Related: Church Heresies
Gnosticism. The word Gnostic comes from the Greek word ‘gnosis’, which means knowledge. Gnosticism arose from a group of evil workers who claimed to have higher light, or “secret wisdom”. This movement began in the days of the apostles, and continued into the 5th century. Before John died the seeds of Gnosticism had been sown… perhaps even before Paul’s death. John’s epistles are written to defend against it. He refers to the Gnostics as “the deceivers” (2 John 1:7), and those that “go forward and abide not in the doctrine of Christ” (2 John 1:9). Paul speaks of the Gnostic system as “oppositions of false-named knowledge” (1 Tim. 6:20). Peter warns of their false teaching, and Jude warns of its moral effect on the Christian testimony. In this evil system, the Greek tendency to spiritualize and allegorize took over. To them, the spiritual was good, and matter was evil. Thus, they rejected the incarnation, because it was connecting the human with the divine. The Gnostics would try to separate “Jesus” from “Christ”, by making Christ an emanation (a shining out from a source) from God that was united to a mere man named Jesus at his baptism, but returned to God before Jesus’ death on the cross. In doing so, this evil system annulled the incarnation and the atonement. Gnosticism made Jesus a mere man, and even made their false-Christ less than God, because an emanation is less than its source. They taught that Christ was sent to make known the good God of heaven, and to expose the mischievous Demiurge (or, Jehovah of the Old Testament), who made the “evil world of matter”. The doctrine of the New Testament anticipates this irreverent and wicked system of doctrine by stating the simple truth of Christ’s Person and work. Many of the false cults today are, in a sense, a modern form of Gnosticism.