Early Christian Heresies: Gnosticism

I found a really cool website that offers free downloads from a seminary.  It’s found at Covenant Theological Seminary.  I believe it is a Presbyterian Seminary, and I’ve learned a ton about the Bible, and Jewish and Christian History.  Currently, I’m listening to the course called Ancient and Medieval Church History.  Class 5 deals with Orthodoxy, and Heresy.  It talks about 3 specific heresies:  Gnosticism, Marcionism, and Montanism.

The first thing I learned was that the term “heresy” originally meant “opinion.”  It had no negative connotation.  However, with these 3 movements, the term took on a much more derisive connotation.  Othrodoxy literally means “straight thinking”, just as an orthodontist “straightens teeth.”  These other movements are “heterodoxy”, meaning “other thinking.”

Gnosticism is very interesting in the fact that it is so varied.  There were Jewish gnostics, Christian gnostics, and pagan gnostics.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, gnosticism deals with secret knowledge.  While Gnostics were quite diverse, they did have some things in common.  They were not monotheistic.  They believed there was a good god, and a bad good.  It was the bad god that created the earth.  Often, they named this bad god Jehovah.

The body and all of creation was a terrible thing.  Gnostics preferred to denigrate everything worldly, and thought the body was a terrible thing.  However each person was endowed with spiritual sparks from the good god.  Gnostics believed that it was important to cast off the body in order to return to the good god.

Christian gnostics believed that Christ was not actually human, that he was not born, and that he came supernaturally to the earth.  They don’t believe in Mary, Joseph, the star, and all that is associated in the Biblical story.  The Gospel of Thomas is a gnostic gospel.  It is not a narrative, like the 4 gospels are, but rather just a group of sayings of Jesus.  Gnostics valued intellectual/spiritual knowledge above all.  One could say they were the first group to espouse “intellectualism.”

Some of the sayings in the Gospel of Thomas are familiar, with some new twists, such as “Give unto Ceaser, the things which are Ceasar’s.  Give unto God the things which are God’s, and give unto me, that which is mine.”  The First Christians is a 4-part series by PBS that is outstanding regarding early Christian history, and talk a little about gnostics.

Another gnostic gospel is the Gospel of Judas.  In this gospel, Judas is the hero as he helps Jesus get rid of his body to return to the good god.  The other 11 apostles are portrayed as not as intelligent as Judas, and that Judas is Jesus’ favorite apostle.  Other gnostic writings make Cain the hero because he slew Abel, and helped him get rid of his corrupt physical body.  So gnostic writings were obviously quite strange, and definitely unorthodox.

Other gnostics believed that in order to escape this world, one had to complete many steps, and needed to know secret passwords to get to other aeons.  One gnostic even claims to say there were 365 steps in order to return to the good god.

Bishop Irenaeus, who lived around 150 BC, coined the term “orthodox” was one person who tried to define orthodoxy, and really took issue with gnostics and Marcionites (which I’ll talk about in my next post.)  He also tried to define the canon of scripture, and was the first to try to limit the canon to four gospels.  (There are over 50 gospels in existence that modern scholars are aware of.)

I have wondered if the Sadducees, a Jewish group opposed to Jesus in the Gospels, were related to the gnostics at all.  Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection, similar to the gnostics.  However, I think this is the only real similarity.  It seems like they were in charge of the temple at Jerusalem.  Is there anyone out there that can answer this question?

I enjoy looking at these heresies, as it seems the LDS church is acting similar to Irenaeus, regarding heresies.  There is a real attempt to define orthodoxy in the church, and to stamp out anything considered heretical, whether it be early church history, same-sex marriage, women and the priesthood, or other controversial topics.  I know some who read this blog are quite liberal in their LDS beliefs.  What do you think of the similarities between the intellectual gnostics, and intellectuals in the LDS church?


