Subtle Forms of Gnosticism

Posted by in Baptist Life, Bible & Theology, IMPACT Features, News & Culture

Well, it is about time for another Southern Baptist Convention. This year may be one of the few years that the neo-doctrine of abstaining from the drinking of wine has been muted for at least a brief season. There simply may be too many other important matters to address this year; the nuances around the legitimacy of drinking wine has not risen to a heightened level of deliberation as seen in previous years.

With the younger generation almost bathing in alcohol …and the continual begging of big business, like the proponents of Budweiser panting daily for more drinkers, you would think that the religious conventions of the world should not remain silent. Yet, could there actually be a more unique, powerful, and transparent way to defend the right to remain sober? Certainly there is a more sober and less gnostic way…. and yet it is an interesting and predictable error of the Gnostic that reveal some of the best clues to confronting the drunkenness of this age. The do’s and the don’ts seem to become much clearer when held up against the shadows of a Gnostic rubric.

Let’s see where you land in this exercise of the will.

    Re-facing Evil

Is it true that fermented wine is evil? This is an interesting question. And it is a question that is typically and strategically ignored in the pursuit of higher moral relevancy. Of course, any Christian would know that the juice that has fermented to the point of wine is not evil in and of itself. The process from yeast laden grape skins, crushed to yield juice that ultimately ferments into wine, and then eventually if left to nature turns to vinegar…. doesn’t literally rise to the level of evil. If evil were described in such a manner,…such a definition would be to agree with the gnostic thinker, where physical aspects of matter can be reformed in the appearance as an intention of the heart. It is important to understand that Gnostics spend an inordinate amount of time working the soft plastered face of evil into a meaningful desired pattern. So that, if the pattern fits the relevancy of the politic, then the pursuit has been successful and sometimes even profitable. But for whom, and at what expense?

    What Gnostics Believe

Gnostics depend upon a certain type of knowledge to form their belief. The gnostic belief is immersed in the idea of an eternal principle of evil where the spirit of man represents the principle of good, and the body (material), that of evil. This view, in one sense, is the same as the Pelagianistic and Semi-Pelagian consideration that adorns man as sovereign and willing to choose in the absence of God. So, from this vantage point, a Gnostic will never see “sin” in relation to God and His will; and because of such lack of reference and truth, will never recognize the demand of the law of God….. which is, love to God. The very lack of such “love to God” which is the result of Gnostic belief subtly demonstrates the antithesis by which we can embrace the actions of the will with relation to the act of abstinence, the act of sobriety, an act of temperance, and so on.

The Law of God, represented in the Ten Commandments, echoes a stark rebuttal to Gnostic thinking when exposed in John’s three brief letters.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ”) 16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:14-17 ESV

It is by pure “grace upon grace” that drunkenness is avoided. The intent of the heart to remain faithful to Christ, and never be drunk with wine meets the mark of obedience in the Spirit. Is this what we teach our children? Do we teach our loved ones to “love God” above everything, and to honor their mother and father? As John proclaims,… “it is from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace”! Not grace from the actions of drunkenness, but grace fully received to bring glory to God and honor to our mothers and fathers. The higher form of devotion is not abstaining from fermented wine itself, but in a less gnostic manner,…remaining obedient to the Spirit by never being drunk with wine at all; whether you choose to abstain or not to abstain from drinking the fruit of the vine.

    Remaining True to His Word

Why is it important to remain vigilant and not adopt forms of Gnosticism? The best reason is given by John. The Word became flesh…….

1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life,1 and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” 1 John 1:1-4

The sinless flesh of Christ, innocent to the Gnostic principles, delivers a potent message. It is “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” that brings meaning to life and answers to refraining from drunkenness. It is more important to remain true to God’s Word,…even when the subject matter goes against the political bellwether of well-meaning brothers and sisters. The Spirit is powerful, and He is able to keep you from stumbling. Teach your children and loved ones the principles maintained by the Spirit while diligently refusing to be delivered over to the way of the Gnostic.

Do not get drunk with wine……
Blessings,
Chris