Monday 20th August 2018

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

Fr. Weinandy Discusses “Gnosticism Today”

July 10, 2018 Featured Today No Comments

By J.D. FLYNN

DENVER (CNA) — Fr. Thomas Weinandy, OFM Cap., is a member of the Vatican’s International Theological Commission, an accomplished professor of theology, and a prolific author. His most recent book is Jesus Becoming Jesus: A Theological Interpretation of the Synoptic Gospels.
Catholic News Agency Editor-in-Chief J.D. Flynn interviewed Fr. Weinandy about “Gnosticism Today,” an essay published in June at The Catholic Thing.

+ + +

Q. Your essay, “Gnosticism Today,” says that the attitude commonly described as neo-Gnosticism has “little to do with its ancient antecedent.” What is Gnosticism? What is the origin of the Gnostic heresy?
A. As I said in my essay, Gnosticism is basically the notion that one is saved by “knowledge” (gnosis). While, especially during the second and third centuries, there were many different forms, sects, or schools of Gnosticism, all were concerned with addressing the problem of evil in the world and the eternal destiny of humankind. For the Gnostics the source of evil was the material world, often thought to be created by an evil deity.
The reason the Gnostics thought that matter was evil can be found, to some extent, in Platonism. Plato did not believe in an evil creator god. However, Plato did believe that truth is unchangeable — what is true is always true. Unlike what is true, matter is always changing — a tree grows and then dies, the human body is healthy and then gets sick. Moreover, human beings are slaves to bodily passions and desires — filled with greed, lust, anger, despair, etc. Because matter always changes, it cannot be the source of what is true, which never changes. The Gnostics, and other sects similar to them, concluded that matter is evil.
From a philosophical point of view, for Plato, one needs to intellectually escape the world of matter and rise up through one’s intellect to the unchanging world of ideas — the perfect unchanging idea of a tree, or dog or human being. In later Platonic thought these perfect ideas were considered divine ideas.
(By way of an aside, while Plato and the later Platonic schools were correct in thinking that truth does not change, they were obviously wrong in thinking that the cause of evil — what is not true — is due to matter. Aristotle, Plato’s student, recognized that one comes to know the truth through coming to know the material world.)
Within Gnosticism, this Platonic tradition merged with other pagan thought, eastern mystery religions, astrology as well as Jewish and Christian ideas. Gnosticism in the end was very synchronistic — pulling together different philosophic and religious ideas.
The overriding claim of the various Gnostic sects was that they provided the knowledge by which one is able to extricate oneself from the evil world of matter (the body) and ascend into the eternal spiritual world of divine truth. There were also various Gnostic redeemers — those first enlightened so as to know the truth, thus empowering them to pass this gnosis, knowledge, on to others. Within various forms of Christian Gnosticism, Jesus was often seen as one of the many Gnostic redeemers.
Today Gnosticism is found in the New Age movement. Here, as in ancient Gnosticism, one becomes “enlightened” so as to be elevated to the spiritual cosmic realm and so leave the confines of this material, evil world.
Q. Why are some contemporary Catholics characterized as “neo-Gnostics”? What attitudes are conflated with Gnosticism?
A. This is a very complex question. St. Irenaeus (c. 130-200) wrote five large volumes, Adversus Omnes Haereses (“Against All of the Heresies”), attempting to answer this kind of question. Irenaeus knew that at first sight one might ask: Is not Christianity gnostic? Do not Christians “know” truths that others do not know, and did not Jesus reveal this knowledge to Christians? Was not Jesus a Gnostic redeemer? Here we must makes some very important distinctions — distinctions that Irenaeus made.
Jews and Christians believe that all that God created is good precisely because He is the perfectly good and only God. There are not “bad” gods who create evil matter. Thus, matter is good and the body is good. Evil does not find its source in matter but in the free misuse of what is good. For example, sexuality is good, but it can be freely used in an evil manner — adultery, fornication, pornography, homosexual acts, etc. Food is good, but we can freely become gluttons.
What is needed for salvation is not simply knowledge, but more important, the means to overcome moral evil and the empowerment to live freely holy lives. Christians believe that God ultimately achieved our salvation by sending into the word His Son who became incarnate by the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary. Now Jesus did teach us many things (like the Beatitudes), however, most importantly He performed saving acts — His Passion, death, Resurrection, and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit.
Through His loving sacrificial death on the cross, Jesus freed us from the evil of sin and death. By rising gloriously from the dead, He made possible our own resurrection into eternal life. By sending forth the Holy Spirit, Jesus made it possible for us to become holy children of the Father and so empowered to live holy lives.
Of the utmost importance is our union with the risen Jesus as our Savior and Lord. We can only participate in the salvation that Jesus offers when we are united to Him. We are united to Him first through faith and Baptism. This communion with the risen Lord Jesus is furthered through our prayer and the other sacraments — especially in the Eucharist.
Within Gnosticism, the Gnostic Redeemer does not do anything other than give knowledge and once he has given us knowledge, his importance ceases.
(All world religions are Gnostic, except Judaism and Christianity. Mohammed simply informs people what they are to do if they are to please God. Buddha, similarly, tells us what we should do in order to live properly. Once they have done so, their contemporary importance ceases because we now “know” what we are obliged to do.)
The problem facing humankind is not ignorance, but sin. Within Christianity, Jesus’ saving presence is everlastingly necessary for we must always be united to Him, even in Heaven, as members of His Body, if we are to reap the saving benefits of His salvific work. Unlike all forms of Gnosticism, we must have a personal relationship with Jesus through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit so as to be in communion with God the Father.
Christians, in faith, hold all of the above to be true — this is why we recite the Creed every Sunday during Mass. What we know are the saving mysteries of our faith — the Trinity, the Incarnation, the sacraments, Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist. Moreover, we believe that we can lovingly obey God’s commandments (the Ten Commandments) because we now life in Christ Jesus our Savior and Lord. Christians are Christians precisely because they believe in Christ — the eternal Spirit-filled incarnate Son of the Father.
Sadly, and even troubling, some people today, even in high places within the Church, accuse some Catholics of Gnosticism because these so-called Gnostic Catholics believe they “know” the truth and look down upon their fellow Catholic brethren who seemingly do not keep God’s Commandments.
But such an accusation is slanderous. Some Catholics may be arrogant in their faith and prideful about their presumed holiness, but this is not Gnosticism — this is the sin of judgmentalism, self-conceit, and egotism.
So-called Catholic Gnostics today do not hold and teach anything other than what Jesus has revealed and the Church authoritatively teaches. On the whole they are simply ordinary faithful Catholic bishops, priests, and, most of all, laity. To call the faithful Catholic laity Gnostics is an egregious falsehood. It is an insult to their Catholic integrity.

