New Wave Revisited

Authored By: CRNET

NEW WAVE REVISITED

The information found in the Koinonia BBS concerning the New Wave Movement (AKA The age of Aquarius ) struck a familiar cord in me when I read the description of what are their beliefs.

I have researched some older books and in one I found, what seems to me to be the very foundation of what is being passed on as a new theology.

The description which follows is of the main tenets and beliefs of an ancient religion called Gnosticism. For those who may not be acquainted with it, it started in Greece based on the pagan Gods, and mans relation to them.

The word, in Greek 'gnosis', means and is our source word for knowledge. The religion was spread all over the known world with Alexander the Great's troops when he ruled the world.

Gnosticism is not a unified belief, but is ( because it allows knowledgeable man to seek his own practice of religion) a collection of similar theologies.

With the introduction of Christianity, the Gnostics adopted many of the Christian concepts, with weirdly distorted variations. These variations spread to the Near and Far East and took on the colorations of many of the pagan religions then extant.

The early Christian looked on Gnosticism as an heretical faith, antithetical to what Christ taught. It stayed very strong, to the extent that Christian Fathers spent much time and effort in their writings and teaching in trying to keep Christians fro m being led astray by Gnosticism. It continued active with many followers until about the 12th century.

Although it has pretty much died out as a practiced religion, it is still being practiced in some variation in the near and middle East. One very close relative is in use in Iraq today, Other forms of it which appear today are astrology, yoga, satanism, numerology, tarot, magic and more.

The description paraphrased below is from "The Gnostic Religion" by Hans Jonas, published by Beacon Press. Incidentally this information may explain the fallacy of the New Age claim that the 17 years of Jesus life missing from the Bible, is because He was in the East learning the old wisdom and knowledge.

Theology

The most important feature of Gnostic thought is the radical way it looks at the relationship between God and the universe, and between man and the world. The deity is a remote God totally outside the universe and having no relationship with it. He did not create it, and has no control over it. He is the LIGHT, and the universe is the DARKNESS. The world is the work of lowly powers, Archons (rulers), which though they may be descended from Him, do not know the true God, and obstruct the knowledge of Him in the cosmos over which they rule. God, Himself, is hidden from all creatures and is unknowable by natural concepts. Knowledge of Him requires supernatural revelation and explanation and even then can hardly be expressed in other than negative terms.

Cosmology

The universe, the domain of the Archons, is like a vast prison whose innermost dungeon is the earth, the scene of mans life. Around and above it the cosmic spheres are arranged like concentric enclosing shells. Most frequently there are 7 spheres of the planets surrounded by the 8th, that of the fixed stars. However the number was not fixed in all versions, one writer, Balsilides, counted 365 "heavens" The religious significance of this cosmic architecture lies in the idea that everything which intervenes between here and the beyond (GOD) serves to separate man from God, not merely by special distance but through active demonic force. Thus the vastness and multiplicity of the cosmic system express the degree to which man is removed from God.

The spheres are the seats of the Archons, especially of the "seven", that is, of the planetary gods borrowed from the Babylonian pantheon. It is significant that these are now called the Old Testament names for God,(Iao, Sabaoth, Adonai, Elohim, El Shaddai), which from being synonyms for the one and supreme God are by this transposition turned into proper names of inferior demonic beings- an example of the disparaging and degrading tendencies to which Gnosticism subjected ancient traditions in g eneral and Jewish tradition in particular. The Archons collectively rule over the world, and each individually in his sphere is a warder of the cosmic prison. Their tyrannical world-rule is called "heimarmene", universal fate, a concept taken from astrology but now tinged with the gnostic anti-cosmic spirit. In its physical aspect this rule is the law of nature; in its psychical aspect, which includes, for instance, the institution and enforcement of the Mosaic Law, it aims at the enslavement of man. As guardian of his sphere, each Archon bars the passage to souls that seek to ascend after death, in order to prevent their escape from the world and return to God. The Archons are also creators of the world, except where this role is reserved for their leader, who then has the name of "demi-urge" (the world-artificer in Plato's Timaeus) and is often painted with the distorted features of the Old Testament God.