20 comments on “Early Christian Heresies: Gnosticism

  1. Well I’m not liberal and I’m not Mormon, but let me give you my view of orthodoxy. It is my view that religious people need to clearly define what they believe. There needs to be a standard. I look at Mormons, with their view of constant revelation as being unstable. Is the Adam-God doctrine, for example, as taught by the prophet Young cannonized or not? I could pick out any number of doctrines or teachings and ask the same thing. For example, as a Mormon do you believe you have to engage in polygamy in order to reach the highest level of exhaltation? (D&C 132?) Christians view Mormons as a sect that can’t be pinned down on anything because what is truth today might not be truth tomorrow i.e. blacks and the priesthood. So in my interactions with some Mormons, they seem almost proud of the fact that they don’t have a systematic theology. I’ve examined the different sects of Mormonism and I see the FLDS as more closely aligned with 19th century Mormonism. The Community of Christ and Temple Lot folks are on a different point on the chart. The Utah LDS had a reformation from about 1890-1905 as a result of statehood…..see Reed Smoot hearings that dealt with his being seated as a U.S. Senator. So anyway, when it comes to comparing Utah Mormonism with CC or TL or FLDS Mormonism who are the orthodox Mormons. When it comes to comparing Utah Mormonism with traditional Christianity, there aren’t any real similarities. If you look at the Community of Christ Doctrine, they are nudging up to traditional Christianity. All this means what, it’s my opinion that it’s important for religious groups to clearly define what they believe in. People can then decide if they want to be part of the goup.

  2. Falcon, thanks for you comments, and you are certainly welcome here.

    As for “traditional Christianity”, I think it is fair to say that 2nd century Christianity is extremely different than 21th century Christianity. For one example, Christians are not thrown to the lions, or burned at the stake. Another example, is that the trinity didn’t exist at this time.

    I would assume that your typical protestant or mormon would generally believe the following as the “major” events of Christianity. Christ was killed on the cross. The apostles were killed, and christians were persecuted. Then Constantine converted, and helped establish the Council of Nicea. Sometime after that, The Catholic and Orthodox churches split. Then was the reformation, and all the protestant divisions (I’ll include mormons in this period).

    While this is somewhat true, most Christians have no idea how diverse Christianity was between 100-300 AD. Gnosticism was just one of the heresies, and really helped define orthodoxy, as well as helped define the orthodox definition of the trinity. We can see this because the gnostics obviously didn’t believe in the trinity as well. I find it interesting that the professor of this course says that many early church fathers had a “poor understanding” of the trinity, including Origen, Tertullien, Ireneaus, and Clement of Alexandria.

    I agree with your characterization that FLDS as more closely aligned with 19th century Joseph Smith teachings. I can also understand your difficulty with ongoing revelation as somewhat of a problem in nailing down the theology. However, when we look at the earliest Christianity–the Christianity of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts, it could be argued that Joseph Smith’s Christianity more closely resembles this version of Christianity, than the traditional Christianity that has evolved in the 1900 years since the apostles died.

    I plan future posts on Marcionism, and Montanism in addition to Gnosticism. Of these 3 heresies, Montanism isn’t well known, but seems to fit with Smith’s views of ongoing revelation. Montanus could , in my view, be quite similar to Joseph Smith. (Let me state that I’m still learning about these, but my introduction to Montanism was quite interesting.) I freely admit that mormonism is quite heretical compared to traditional christianity (although I hate the term “traditional christianity”, because there are so many definitions of what is “traditional”.)

  3. Very interesting topic MH. Thanks for the links, I will check it out. I believe that it is a misnomer in the church to suggest that the current establishment is anything close to the early Christian church.

