to ignorance and error just like everyone else. But there is also a part of him that is divine and thus perfect in wisdom and knowledge.
The term gnostic is derived from the Greek word gnostikos, which means "knowing" or "able to distinguish." If the term is preceded by a capital "G," it refers to Gnosticism, a kind of nonconventional mystical Christianity that arose in the second century and is today considered heretical by many Christians.
Gnostics held that God did not intend to create the universe. God's emission generated the earliest creatures, known as Aeons, who were less powerful than God but nevertheless retained a considerable quantity of the divine spark. They resided in Pleroma, the sphere of heavenly wholeness, with God.
Gnosticism is the idea that people carry a fragment of God (the greatest good or a divine spark) that has fallen from the immaterial realm into their bodies. Decomposition, rotting, and death affect all physical substance. Even ideas are subject to decay and destruction. But some souls are more precious than others; they are called "spiritual" or "material." Spiritual souls can escape death by entering another body, usually after many years in a dead person's shell. Material souls are trapped in the fleshly cage we call a body. They can only wait and hope for liberation.
Gnostic teachings have been found in texts including the Nag Hammadi Library, which was discovered in 1953 in northern Egypt. This library contained hundreds of manuscripts written on papyrus sheets in Egyptian Greek. The texts were hidden inside forty-three leather books which had been sealed with wax.
The Gnostics believed that humanity is immersed in evil. They taught that it is necessary to liberate the soul from the prison of the body through knowledge and spiritual practice. Here on earth, the soul must be protected from evil influences and achieve salvation through faith in Jesus Christ or else it will be cast into hellfire forever.
According to Christian tradition, Christianity is a continuation of the teaching of Jesus revealed through his apostles. However, there are several differences between the two religions.