What we’re up against: Confronting our Gnostic empire of desire (part 1)

Americans today are at heart revolutionaries for revolution’s sake alone, rebelling now not against oppressive monarchies for the sake of ordered liberty but rebelling for disorder against the very truths of Nature and Nature’s God.

(Dmitry Yakovlev/Unsplash.com)

Conservative critics of contemporary culture often remark that our contemporary age is marked by Gnosticism. And it’s not just conservative Christians or Catholics who make the observation. The Yale literary critic, Harold Bloom, who was raised an Orthodox Jew but as an aged adult once described himself as a “Jewish Gnostic,” wrote in his seminal 1992 work The American Religion that “the American religion, for its two centuries of existence, seems to me irretrievably Gnostic”; we are “an obsessed society wholly in the grip of a dominant Gnosticism”; “Gnosticism is now, and always has been, the hidden religion of the United States, the American religion proper”. At more length:

The oddity of our American Gnosis is that it is a mass phenomenon. There are tens of millions of Americans whose obsessive idea of spiritual freedom violates the normative basis of historical Christianity, though they are incapable of realizing how little they share of what once was considered Christian doctrine.

Given the claims made about our society, it behooves us to understand what it is and how we might combat it. For Gnosticism is perennial challenge to the Church, whether a heretical temptation to Christians within or an operative philosophy of the dominant culture without. As perennial, it remains a challenge today, and I would suggest we live now in the West under a Gnostic empire of desire.

But what is Gnosticism? At its point of historical origin, it is fundamentally a radical reading of Plato as regards matter and the body. In Plato’s dialogues, arguments are presented claiming the senses deceive, for  the visible realm of sense perception is illusory and a realm of constant flux, while it is the invisible, intelligible realm that is stable, unchanging, and ultimately Real. We may attain knowledge of it through the spiritual soul’s contemplation of it. And so in Plato’s dialogues, the body is a problem. Indeed, it’s described even as a “tomb” or a “prison,” neither of which are nice places:

There was a time when with the rest of the happy band they saw beauty shining in brightness—we philosophers following in the train of Zeus, others in company with other gods; and then we beheld the beatific vision and were initiated into a mystery which may be truly called most blessed, celebrated by us in our state of innocence, before we had any experience of evils to come, when we were admitted to the sight of apparitions innocent and simple and calm and happy, which we beheld shining impure light, pure ourselves and not yet enshrined in that living tomb which we carry about, now that we are imprisoned in the body, like an oyster in his shell. (Plato, Phaedrus 250c)

I think this admits of many explanations, if a little, even very little, change is made; for some say it [the body] is the tomb (sēma) of the soul, their notion being that the soul is buried in the present life; and again, because by its means the soul gives any signs which it gives, it is for this reason also properly called “sign” (sēma). But I think it most likely that the Orphic poets gave this name, with the idea that the soul is undergoing punishment for something; they think it has the body as an enclosure to keep it safe, like a prison, and this is, as the name itself denotes, the safe (sōma) for the soul, until the penalty is paid, and not even a letter needs to be changed. (Plato, Cratylus 400b-c)

Gnosticism, then, as radical Platonism, is a worldview which sees matter, and thus bodies, not just as a problem but as fundamentally evil, something with imprisons and entombs spirits. Plato’s demiurge (the fashioner of the cosmos lower than the One, the true and highest divinity) becomes a wicked, evil agent fashioning the evil visible world, and imprisoning souls in bodies. And so Gnosticism sees the true essence of a person as the spiritual soul, and since the body is a prison or tomb, Gnosticism sees salvation as striving for the liberation of the soul from the body and its constraints.

Gnosticism was the greatest heretical challenge to the early Church. Christian Gnostics basically interpreted Christian beliefs through the lens of their radical Platonism, while Gnostics outside the Church (like the Manichaeans with whom St. Augustine was affiliated for a decade) competed for converts. And so Gnostics necessarily believed in at least two gods, with the creator god of the material, visible world as presented in the Old Testament as an evil deity responsible for imprisoning spirits in bodies, while the kind, loving father-god of Jesus as presented in the New Testament worked to liberate spirits from bodies. Indeed, the historic creeds of the early Church were anti-Gnostic by effect and by design: “I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.”

