Sunday 24th March 2019

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.

Twitter Feed

Catholic Heroes… St. Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinello - https://t.co/ft6sr36bka

CRS: Catholic Charity? Or Secular Government Agency? - https://t.co/rg6BpAebKz

Load More...

Montreal-archbishop-responds-to-priests-stabbing

The Archbishop of Montreal, Christian Lépine, has released a statement regarding Friday morning’s attack on Fr. Claude Grou, a religious of Holy Cross and rector of St. Joseph Oratory. “Father Grou suffered some injuries, however, thank God, he is not in…Continue Reading

Rorate interviews Professor Roberto de Mattei regarding Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s analysis on the subject of a heretic Pope.

 – Professor de Mattei, would you care to give us your opinion on the study His Excellency Monsignor Schneider made on a “heretic Pope”? – I consider it an important document. Firstly, Monsignor Schneider is one of the most esteemed among…Continue Reading

Chinese president will likely snub the Holy See, Pope Francis while in Rome

VATICAN CITY, March 20, 2019, LifeSiteNews — Despite entering into a controversial, lopsided agreement with the Vatican last September in which China gained greater control over the Chinese Catholic Church, President Xi Jinping will evidently snub the Holy See while…Continue Reading

Nancy Pelosi: ‘I Myself, as a Catholic, Believe…’

(CNSNews.com) – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) said at her press briefing on Thursday that she wants to “salute” the Green New Deal and went on to explain that “as a Catholic” she believes—“as do many of our Evangelical friends”—that…Continue Reading

Pope Francis warns against gossip, forgetting one’s own sinfulness

Rome, Italy, Mar 3, 2019 / 01:30 pm (CNA).- In a visit to a Roman parish on Sunday, Pope Francis encouraged Catholics to stop gossiping and ruminating on the shortcomings of other people, and to instead focus on repenting of…Continue Reading

Catholic network Salt + Light stands by CEO Fr. Rosica despite plagiarism

TORONTO, March 2, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Salt + Light Catholic Media Foundation is standing by Father Thomas Rosica, the network’s CEO, despite revelations of his extensive plagiarism going back almost 30 years. Meanwhile, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops says…Continue Reading

Measure to protect babies who survive abortion fails in Senate 53-44

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Senate in an evening vote Feb. 25 failed to pass a measure sponsored by Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, to require that babies born alive after an abortion be given medical attention and “the same protection of…Continue Reading

Prosecutors drop second trial against Cardinal George Pell

Melbourne, Australia, Feb 25, 2019 / 06:21 pm (CNA).- Prosecutors have abandoned a planned second trial against Australian Cardinal George Pell, who was convicted in December 2018 on five charges of the sexual abuse of minors. Pell is reported to…Continue Reading

Rosica resigns from college board after plagiarism apology; Jesuits withdraw award

Washington D.C., Feb 25, 2019 / 02:47 pm (CNA).- A Canadian priest who apologized last week for plagiarism has resigned from the governing board of a Catholic college affiliated with the University of Toronto. “As a sign of contrition and…Continue Reading

Abuse Survivor: Pope’s Devil Comments ‘Outrageous’

Pope Francis’ latest slam on church critics as cohorts of Satan stunned survivors of priest sex abuse and their advocates, who called the pontiff’s remarks “outrageous” on the eve of his clergy summit on the long-running scandal. “It’s outrageous ……Continue Reading

Pope picks liberal cardinals Cupich, Marx, Tagle for featured talks at Vatican Abuse Summit

ROME, February 18, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Germany, and Cardinal Antonio Tagle of the Philippines will be featured speakers at the Vatican’s upcoming summit on clerical sex abuse titled, “The Protection of Minors…Continue Reading

SD BISHOP CALLS CATHOLIC GROUP ‘EVIL’ FOR OPPOSING CARDINAL CUPICH

RAPID CITY, S.D. (ChurchMilitant.com) – A bishop is calling a Catholic apostolate “evil” for being critical of Cdl. Blase Cupich. Bishop Robert Gruss of Rapid City, South Dakota issued a statement to be read from all parish pulpits the weekend of Feb. 9–10 condemning…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 . . .

Video surfaces of Beto O’Rourke berating Catholic priest for defending male/female marriage

EL PASO, Texas, March 22, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — A video of pro-abortioncongressman Beto O’Rourke, who is running for president, has surfaced showing him berating a Catholic priest for defending male/female marriage at an El Paso City Council meeting in 2011. The incident took place in June 2011 when El Paso priest Fr. Michael Rodriguez spoke against extending marriage benefits

South Dakota governor signs multiple pro-life laws including ultrasound requirement, end-of-life parental involvement

PIERRE, South Dakota, March 21, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – South Dakota’s Republican Gov. Kristi Noem signed a slate of bills into law Wednesday to impose various new restrictions on abortions and responsibilities on the physicians committing them, as well as a new safeguard for patients’ rights. Forum News Service reported that four of the bills will require abortionists to give women the chance to see a sonogram of their baby and listen to his or her…Continue Reading

On the question of a heretical pope

schneider

The issue of how to handle a heretical pope, in concrete terms, has not yet been treated in a manner which approaches anything like a true general consent in the entire Catholic tradition. So far, neither a pope nor an Ecumenical Council has made relevant doctrinal pronouncements nor have they issued binding canonical norms regarding the eventuality of how to handle a heretical pope during the term of his office. There is no historical case of…Continue Reading

