Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Gnostic Teaching

Today as I began to study for the first sermon in the new series I am preaching (Listen: What Christ Wants The Church to Know, Revelation 1-3) I read this:
“Thus, John has not diluted the communal and covenantal aspects of the Exodus typology found in the prophetic writings. No doubt he is keen to emphasize this more corporate aspect of God’s love to counter early gnostic teaching, which viewed the effects of God’s salvation in individualistic and interior ways.” (New International Biblical Commentary: Revelation, Robert Wall, p. 59)

Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t much of what we teach today about salvation individualistic and deals with matters of the heart and experience? Just this morning as I drove back from the nursing home I heard Charles Stanley talk about accepting Jesus as “you personal Lord and Savior.”

I realize that there is a personal component to salvation and that salvation is about receiving a new heart, but I think in order to appeal to the individual we have emphasized the personal aspect and ignored the covenant and corporate responsibilities. Following Jesus isn’t just about my “relationship” with Jesus, but also how I relate to other Christians in the context of the Church. So I am wondering: have we allowed gnostic teaching into the Church?

1 comment:

Sillie Lizzie said...

I think you're 100% spot on in identifying the emphasis on individualism. I don't know I'd go so far as to call it "gnostic", but certainly it is a pietistic and subjective inward focus. Also, to the extent that we turn it outward, it is mostly limited to a "social" context, but rarely one informed by corporate spiritual considerations.

The saddest area where this distortion is exhibited is in the sacraments of baptism and communion, which have become virtually unrecognizable from that taught in scripture.

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