  4. MH,
    Very good comments but here’s where I think you swerve off the road. Joseph Smith’s view of Christianity wasn’t a close resemblence of the early Church. First of all JS view of the nature of God wasn’t the view of the early Church. For example, the early Church did not believe that God was once a sinful man that evolved to becoming a god; based on a godhood purification program. They did not believe that there was a mother god who along with the father god procreated spirit children. They did not believe that they could become gods of their own planetary system and rule with their goddess wives. They did not practice polygamy nor did they perform temple rituals that are mainly drawn by Mormons from Masonic tradition. They did not practice a “priesthood” seeing rather, Christ as the priest. They did not teach or believe as B. Young did that God the Father had literal sex with Mary to conceive Jesus. So to say JS was close to the original Christian doctrine is not so. I’ve found often that Mormons will find the writings of the heretics and say that proves JS had a revelation of a restored gospel. The heretics didn’t make the cut when the Church was defining it’s doctrine. Now you can go with it, but do it in the understanding that that’s not the direction the Church headed when it established it orthodoxy. To say that the orthodox crowd had it wrong is to say the heretics had it right. You have to pick your team.
    Also Irenaus of Lyon in his writing against the heresies (130-200) said, “The tradition of the apostles can be clearly seen in every church by those who wish to behold the truth. We can enumerate those who were established by the apostles (and their successors) in the churches down to our time-none of whom taught or thought of anything like the heretics’ mad ideas. Even if the apostles had known of “hidden mysteries” (which they had taught to the ‘perfect’ secretly and apart from others), they would have handed them down especially to those to whom they were entrusting the churches themselves. For they certainly wished those whom they were leaving as their successors to be perfect and irreproachable. Since there are so many clear testimonies, we should not seek from others for the truth that can easily be received from the church.”
    I admire your seeking after the truth, but to be honest, you’re going to have a difficult time finding Mormonism in the mainstream primitive Christian Church. You will find Mormonism, however, in the teachings of the heretics. I could list it all here but it’s easily found in other sources. But I think your original premise had to do with, “should the Mormon Church establish an orthodoxy”? By-the-way, God reveals things to me all the time. I believe firmly in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit as Paul teaches in First Cor. 12-14. I’ve been blessed with a couple of the Gifts mentioned there and God uses them as a means of guiding me in His truth. He’s alive in Me and manifests Himself daily.
    Thanks for letting me be part of the discussion and your respectful tone.

  5. Falcon,

    It seems to me you are confusing pre-Nicene doctrine with post-Nicene doctrine. Gnostics indirectly influenced the Nicene creed with their dueling gods.

    Now, it is interesting to me that Eusebius of Cesearea, who lived approx 263 – 339 AD, and Origen of Alexandria 185 – 254 AD steadfastly emphasized the difference of the persona of the Trinity and maintained the subordination of the Son to God. These men heavily influenced the Orthodox movement during their lifetimes.

    On the other hand, it was the “heretic” Tertullian (155-222 AD) who coined the term “trinity”. Of course Tertullian later joined the Montanism movement. So, using your definition, trinity is actually a heretical movement because the person who coined the term left mainstream orthodoxy to join a heretical movement. I would like to note that the Presbyterian teacher in the podcast I mentioned in my main post, said that Tertullian was probably the sharpest mind of the 2nd century, and he was puzzled why someone so intelligent would join the heretical Montanus movement.

    Let me emphasize that these 3 early church fathers all pre-date the Council of Nicea which occurred in 325 AD. Except for Tertullian, they are all considered “traditional” or “orthodox” theologians, but their views on the trinity were dismissed by traditional Christians by around the 6th century AD.

    What I’m trying to illustrate here, is that there was a diversity of views prior to Constantine. This is well illustrated in the PBS series. The church in Palestine was different from the church in North Africa, which was different from the church in Rome, which was different from the church in Persia, Syria, Turkey, etc.

    Now, yes I agree that religious leaders, whether they are LDS or not, have every right to define orthodoxy. What I’m trying to do here is show some similarities with 1st and 2nd century Christianity with 1st and 2nd century (ie 1830-2030) mormonism.

    You may choose to dismiss Eusebius and Origen for their non-trinitarian views, and you may support their other more traditional orthodox views, and I am perfectly fine with that. It seems you would agree with Tertullian’s Trinitarian views even though he joined the heretical Montanist movement. However, if you can pick and choose the doctrines of pre-Nicene fathers, then you allow me to do the same with Mormonism. That means I can choose to reject the Adam-God Theory, polygamy, and the great list you chose to list above.

    It seems that you too must somehow correlate conflicting ideas among early Christian theologians, just as I must do with 19th century mormon prophets. To quote you, it seems at least the heretic Tertullian “ma[d]e the cut when the Church was defining it’s doctrine.”

