By Ian Thomas Wilson
Introduction: Defining Gnosticism
Every year around Christmas and Easter, some news outlet comes out with “new” archaeological discovery of a “lost gospel” usually attributed to someone who knew Jesus when He was here on Earth. For instance, “The Gospel of Judas” “The Gospel of Thomas” “The Gospel of Mary Magdalene”. These are all false gospels proven to be fabricated in an attempt to legitimize a false teaching known as Gnosticism.
Gnosticism is probably the oldest heresy. The Apostles were confronted with it over and over again. Now, let us be clear, Gnosticism and Agnosticism are two very different things. Agnosticism teaches that God is unknown and unknowable. The Gnostics did not teach that. The Gnostics taught that one could be saved through acquiring “secret knowledge” of God. The word “Gnostic” comes from the Greek word “Gnosis” meaning “knowledge”.
Secondly, and this is the most important part, Gnostics claim that physical matter is evil and spirit is good. The Gnostics taught that this is not our “real life”, that this physical world is inconsequential. Therefore, Jesus could not have risen bodily from the grave, because matter is evil. His death “freed” Him from His evil physical confines. Furthermore, Gnostics taught that there is no bodily resurrection for us either. They taught that when we die, our spirit goes on to live in an ethereal, spiritual afterlife, and at the end of all things, God will simply destroy all physical matter, and that will be it. These teachings contradict Scripture in so many places that it could quite literally take me the entire day to go through every passage.
Gnosticism has always been with us. Ever since the beginning, when the serpent said to Eve “You will not die, for God knows when you eat of the fruit, your eyes will be opened, knowing good and evil.” Secret knowledge.
And it is still being taught in churches today! This is through ignorance, and not anyone’s fault necessarily; they just don’t know. They haven’t been taught properly. So someone needs to tell them.
We read in Genesis that in the beginning God created the physical, material world and He called it “very good”. God cares about His physical creation. Matter matters to Him.
When we look further in the Old Testament, we find that God is a lover of beauty. He wanted the Tabernacle and the Temple to be filled with artwork. Embroidery and costly dyes adorned the Tabernacle, while carvings and murals decorated the Temple. Yes, God loves beauty.
Gnostics have no use for art and beauty; or if they do, they only use it as a means to an end. They dismiss it, or even denigrate it, as the physical world is inconsequential to them. This is why so many artists leave the church because their talents are considered unimportant. This is one of the unfortunate symptoms of the Gnostification of American Christianity. It needs to stop. As the great 20th-century theologian and apologist Francis Schaeffer said “A Christian should use these arts to the glory of God, not just as tracts, mind you, but as things of beauty to the praise of God. An artwork can be a doxology in itself.”
I see another quote go around the internet from time to time, and I find it painful. It reads “You are not a body; you are a soul, you have a body” and it is attributed to CS Lewis. First, Lewis never said anything of the kind; second, yes, you are your body and your soul. You are one whole. Your soul was never intended to be separated from your body in death. That came from the Fall. We were meant to live in physical bodies forever. But the Fall introduced death; the separation of body and soul until the resurrection. As it says later in 1 Corinthians 15, verses 20-22, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ.”
Furthermore, if there is no resurrection, Paul says that we have no hope. He says in 1 Corinthians 15:14, “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”
In verses 35-36 of 1 Corinthians 15, Paul says, “But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?’ Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain.”
And again, in verses 51-52, “Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”
Jesus took on our physical flesh, and experienced life as we do. He elevated and consecrated physical matter. And He will redeem it at the end. We will be resurrected into perfect physical bodies, without pain, without death, into a perfect physical world. That is the hope of Christianity.
Amen and Amen