Friday, December 31, 2010

More Errors on the Gnostics – and More Contradictions!

It seems Mikey’s meager brain capacity is again having difficulty processing the nuances of differing belief systems, as well as more abstract concepts – such as that an atheist can write ABOUT a particular belief system, or religion or religious sect without investing any credence in it. So it seems that all that money he’s plowing into his online Bible school education isn’t gaining him much traction when it comes to actual understanding.

We see this when he writes:

Brothers and Sisters ; is it any wonder Satan has set an emotionally charged mental block in the atheists in their rejection of God - especially when many ( atheists ) like my bro' Phil embraces the cult of Catholicism - at least in part ( though , that's like being a "little bit" pregnant - either you are or you AIN'T ! ) ."

But of course, as an atheist I “embrace no cult” or any religion, including Catholicism. Obviously, from declared Catholic doctrine, one cannot even be a nominal Catholic if one rejects: the virgin birth, Immaculate conception, Trinity, and Ascension not to mention the claimed "divinity" of Yeshua. Mikey needs to spend more time reading up on Comparative Religions! Note: Mikey still has this earliest, original CHRISTIAN religion confused with a “cult” despite the fact he invokes its own principles for scriptural validity to attack Gnosticism! Cognitive dissonance anyone?

Now again, let me note that writing about a religion doesn’t mean one subscribes to it, just as Mikey blathering on about atheism doesn’t mean he’s an atheist. Nor would I ever be so daft to assert he embraces atheism- because he so often writes about it (and in modern clinical psychology a condition known as reactive affectation is sometimes used to describe a mentality that appears to reject a thing but actually is enamored of it).

Merely because I write about Gnosticism doesn’t mean that I accept it. Rather, one has a duty – when confronted with a bible -puncher passing himself off as a religious expert expounding on other religions - to hold him or her to account. Thus, because Mikey has obviously never studied Comparative Religions – as I did at Loyola-thus it makes sense he discloses so much ignorance about them (whether Islam, Buddhism or Gnosticism). My point is that I can’t allow that display of ignorance to be passed off as some smug knowledge. Hence, when he bloviates at length about Gnosticism with nearly all of it suspect, he must be pulled up on it.

It's also important to hold Mikey to account for his own contradictions. It seems he just can’t mentally process that IF he holds or uses the Catholic Church’s own four principles for legitimate scripture as the basis for rejecting the Gnostics (see previous blog), then he can’t also claim his King James version (which Catholic scholars reject as flouting ALL those principles) is (his words):

“THE one source of Truth , the inspired, inerrant Word of the living God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice

It doesn’t work so, Mikey! Now, I know I may have been moving too fast for you so I will deliberately try to slow this down in order that you can process the details!

In your previous blog you informed us of FOUR principles used by “early Church councils” to assess whether text was acceptable or not. You wrote:

"The early church councils followed something similar to the following principles to determine whether a New Testament book was truly inspired by the Holy Spirit: 1) Was the author an apostle or have a close connection with an apostle? 2) Was the book being accepted by the Body of Christ at large? 3) Did the book contain consistency of doctrine and orthodox teaching? 4) Did the book bear evidence of high moral and spiritual values that would reflect a work of the Holy Spirit?”

Now, as I noted, these were ALL principles applied by the CATHOLIC Church since IT was the basis for these “early church councils” – there being NO other Christian Churches around at the time, since the Protestant Reformation with Martin Luther would not arrive until the 16th century. There is no way dear bro, to alter that fact, to change the timeline of history, or to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse.

THUS, LOGICALLY – by accepting these four principles YOU accept the CATHOLIC Church’s basis for accepting or rejecting the authenticity of scripture. In other words, bro, you are hoist on your own petard. If you attack then the Gnostic texts using those four principles, you are also obliged to attack your own KJV based on the same principles.

