The other approach to life in the Greek philosophy was that of Epicurean philosophy. The Epicurean thought pattern held a similar hypothesis of disassociation with carnal substance. However, the Epicurean understanding was the opposite in its deployment of practice. Epicurean’s held the carnal world to be corrupt and irredeemable and in need of destruction. Within this framework, Epicureanism deduced that carnal flesh is useless and could be committed to the full pursuit of any sensual pleasure, as it would ultimately be destroyed and the Gnostic substance, or essence, would then be liberated as the soul achieved salvation.[1] Epicureanism is vaguely like the ‘anything goes’ standards of conduct of an existential philosophy that has resurfaced in the modern worldview. And it has a second cousin in what has been called the hyper-grace teaching that makes allowance for ongoing, unrepentant sin while still maintaining right standing before God.

Gnosis as a religious paradigm of perceived knowledge “not as nous, but as a charisma: illumination by ecstatic or mystical vision.”[2] This gnosis was to be acquired through the artificial association of initiation and compulsory training, albeit the acquiring of faith over sensory input and data. Knowledge, or gnosis, stands in the line of tradition and training. When properly embraced, a supposed liberation of the inner light of the soul occurs, thus assuring the soul’s transcendent ability to ascend into its original place of beginning. This acceptance of the soul’s intrinsic superiority over material substance contained a cosmological and anthropological dualism that led the initiate or enlightened into the means of salvation.[3]

From this perspective, Gnosticism was crude assimilation of Eastern (Zoroastrianism) religious peculiarities and Greek philosophic and religious thought, melding into a synthesized new expression. With the advent of Christianity, some, such as Valentinius, sought to merge the gnostic thought with Christianity, creating a peculiar neo-Gnostic/Christian amalgamation. Although it is impossible to ascertain gnostic influence in the early church truly, history identifies Valentinius as an almost Bishop.[4] This should give some indication as to Gnosticisms influence.[5][6]

[1] ___ Ibid. pp. 119-23

[2] ___ Ibid. pp. 119-23

[3] ___ Ibid. pp. 119-23

[4] Web site: The Early Christian Mystery Sects, N.D. (accessed 12-31-01) http://www.near-death.com

[6] Walker, Wilson, Richard Norris, David Lotz, Robert Handy, A History of the Christian Church, McMillan Press, NY, 1918, 1959, 1970, 1985, p. 76

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