  6. Mormon Heretic,
    I don’t remember getting into a discussion of the doctrine of the trinity. What I did was list the doctrines of the Mormon Church as developed by Joseph Smith and B. Young. None of these Mormon doctrines were part of the early church. There’s really no link between the doctrinal battles fought in the first 300 years of the Christian Church and the things I listed as Mormon doctrine. I don’t think Arius, for example, taught that God was once a man. I see no doctrine or tradition in the early church for plural marrage, or a mother god, or the building of Christian temples with associated Masonic rituals. If you want to discuss the battle the Church had over the doctrine of the trinity and the nature of Jesus, that’s a whole nother topic. They did indeed have a battle. You have to pick your side. It you go with an antitrinitarian view, that puts you outside the Christian mainstream. It’s a different God from Christianity.
    Arius’ heresy was pretty simple. He said that the Father begat the Son. So the Son was born and at one time didn’t exist. The Son ,therefore, was less than the Father but the Son was greater than man. So if you subscribe to this, then Jesus becomes “a god”, a sort of superbly godlike hero. We also have a door open to polytheism. Mormons seem to disagree as to if they worship Jesus. If they do then they are polytheists. If they don’t then they deny He is God. These are not simple matters but have all sorts of implications.
    So this is the deal, again, you can go with what is considered by Christianity as heresy. The Chalcedonian Definition of the Faith (451) set the boundaries of what Chrisitans think about Jesus. After all, the subject of your post had to do with “should Mormons have an orthodoxy”? The orthodoxy which seems to have been chosen, aligns itself with what Christianity rejected. That would include Origen, who had many orthodox admirers, but who also rejected his teachings.
    Just a word here, Mormons are free to accept or reject the teachings of what is known as the orthodox Christian faith. But I guess my request is that Mormons proclaim their views loudly and boldly pointing out the differences rather than to appear as evengelical Christians. I believe your own past prophet, on the Larry King Show, when asked specifically about the man to god doctrine said something akin to “I don’t know that we teach that.” That’s not right. Do battle in the open like the early Church did over these matters. Let potential converts know the difference. That’s why Mormonism needs an articulated orthodoxy of its own.

  7. Falcon,

    I agree that mormons could be less secretive about certain doctrines. However, once again, let’s look at the early church for examples. You say “Do battle in the open like the early Church did over these matters.” Well, this so-called open battle often subjected early Christians to the lions, or execution. Early Christians were extremely secretive, by necessity. They met early in the morning, before the sun was up. I wouldn’t call this “open”.

    Additionally, the Gnostics, Arians, Montanists, Ebionites, and Marcionites were all persecuted out of existence. You call this “open?” Yes, the mormons practiced heretical topics like polygamy, and what happened? They were persecuted just like these early heretics, until they were forced into denying the practice. This is not “open”.

    Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to become an apologist for polygamy. I think it was wrong, is wrong, and want no part of it. But it is Biblical–one need simply look at Abraham, Jacob, David, and Solomon for just a few of the many examples. And it was practiced among Jews as late as the 11th century AD. So, while I personally think polygamy is/was wrong (even for Abraham), please don’t intimate that it is not biblical, because it most certainly is.

    Additionally, the Gnostics practiced polygamy, as evidenced by Irenaeus (c.180) who condemns polygamy:

    “Others, again, following upon Basilides and Carpocrates, have introduced promiscuous intercourse and a plurality of wives…” [ANF, vol. 1, p.353]

    The purpose of my post was to discuss early Christianity. Since my readers have generally been mormon, I tried to tie it back to mormonism. But I am certainly fine discussing these other topics, such as the trinity, etc.

    Once again, I believe there was a wide diversity of opinions in the early centuries. While you are welcome to disagree, it does not appear that your disagreement is supported by historical evidence. Yes, mormonism is outside “traditional christianity”, but Joseph Smith claimed to be restoring “original christianity.” We could talk about the “apostasy” , but I’ll save that for another post.