So much for Gnostics on the question of God and gods. With regard to humanity, Gnosticism was, and is, also elitist, holding that there is a hierarchy within humanity. The highest rank comprises the pneumatics, the “spirituals” (as pneuma in Greek means “spirit”). These people have spirits that can be liberated from their bodies. The next rank comprises the psychics, “soulish” people (psychē meaning “soul”) who may not be able to be saved as they lack spirits but who, having some sort of souls, can achieve some degree of illumination. And the final rank comprises the vast mass of humanity, the hylics (hulē meaning “matter”), who are only bodies, lacking spirits and souls. They’re cattle, and cannot be illuminated or saved.

Salvation for Gnosticism is a matter of knowledge. Indeed, that’s where “Gnostic” comes from, as the Greek word for knowledge is gnōsis, as in the English words prognosis (knowledge of how a disease will progress), diagnosis (knowledge of a disease through its symptoms), and agnostic (someone who doesn’t know if there’s a god). One must know reality is really how Gnostics understand it, know that one is one of the elite who can be saved, and know the secret code that will liberate spirit from body.

Secrecy: Gnosticism trades in it, and the elites were the ones who possessed the secret knowledge about the cosmos and the secret codes for escaping it. The elites simply know the very structure of the universe and simply know the secret code of salvation. Christian Gnostics also claimed to know secret sayings of Jesus. Gnostic Gospels composed long after Jesus lived concoct secret sayings of Jesus and conversations with him in which he happens to support their ideology. For instance, the Gospel of Thomas (dated to about A.D. 150) begins, “These are the secret sayings that the living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas recorded.” The Gospel of Judas similarly begins, “The secret discourse of the pronouncement in which Jesus spoke with Judas Iscariot for eight days, three days before he celebrated Passover.” And so secrecy empowers elites: they just know how things are, and are thus intellectually superior to lower humans, especially hylics, who are not to question their judgment.

The Gnostic ideology meant, and means, three major things in the realm of faith and morals, all flowing from the idea that matter, and thus bodies, are intrinsically evil. In terms of the Christian faith, it first means sacraments were senseless. Sacraments are essentially God working through matter, but Gnostics regard matter as intrinsically evil, so no god and certainly not the highest god would work through it.

In terms of morality, it means second that babies were bad; what else is a newborn but seven pounds of inherently evil matter? And so Gnostics advocated and practiced contraception, abortion, and infanticide, all of which were common in the ancient world. They also had a disdain for the female form since females bore babies, and saw the human person not as dimorphic (male and female) in principle but as androgynous. For instance, the last saying (#114) in the Gospel of Thomas is an exchange between a fictional Jesus and fictional Peter: “Simon Peter said, ‘Mary [Magdalene] should leave us, for females are not worthy of life.’ And Jesus said, “Look, I shall guide her to make her male, so that she becomes a living spirit resembling you males. For every female who makes herself male shall enter the kingdom of heaven.’”

And then again as regards morals, in the third place Gnostics were often antinomian, meaning that they rejected any rules or laws disciplining the body, and so felt free to engage in licentious behavior; if the body does not matter, if we are not ultimately our bodies, why not use them as we please? But the logic could cut the other way, too, leading some Gnostics to extreme asceticism; if the body is evil, best not to feed its passions for food, drink, or sex in any way.

At every point, then, heretical Christian Gnosticism understood the Christian story in a way diametrically opposed to the Church’s understanding of her own story. Catholics like St. Irenaeus fought Gnosticism by emphasizing the ancient rule of faith (regula fidei) going back to Jesus. The rule of faith as found in the Church Fathers looks much like what we know today as the Apostles Creed. It is monotheist, affirming there is one God, the Creator, who made everything, including matter and bodies: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.” It’s Trinitarian: “I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord”—and so the creator God is the Father of Jesus, not a different God. And of course the third person of the Trinity is affirmed, and that Holy Spirit guides and empowers the visible Church: “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church.” Church follows Spirit in the rule of faith and our Apostles Creed for these reasons.

With regard to supposedly secret traditions known to the elite leaders of the Gnostic antichurch, St. Irenaeus affirmed apostolic succession (he himself traces his lineage back to Jesus through his mentor Polycarp and Polycarp’s mentor, St. John the Apostle) in the visible Church established by Jesus and declared that anyone can walk into any Church and find true Christian teaching proclaimed publicly there. And not only teaching, but sacraments were there as well. The creator God, Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, made matter and works through matter, giving his people sacramental nourishment for body and soul. And on that point, the Catholic Church was for everyone, for there is no fundamental division of humanity. Every single person has a spiritual soul, not just a body, from the Emperor and the sage to the lowest slave girl. And as regards morality, the early Church rejected contraception and abortion outright.

