Monday, July 18, 2005

Heresy & Orthodoxy

"If, as (F.D.E.) Schleiermacher suggests [in Christian Faith, 1821-2], the distinctive essense of Christianity consists in the fact that God has redeemed us through Jesus Christ, and through no one else and in no other way, it must follow that the Christian understanding of God, Jesus Christ, and human nature should be consistent with this understanding of redemption. Thus the Christian understanding of God must be such that God can effect the redemption of humanity through Christ; the Christian understanding of Christ must be such that God may effect our redemption through him; the Christian understanding of humanity must be such that redemption is both possible and genuine. In other words, it is essential that the Christian understanding of God, Christ, and humanity is consistent with the principle of redemption through Christ alone.

According to Schleiermacher, the rejection or denial of the princple that God has redeemed us through Jesus Christ is nothing less than the rejection of Christianity itself. In other words, to deny that God had redeemed us through Jesus Christ is to deny the most fundamental truth claim which the Christian faith dares to make. The distinction between what is Christian and what is not lies in whether this principle is accepted. The distinction between what is orthodox and what is heretical, however, lies in how this principle, once conceded and accepted, is sunderstood. In other words, heresy is not a form of unbelief; it is something that arises within the context of faith itself. For Schleiermacher, heresy is fundamentally an inadequate or inauthentic form of Christian faith."
- Christian Theology, Alister McGrath, P.153

According to Schleiermacher, then, are Gnostics heretics or unbelievers? I'm still a little unclear on the role Christ was to play. +Rev. Hoeller has a description here, but I'm not sure how that applies to Schleiermacher's definitions.

3 comments:

Jordan Stratford+ said...

I'd go with "unbelievers"

Christ in our theology is not a person, but rather a state of attainment AFTER the salvific event of gnosis. Christ is the "annointed" self, or the relocation of the seat of consciousness to Tipareth. This is only possible once gnosis has been attained.

Therefore we reject that "Jesus Christ" can save you, which seems to put us outside his definition of heresy and into the realm of the unbeliever, in his paradigm.

Also, let us not forget that Gnosticism predates Christianity, therefore calling Gnosticism a Christian heresy is like saying that Judaism is a Christian heresy.

J+

Scott Rassbach said...

I don't know Jordan. Perhaps the current incarnation is heretical, rather than infidel. Here's my reasoning.

Thus the Christian understanding of God must be such that God can effect the redemption of humanity through Christ;

Using the "anointed self" version of Christ, that is still the way that redemption is accomplished: Understanding of the self, via the Christ.

the Christian understanding of Christ must be such that God may effect our redemption through him;

While the Gnostic understanding of Christ is not so tied up in a "him" per se, gnosis and redemption are still possible via the anointed self.

the Christian understanding of humanity must be such that redemption is both possible and genuine.

I would say that the experience of Gnosis is both possible and genuine, and that humanity can be redeemed via Gnosis.

Where we enter into heresy is that it is not via Christ alone, for Christ is a label which we apply to a much bigger and more universal concept. Plus the idea that humanity must take steps to be redeemed, rather than being a passive recipient of grace.

Regardless of the age of Gnosticism, the current incarnation is greatly influenced by Christian ideas, and may very well qualify as Heresey.

:-)

Jordan Stratford+ said...

A very reasoned response! I like your thinking here.

J+