A previous post, "Gnosticism: a working definition", defined the nature of the dilemma of Humanity according to the Gnostic view. The various forms of Gnosticism,* all propose various ways of achieving Gnosis; that is, of finding a way to 'awaken' humanity and to eventually get everyone back to the Pleroma. Christian Gnosticism presents Christ, the Logos,** who with his twin, the unmanifested Sophia, provides a means of achieving Gnosis.
A perusal of strictly Christian Gnostic literature will show that it is from this variety that the gloomiest views of the world originate. This is provides the key to understanding Hermetic Gnosticism. One of the defining characteristics of Gnosticism is something called the doctrine of anti-cosmos. Simply stated, it is the belief that, owing to the way the phenomenal universe (lit.: the universe that we can sense) originated, this universe is altogether objectionable. There is nothing redeeming in it and the sooner it is escaped, the better for all concerned.
- Do its supreme most leaders or idol(s) publicly preach love or a call to arms?
- Does it (did it) produce heroes that transcend(ed) regional geography and religions?
- Was its cause created by good heroes or by dissidents?
- Does it give ME an "average Joe" an opportunity to hope for the best in eternity – there obviously being a God of creation as science has no answer for the beginning of the beginning?
- Am I to hope or to fear?
development of Sufism; it both encouraged and challenged Christianity through its early centuries and contributed profoundly to Christian theology and identity.