Gnosticism and American Culture

Gnosticism is not merely ancient. A perennial ideology, it’s proven itself a powerful cultural current through the ages. In the middle ages it resurfaced in the heresy of Albigensianism (or Catharism), which denied the importance of the Church and its sacraments, claiming people could be “good Christians” on their own, believing in Jesus personally. Certain anti-sacramental strains of the Reformation skewed Gnostic. And many in our own day have found America to be fundamentally Gnostic, such as the aforementioned Harold Bloom of Yale, finding it to be our fundamental American religion. Americans flee the constraints of the visible world, and particularly the constraints of the body. White Americans fled Europe, a product of history with all the constraints historical legacy imposes, and founded a republic based on an idea. While the Founders attempted to establish a republic founded on what the Declaration of Independence termed the “Laws of Nature, and Nature’s God,” Americans today are at heart revolutionaries for revolution’s sake alone, rebelling now not against oppressive monarchies for the sake of ordered liberty but rebelling for disorder against the very truths of Nature and Nature’s God.

Americans today are like Gnostics, then, in rejecting any and all constraints. For us, freedom is antinomian license. During his visit to the United States in 1998 in a homily at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Pope St. John Paul II reminded Americans of the true nature of freedom:

Surely it is important for America that the moral truths which make freedom possible should be passed on to each new generation. Every generation of Americans needs to know that freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.

With these words, John Paul was attempting to correct our warped understanding of freedom. For Americans today see freedom as freedom from any and all constraints, any and all rules, any and all laws, while true freedom is having freedom for virtue, to live virtuous lives ordered to the Good.

With the throwing off of constraints comes the rejection of the body as a gift given by God. In recent years extreme body piercing and tattooing have become common, while disorders like anorexia and bulimia are on the rise, all of which at the least reflect confusion regarding the goodness of the body as given, and even its rejection. So too with the more obvious examples of elective cosmetic surgery, body modification, and sex change operations (or “gender reassignment surgery,” as it’s now often called). Some people have even used surgery to make themselves resemble zombies, or dragons.

Gnosticism is also seen in America’s ready acceptance of contraception, which progressives now see as an absolute right that must be provided by private employers and government entities, and even religious organizations, and also in our abortion regime, under which well over fifty million have died before seeing the light of day. And of course as we operate with a conception of freedom from constraints, America is marked by the same licentiousness early Christians criticized ancient Gnostics for. As St. Irenaeus wrote, “the ‘most perfect’ among them do unafraid all the forbidden things of which the Scripture tells us that ‘they who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.’”

Gnosticism and the Law

It’s observed that Gnosticism, particularly in the form of the licentiousness of the sexual revolution, has come to infect American jurisprudence as well. The legal regime legitimizing contraception and abortion and indeed the broader sexual revolution is not found in the text of the Constitution, but rather in its shadows, the “penumbras” and “emanations.” In his opinion in Griswold vs. Connecticut (1965), which struck down state laws banning contraception, Justice William O. Douglas wrote, “The foregoing cases suggest that specific guarantees in the Bill of Rights have penumbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance. Various guarantees create zones of privacy.” Ancient Gnostics used the same terms—“penumbras” and “emanations”—and their elites simply knew what was found in those shadowy domains by virtue of being the elite, much like our justices simply know that a right to privacy undergirding the ideology of the sexual revolution is somehow there not in the words but in the shadows of the Constitution.

Jurisprudential Gnosticism is found in Justice Anthony Kennedy’s decision in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey (1992), which upheld and strengthened the abortion regime of Roe vs. Wade (1973). Writing for the majority, Kennedy asserted,

These matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.

If Gnosticism is radical Platonism, this is radical Gnosticism. Kennedy does not argue for his claim that liberty has at its heart “the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life,” he just asserts it. He simply knows it, as the most elite of an elite, the functional swing vote of the Supreme Court of the United States. He has secret knowledge, somehow.