Moral Relativism

Q. Your essay claims that those who accuse others of neo-Gnosticism often propose a kind of moral relativism, in which the conscience supersedes Catholic doctrine. How does that viewpoint relate to Gnosticism?
A. Many of the controverted issues within the Church today revolve around questions of sexual morality —adultery, fornication, contraception, abortion, homosexual acts, etc.
While the Church has always condemned such actions as sinful because they are contrary to what it means to be truly human and so actions that God Himself has condemned, some within the Church today claim that, given particular circumstances, such acts may no longer be sinful for some people in certain situations — they may even be good actions.
Those who disagree with such arguments are often called Gnostics because they think they have all of the right answers. They know the truth. Again, this is a false accusation, for such accused people only hold what the Church has always taught. If such people are Gnostic, then the entire Catholic Church has been Gnostic from the time of the apostles.
Actually, those who claim that their now “enlightened” conscience allows them to supersede God’s previous Revelation and the Church’s constant teaching are the real Gnostics, for they now claim to have knowledge that most of the Catholic faithful do not possess.
In a way, such “enlightened” Catholics have fallen into the moral relativism of the secular world, where everyone is permitted to do what they feel is personally right for them. There is no such thing as unchanging “truth.” But this is to deny God, who is the ultimate source of all truth.

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Can Pope Francis’ Death Penalty Teaching be Harmonized with Scripture and Tradition?

August 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — In the less than three weeks since the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) promulgated and explained on August 2 a new papally mandated revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s teaching on…Continue Reading

Cardinal says clock ticking for all in Catholic hierarchy over abuse issue

The chair of the Vatican’s Commission for the Protection of Minors has warned that “the clock is ticking” for the Catholic hierarchy when it comes to dealing with clerical child sex abuse. “Catholics have lost patience with us, and civil…Continue Reading

Priests: Why we’re urging Cardinals to challenge Pope Francis on death penalty

ROME, August 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Over 75 clergy, lay scholars and prominent intellectuals today took the unprecedented step of issuing an open appeal to the Cardinals of the Catholic Church, to urge Pope Francis to “withdraw” his new teaching on…Continue Reading

Rector Placed On Leave Amid Allegations Of Sexual Misconduct Against Boston Catholic Seminary

Following allegations of a culture of sexual misconduct and alcohol abuse at a Boston-based Catholic seminary owned by the Archdiocese of Boston, the head priest is being placed on sabbatical. Rector James P. Moroney has been placed on immediate leave pending…Continue Reading