GOP congressman sues Twitter for shadow-bans, discrimination against conservatives

March 20, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes is taking Twitter to court for the social media giant’s alleged discrimination against himself and other prominent conservatives through shadow-banning and other means. Last summer, Nunes was one of several Republican lawmakers and GOP leaders whose Twitter accounts had disappeared from the drop-down menu that normally populates when typing in a name, without comparable figures such as Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez or any…Continue Reading

US bishops’ anti-poverty charity gave $60,000 to pro-gay Marxist group last year

March 15, 2019 (Lepanto Institute) — The 2017–2018 Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) grants list shows that the Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition (NWBCCC) received $60,000, bringing the total this organization has received to $290,000 since 2005. In 2012, the Reform CCHD Now coalition alerted the US bishops to serious problems with NWBCCC including homosexual activism and the promotion of Marxism. Monsignor Kevin Sullivan of the A

Advertisement(2)

Who Spawned The Christchurch Killer?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN On Friday, March 15 in Christchurch, New Zealand, one of the more civilized places on Earth, 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant, an Australian, turned on his cellphone camera and set out to livestream his massacre of as many innocent Muslim worshipers as he could kill. Using a semi-automatic rifle, he murdered more than…Continue Reading

Among U.S. Military… Ban On Gender Transition To Take Effect In April

By CHRISTINE ROUSSELLE WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNA) — Troops enlisting and serving in the U.S. military will have to serve as their biological sex and are forbidden from transitioning to another gender, a new Department of Defense policy states. The policy was announced in a memo that was obtained by the Associated Press March 12. The…Continue Reading

Medical Ethics: “Who’s Next?”

By BARBARA SIMPSON (Editor’s Note: This column first appeared on WorldNetDaily, March 1, 2019.) + + + It’s really getting out of control. The headlines and news reports are filled with life and death. Not war. Not accidents. No, these news stories are about how and when our medical system can, and will, legally kill…Continue Reading

A Dark Night Finally Turns To Day

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY (Editor’s Note: Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor in chief of CNSnews.com. Creators Syndicate distributes his column.) + + + They could have just kept going, but they didn’t. It was another cold South Dakota day on February 28, 1981, when Lee Litz went out with a friend to test-drive a…Continue Reading

My Reply… An Eastern Orthodox Writer’s Attempt To Justify Divorce And Remarriage

By JAMES LIKOUDIS An Eastern Orthodox correspondent has taken issue with Catholic teaching rejecting adultery as a legitimate ground for divorce and remarriage. His arguments stem from ill-digested readings drawn from both Catholic and Eastern Orthodox sources. The writer, in effect, rejects Catholic doctrine regarding the absolute indissolubility of sacramental marriage. That doctrine, based on…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Regarding a recent reply about giving Holy Communion to everyone at a funeral or wedding, J.C. of Ontario, Canada, sent along the following comments: “I appreciate the clear answers which were given to E.B. of New York. . . . I as a non-Catholic who is a Baptist am well aware that Protestants cannot participate with Catholics in…Continue Reading

Empty Chalice At Consecration Time… Could Signal A Grave Violation Of Canon Law

By Fr. Edward McNamara, LC (Editor’s Note: Following is a Q-and-A from Fr. Edward McNamara’s regular column published by ZENIT News Agency. The date of this column is March 12, 2019. (ZENIT holds the copyright to this article. All rights reserved.) + + + (Legionary of Christ Fr. Edward McNamara is a professor of liturgy and dean of theology at…Continue Reading

Heaven, The Promised Land

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Third Sunday Of Lent (YR C) Readings: Exodus 3:1-8a, 13-15 1 Cor. 10:1-6, 10-12 Luke 13:1-9 In the readings today we hear about both the justice and the mercy of God. The first reading is all about God’s mercy. The people of Israel had been enslaved in Egypt for 430 years, but in that time they…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World . . . Cardinal Pell: The Pendulum Swings

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The pendulum means nothing on its own and functions only by means of a power external to itself: the law of gravity. The swing of the pendulum is a symbol of the lack of balance, for the forces at work upon it which keep it in constant motion prevent its rest in a central position…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: In his weekly bulletin at the Church of St. Michael in New York City, Fr. George Rutler, after noting that John Henry Cardinal Newman of England will soon be proclaimed a saint and Jozsef Cardinal Mindszenty of Hungary will be declared venerable, said that “Mindszenty was not Newman’s intellectual peer, but his life was the most muscular testimony…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinello

By CAROLE BRESLIN Mary and Joseph led a chaste life, as husband and wife for the greater glory of God. The parents of Therese of Lisieux, Marie-Azélie Guérin and Louis Martin, also hoped to live this way, but their spiritual director advised them not to do so. In obedience, they provided the Church with a wonderful example of holiness. Another…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Cuthbert

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Melrose Abbey in Scotland, which is located about 30 miles south-southeast of Edinburgh, attracts more visitors than just about any other attraction in Scotland. Although mostly in ruins now, the abbey boasts a museum and other sites of interest, such as the embalmed heart of Robert the Bruce. Mel Gibson revived interest in him with the…Continue Reading