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Universal Life Church Seminary
A sermon based on the assumption that this is the first contact with Gnostic Christian thinking for most hearing it.
Welcome, it is gratifying to see so many people interested in Gnostic Christianity. Or is it that you are just curious about it? Either way I do hope you carry away something of value today. That even if you may never adopt the label of Gnostic you will be able to look at the teachings of Jesus in a new and more loving way.
What is a Gnostic? And no dear I did not say agnostic. This, I think, is the first and most important question than needs to be answered. A foundation on which those who find this line of reasoning worth while might build their mental Gnostic temple.
Before we take the first step onto the Gnostic journey let us take
a moment to quietly go into our own heads and seek to find there just
what each of us hopes to accomplish today. (3 minute mediation with music)
"Jesus said, 'Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds.
When he finds, he will become troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will
be astonished, and he will rule over the All.' And that is all with a
capitol A. This is the second saying of Jesus from the 114 found in the
Gnostic Gospel of Thomas. Thomas in turn can be found in a book called The
Nag Hammadi Library. It was this Gospel and this command by the master to
seek that started me on my personal quest. For what? I thought, I must
find the ultimate truth and in time I found it. The ultimate truth is
there is no ultimate truth. Truth is as God gives each one of us the
wisdom to know truth. This is the root thinking behind Gnosticism.
Seeking is Addictive. Reach one goal and another looms ahead. For my quest I was now looking to find the man Jesus, not just the plaster image on a cross. The man who could admit that people called him a drunk and a glutton The man who had a strained relationship with his mother and other relatives. This last I could really relate to. I was having the same relationship with my mother and relatives. This was a thing Jesus and I had in common. In time I also found Jesus, and found it was far greater to love this flesh and blood man who could share his very life for the love of us than to worship that cold dead figure on the cross. Time to take him down and dance and romance with him. What a joy life was! And just how crazy did my friends and family think I was? And why should I care? The path my feet had been directed on was not for the timid or faint of heart. It was a trail for a person intoxicated by love of God in a living and breathing Jesus and in me. It was this bond called God, called Love, that united Jesus and myself. Nothing else mattered, nothing else matters and nothing else will ever matter.
So to the several churches I had become a heretic. To God I was the loyal opposition. Now some of you are thinking, did he just say he is a heretic? Is it his intention to lead us down that blasphemes path? If it is than I am out of here! Wow, not so fast. Being a heretic only means one does not agree with church dogma, any church dogma, or for a matter of fact any dogma period, Irenaeus, an Orthodox Christian leader of the 2nd century and a bitter enemy of the Gnostics faulted them for, as he put it, 'Coming up with a new invention every day' and he was right. However it was not a fault, but a virtue.
I had an occasion to take some classes in psychology several years
back. One professor talking about the methods of thinking explained it
this way. 'There are vertical thinkers and there are horizontal thinkers.
If two men are digging a well, one a vertical thinker and the other a
horizontal thinker and they both find they are digging in the wrong place.
The vertical thinker will continue digging in the same place on the
theory that a bigger hole is a better hole. The horizontal thinker will
move to another spot and try again to dig a well.' The early Orthodox
Christians were vertical thinkers, while the Gnostics were horizontal
Jesus set standards for his religion to accomplish. To spread love around the world, 'A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another even as I have loved you.' To conquer death, 'And he said to them, 'Whoever finds the interpretation of these sayings will not experience death.' 1st saying in the Gospel of Thomas. After the first layer of apostles had moved to the next level in the game of life, these goals were no longer in the grasp of the followers of the teachings of Jesus. It became clear that the goals were now beyond their reach. Many schools of thought developed, It is estimated today there were some 60. They polarized into two camps, the Orthodox and the Gnostics. In time The Orthodox became all powerful and destroyed the Gnostics. We will look at the history of this next week. For now I will only say to date the goals Jesus set are still eluding us. Therefore it is my belief that a revised Gnostic movement should now try our hands at solving the 'mystery of the kingdom of heaven.' If you agree please join me for our next meeting when we will continue to travel this old road now covered with the debris of centuries.
Before we leave I wish to explain how these meetings will be conducted in the future. I would advise you bring a note book with you. While I will, at least for the time beginning, set the subject for discussion The meeting will be open for all to express their views. For the purpose of good order a few rules must be established. One person conducts the meeting and selects the topic. As I said for the time being that will be me. If a point is made that someone else wants to comment on they will raise their hand and they will be recognized. All views pro and con will be heard on that point before we go on. Everyone speaking will be expected to do so from the point of reason and not emotion. It is a given established here and now that that there are never right and wrong points of view. Arguments and attempts to force one view over another will not be tolerated. All persons may express themselves and are at all times expected to respect other points of view. This approach means that there can be no time limits set on meetings. If you are anxious to leave because you have a golf date or what ever you do not belong here in the first place.
God first, golf a distant second. Bag lunches are welcome. Sad, but true the material world runs on money. We will need to establish a treasury and have a competent person manage it. For the time being we will meet here and in the homes of those sharing in this adventure. We will plan beyond that as it happens.
(background music stares) Now as we go out into the wider world It would be good if you would carry this thought with you. When things become difficult do not pray, "God take this from me." Rather ask God, 'what is the lesson to be learned from this.' Let the light of wisdom in the form of knowledge give you an answer in the time the answer is due. May the hours between now and the next time we meet be filled with the light of love through the beloved Jesus. Go now in peace and be stronger in that love.