  8. MH
    The history of the early church and it’s struggle to define orthodoxy is well documented. But the fact of the matter is they did made a decision regarding doctrine, in particular, the nature of God. The same ground has been plowed countless times in 2,000 years and the Church has remained steadfast as to what it defines as the essential doctrines. There really is no secret about this and the Christians, as they were deciding the doctrine, didn’t meet in secret. There we’re well attended and well documented gatherings where they debated and battled out the various points of view. Mormonism has decided to embrace the doctrines that are outside of the mainstream of Christianity. Again, that’s fine. What happens, however, is that Mormons have a kind of folk history built up around the various doctrines so as to support their own view of the truth. Chrtistians have the history laid out there warts and all for everyone to see. Among those folk legends proclaimed by Mormons is that there was a great apostasy and that many truths were left out of the Bible making it a corrupt document. It’s hard to prove that something was left out because it’s not there. As to polygamy, I won’t go deep into that, but the Church never practiced it. I can give you scripture and verse if you like and historical documention.
    Now as to determining a Mormon orthodoxy, it will be difficult. One reason is that Mormons can’t seem to decide when a prophet was speaking as a prophet or just engaging in blue sky speculation. The other problem, which is related, is that the Utah Mormon Church decided to throw Joseph Smith under the bus when it comes to what he said and taught. The other problem of course is deciding who is the legitimate prophet. The Community of Christ, for example, was led by Joseph Smith’s son. Emma Smith, Joseph’s wife was a member. So the Utah church has a lot of problems because in reality, they’ve denied some significant teachings of the founder. There’s been some significant apostasy within the Utah branch, with really only the FLDS holding fast to the doctrines and teachings of Joseph Smith. Not having an orthodoxy has served the Utah church very well in this regard because it can change at will. If Joseph Smith were to appear suddenly today, he’d join the FLDS. He wouldn’t know the other sects of Mormonism.
    But really the bottom line is Joseph Smith. Was he a real or false prophet? Makes me wonder what the Utah Church believes in that regard since they’ve changed significant doctrines that he taught based on societal and government pressure not on revelation. Also, take a look in the BoM. I think you’ll see that it claims a triune view of the God Head.
    But it all comes back to Joseph Smith and was he a prophet with a restored gospel? What kind of guy was he? He used a magic rock in a hat to “translate” some gold plates he said he found. It was the same rock he used to look for buried treasure. His translation of the Book of Abraham has been proven to be a total fabrication. He married 33 women, some teenagers, some of the women were married to other men. He said he did it because an angel with a sword appeared to him and said he would kill him if he didn’t practice polygamy. He was convicted of bank fraud. So my question is, wouldn’t you have some doubts relative to the veracity of his doctrinal pronouncments especially those regarding the nature of God. Is this a guy who can be trusted? Please, the all men sin, won’t cut it as an explanation for his short comings.
    I think Mormons have to get past this concept that spritual evidence overcomes all other types of evidence and intellectual thought. The spiritual evidence coming in the form of “spiritual feelings”.
    I applaud you for having the courage to take a good look at the doctrines of the Mormon church and also Mormon Church history. It does take courage to ask questions. I do it all the time.

  9. Falcon,

    Can you format your comments into paragraphs? It makes it easier to read. Thanks.

    Thanks for the respectful discussion. Two people from different backgrounds can look at the same pieces of historical information, and come to different conclusions. It happens all the time, but it’s nice when mudslinging is not present. Thanks.

    We can talk about apostacy in my other post. I’ll just say quickly here, that mormons are trying to establish the church as Jesus did, and “traditional christianity” does not seem to care about apostles any more. If you want to call this folk history, I guess that’s your prerogative.

    You seem to take great delight in dissecting Joseph and Brigham’s statements. But I feel that if you dissected early church fathers (Origen, Tertullian, and Clement to name a few), you could easily make similar arguments about Christianity. Many of these early church fathers are known as Saints, such as St Clement. But you no longer espouse some of these doctrines, and Tertullian who coined “trinity”, is really a heretic–hence there is no Saint Tertullian.

    As for “spiritual” feelings, how else does one establish truth? Two juries considered the OJ Simpson case. Neither knew exactly what happened. But one jury “felt” he was guilty, while the other “felt” he was innocent. Yet the facts of the case in both trials was never really disputed. How else can you explain these contradictory verdicts, other than through feelings? Facts certainly produced differing verdicts.