Our Gnosticism is more relativistic than ancient Gnosticism, however. The ancient Gnostics, at least, believed that the invisible was an objective, stable realm, ultimate Reality, the same for everyone, even if the visible realm was inconstant illusory flux. For Americans today, however, invisible, ultimate Reality is also up for grabs, defined as whatever any individual wants it to be. Gnostics had the principle of universal doctrine, true for everybody. Kennedy’s quote encapsulates the total relativism of our age: we now believe Reality is whatever someone wishes it to be. Robert George, a Catholic who serves as the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, writes:

The moral implications [of contemporary Gnosticism] are clear. It is personal life that we have reason to hold inviolate and protect against harm; by contrast, we can legitimately use other creatures for our purposes. So someone who buys into a Gnostic anthropology that separates person and body in the way I have described will find it easier to speak of those with undeveloped, defective, or diminished mental capacities as non-persons. They will find it easier to justify abortion; infanticide; euthanasia for the cognitively impaired; and the production, use, and destruction of human embryos for biomedical research.

By the same token, such an anthropology underwrites social liberalism’s rejection of traditional marital and sexual ethics and its vision of marriage as a male-female union. That vision makes no sense if the body is a mere instrument of the person, to be used to satisfy subjective goals or produce desirable feelings in the person-as-conscious-subject. If we are not our bodies, marriage cannot essentially involve the one-flesh union of man and woman, as Jewish, Christian, and classical ethics hold. For if the body is not part of the personal reality of the human being, there can be nothing morally or humanly important about “merely biological” union, apart from its contingent psychological effects.

This is why we can speak of a Gnostic empire of desire. The Gnostic empire involves the imperious tendency to promote the sexual revolution by force of the majesty of the law, and now in service of individual conceptions of the self, which usually have desire at the center. And so today’s Gnostic relativism isn’t so relative after all, and once again relativism is shown to be impossible on its own terms, something used as a political and rhetorical wedge to dislodge one worldview and erect another. Beware those claiming everything is gray, for once in power they will paint the world black and white according to their preferred pattern.

Now classical Judaeo-Christian anthropology drew on Genesis 1-2 and the best of the Greco-Roman philosophical tradition, and so saw man as a body-soul composite, with the soul as the seat of the intellect and will who had as a chief task the ruling of the passions. In the Enlightenment’s “Age of Reason,” man was seen chiefly as a mind, and reason was regarded as universal and supreme. But the postmodern age, inaugurated in philosophy and culture by Friedrich Nietzsche, saw desire as primary. Nietzsche counterposed Dionysian passion against Apollonian reason, predicting the essence of our postmodern age. The desires of the self now define individuals.

And so identity is now bound up with desire, and our Gnostic jurisprudence sees its task as defending and promoting the expression of the self’s desires against any and all would-be legal and cultural constraints. In explaining the “New Gnosticism” undergirding the Supreme Court’s finding of a right to gay marriage in Obergefell vs. Hodges, Sherif Girgis writes,

The Court did not simply allow new relationships; it required their recognition as marriages, as similar to opposite-sex bonds in every important way. In other words, it didn’t simply free people to live by the New Gnosticism. It required us, “the People,” to endorse this dogma, by forbidding us to enact distinctions that cut against it. It held that your dignity demands more than the freedom to lead your life as a purely spiritual subject. It requires us all to treat you as a purely spiritual subject. Anything else is demeaning; it implies that you are essentially bound by a body.

It’s not that the New Gnostics are an especially vindictive bunch. It’s that a certain kind of coercion is built into their view from the start. If your most valuable, defining core just is the self that you choose to express, there can be no real difference between you as a person, and your acts of self-expression; I can’t affirm you and oppose those acts. Not to embrace self-expressive acts is to despise the self those acts express. I don’t simply err by gainsaying your sense of self. I deny your existence, and do you an injustice. For the New Gnostic, then, a just society cannot live and let live, when it comes to sex. Sooner or later, the common good—respect for people as self-defining subjects—will require social approval of their self-definition and -expression.

In short, people are what they feel they desire to be, in spite of their bodies, and denying that is a fundamental injustice, which the Law cannot tolerate.

Indeed, as Rod Dreher observed, in overturning the West’s conception of the human person, the sexual revolution involves the institution of a new, dominant, Gnostic cosmology:

Gay marriage signifies the final triumph of the Sexual Revolution and the dethroning of Christianity because it denies the core concept of Christian anthropology. In classical Christian teaching, the divinely sanctioned union of male and female is an icon of the relationship of Christ to His church and ultimately of God to His creation. This is why gay marriage negates Christian cosmology, from which we derive our modern concept of human rights and other fundamental goods of modernity. Whether we can keep them in the post-Christian epoch remains to be seen.