We know (‘The Concise History of the Catholic Church’ by Rev. Thomas Bokenkotter) that the KJV failed three of those criteria, including: ii) Since its version, based on an approved work by a King (Henry VIII) who founded a Church (Anglican) that broke away from Rome was no longer regarded as “the Body of Christ” (that reserved only for the Church with its successional line traced to Peter)[1], and iii) failed on the basis of diverging from the orthodox teaching of the same Apostolic successional Church – since Erasmus version was never accepted – based as it was on a corrupted ms. from the Latin Vulgate, as noted by scholar Bart D. Ehrman) and finally iv) since by breaking off from Rome, the Anglican church was no longer viewed as a repository of the Holy Spirit. (Since that Spirit is responsible for infusing infallibility and one cannot have two infallible heads or Churches!)

Mikey therefore is left with only one way out: he is obliged to reject the four (Catholic- authored) principles to determine legitimate scripture. If he does that, then he salvages the benediction for his KJV (since it is no longer rejected by those CATHOLIC CRITERIA) but he also is forced to drop his attacks on the Gnostic Gospels. (Since he invokes the four Catholic principles to attack their credibility).

Well, how does it feel to be between a rock and a hard place, Mikey? Seems to be that YOU are the actual covert Catholic here, and no - like you said- one can't be part Catholic just as one can't be part pregnant. The difference between you and me is I not only reject all the primary Church doctrines, but also their "tests for scriptural legitimacy". You may reject all their doctrines, but you accept their scriptural tests - hence you are at least a Catholic in terms of validating scriptures.

Before leaving this there are a couple more places I wish to pull him up for his theological and scriptural ignorance, as when he scribbles:

The Person of Jesus Christ is another area where Christianity and Gnosticism drastically differ. The Gnostics believe that Jesus’ physical body was not real, but only “seemed” to be physical, and that His spirit descended upon Him at His baptism, but left Him just before His crucifixion. Such views destroy not only the true humanity of Jesus, but also the atonement, for Jesus must not only have been truly God, but also the truly human (and physically real) man "

But this doesn't wash if one examines the matter in the NT quadriforms which are certainly not unanimous on the post-death crucifixion nature of Yeshua. One actually beholds that 1 or 2 NT accounts lend themselves to a literal interpretaton of the resurrection, but others aren't so clear. Not by any means.

For example BOTH Luke (16:12) and Mark (24: 13-32 ) relate that Jesus appeared in ANOTHER FORM, e.g. not an Earthly or fleshly form - to two disciples as they walked on the road to Emmaus. John also (before his 'doubting Thomas' account) relates how Mary Magdalene beholds a man she first believes is a gardener, but later recognizes as Jesus (when he speaks her name). However, he explicitly orders her NOT to touch him, which would certainly not be the case if he was a "truly human and physically real man" as Mikey alludes. Clearly, any "truly physically real man" can tolerate a touch! However, an unreal man or merely a hallucination of her own mind, would not!

Thus, when we examine issues more closely we see the Gnostics in their beliefs on the resurrection weren't so far off from interpretations portrayed in Mark, Luke and John (which again, contradict other accounts in the gospels that the resurrection was literal).

Mikey also makes much ado over the Gnostics' perceptual dichotomy between flesh and spirit. However, this was common in many mystery religions, as well as accepted by many early Church Fathers. (For example, Origen was known to have cut off his sexual organs because he believed them inhabited by evil entities, since he was unable to control erections).

Also, it isn't difficult to understand if one grasps the context. Thus, the inherent Gnostic dichotomy embodies an instinctive distrust of the world as an agent that corrupts and prevents aspirations to a higher spiritual ground. In this sense, the Gnostics distrust of material and fleshly instincts and powers is exactly similar to the sentiments expressed in Ephesians 6:12:

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places"

Of course, while fundies ascribe "demonic" nature to these powers and principalities, the Gnostics didn't. They named them as entities called "archons" which spiralled out from the Demiurgos that actually created the universe and which was the entity actually claimed as "God" in the Old Testament: e.g. the bloodthirsty butcher and mass-murdering Psycho that commits genocide on fantastic scales, allows little kids to be cut to pieces by She bears, and sons to be stoned to death for mere insolence to parents. According to Richard Smoley (Inner Christianity, p. 18):

"The Gnostics believed the world is irremediably evil, created not by the true, good God but by a second-rate deity known as the Demiurge. Gnosis is a way of fleeing from this jerry-rigged universe and Jesus was sent as a messenger by the true God to help us escape."