Pennsylvania clergy sex abuse report still not released

A last-minute round of legal manoeuvring to keep some names from appearing in a grand jury report detailing a months-long investigation of clergy sex abuse claims in Pennsylvania may have kept the document from being made public on Wednesday –…Continue Reading

Vatican archbishop: Critics of Pope Francis are not faithful to Tradition

VATICAN CITY, August 7, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Those who criticize the teaching of Pope Francis on the basis of former magisterial documents are not faithful to the tradition of the Catholic Church, a high-ranking Vatican official has said. In an interview with Vatican…Continue Reading

PRO-LIFE ACTRESS SLAMS BISHOPS’ INACTION ON PRIEST SEX ABUSE CRISIS

DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) – A pro-life Hollywood actress is slamming the U.S. bishops for their failure to prevent priest sex abuse. Actress Patricia Heaton is openly pro-life and a Catholic revert. On Twitter on Aug. 2, she responded to Cdl. Daniel DiNardo’s…Continue Reading

Conservatives skeptical of Twitter’s latest shadow-banning denial

July 27, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Twitter has released an official response to the latest round of shadow-banning allegations, but the statement has failed to impress conservative, Christian, and pro-life voices affected by the practice. On Thursday, LifeSiteNews covered a Vice News report accusing the social…Continue Reading

Pope Francis’ top ‘reform’ cardinal slams seminarians for exposing homosexuality inside seminary

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, July 26, 2018, (LifeSiteNews) – One of the Vatican’s most influential cardinals, already suspected of looking the other way while gay relationships were conducted in his personal residence, has now admonished fifty seminarians for speaking out against their seminary’s…Continue Reading

Veteran Catholic Journalist: All Bishops Involved in Sex Abuse Scandal Must Resign

Christopher Manion, a veteran journalist and political analyst, makes the striking call that all U.S. bishops should resign who knew about the ongoing abuse crisis within the U.S. hierarchy for years and yet did not intervene. He also now reveals…Continue Reading

Catholic Relief Services is a major funder of contraception lobbyists

NOTE: The following information was provided to Catholic Relief Services in person in April, 2018.  After three months of discussion on the matter, the Lepanto Institute was told that while Lepanto is convinced that CRS should withdraw from InterAction, CRS…Continue Reading

Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter Elects New Superior General

LINCOLN, Neb. — The general chapter of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, a society of apostolic life that celebrates the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, Monday elected Father Andrzej Komorowski as its next superior general. The July 9…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

Cburke3

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading

Catechism

Today . . .

Bishop Robert C. Morlino’s letter to the faithful regarding the ongoing sexual abuse crisis in the Church

marlino

August 18, 2018 Dear brothers and sisters in Christ of the Diocese of Madison, The past weeks have brought a great deal of scandal, justified anger, and a call for answers and action by many faithful Catholics here in the U.S. and overseas, directed at the Church hierarchy regarding sexual sins by bishops, priests, and even cardinals. Still more anger is rightly directed at those who have been complicit in keeping some of these serious…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke: U.S. Catholic Church in ‘possibly the worst crisis that it’s ever experienced’

August 16, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Catholic Church in the U.S. is undergoing “possibly the worst crisis that it’s ever experienced” right now, Cardinal Burke said tonight of the ongoing sex abuse scandals and the laity’s distrust for bishops who play a part in it. “That has to be recognized and it has to be dealt with in a thorough manner which is faithful to the Church’s moral law and to the Church herself and…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke Addresses the Clergy Scandal

Cburke13

Thomas McKenna: Your Eminence, a new wave of clergy sexual abuse has surfaced and is indicating a widespread practice of homosexuality among clergy in dioceses and seminaries across the country. What would you say is the root cause of this corruption?   Cardinal Raymond Burke: It was clear after the studies following the 2002 sexual abuse crisis that most of the acts of abuse were in fact homosexual acts committed with adolescent young men. There…Continue Reading

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley will not attend the World Meeting of Families

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, OFM Cap, Archbishop of Boston and Chair of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Children, unfortunately will not be able to participate in the World Meeting of Families to be held in Dublin, Ireland from August 21-26. Though previously scheduled to moderate a panel presentation and discussion at the World Meeting of Families, important matters pertaining to the pastoral care of St. John’s Seminary in the Archdiocese of Boston and…Continue Reading

