Searching for Neo-Gnostics
That lovely former Hilter Youth brings out another document “clarifying” the Catholic positions produced during the Second Vatican Council. (The first okayed the Latin mass which is fine by me but has gotten some more liberal Catholics a bit grumpy.) The new clarification is posed as a series of questions and answers. The fifth answer is a doozy. From the official Vatican web site
Fifth Question: Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of ‘Church’ with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?
“Response: According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called ‘Churches’ in the proper sense. [scare quotes in the original, my bold]
Oh, Snap! Bad Protestants! Bad. Go – um – stand in a corner or something.
This works wonders for all those people trying to create a dialog, not only among people of no faith but even among those of faith.
The really ironic part is that the Church Benedict is claiming goes right back to that little barn in Bethlehem, didn’t really get started until some time in the fourth century.
My favorite early Christian sect is turning out to be the Gnostics. They thought the world had been created by a bad, corrupt Deity, God of the Jews and creator of this oh-so-imperfect world and who was an offspring of a higher more perfect being, Sophia. She, in turn, existed between the One True God and – well – everything else. The One True God send Jesus to bring this information to the uniformed masses and by doing so, save them.
The Gnostics thought all you had to do was figure out everything is a shame and that everyone has a “divine spark” part of that original True God. Once you know about it, your physical body becomes unimportant. A little like Scientology but without Zenu, the alien thetans, DC-3s and volcanos. Well OK; not at all like Scientology.
These ideas didn’t go over well in Rome. The proto-Catholic church did everything it could to discredit and destroy the Gnostics. Once the Gnostic church was destroyed, the orthodox Christian faith then faked the evidence to make it seem like nothing else ever existed. (Think Alberto Gonzales and the constitution. “First Amendment? What Amendments?”)