What is Gnosticism?

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Gnosticism refers to a belief that started in the second century that claimed salvation can be acquired through hidden knowledge. The term Gnosticism is drawn from the Greek term, ‘gnosis’ which implies ‘to know’. Those who subscribed to this belief hold that the physical world is evil and only the spirit is pure. They used an evil god and beings in the Old Testament to elaborate the creation of world and considered Jesus Christ as entirely spiritual. These beliefs are contrary to the Christian teaching. Christianity advances salvation is for every person and is not restricted to just a few people. According to the Christian belief, Salvation is by grace through believing in Jesus Christ and it is not from works or study. Christianity explains that the Bible is the only origin of truth.

Different Views on Jesus

There were different beliefs about Jesus by gnostics. Some held the view that Jesus appeared only in human form but he was only spirit. The other belief held that his unnatural spirit descended on his body during baptism and left him just before he was crucified. On the other hand, Christianity teaches that Jesus was God and man entirely and his divine and human natures were necessary and present in order for Him to become the perfect sacrifice for man’s sin. Gnosticism taught a dualism concept called Docetism which holds that there exists a clear distinction between the physical and spiritual world. Their reasoning is that because the world is evil, there is no way God could have incarnated himself in human body. Instead, they held that he only came in human body to suffer, which is a delusion. According to Gnostics, man comprises a spirit, soul and body. They held that the soul and body comprise man’s existence in an evil world and are therefore evil. Within man’s soul lies the spirit, man’s divine form. Gnostics believed that man’s spirit was ignorant and asleep requiring awakening which only comes through knowledge.

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