OUT OF EGYPT VI:
The Final Appearance
The Gnostic Cathars, who lived in southern France and northern Italy, finally disappeared from the face of history in the 14th century.1 For the following 500 years Gnosticism survived largely below the surface. While Gnosticism was quietly promoted by individual scholars, most Gnostics remained in secret societies such as Rosicrucianism (Rose Cross), Freemasonry, Illuminati, Knights Templar, Priory of Sion, and Opus Dei.2
The Final Appearance of Gnosticism
Then, in the 19th century, Gnosticism experienced an open revival when the Russian expatriate, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891), established the Theosophical Society. Theosophy focuses on esoteric doctrines borrowed from ancient Gnosticism and other mystical sources.3 Those who have personally encountered theosophists generally regard them as occult spiritists.
Nearly 20 years ago the Yale scholar, Harold Bloom, wrote a treatise entitled The American Religion: The Emergence of the Post-Christian Nation.4 In this book Bloom, who regards himself as a Gnostic, claims that Americans generally contend for the Gnostic belief that the “self already is of God.”5 Bloom applies this belief to a multitude of American religions, such as Mormonism, Christian Science, Seventh-day Adventism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Pentecostalism, and even to Southern Baptists.6
While there are minor variations in Gnostic religions, American fundamentalists reveal their Gnosticism when they divide humanity among the spiritual elite (equivalent to Gnostic pneumatics or “knowers”), another class who fail to be among the elite but will be rescued (equivalent to Gnostic “psychics”), and those who are destined for eternal damnation (equivalent to Gnostic “apostates”).7 Many popular fundamentalist evangelists and supporting movies portray a preliminary rapture to heaven of the holy ones, followed by the tribulation and rescue of the remaining believers, and finally the casting into hell of all others. Again, this is a striking parallel to the Gnostic belief in godly “pneumatics,” rescued “psychics” and lost “apostates.”
Our World and Gnosticism
Moreover, Gnosticism has penetrated the American psyche at deeper and broader levels. The idolized “high and mighty” are fundamentally Gnostic pneumatics when they assume the role of an imagined god (e.g., “deserving” obscene pay) and exercise so-called “freedom” to dominate and manipulate “others.” This Gnostic obsession with me, myself and I 8 is often manifest in entertainment, sports, government, corporations, financial institutions, academic structures and other organizations. Meanwhile, the middle class exist as psychics, and the lower class are expendable. Tragically, this mindset has infiltrated the rest of the world, leading to massive social upheavals, violence and bloodshed. Our world as we have known it cannot long survive.
Two thousand years ago the One-and-Only True God intervened to counter the emergence of ancient Gnosticism.9 Now, with the final appearance of Gnosticism, surely the One who created all things and who died for all will soon intervene again. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20)!
- See Richard Smoley, Forbidden Faith: The Secret History of Gnosticism (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2006), p. 84. (go back)
- See ibid., pp. 125-149. (go back)
- See ibid., p. 153-159. (go back)
- Harold Bloom, The American Religion: The Emergence of the Post-Christian Nation (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992). (go back)
- Ibid., p. 15. (go back)
- See Bloom, American Religion. (go back)
- See “Out of Egypt I: Introduction to Gnosticism,” Outlook (January 2011). (go back)
- See ibid. (go back)
- See “Out of Egypt III: Emergence of Gnosticism,” Outlook (March 2011); “Out of Egypt IV: The Apocalypse,” Outlook (April 2011). (go back)