Modern mainstream religions such as Christianity cannot be clearly understood without examining their historical past. Gnosticism is an ancient religious faith that is believed to have influenced people’s beliefs for many years. Many scholars of theology and historians acknowledge that Gnosticism has led to numerous philosophical concepts, religious ideologies, and notions. This paper seeks to analyze this religion and explore how its ideologies have influenced human beliefs for centuries.
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Thesis statement: Gnosticism is a religious belief founded on the concept of dualism emerging from matter and spirit and its ideologies continue to shape the tension that constitutes the nature, origin, and future of human life.
Analysis of Gnosticism
Discussion of the Religion
Gnosticism is one of the oldest heresies propagated by mankind during the 1st and 2nd centuries (Wallace 7). The religious belief was influenced by great philosophers in Greece such as Plato. The followers of the faith acknowledged that matter and spirit were two different entities living separately in the human body (Wallace 13). This knowledge led to the idea of dualism. Consequently, Gnostics acknowledged that sins committed in the human body did not have significant meaning (Moore par. 1). Gnostic believers argue that they possess a higher understanding and knowledge that is acquired mystically.
Gnostics are usually concerned with philosophical questions such as the essence of life on earth, the origin of man, and the nature of death (Ferguson 27). The believers go beyond such questions in an attempt to find true meaning within the realm of mysticism and religious doctrine. The first Gnostics focused on the dichotomy between the true Being and that of the ever-changing Becoming (Wallace 18). The practice led to a new mythological religious doctrine that asserted that life began with a soul and eventually became matter. This mystic ideology would eventually influence the future of Christianity.
Relating the Topic with the Course Materials
The history and development of Gnosticism is something that has been studied widely. The propagation of specific ideologies such as mysticism and dualism appeared to threaten the establishment of Christianity during the first century (Wallace 19). The strength of this faith and inclusion of philosophical concepts attracted many followers, thereby making Gnosticism an alternative to every mainstream religion.
Gnostics argue that they occupy a superior position in their societies. This is the case because they have a greater and better understanding of God. This kind of knowledge is believed to be the main source of salvation (Moore par. 2). It is also notable that the followers of this faith have reduced significantly over the years. Although it shares a wide range of features with Christianity, Gnosticism has its unique teachings and ideologies that continue to capture the attention of many scholars.
Gnosticism teaches that human matter is naturally evil. Liberation from this material form can only be realized through the possession of higher knowledge. This concept is used to describe the dualistic nature of religion. Throughout the first century, many Gnostics acknowledged that Jesus Christ had come to enlighten mankind and support his redemption (Wallace 36). This kind of dualism is what encouraged scholars and Christian teachers to present the real facts and teachings of the Holy Bible to every believer.
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This pursuit of religious truth, therefore, made it possible for many Christians to understand the dangers of Gnosticism. According to them, religion rebuffed the incarnation of Jesus as God. Christians acknowledge that Jesus is God and died to redeem humanity. With Gnostics claiming that Jesus was one of their own, Christians had to give the subject the required attention. Consequently, many religious teachers of the time managed to trace and identify every form of deception promoted by Gnosticism. Similarly, they were able to single out specific Biblical verses that had been altered by Gnostics (Moore par. 4)
The presence of Gnostic gospels is something that encouraged early fathers of the Church to be keen on forgeries and prevent them from becoming part of the Holy Bible. In the search for truth, such believers observed that Gnosticism’s fraudulent forgeries narrated false doctrines about the Holy Trinity (Ferguson 38). This knowledge empowered Christians to stand firm and propagate the teachings of Christ to more believers. By so doing, Gnosticism was able to survive with its harmonized verses without threatening Christianity.
Religion and humanity are two inseparable fields that have informed each other over the years. A study of this topic can benefit a student of humanities by guiding him or her to understand how spiritual influence and cultural vandalism remains a serious threat to the survival of every religion. This understanding can also guide the learner to appreciate how cultural influences dictate man’s life, beliefs, and norms across the globe.
Ferguson, James R. “Gnosticism: The Wise Sister of Christianity.” Culture Mandala: The Bulletin of the Centre for East-West Cultural and Economic Studies, vol. 11, no. 2, 2015, pp. 23-54, Web.
Moore, Edward. “Gnosticism”. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Web.
Wallace, Molly A. “The Persistence of Gnosticism: Credit and the Apocalypse.” Religious Studies Honors Projects, vol. 1, no. 1, 2016, pp. 1-59, Web.