When discussing theology, I've come to realize that not only is personal study of doctrine a necessary component to faith, but it is something that shouldn't be kept to oneself. I want to share my journey, both past and ongoing, into the realm of theology. Through this, I hope that you will gain insight into the Christian faith as a whole. Before reading anything else, I suggest you read the introduction and definitions (found in the pages tabs above) so you may better understand where I am coming from in everything I write. Because many of my posts are on heresies, there is also a page above with a family tree of heresies and links to all the posts I have so far on the topic.

27 May, 2013

Heresy of the Week: Manichaeism

Part two of the series on major Gnostic sects...
Manichaeism (also known as Manichaeanism) is one of the major Gnosticism sects, at its height from the 3rd-7th centuries where it thrived in the Mesopotamian area, although it survived in part until at least the 14th century in China, and even into the 18th century in small Catholic and protestant sects. The founder of Manichaeism, Mani, was originally follower of Mandaeism Gnosticism until he broke off to form his own sect. It contained elements of Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Buddhism, emphasizing a cosmic struggle between the ‘good’ spiritual world of light, and the ‘evil’ material world of darkness. Throughout human history, it teaches, light is gradually removed from the material world and restored to the world from which it came. It was considered a “soldier’s religion” and was popular among the Roman legions (which is how it made its way to China). It promoted an attitude of moral dualism, meaning a moral course of action involved a clear (often simplistic) choice between good and evil. The Albigensism, Bogomilism, Patarenism, and Paulicianism movements were accused of being Neo-Manichaean movements. Bagnolianism is considered a sub-Manichaeism sect, and Bardaisanitism is believed to have influenced Manichaeism. Their key belief is that a powerful, but not omnipotent, good entity (God) is opposed by a semi-eternal evil entity (Satan). Humanity, the world and the soul are seen as the byproducts of a battle between the Primal Man (God’s proxy) and Satan. While the soul is seen as defining a person, it is under the influence of both light and dark. Nothing is intrinsically evil, but seen as possessing both light and dark.

20 May, 2013

Heresy of the Week: Valentinianism

Week one of a two week series on major Gnostic sects (the other "major" sect, Mandaeism, was earlier this year).
Valentinianism is a Gnosticism-family heresy, starting in the 2nd century. It was one of the major Gnostic sects. Valentinianism is a very complex system of Aeons (heavenly archtypes representing 15 syzygies, or sexually complementary pairs), of whom Sophia is the most important (even though her weakness caused her to fall from Pleroma, the ‘fullness’). Like with most Gnostic sects, the Old Testament God was the Demiurge, the imperfect creator of the world. As man was the highest being created, he could participate in both the spiritual and material realms. Redemption consists of freeing oneself from the material world. Redemption is achieved by gaining gnosis, or knowledge. Knowledge, not faith, was the key to salvation. Many of what we consider today to be Gnostic Gospels came from the Valentinian sect. Sethianism is considered to be the forerunner of Valentinianism, and it is related to Basilidianism. Bardaisanitism is believed to have influenced Valentinianism.

15 May, 2013

Heresy of the Week: Bardaisanitism

Sorry for the delay this week--the life of motherhood...

This week's heresy is considered to be a basis for two of the most well-known Gnostic sects--Valentinianism and Manichaeism.
Bardaisanitism (also known as Bardesanitism) is a 2nd and 3rd century Gnosticism heresy. They believed that the good God gave man absolute free will to work out his own Salvation through gnosis, and who allowed the world to be good and evil, light and dark. Even inanimate objects were considered to have a measure of liberty or freedom. Ultimately for salvation, light must overcome dark in whatever man or object. They believe that in 6,000 years from when they lived, the world would end and be replaced by a world without evil. They believed the sun, moon, planets and starts were also living beings. Astrology and the Zodiac were of importance to them. They believe that the Holy Ghost is feminine. They also denied that Christ had a body (Monophysitism), and held a Docetist view that Christ was not born of a woman. Bardaisanitism was considered influential over Valentinianism and then Manichaeism. They were considered to be obscene and overtly sexual.

06 May, 2013

Heresy of the Week: Osteenism

A modern heresy, Joel Osteen is just my favorite target (hence why he gets the "honor" of a heresy named after him)--but there are many, many others who perpetuate his dangerous nonsense.  This heresy has swept American megachurches and non-denominationalism in particular.
Osteenism (also known as Prosperitism) is the heresy of the Prosperity Gospel (also known as Prosperity Theology and Health and Wealth Theology), which emerged in the 20th century. They claim the Bible teaches that financial blessing is the will of God for Christians, and that faith, a positive outlook and donations to Christian ministries will always increase one’s material wealth. This is taught as an aspect of the path to Christian dominion over society, arguing that the promise of dominion to Israel extends to Christianity today. There is a significant emphasis on personal empowerment and teach that God’s will is for His people to be happy. If atonement (or a large contribution to an approved religious entity) is made, it will remove sickness and poverty. Any material woes are a sign of broken or weak faith. One simply needs to confess that God promises security and prosperity to those faithful to Him to receive those blessings. It is named for Joel Osteen, a prominent televangelist and proponent of this heresy (though far from the only false teacher of this doctrine).