Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Gospel of Truth and the proposed Iraq surge

I'm writing a commissioned piece on the Gospel of Truth for a forthcoming biblical dictionary. For those who don't know this early Christian Valentinian text, the link above is a good place to start. See also Einar Thomassen's new book, The Spiritual Seed, the Church of the Valentinians. Valentinus lived in Rome in the mid-second century. Followers of Valentinus, the Valentinians, described themselves as a Christian ekklesia (community), and a "spiritual seed" initiation into which was by means of baptism. Their liturgies included regular chanting of psalms. Valentinian sacraments included ritual annointing.

The Gospel of Truth is an astonishingly powerful example of a Valentinian Christian sermon. It articulates the movement of salvation from ignorance to knowledge (gnosis). Near the beginning, the text describes ignorance causing agitation and fear and its palpable effects: "agitation grew dense like a fog so that no one could see." In such a climate of untruth, personified Error grows powerful and creates from matter a substance that gives a form to substitutes for the truth. Error's creations of forgetfulness and fear are snares for the unwary, holding people captive and blind.

To overcome the fog of ignorance, forgetfulness must be overturned. The moment knowledge of one's true origins from the heavenly realm is regained (Valentinians believe knowledge lies dormant in humanity), error ceases to exist as it has no root. It is by means of the role of Jesus as Savior, bringing a way that is truth and knowledge, that Jesus awakens within humanity awareness of its identity as children of God.

Our present plight in regard to Iraq seems well described as a fog brought about by ignorance. In this fog, Error has fashioned things that seem to have great form and substance but which are in fact lies and misconceptions. What all of us on the left and right have to determine is how to overcome fear and find the best way to dissipate fog.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent post.