Cardinal Wuerl named in Pennsylvania grand jury report, responds to criticism

Washington D.C., Aug 14, 2018 / 02:30 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, D.C., and the former Bishop of Pittsburgh, has been named more than 200 times in a Pennsylvania grand jury report, released Aug. 14, after an 18-month investigation into historic allegations of sexual abuse in six Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses. The cardinal released a statement in response to the report, underscoring the gravity of the sexual abuse for the Church and the…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)

Colorado Again Seeks To Punish Cake Artist Jack Phillips

DENVER — Although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that Colorado cannot treat cake artist Jack Phillips differently than others, state officials have continued to do just that in response to a more recent complaint filed against him. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Phillips and his cake shop filed a federal lawsuit late August…Continue Reading

Who Determines “Universal Values”?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN Is it any of Canada’s business whether Saudi women have the right to drive? Well, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland just made it her business. Repeatedly denouncing Riyadh’s arrest of women’s rights advocate Samar Badawi, Freeland has driven the two countries close to a break in diplomatic relations. “Reprehensible” said Riyadh of…Continue Reading

Refuting An Eastern Orthodox Priest’s Erroneous Comments

By JAMES LIKOUDIS An article by an Eastern Orthodox priest, Fr. David Hoestetler, published in an ecumenical magazine, The Sword (which recently ceased publishing), noted correctly with regard to Protestant misconceptions that it is indeed “scriptural and biblical to venerate Mary.” Unfortunately, the article was marred by various inaccuracies and errors. For example, he stated…Continue Reading

KCs Pledge Support For Persecuted Christians

By COURTNEY GROGAN BALTIMORE (CNA) — Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson pledged the fraternal organization’s continued efforts to aid and rebuild persecuted Christian communities in the Middle East, during his August 7 address at the 2018 Knights of Columbus convention in Baltimore. Anderson also unveiled a new pilgrim icon, Our Lady Help of…Continue Reading

A Book Review… Finding A Map For Matters Of Life And Death

By DONALD DEMARCO Matters of Life & Death: A Catholic Guide to the Moral Questions of Our Time, by Gerard M. Verschuuren (Angelico Press, Brooklyn, NY, 2018, 201 pp.). Available in paperback at amazon.com for $16.95. The state of perplexity and the need for guidance has long been characteristic of human beings. Rabbi Moses Maimonides…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Martin Luther… The Man And The Myth

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 7 (Editor’s Note: As this October marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s nailing his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Raymond de Souza is taking a break from his usual apologetics to correct the popular image of Luther.) + + + When the British paper the Catholic Herald…Continue Reading

Levels Of Conscience

By DON FIER In last week’s opening exposition on the role of conscience in the Christian moral life, it was stated straightaway that “conscience” is a term that is often misunderstood and misapplied in contemporary times. Frequently equated with one’s personal opinion or position, this entreaty to subjectivism is ready justification for nearly every conceivable immoral and aberrant behavior that…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: To a recent question about whether the ordination of a secret Communist would be invalid because he did not have the right intention, we said yes, citing canon 1029 of the Code of Canon Law, which says that those seeking the priesthood must “have an integral faith, are motivated by a right intention, possess the required knowledge, and…Continue Reading

Amid Church Scandals… Fix Your Hearts On Christ

By FR. JOHN DE CELLES (Editor’s Note: LifeSiteNews on August 6 featured the following homily by Fr. John De Celles of St. Raymond of Penafort Church, Springfield, Va., the Diocese of Arlington. (Father reminded his flock: “We follow Jesus Christ, ‘the God of Jacob,’ and we follow the Holy Catholic Church which He founded.” (In May 2005, Fr. De Celles…Continue Reading

The Eucharist Is Jesus Himself

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twentieth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Prov. 9:1-6 Eph. 5:15-20 John 6:51-58 In the Gospel reading today our Lord makes several statements that we either have to believe are true or we have to run as far and as quickly from Him as we can. People who want to call themselves Christian while ignoring…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Clare Of Montefalco

By CAROLE BRESLIN In central Italy about one hundred miles north of Rome, lies the peaceful town looking down on the Clitunno River named Montefalco. It attracts tourists with its wildlife, wineries, and vineyards, and stunning churches. One of the most beautiful churches with its vaulted, painted ceilings, marble pillars, and inspiring altars is the Basilica of St. Clare of…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Lawrence

By CAROLE BRESLIN Valencia, claim its inhabitants, is the premier city in all of Spain. Located along Spain’s eastern Mediterranean coastline, it boasts stunning beaches, ancient history, and magnificent churches. Perhaps the most famous is the Valencian Cathedral, the Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption, which holds a chalice which has been defended as the relic of the true…Continue Reading