Editor’s note:
This essay is adapted from Behold the Messiah: Proclaiming the Gospel of Matthew (Steubenville, Ohio: Emmaus Road, 2019 [forthcoming])


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About Dr. Leroy Huizenga 47 Articles
Dr. Leroy Huizenga is Administrative Chair of Human and Divine Sciences and Associate Professor of Theology at the University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D. Dr. Huizenga has a B.A. in Religion from Jamestown College (N.D.), a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in New Testament from Duke University. During his doctoral studies he received a Fulbright Grant to study and teach at Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität in Frankfurt, Germany. After teaching at Wheaton College (Ill.) for five years, Dr. Huizenga was reconciled with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil of 2011. Dr. Huizenga is the author of The New Isaac: Tradition and Intertextuality in the Gospel of Matthew (Brill, 2012), co-editor of Reading the Bible Intertextually (Baylor, 2009), and is currently writing a major theological commentary on the Gospel of Mark for Bloomsbury T&T Clark’s International Theological Commentary series. A shorter work on the Gospel of Mark keyed to the lectionary for Year B, Loosing the Lion: Proclaiming the Gospel of Mark, was published by Emmaus Road (2017).

18 Comments

  1. “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

    “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams”

    ‘The Word was made flesh’, and the Divine Spark within the heart is kindled by the Holy Spirit, when we receive His Word (Will) in humility.

    I would cover you with my wing, (Higher consciousness) but you preferred sin (Would not let me)
    Loving Father let Truth abound, clearing mist, cloud and shroud.
    Water gives life to dry wood, as Truth feeds love, quickening the heart setting it free, lifting consciousness to higher degree, compassion is the fruit of thee.

    Torrid River in open boat, fear was the key to set my consciousness free.
    Calming river to a gentle flow, into an orb my spirit did go (but with restricted sight more of this another night).
    Clearest sky and calmest sea, but no Sun to see
    Total still and gentlest movement of the will.
    Seat of creation it appeared to me.
    A presence I did feel, I looked high, Dove with keen eye, showing arched wing.

    I spoke with an Angel, I doubted his word, rebuking me strongly without saying a word.
    I then knew that I was tainted and deep sin, no untruth could come from him.
    He dwelt in the light and I in the night.
    I looked at this Angel that beheld God’s face, Truth was the mirror of his state.

    I wondered with wonder and wondered again why I felt such shame.
    Our Father, is the Creator of all, His consciousness holds all, not one sparrow may fall.
    The Holy Spirit is life, as air is to flame, with wing fanning the heart to lighten the dark, Truth and love are one and the same, setting the heart aflame.
    I looked at Jesus whose consciousness was one, I am Father as well as Son (“We are one”)
    I looked in my heart and found it was dark, but also there a spark, consciousness is its name. Timeless is this spark that dwells in the heart, so small yet encompasses all, waiting for the wing of the Dove to be fanned by the Truth of love.

    # She springs forth, higher consciousness, from supreme source
    A lover of man, play my double flute and know whom I am
    I will beat you blow upon blow, until in your heart, yourself you truly know.
    All evil you will see if you reflect it against me.
    Lay on my altar and you will see in the dark, as I bridle your heart
    Pegasus you will ride, with golden bridle to guide.

    See Drawings; Via the link; be a little patient

    http://www.v2catholic.com/background/2012/08/2012-08-17kevin-walters-key.docx

    Where on our way, tightest angle, to a corner you will zoom, if you commence from within, still, four corned room. As baby in womb you stay unless you rotate in a certain way. Why this so I do not know, parts of my form I have seen but still I cannot comprehend this reel. Finding needle eye, veil, now we fly in different sky. Pharaoh sleeps on top of four corned, room, he has no need to zoom. But if moving in terrain things are not quite the same.
    Bow, Loop, or arch we go, bending bough eons ago, with glint of Sun when man was young.
    This is sometime still shown, when from wild nature we do roam.
    Often this symbol does disguise, you need to be shape to visualize, but through dark veil you always pass, usually as quick as a flash.
    Through the bow, shadow of veil, away we go, take care, rules to know or home you go.

    Now see the drawings again; follow the link above

    Medusa knew how to dance, but did she mock the other camp with her stance, follow the line to complete the sign.

    There is more to show, but much more to find and know, but woe Pegasus woe.

    “Father,” to nail the lie that man doe’s die
    There is no need to divide in four, you have given us the door
    They will take heaven by storm
    The veil is torn this joyous Easter morn.