This makes eminent sense when one examines carefully the actions of the maniac "God" in the OT, which carries out savage mass executions with the flimsiest justifications at the drop of a hat. And then there are the minor "crimes" for which people are ordered to be killed. Again, to refresh memory:

2 Kings 2, 23:24 allows children to be slain by wild animals if they insult their elders (in this case a "prophet").

By Deut. 22:22 both John Edwards and his former girlfriend (Riele Hunter) would have to be stoned to death.

By Deut. 21: 18-21 any insolent son would have to be taken to the outskirts of a city by his parents who'd let the elders stone him to death.

This too is nuts, and no Gnostic in his right mind would accept it. Hence, these accounts cannot possibly describe the actions of a REAL and good God but a pretender: the Demiurge. THIS is why its manifestations as flesh can't be trusted, because it is in league with evil itself! (Again Mikey, do try and pay attention here! I am not "defending" the Gnostics or "embracing" them - but trying to explain to your menial intellect why their dichotomy makes sense in context).

This view is totally reinforced by author Lloyd Graham in the last chapter of his book, ‘Deceptions and Myths of the Bible’, 1979. For example, as Graham observes (p. 315):

Satan is matter and its energies and the (Temptation of Jesus in the desert) story is but a mythologist’s way of telling us…that in the inanimate world matter and energy dominate….The only consciousness here is the epigenetic and this is – as yet- wholly incapable of controlling violent forces. This explains why our imaginary God of love and mercy allows these forces to destroy us”.

Again, this "imaginary God" is the Demiurge, or Demiurgos. A fraud. A creep and pretender, masquerading as the real McCoy - but the Gnostics (thanks to their secret wisdom) aren't buying it while all the other twits - like Mikey - are slavering all over themselves to quote its every murderous and duplicitous action verbatim.

Graham’s depiction of the material and epigenetic god (demiurgos) is one embedded in carnal lusts, revenge and avarice – so how can humanity be any different? (This is why the Gnostics didn't trust it, or the flesh it allowed to be incepted).

As Graham earlier notes (p. 272):

Man owes God nothing, not even thanks. Whatever is, exists because of necessity and not divine sufferance. And whatever exists suffers because of nondivine Causation. Our world is full of suffering, tragedy, disease, disaster, pain; we demand a better reason than religion has to offer.”

Perhaps for this reason, Graham insists that it is the de facto “creations” – humankind- who are the genuine authors of workable morality (“dynamic justness” not moral justice) not the claimed “Maker”. Here, of course, is precisely where the atheist would concur.

Mikey, before he responds again, must resolve several issues: 1) Why does he ally himself with Catholic principles on the legitimacy of scriptures if those same principles would find his own KJV unacceptable?, 2) Why does he admit the scriptural accuracy (effectively) of those early Catholic scriptures (by invoking their principles) if later on he rejects them?, 3) Why does he insist on worshipping a false god - the brutal, insane caricature in the OT which the Gnostics (at least) had the good sense and perception to realize couldn't be real? (Even if one rejects most of the basis of Gnosticism, one must at least award credit here for good sense!)

We have no idea what his nonsensical, irrational response will be forthcoming, but we can see already that when binds one's mind to an absolutist stance- it is bound to yield confusion and much contradiction in the aftermath!

[1] In 1539,Thomas Cranmer the Archbishop of Canterbury, hired Myles Coverdale at the bequest of King Henry VIII to publish the "Great Bible". It became the first English Bible authorized for public use. Henry VIII acted essentially as the Anglican’s “Pope”. His first act was to further defy the wishes of Rome by funding the printing of the KJV in English… the first legal English Bible… just for spite. This is the basis Mikey holds up as the “one and only true and inerrant word of God” HORSE POCKEY!

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