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« Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #45 of 52: The Semitic Religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) | Main | Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #47 of 52: New Age Religions of America »

April 04, 2006

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #46 of 52: Gnostic Religion

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- While the masses of the Middle East flocked to religions that posited a father figure that liked those who worshipped his great ego and punished those who disobeyed him, Greek rationalism combined with Semitic thinking to produce a somewhat rational religion called Gnosticism.

Gnosis is Greek for reason, so this religion imagined itself based on reason. This religion had both Christian and non-Christian versions of it. Plotinus, one of its fervent advocates was not a Christian but an educated Roman gentleman, whereas some of the apostles of Jesus (such as Thomas and Mary Magdalene) were said to be Gnostics.

It is really difficult to tell when Gnosticism began; what we can ascertain is what the followers of this religion believe.

They believe that our world is evil and that anything to do the world is evil. They want to negate our world, and escape from to it to a world they conceptualize as better. In this sense, Gnosticism is like Hinduism, for both want to negate this world and return to a world they consider ideal.

Gnosticism believes that there is God. They postulate that God is light. God created all things. At some point, one of God’s creations variously called the Demiurge and other names (in the Christian tradition he is called Lucifer, the chief angel) became proud and wanted to replace God as the creator of the universe. He warred with God. Some angels followed him, some remained loyal to God.

The loyalist eventually defeated the rebels and drove them out of heaven. The rebels came to this world and formed this world. Their world is the opposite of God’s world. This world is formed of matter and matter hides light, so matter is evil, is darkness. Gnostics see matter as evil and want to negate it and return to what they believe is good, light.

The Gnostics see this world as impure, as evil, as darkness. They want to overcome this world and return to the world of light, to God. They do not want to explore this world and adapt to it, they just want to leave it.

The Gospel of Thomas and Mary Magdalene supposedly made the best arguments for Gnosticism from a Christian point of view. Plotinus made similar argument from a non-Christian perspective.

The recently discovered Dag Hammadi papers suggest that there were many Gnostics during the first three centuries of the Christian era.

The Church eventually accepted the view of God as a father figure to be served by servant humanity and extirpated Gnosticism from the Roman world.

In the 1960s, a Jewish clinical psychologist, Helen Schucman wrote a poetic book, A Course in Miracles, which essentially brought Gnosticism back to the modern world. In her poem, it is not an angel that rebelled against God but the Son of God.

God’s son did not like the fact that God created him and wanted to create himself, create God and his brothers. He could not do so in reality, so he dreamed a world where he seems to have created himself. That world is our world.

As in ancient Gnosticism Ms Schucman considers our world evil and wants us to leave it and return to the world of God. She does not want us to do what we have to do to adapt to this world, for why waste time in a dream when you could wake up in heaven? Her theology tries to teach people how to negate this world and return to the real world; how to overcome the separated self, the ego, and return to the unified self, the Christ.

Is Gnosticism true or false? You decide that one for yourself. But before you decide you ought to research it.

As an African, I examine all foreign religions and choose from them only what makes sense to me. So far, no religion rooted outside of Africa makes complete sense to me. On the other hand, African religions, as they are, do not make sense to me, either.

I suppose that I am just going to have to articulate my own religion?

Ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

Posted by Administrator at April 4, 2006 01:44 AM

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