Gnosticism: A second-century movement with pre-Christian, Hellenistic roots. Emphasizes personal experience over doctrine. Dualistic in nature; matter (what can be experienced through the five senses) is lesser or evil, while the spiritual realm is good. Thus, adherents pursue either asceticism or libertinism, as this world and humanity’s actions within it simply do not matter. The Apostle John was definitely not a fan (see the gospel and the first letter bearing his name).
Related Concepts and/or Examples
A Brief Summary – straight from the horse’s mouth
Gnostic Dualism – again from an adherent
Hellenism – explores and explains this time period
The “Gospel” of Philip – an example of Gnostic literature
For all entries in the 31 Days of Feasting on Theology series, go here.