Summary: What’s the underlying doctrine to the Da Vinci code? Gnosticism. The da Vinci code is one more example of a resurgence of an ancient heresy.
A companion powerpoint to this sermon is located at:
I know something you don’t know. Say it with a sing song in your voice and you sound like a child on the playground. Say it with a whisper and you sound like a gloating Gnostic. What’s a Gnostic? Glad you asked. The ideology of Gnosticism is an ancient heresy, one of the earliest to afflict the church starting at least during the lives of the Apostles John and Paul. In these last few years a resurgence of Gnostic thought is returning in the form of books, movies and mainstream thought. The impact it’s having on the faith is startling.
Case in point: the book and soon the movie “The Da Vinci Code” which is having an enormous impact on world culture is largely – if not indirectly- related to the Gnostic gospel of Philip’s inference that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married. In fact a number of ancient texts claiming to reveal secret knowledge about the life of Jesus Christ have come back from the grave so to speak and people eager to believe anything that is not the Bible are gravitating to them. More than that, Gnosticism also threatens the faith of immature believers.
This morning I’m going to switch from preacher to teacher because you need to know and understand more than just what’s going on today, you need to understand the roots of it. If you and I are going to counteract the lies with truth we need to know the truth. Before we get all the way there however we’re going to have to do a little groundwork.
What is Gnosticism?
The word comes from a transliteration of the Greek word ãíùóéò (gnosis) meaning “Knowledge”. And it points right to the central doctrine: a search for hidden knowledge. Gnosticism was a belief system whose followers have come to be known as “Gnostics”. They were seekers of secret knowledge believing that by gaining that knowledge they could learn how to release the divine within them. If it sounds a lot like modern Eastern Mysticism that’s because there are in fact hints of a historical connection.
Much of what we know about Gnosticism originally came from the writings of the church fathers as they defended the faith. But in recent years tattered copies of many of the Gnostic writings have been discovered. It is the content of those writings, many of them claiming to be “Gospels” that has fueled the recent resurgence of Gnostic thought.
What did the Gnostics Teach?
Gnosticism as a whole is difficult to pin down under just a few statements, so I’ll make a broad generalization about it. As a continuation of their writings the Gnostics were dualistic. That is they believed that god was both good and spirit; and that all matter was evil. That being the case the unknowable god they worshipped would never create the universe. They imagined a series of lesser spiritual beings like emanations or like ripples in a pond perhaps. Each emanation decreasing in glory and wisdom until finally one of them was dumb enough to not realize that creating matter would be to create evil. This one they considered to be a demon. And this one, they said was the God of the Hebrew old testament. But they revered the snake in the garden because he offered what to Adam and Eve? Wisdom! The very thing they sought.
Since they believed that the creator God was evil, and that the true god could never sink so low as to take on flesh (which was evil) – they also went one of two ways concerning Jesus. Some claimed that Jesus was just a man who was first among the enlightened (much like Mormonism) others that he was a god and only appeared to be material.
According to the Gnostics Jesus was the divine redeemer who came into the mortal realms to reveal the secret knowledge necessary to become free of our bondage to the Material in order that we might ascend through the seven levels of heaven guarded by the archons and thus finally arrive at true redemption in Heaven as pure spirits.
What was in the Gnostic Writings?
The Gnostic writings read more like a selection of Bullfinch’s mythology than the Bible. While it’s hard to summarize all the Gnostic writings, those that claimed to be Gospels about Jesus centered around two basic concepts:
1. What did Jesus do during the silent years between his birth and his appearance in the temple at 12 years old and then again until he entered ministry.
2. What secret knowledge did he give to his disciples or to others in his ministry?
Almost all of it contradicts scripture, or adds questionable material. In the Gnostic gospels, Jesus reflects all the lusts and hatreds of the human heart. Far from being the Holy Son of God he is depicted as capricious and sometimes malicious; killing people that bumped into him or creating birds out of mud and clapping his hands so they’ll come to life and fly away .