    # Note, She springs forth, Athena Greek mythology

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  2. Finally, I have a pretty good handle on just what is Gnosticism ….thought complicated, we need more homilies on this topic to increase the faithful’s understanding of where we are and of the challenges we face in living the Gospel in today’s world…

  3. Excellent essay with deep insights. I might add that the primary reason Obergefell is in error is that it denies the child, procured into such a relationship, a mother and father.

  4. From the quoted Rod Dreher we read: “Whether we can keep them [“human rights and other fundamental goods of modernity”] in the post-Christian epoch remains to be seen.” The earlier Eric Voegelin fully uncovered the erosive threat of Gnosticism–throughout Western history–in his New Science of Politics (1952). Two supportive quotes:

    “…wherever Gnostic movements spread they destroyed the truth of the open soul; a whole area of differentiated reality that had been gained by philosophy and Christianity was ruined. And again it is necessary to remember that the advance of gnosticism is not a return to paganism. In the pre-Christian civilizations the truth which differentiated with the opening of the soul was present in the form of compact experiences; in Gnostic civilizations the truth of the soul does not return to compactness but is repressed altogether. This repression of the authoritative source of order in the soul is the cause of the bleak atrocity of totalitarian governments in dealing with individual human beings” (from the final Chapter VI entitled “The End of Modernity”).

    And later,this concluding paragraph:

    “In this situation there is a glimmer of hope, for the American and English democracies which most solidly in their institutions represent the truth of the soul are, at the same time, existentially the strongest powers. But it will require all our efforts to kindle [now relight?] this glimmer into a flame by repressing Gnostic corruption and restoring the forces of civilization. At present the fate is [still/1952] in the balance.”

  5. There’s reason why Aquinas says the senses do not deceive and sense perception is First Principle of all knowledge. Platonic Idealism has attractive features in the mind’s capacity to create visions of reality important to artistic expression from El Greco to Degas. Gnosticism reaching back to St Irenaeus its Nemesis and Gnostic champion Marcion that claims esoteric intellectual knowledge presumed to rise above the ordinary [that is basically perceptually based knowledge]. I’m not certain that it essentially, “separates person and body in the way I have described will find it easier to speak of those with undeveloped, defective, or diminished mental capacities as non-persons” (Huizenga I believe) although I’m open to change of mind. Gnostic may presume as much based on superior secretive knowledge of reality. Rosicrucians today are true Gnostics claiming secretive higher knowledge gained by mystical enlightenment. Interestingly Robert George’s Princeton colleagues Peter Singer Elaine Pagels are front line Gnostics. Singer who was head of the Princeton Ethics Center former Australian animal rights advocate came to Am reinvented ethics as consistent with the denial of right to life of dumb animals because of dumbness. That corresponds to Robert George’s critique of exactly the same premise regarding handicapped humans for which Singer became world famous. Huizenga as well as George must be aware of Singer though perhaps one needs limit aspersion among colleagues. In similar vein Pagels former chorus girl turned Princeton Scripture ‘scholar’ wrote the series on ancient Gnosticism her famous Beyond Belief, and the Thomas Gospel. She writes literally “steeped in mystery” [Gnostic mystery] typical of Gnostic Illuminati. To borrow G Weigel’s revival of archaic Balderdash her scholarly work has been written off by reputable scholars as balderdash, except for New Age afficionados and New Paradigmers. A great article because it touches on what I’ve researched, written on, and have lectured on as relevant to the times [in a mission seminary setting far from the Ivy League]. I’ll end my comment on the Pontiff’s claim of enlightenment, “surprises” given in prayer and whether anyone would consider such Gnostic if it comes across as earthshaking.

  6. Thank you ..just as the Pharaoh was raised up , to depict the power of God , in his defeat at the hand of the Israelites , these heresies and their intricate connections would be also brought into the light , to expose them for what they are , as varied faces of the lies from The Garden .
    The hatred of the enemy , who saw himself in all his beauty , thus did not want any part of the suffering of The Lord , to redeem the children , thus venting his hatred and envy , propagating the lies that humans are destined to be animals , have animal bodies , in endless reincarnations – the lie that affects millions world over .
    The many tentacles of that lie , reaching in through the oaths ,as in Freemasonry , oaths made to the false gods , which leads to persons and whole systems having become slaves to the enemy , including the lie that heaven itself is to be an eternal slave to bodily passions alone .
    Our Lord came to bring the Good news , the banquet of heaven ,as the holy and wholesome relationship with The Father , with all in Him , in The Lord , in the goodness and holiness and gratitude for the gift of lives of each other as well , in a resurrected body that is to reflect and even surpass the beauty and goodness in which it was created , in The Garden .
    The good angels did not detest the human body , seeing all the good that The Father was to bring forth through same – thus the words of Angel Gabriel , in exultant joy –
    ‘ Hail, filled with grace ..’ no wonder, Mother Church heeds the words of Bl.Mother ,
    to see the dignity of our lives , through the love and goodness that those words bring to unfold ..a Son , in His human nature , at the right hand of The Father , with all of heaven , rejoicing for every occasion when we turn to accept His mercy and Spirit ..
    More depth to those words too – ‘ cast the net on the right side ..’
    and the graces promised through the Divine Mercy Image , bringing all to Him , seeing our own lives , in the light of the dignity of a Lord, who shares that human nature with us joyfully .
    Glory be !