Anthropology

Man, the main object of these vast concepts, is composed of flesh, soul, and spirit. But reduced to basic principles, his origin is two-fold: worldly, and external to the universe. Not only the body but also the soul is a product of cosmic powers, which shaped the body in the image of the divine Primal (or arch typical) Man and animated it with their own psychical forces: these are the appetites and passions of natural man each of which stems from and corresponds to one of the cosmic spheres and all of which together make up the astral soul of man, his psyche. Through his body and his soul man is a part of the world and subjected to the "heimarmene". Enclosed in the soul is the spirit, or "pneuma" (called also the "spark") [notice also the use of the Greek word for wind, pneumos, which the Bible uses for the spirit], a portion of the divine substance from beyond which has fallen into the world; and the Archons created man for the express purpose of keeping it there. Thus as in the macrocosm man is enclosed by the seven spheres, so in the human microcosm again the pneuma is enclosed by seven soul-vestments originating from them. In its unredeemed state the pneuma thus immersed in soul and flesh is unconscious of itself, benumbed, asleep, or intoxicated by poison of the world; in brief it is "ignorant". Its awakening and liberation is affected through "knowledge".

Eschatology (having to do with the End Times)

The radical dual nature of man in this religion determines the doctrine of salvation for him. As alien as is this external God to this world, is also alien the neumatic self in the midst of it. The goal of gnostic striving is the release of the "inner man" from the bonds of the world and his return to his native realm of light. The necessary condition for this is that he KNOWS about the God external to the universe, and about himself, this is, about his divine origin as well as his present situation, and accordingly also about the nature of the world which determines this situation. As one famous writing from Gnostic history puts it;

What liberates is the knowledge of who we were, what we become; where we were, wherein we have been thrown; whereto we speed, wherefrom we are redeemed; what birth is, and what is rebirth. (Exc.Theod.78.2)

This knowledge, however, is withheld from him by his very situation, since "ignorance" is the essence of worldly existence, just as it was the principle of the worlds coming into existence.

In particular the external God is unknown in the world and cannot be discovered from it; therefore revelation is needed.

The bearer of revelation is a messenger from the world of light who penetrates the barriers of the spheres, outwits the Archons, awakens the spirit from its earthly slumber and imparts to it the saving knowledge "from without".

The mission of this transcendent savior begins even before the creation of the world (since the fall of the divine element preceded the creation) and runs parallel to its history.

The knowledge thus revealed even though called simply "the knowledge of God", comprises the whole content of Gnostic myth, with every thing it has to teach about God, man, and world; that is it contains the elements of a theoretical system.

On the practical side, however, it is more particularly "knowledge of the way ", namely of the souls way out of the world, comprising the sacramental and magical preparations for its future ascent and the secret names and formulas that force the passage through each sphere.

Equipped with this gnosis, the soul after death travels upwards, leaving behind at each sphere the psychical "vestment" contributed by it ; thus the spirit stripped of all foreign accretions reaches the God beyond the world and becomes reunited with the divine substance.

On the scale of the total divine drama, this process is part of the restoration of the deity's own wholeness, which in pre-cosmic times has become impaired by the loss of portions of the divine substance. It is through these alone that the deity became involved in the destiny of the world, and it is to retrieve them that its messenger intervenes in cosmic history.

With the completion of this process of gathering in (according to some systems), the cosmos deprived of its elements of light, will come to an end.

Morality

In this life the "pneumatics", as the possessors of gnosis called themselves, are set apart from the great mass of mankind.

The immediate illumination not only makes the individual sovereign in the sphere of knowledge (hence the limitless variety of gnostic doctrines) but also determines the sphere of action.

Generally speaking the pneumatic morality is determined by hostility toward the world and contempt for all its ties. From this principal, however, two contrary conclusions could be drawn, and both found there extreme representatives: the ascetic and the libertine.

The former deduces from the possession of gnosis the obligation to avoid further contamination by the world and therefore to reduce contact with it to a minimum; the latter derives from the same possession the privilege of absolute freedom.

The law of "thou shalt", and "thou shalt not", promulgated by the creator is just one more form of the cosmic tyranny. The sanctions attaching to its transgression can affect only the body and the psyche. As the pneumatic is free from the "heimarmene ", So he is free from the yoke of the moral law, to him all things are permitted, since the pneuma is "saved in its nature" and can be neither sullied by actions nor frightened by the threat of archonic retribution.

It is evident from this aspect of gnosism that it is essentially nihilistic. That is that things are so degenerate in this world that the system itself should be brought down and destroyed.

Perspective

Apparently those who are now, (since the sixties) attempting to develop a following (and they are successful) have been reading literature based on gnosticism and other derivative cults, and are selling the same old concepts, that man is part God and when he finds this out and learns more about it he will become God himself, and be fully self-sufficient. This is what the Age of Aquarius and new wave theology is all about.

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