8 Theses On Early Christian Gnosticism

Sep 25, 2017

1. If Early Christians were tempted to Gnosticism, Modern Christians are tempted to materialism.

2. The abiding power and testimony of Early Christian thought and deed (especially martyrdom) suggests that our own materialism is more a problem for us than Gnosticism was a problem for Early Christians.

3. Materialists have a low threshold for what is weird. Materialists are comfortable with the principles which govern material reality, but uncomfortable with the principles which govern the spirit. For this reason, when materialists encounter non-materialist thought, they typically think it strange. Christian materialists tend to find anything north of pure pragmatism to be quite bizarre, superstitious, or "pagan." 

4. Non-materialists do not think materialism weird, but boring and powerless. Non-materialists are suspect of the lack of weirdness in materialism.

5. Christian materialists often excuse their materialism on the grounds that they are “incarnational,” and argue that the Incarnation proves the goodness of material things. This is only half-right, for while the Incarnation proves that physical things are good, Scripture consistently teaches that spiritual things are nonetheless more important than material things.

6. If a man equates the value of physical and spiritual things, he is still a materialist, for the materialist is one who fails to give proper value to spiritual things. 

7. The materialist “lives a fleshly life,” which is to say he sacrifices the health of the spirit for the pleasure of the body. The spiritual man sacrifices physical things for spiritual health.

8. “He who lives by the sword will die by the sword” refers not to one kind of sword, but two, for Christ did not live by a physical sword, though He died by a physical sword. Christ lived by the sword of the Spirit, but died by a physical and carnal sword. So anyone who lives by a physical sword will be slain by the sword of the Spirit.  

Joshua Gibbs

Joshua Gibbs

Joshua Gibbs teaches great books to high school students at Veritas School in Richmond, Virginia. He is the editor of FilmFisher and has two daughters, both of whom have seven names. You can find him on Twitter @joshgibbs.