Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Pentecostals: Your Gnostic is Showing

In Le Sabot Post-Moderne: Pentecostals, Christian Anthropology, and Anti-Intellectualism Discoshaman writes:
Contrary to the historically dominant Christian view of man as a 2-part being -- a body and a spirit/soul, the churches I grew up in believed in a trichotomous man -- body, soul and spirit. It was an incredibly Gnostic construct. The Body is always sinful. The Spirit is always perfect. And the Soul, which is a mix of good and bad, is the deciding vote in whether man sins or not. Let's see. . . Matter=Bad, Spirit=Good. Could we even try to resurrect early heresies a little more openly?

So anyway. The Soul was the seat of reason and intellect, in their view. It's good and bad. The Spirit is unadulterated good. It's where they felt the "leading of the Spirit", and had God "speak to them in their spirit."

So which one would you trust -- the fallible soul or the perfect spirit? So naturally the soul is subordinated to spirit -- the life of the mind falls to the whims of emotion. Systematic study of the Word gives way to searches for new emotional experiences.
Just a brief comparison with Gnostic theology here.
All religious traditions acknowledge that the world is imperfect. Where they differ is in the explanations which they offer to account for this imperfection and in what they suggest might be done about it. Gnostics have their own -- perhaps quite startling -- view of these matters: they hold that the world is flawed because it was created in a flawed manner.

... The blame for the world’s failings lies not with humans, but with the creator. Since -- especially in the monotheistic religions--the creator is God, this Gnostic position appears blasphemous, and is often viewed with dismay even by non-believers.

Blasphemous to say the least! Now the Gnosticism this source describes gets around the problems by positing a spiritual Creator, Sophia the spirit of wisdom, a bunch of Archons or powerful angels, and the Demi-urge who created the evil material world. Some historical Gnostic movements identified the Demi-Urge with Yahweh or Jehovah the patron god of the Jews. For obvious reasons they were not popular with Jews or Christians and eventually lost.

BodySoulSpirit
Evil Neutral Good
Matter Intellect Inspiration
Dancing in a NightclubAngels Dancing on the Head of a PinDancing in Church
Speaking FrenchSpeaking GermanSpeaking in Tongues
Hummer Prius Crew Cab Pickup

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