The World and The Demiurge

I feel like I am finally coming to a place where I am really taking Gnosticism as my own. What I mean by that is that I have spent the past couple of years learning about Gnosticism laying a foundation of historical Gnosticism and adopting its theology as my own. Now I am at a place where I feel that Gnosticism is my religion and I can actively engage it and even reinterpret it in a modern context while at the same time honor where it came from. I realize that even the term Gnosticism in a historical context is not helpful as there were several early groups that are categorized under Gnosticism that are different from each other. Each of these factions did not agree and some were not even that friendly to each other.
In modern Gnosticism we tend to lump all the Nag Hammadi scriptures together to form our local groups. Though without a good foundation into the thoughts of the individual groups and which writings go where, a person can wind up very confused.
The historical Gnostics felt free to utilize Platonic philosophy, Jewish, Christian, and Hermetic thought into their own theologies. They engaged these traditions and even radically reinterpreted them. Many of the Gnostic groups were excellent at providing mythic stories loosely based on others to explore their understandings of the world.
So I have been contemplating my understanding of the demiurge and the archons lately. I personally am not at all apt to call God in the Hebrew scriptures the Demiurge. I do find parts of the Hebrew and Christian writings cruel and distorted, but I do with respect that the writers of these scriptures were on a journey of their own. They wrote according to their culture and their own beliefs about who God was and what God asked of them. So in a sense the writings reflect the evolution of the Jewish people in the Hebrew Scriptures. In the Christian scriptures, people reflected on their own understanding of their encounter with Jesus. They used stories, mythic elements, and hearsay to explain that this was someone who was bigger than life to them...and in many ways showed a compassionate vision of God. They reflected on what his life and death meant, and that he was somehow still alive after his crucifixion. The authors do not all agree on the ins and outs of it, nor in their theology of what this all meant and who Jesus was. We know that Christianity was very diverse almost from day one.
So to say it was the Demiurge in the Garden at the beginning, is a myth. It is trying to explain why the world is so messed up. Why do we have to kill a plant or animal for food so that we can live? Why are their disasters? Why can worldly systems be so cruel? For some Gnostics, it is because the creator of this world is demented or at best ignorant.
For me I have been speaking to a Gnostic priest about possible other interpretations. In a sense this world is full of the divinity of God. Even the Gospel of Thomas says as much. I sense God moving in history and in our lives. But I would say that there is the Godhead, the essence of God...the Monad who is beyond comprehension and finite understanding. When we speak of God emanating all that is....we speak of some of the depths of God. Then we can speak of the energies of God, who fill all things and move and act in the world. In a real sense, this is a limited aspect of God. Some may speak of it as the God's Divine Playfulness, God's Self-Forgetting, or God's self-limiting...we know that we sparks from the fire of God have forgotten who we are and where we come from, and what we are meant to be. Maybe this is all God acting in the process of knowing himself. Maybe disaster happens so that God will use it to cause us to wake up..in essence to wake himself up in us. Or perhaps God acts like Satan in Jewish thought as the one who tests folks but is still loyal to God. I don't really know, but I am more comfortable now disagreeing with my Gnostic forefathers and mothers where they held a creator demonlike deity and God. My wrestling is just beginning though.

Comments

  1. Dear Thomas: As a novice, you are
    being seduced by intellect. Get to
    know yourself better. Then liberation
    shall come to you.

    +ben

    ReplyDelete

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