  7. Gnosticism may look as too complicated on the surface but it isn’t. Since Plato, it is basically a cosmic fundamental fracture or schism between spirit and matter, good friends under God that are now made enemies by a very attractive, seductive, pseudo-spiritual and very false belief that opens the door to all kinds of sensual/sexual/mental/emotional/spiritual extremes. These far out extremes are very popular today and those deranged extremes are Satanic Evil’s very own signature from the beginning. In the furious, vicious storm of extremes, Truth and True Love are obscured and lost.

    Jesus is the Ultimate Anti-Gnostic, reconciling spirit and matter, God and humankind, using word, spit and dirt to restore vision, resurrecting with His transformed but very physical body, able to eat, Holy Cross wounds included, and staying with us fully in His Divinity and Holy Humanity in a very physical little piece of bread, the Holy Eucharist. With Him we are not “a plague on the Earth” but God’s Beloved Very Own. Jesus is the wholesome and only Door to Heaven, spirit and matter as ONE on Earth and in Heaven, Gnosticism is that door slam shut.

    Gnosticism sounds as hyper-mystical, hyper-spiritual, hyper-loving, hyper-compassionate, etc. but it is that “hyper” quality that makes it false and highly poisonous. History proves that the romantic partners that would hurt you the most and rip out your beating heart are always hyper-attractive at first. Remember? Gnosticism splits our hearts first and then presents itself as the remedy for the split with even more splits, turning into an insane sexual delirium of self-destruction. Time to ask our Lord Jesus to destroy Gnosticism out of our hearts, this country and the world! (1 John 3:8) Let’s work hard on being whole humans again in Him and only in Him!!

  8. Harold Bloom followed The American Religion with Omens of the Millennium in which he declared that he became a gnostic when he realized the he was not responsible for how terrible the world is. This thought brought him out of a deep depression.
    Gnosticism is the Ur heresy bc the devil hates bodies.

  9. “White Americans fled Europe, a product of history with all the constraints historical legacy imposes, and founded a republic based on an idea. ”

    That’s one view of the Revolution but not the only. An alternative was that the colonials were merely trying to protect their rights as Englishmen from tyranny, and that use of Enlightenment language by some was more rhetoric than anything else.

  10. As Dr. Huizenga observes, there is in the world today a clear animus against the idea of natural law as the universal code of human behavior based on the absolutes of God’s Nature. This has affected Church, State, and Family at all levels.

    While today’s drift away from the principles of the natural may seem like a recent phenomenon, however, the problem has always been with us. The modern phase of it only seems worse than in previous centuries because 1) it is worse, 2) modern communications spread the problem faster than it can be countered or contained, and 3) at no time in history have so many people been alienated from all forms of society as they have at present.

    This last is, perhaps, the most immediate cause of the current situation. It is not by coincidence that socialism arose at the same time that advancing technology disconnected most people from direct production of the goods and services to meet their consumption needs. Most people sell their labor as another input to production, but do not own the other means of production or the production that results. They are almost completely disconnected from the activity that takes up most of their time, being present only in body, so to speak.

    People began questioning previously accepted absolute values in all areas, whether civil life, family life, or religious life. Instead of a universal moral code based on the absolute Nature of God and discerned by human reason, people began accepting the idea that moral values are completely arbitrary, based on the will of whoever has the most power.

