Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Community in Gnosticism

A lot is made of Gnosticism as an individual path. The individual must attain Gnosis, and since it is primarily an individual quest, that's where the primary emphasis should be.

But I've been thinking a lot about community. As we all begin to take our individual paths, which we alone must walk, we start to separate from those who disagree. And thus, we begin to move into schism, antagonism, and duality. "I'm different than you because..."

Because why? Because I use Roman Catholic Rituals and you use Greek? Or I find Oberon to be more meaningful as the bearer of Gnosis than Sophia?

Isn't that ... kinda dumb?

In thinking about this, I'm reminded of the eminently reasonable suggestion of the Moravian Church:

"In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; and in all things, love."

The Moravians have a Covenant of Christian Living, which states:

We will be eager to maintain the unity of the Church.
Realizing that God has called us from many and varied
backgrounds, we recognize the possibility of disagreements
or differences. Often these differences enrich the Church,
but sometimes they divide. We consider it to be our
responsibility to demonstrate within the congregational
life the unity and togetherness created by God who made
us one. How well we accomplish this will be a witness to
our community as to the validity of our faith.

As Gnostics, we are sometimes less than eager to maintain the unity of the church, especially since many Gnostics do not also identifiy as Christian. On the one hand, we don't want to be so concerned about unity that we stifle the myriad ways of expression that are exploding within The Gnostic Movement. At the same time, we can't be so unconcerned about it that we degenerate into rival sects who are always bickering and calling each other names. What we do now, innocently, may reverberate through the ages and blow into sectarian war. I'd hate to see the Johannites and Thomasine disagreement become a situation similar to the Jews and the Christians! But THAT'S HOW THESE THINGS START.

Also from the Covenant of Christan Living:

The Unity We Seek

We will have fellowship, in all sincerity, with children of
God in other Christian churches, and will carefully avoid
all disputes respecting opinions and ceremonies peculiar
to one or another church. In this fellowship we will
cooperate with other churches in the support of public
charities or Christian enterprises, which have a just claim
upon us as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We realize that it is the Lord’s will that the Church of
Jesus Christ should give evidence of and seek unity in Him
with zeal and love. We see how such unity has been
promised us and laid upon us as a charge. We recognize
that through the grace of Christ the different denominations
have received many gifts and that the Church of Christ may
be enriched by these many and varied contributions. It is
our desire that we may learn from one another and rejoice
together in the riches of the love of Christ and the manifold
wisdom of God. We welcome every step that brings us
nearer the goal of unity in Him.

Can we Gnostics do this? Can we seek unity in the Holy Gnosis, whatever form it takes for the individual, united in the joy that is this knowledge of the divine?

In essentials, unity.
In nonessentials, liberty.
In all things, love.


Sophia Sadek said...

Here, here! I'll second that emotion.

The Stoics have an attitude towards those who attack them that I think worth while. They don't take things personally. They "turn the other cheek," so to speak.

Sophia Sadek said...

Scott, after sleeping on your blog I'd like to suggest an approach towards community.

The gnostic order with which I am associated uses the pearls of wisdom extensively. These priceless gems are potent tools for solving a variety of problems. They can probably be used to solve any differences between the Johannine and Thomassine groups.

One of the keys to decrypting the pearls of wisdom is to apply them in an appropriate manner. For example, the domain of communion is also a domain of bifurcation. Although two bodies can separate at the juncture of communion, they remain connected, as if by an invisible thread.

Scott Rassbach said...

Thanks for sleeping on my blog. I hope it was comfortable. :-)

If you don't mind my question, which gnostic order are you associated with?

And, the biggest obstacle to solving most differences is getting both parties to the table. :-)

Sophia Sadek said...

As for sleeping, it went well. No heartburn. No stiff joints.

Our order is called "The Sophia Community." We are oriented in the oral traditions.

I did my dissertation on the gender of seed. Since the seminal principle is based on a purely male seed, it is obsolete. Seed is a combination of male pollen and female egg. Of course, there are connections to Yin/Yang heresies.

Sophia Sadek said...

3/4 Back again after some more rumination...

When I first encountered the "schism" between the Johannines and Thomasines, it reminded me of Elaine Pagels' observations on differences between the Gospels of Thomas and John.

From the perspective of the pearls of wisdom, such differences don't seem as drastic. If we view Thomas as the golden twin of Jesus, he would have recruited his own "John" figure. He would have been the truth and the way in his own jurisdiction.

Any thoughts on that?