Gnosticism: A Biblical Perspective

“For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus different from the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit than the one you received, or a different gospel than the one you accepted, you put up with it well enough!”

2 Corinthians 11:4

In 2021 I began learning about an old Christian heresy called, Gnosticism. And friends, it has been heartbreaking, not to mention mind-blowing to witnessing how prevalent Gnostic beliefs are in society…Even in many of our churches! Below you will find articles by as well as 2 videos and 1 Podcast episode which will (Lord willing) equip you as to detect what is Biblical teaching, (Historic Christianity) from any Gnostic version you might encounter.

🔍A quick example of Gnostic Terminology: “True Self,” “Divine Self,” ”Authentic Self”, “Essence,” and/or ”Divine spark.” These are Gnostic in meaning, and therefore heretical when applied to Christianity. Please pray for the Church as well as keep reading God’s Word (Bible). We need to know what is Truth as to recognize the counterfeits.

“Gnosticism presents a radically self-centred alternative gospel. Instead of pointing to Christ, Gnosticism proclaims that salvation comes from inside, finding your
true identity within. It denies the goodness of the Creator and the glory of his creation. It denies the Incarnation, the resurrection and the need for redemption. Gnosticism sets itself against true Christianity at every point. It has been described as the ultimate heresy. This false teaching was faced by the Church in the second and third centuries AD.”

The Christian Institute, Gnosticism

“O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge,’ for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.”

1 Timothy 6:20-21

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”

Colossians 2:8

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. 

1 John 4:1-3

“What is the definition of the term Gnostic?” By GotQuestions

The definition of the word Gnostic is about as easy to nail down as a flopping fish. It is derived from the Greek word gnosis, meaning “to know.” In the case of Gnosticism, what is “known” has shifted over the thousands of years since Gnosticism first reared its head during the formation and solidification of the early church.

Basically, the Gnostic believes in acquiring special, mystical knowledge as the means for salvation. According to Gnostic beliefs, there is a Great God that is good and perfect, but impersonal and unknowable. The creator of the universe was actually a lesser deity—a cheap knock-off of the “true God”—who wanted to create a flawless material universe but botched the job. Instead of having a utopia, we ended up with a world infected with pain, misery, and intellectual and spiritual blindness; all matter is now corrupt and evil. However, when this lesser deity created man, he accidentally imbued humanity with a spark of the “true” God’s spirit, making man an inherently good soul trapped in the confines of an evil, material body.

Contrary to a message of salvation through Christ alone (Acts 4:12), the Gnostic Jesus brings a message of self-redemption. Man only needs to examine his inner “spark” to find the knowledge needed to free himself from his material body and reach God. This alleged purity of heart is the exact opposite of what is stated in Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?”

Today, Gnosticism has evolved and branched out from the exclusively spiritual into the secular and scientific. Psychologist C. G. Jung praised Gnosticism as superior to traditional Christianity as a way of thinking. Another form of Gnosticism denies the existence of God altogether, while embracing an eternal—but still flawed—universe. This atheistic form of Gnosticism doesn’t see the material world as totally evil, but as flawed and incomplete. Mankind becomes the “deity,” and it is his right to improve the human body and the world around him through his own wisdom.

Christianity and Gnosticism are mutually exclusive; however, it is easy for a Gnostic mindset to seep into our own thinking if we’re not careful (1 Peter 5:8). The Gnostic is pursuing goodness, but, instead of seeking to be regenerated by Christ, he grabs hold of a man-centered purpose for living. Gnostic thought makes man “wise in [his] own eyes” (Isaiah 5:21), something Proverbs 3:7pointedly advises against: “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.”

Gnostic thinking claims that deeper truth can be found apart from God. But Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Instead of searching our corrupt, flawed “inner selves” for answers, we should instead test everything against the revealed Word of God (1 Thessalonians 5:21). In the end, it is God’s truth alone that can be trusted.

Related Articles by GotQuestions:

Video Resources

25 minutes with Dr. Ryan Reeves

65 minutes with Remnant Radio

Podcast/MP3 Episode by Apologetics315


February 2, 2009

Gnosticism: Past & Present MP3 Audio

Nick Needham gives a church history talk on the topic of Gnosticism: Past & Present, in which he discusses the roots of Gnosticism and what form it takes in our present day. Although the audio quality is not the best, it is a helpful listen. Original audio here, with some other church history lectures.

Download MP3 Audio here. Enjoy.

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