    You mentioned Joseph was guilty of bank fraud. Let’s look at Moses for a similar example. If you were an Egyptian guard, wouldn’t you say Moses was guilty of murder? After all, he slew an Egyptian and buried him in the sand. We have a Bible to prove it, and Moses never denies it. Now, the jews, and Christians all come to Moses’ defence, and say Moses did it to save a jew who was being beaten. But from an Egyptian point of view, he’s nothing but a murderer and fugitive. As Ronald Reagan used to say, “one man’s terrorist, is another man’s freedom fighter.” Sometimes guilt or innocence depends on one’s point of view.

    Let’s pretend that you were to espouse the Eqyptian god of Ra and we were having a discussion on the merits of Judaism vs Ra-ism (for lack of a better word), it would be awfully easy for you to call Moses a murderer. Yet I would find it easy to defend Moses as a prophet.

    You would say, “Moses really talked to God? I think he just carved those stone tablets by himself……After all, he’s a murderer…”

    Do you see my point?

  10. MH
    Actually there are churches that care about apostles. For a more traditional view you can look at the Catholic Church which has a pope and a college of cardinals. They also have bishops and a priesthood that’s centuries old. Catholics believe in the infallability of the pope when he speaks on doctrinal matters. Many modern day churches subscribe to the five fold ministry of the Holy Spirit described in Ephesians with apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Apostle literally means “one sent”. By-the-way, I think Mormon apostles and the prophet get paid for their services and get pretty cushy treatment, but that is neither here nor there.

    How do we establish truth? Excellent question. First of all it’s based on careful study of the Word of God, the Bible. There are specific, recognized principles for Bible interpretation. Now shortly after I got saved (decades ago) I received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit with evidence of speaking in tongues. Today the gift is with me as is the gift of prophesy as outlined in First Cor. 12-13. When I received the Baptism and spoke in tongues I also proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, right on the spot. It was obvious that I was speaking forth God’s word. So would you agree with me that the Gospel I proclaim is the truth based on this supernatural witness of the Holy Spirit? It was more than a feeling, God manifested Himself in me by His Holy Spirit. So how do I know the truth a part from the Holy Spirit’s witness within me? In other words is the truth just in there or do I have to do something else? Again, I’m back to Bible study, solid interpretation principles, prayer, fasting when necessary and confirmation from informed sources.

    Now you were using the argument from equivalency, which is; admit my guy is flawed (Joseph Smith) but find some other guy (Moses) that was flawed too and call it a tie. See they’re the same. You know, Hitler put Jews in internment camps but Franklin Roosevelt put the American Japanese in inturnment camps too so they’re the same.

    Jesus said that the Spirit of truth would lead us into all truth. I believe that based on the witness of the Holy Spirit as manifested by God’s supernatural gifts, and the Holy Scriptures I have the truth. The truth is this: God is One. He’s not a former man who got righteous. Jesus is fully human and fully divine, having two natures in one person-without confusion, without change, without division, without separation. see Phillipians 2:5-11.

    To avoid outer darkness and to spend eternity with God we have to trust in Jesus for our salvation. Only one Jesus can save. Not a created being god but fully God. Only He is the qualified Savior. I invite you to receive this gift of eternal life today.

  11. If God requires some sort of confession or mindless and endless worship. What kind of creepy belief structure would want us to follow that? Jesus was a radical. He just wanted us to love and be loved. Beyond that, I doubt he wanted much from us. Isn’t Phillipians one of the Pauline epistles? Yeah, most of his writings are suspect. They could have been written by anyone from Marcion, Pollycarp or any monk from then till now. I doubt God will hold us accountable kooky saying from biblical forgeries. But rather on how we conduct our lives. Mormon, Christian or otherwise.

    Or God is not God.


  12. Falcon,

    I don’t really think the Catholic church follows the same structure as the Apostolic church. Yes, the pope is similar to the prophet in the mormon church, but the college of cardinals are more akin to the seventy, not apostles.

    Also, establishing truth through the Bible is tricky business. Every one of the more than 100 Christian denominations claims to follow the “true” Bible. They can’t all be right with their conflicting beliefs. This is like 100 different verdicts in the OJ trial.

    Perhaps I’ll have a discussion later on “what did Paul mean when he said we could become ‘joint-heirs with Christ’?” I’ll have to better research, but I believe there are some church fathers that support this position, and I will lay out some biblical scriptures which support this position. But that is off topic for this discussion.