    As Dr. Heinrich Rommen, a student of the solidarist Father Heinrich Pesch, S.J., explained, when the idea of morality and right and wrong shifts from reason to will (from lex ratio, “law is reason,” to lex voluntas, “law is will”), the floodgate is opened to chaos. The old Medieval scholastic argument between the students of Aquinas and the students of Duns Scotus over the primacy of the Intellect (Aquinas) or the Will (Scotus) turns out not to be some sort of esoteric quibbling, but a question regarding the nature of reality itself. As Rommen explained in his book on the natural law,

    “For Duns Scotus morality depends on the will of God. A thing is good not because it corresponds to the nature of God or, analogically, to the nature of man, but because God so wills. Hence the lex naturalis could be other than it is even materially or as to content, because it has no intrinsic connection with God’s essence, which is self-conscious in His intellect. For Scotus, therefore, the laws of the second table of the Decalogue were no longer unalterable. . . . an evolution set in which, in the doctrine of William of Occam on the natural moral law, would lead to pure moral positivism, indeed to nihilism.” (Heinrich Rommen, The Natural Law. Indianapolis, Indiana: Liberty Fund, Inc., 1998, 51-52.)

    What is needed is a means of reconnecting people directly to society, which the popes and political commentators throughout history have identified as private property in capital, i.e., the non-labor means of production. As Pope Leo XIII noted,

    “We have seen that this great labor question cannot be solved save by assuming as a principle that private ownership must be held sacred and inviolable. The law, therefore, should favor ownership, and its policy should be to induce as many as possible of the people to become owners.” (Rerum Novarum, § 46.)

    • In relation to Duns Scotus’ natural law as God wills exclusive of permanence identical with his essence Aquinas identifies Natural Law with the Eternal Law. The reason is that the good for Man must be consistent with the good that is God. Otherwise human law replaces divine law. And if the good regarding human action is transient Morality is likened to accommodation of Paradigmatic shift due to epochal change. That is the current Vatican theology more anthropological than theological.

      • This excerpt Catechism Catholic Church will be helpful for the reader:
        The unity of the Decalogue. 2069 The Decalogue forms a coherent whole. Each ‘word’ refers to each of the others and to all of them; they reciprocally condition one another. The two tables shed light on one another; they form an organic unity. To transgress one commandment is to infringe all the others. One cannot honor another person without blessing God his Creator. One cannot adore God without loving all men, his creatures. The Decalogue brings man’s religious and social life into unity. The Decalogue and the natural law. 2070 The Ten Commandments belong to God’s revelation. At the same time they teach us the true humanity of man. They bring to light the essential duties, and therefore, indirectly, the fundamental rights inherent in the nature of the human person. The Decalogue contains a privileged expression of the natural law: From the beginning, God had implanted in the heart of man the precepts of the natural law. Then he was content to remind him of them. This was the Decalogue.

          • Human Law according to Aquinas does not conflict with Natural Law if it’s just law. Rather human law today called Civil Law identifies with practical need to provide order within society such as laws that are transient by nature depending on what they address. Such as traffic laws. Whereas Civil Law in the instance of Jurisprudence has the character of natural law because it addresses Justice. Justice is settled by God not Man.

          • We’re basically saying the same regarding Human Law and Natural Law, although Insofar as Natural Law being entirely general it instead specifies what is evil and what is not in human acts in that Evil is defined as “A willed privation of direction to a due end” (ST 1a 49, 1). That formal specification is found not entirely in the choice of act rather in the inherent knowledge that allows for that specification of a non changing due end [male female relations rather than homosexual is one example]. In other words Aquinas will say it’s not the universal principle that determines identification of the morality of the act rather it is the inherent capacity of Man to apprehend it, the singular principle. That means there are ways of acting that comply with the Natural Law Within that specify in any instance whatsoever that sexual activity with a minor is always and everywhere grievously immoral.

  11. Don’t count on your chickens after they hatch. What is the Gnostic to do when the evil material world egg laying chickens politics and all fails us? “It’s a beautiful day. The sun in shining…it’s warmer than one might expect…and it’s easy to believe that the exceptional generosity and abundance of the world is felt by all. Of course, it’s not. Two days ago, the American political system selected Donald Trump to be our next president. To me, that means that we have chosen someone to represent us who…well, who doesn’t represent us. Not me, what I see myself trying to do” (Karen Wolfgang). Well chickens in Portland [a Gnostic sanctuary city] have souls too. “Karen Wolfgang of Independence Gardens, a consulting firm that helps clients build sustainable gardens, has meanwhile become an expert on end-of-life issues for chickens. She teaches a course to help urban farmers plan a wholesome end for their chickens, including referrals to retirement farms” (extract Carl Olson article).

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