    Also, falcon, could I invite you to join the “Marcionite” discussion on the apostasy? I have another post dedicated to that topic, and I’d love to hear your comments there.

  13. I am not as educated as either of you and I have read both of your debates, which I thought was well thought out and written.

    One thing that has me confused is how often critics go after Joseph Smith and his seer rocks and so forth. It does sound a bit odd, especially when I heard of JS using Urim and Thummim to dechipher/read plates and so forth. It sounded like something from Lord of the Rings. I wondered where JS could come up with such a silly idea, I mean who ever heard of the Creator giving such a thing to his people. I thought that until I read the Bible, it is right there. So as ridiculous as it sounds, God instituted the whole idea of seership using such methods. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urim_and_Thummim

    I submit that no one religion on the face of the earth has room to talk about another. All religions since the inception of Christ have been guilty of rape, murder, simonry (to one degree or another–it is what one religion calls another in ascertaining worthy members for sacraments and ordinances) and down right extortion.

    I don’t care how long ago it was, how long ago the Crusades were, how long ago the Inquitions were, how long ago the battle to establish either a Catholic or Protestant throne was, it was all done by shedding of blood. The point is, IF religion was ever right, ever followed the truth path of Jesus Christ, none of it would have happened. Period.

    The only reason it does not happen now in our country, is because our forefathers had the wisdom to seperate state and religion and that is the only reason, as men are basically still prone to going insane over religion.

    I can respect a person’s belief or need to believe the Bible is the innerrant word of God. I also know that came from the knee jerk reaction of breaking off from Catholicism where the cry was “sola scriptura.” To do that, to erradicate a thousand years worth of Church father’s writings, Luther proclaimed he would go by the Bible alone.

    The problem is that there are many contradictions and deliberate frauds in the Bible, mostly dealing with trying to sell the Trinity as a God sanctioned doctrine. So the LDS is not out of line when they say that they believe it when and where it is accurately translated.

    What Christianity today has missed the point on is that they don’t teach that being baptized for the dead was practiced well into the 3rd century before it was outlawed. Nor do they tell us why they outlawed it. Corinthians speaks of a third heaven. What third heaven? Paul was caught up to it. Why is that never taught? Do they even know themselves? Then Phillippians Paul speaks about his wanting to achieve the resurrection from the dead? Hello? He didn’t think he was going to make it? Upon further study, one would find he was talking about the out resurrection from the dead, where he would not have to wait to be bodily ressurected, but like Elias and others, would be caught up to be with the Lord at the moment of his death.

    These doctrines are not taught in the Christian church. Mormonism dares to touch these doctrines.

    So in essence, yes. The LDS church has reached back and touched on issues and doctrines that the greater part of Christianity has let die along the roadside.

  14. Edin,

    Thanks for stopping by. I have been trying to research baptism for the dead in the early christian church. Do you have any references showing it was practiced well into the 3rd century? I would love to see those. I would especially love to see if people like Ireneaus or other early church fathers referenced it.

  15. […] 3.       early christian heresies gnosticism […]

  16. I found a cool reference to baptism for the dead being practiced 300 years after the birth of Christ. It’s in my new post, http://www.mormonheretic.org/2009/03/04/baptism-for-the-dead-so-what/

  17. […] the death of Christ, there was a large movement known as Gnosticism.  This dates right to the time of Christ.  Christian gnostics believed that Christ was not […]

  18. @falcon

    You are mistaken that Christianity does not “care” about Apostles. The fact is we do not need apostles today. Those chosen by Christ were given a one time mission: to lay the foundation of this His church. The lds, by resurrecting the office of apostles are in actuality, laying another foundation which Paul said we cannot do.

  19. […] on Marcionism and Gnosticism to learn more about these movements.  Here’s another post on Gnosticism and another on Montanism.  (My 2 gnostic posts are ranked #2 and #8 of my most viewed […]

  20. […] later, and lived from 263-339 AD.  He was an ardent Arian, (I’ve written previously about Arianism, the early Christian movement).  Like Origen, Eusebius felt the Son was subordinate to the Father.  Eusebius even explained an […]

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