I’ve talked before here at Apprising Ministries about what I call the “plus-minus apologetic.” By that I mean, we know e.g. an author is against a given topic; but he still begins his article with a few items in the plus category before moving on to the many things in the minus category, until we then reach the foreknown conclusion the author cannot recommend whatever is being discussed.

Now here’s some food for thought; is that type of plus-minus writing regarding false doctrine what we find in the Bible? Let’s take the example of Gnosticism; although its purveyors also claimed to be Christian teachers, where in Holy Scripture do we possibly find true Apostles of Christ saying such as the following:

Oh yes Cerinthus; what a charming and erudite fellow, and a very articulate spokesman indeed for Christian Gnosticism. I preached on the same platform with him at the last Compromisers For Christ Conference in Caesarea. And I really got to know him quite well; had some delightful conversation. And I do have to say that in his new book The Real Christ: Rethinking Jesus Through The Eyes Of A Gnostic it was actually very skillful how he was able to marry central Gnostic teachings to those of our Lord Jesus. It’s a very scholarly work; after reading this book from our brother—after all he loves Christ as well you know—perhaps we do need to reimagine our approach to the Incarnation itself. On page xlii Cerinthus explains how the all-containing unknowable god, the good of Pleroma—the spirit world—runs into a problem when one of his lowest aeons, Sophia attempts to be like god and produces an aeon of her own, that evil Demiurge. Cerinthus then masterfully weaves a very compelling argument, from repainting history, as he tells us that one of these aeons was actually ‘the Christ.’ This aeon he presses forth, nearly convincingly—or not, then decends upon the man Jesus of Nazareth at his baptism. Now this aeon, Cerinthus enlightens us from his obviously thorough research, did not come from the evil Demiurge, who is in stark opposition to the good force, the utterly unknowable/god consciousness.

As any fine scholar, Cerinthus, a dedicated Christ-follower and champion of the poor, then documents through his detailed scholastic analysis culled from numerous Gnostic teachers (complete with copious footnotes), that it is this Demiurge which actually created this evil material world in the first place. And then, in what might be considered a quite novel (I’d say refreshing) approach to the emerging Gnostic-Christian faith, Cerinthus then elucidates for us a rather tricky question which had previously not been covered conclusively by our brothers in the Docetic Movement concerning whether Jesus was actually a man, or whether he only seemed like one. You may remember that Peter himself, one of the Twelve along with the very misunderstood brother Judas Iscariot, presented a fascinating discussion of this same topic in his best seller Jesus Was Here–Or Maybe He Really Wasn’t; though I would quibble a bit with his rather didactic approach in actually reaching a conclusion; that is, if I might even be allowed to call it that. Cerinthus on the other hand, understands that ours is clearly a culture of oral storytelling, so he is better able to draw from numerous other religious sources, and then tie them all together amazingly well as he explains in his narrative that this aeon/Christ itself never had to suffer; no, it left this man Jesus before He was actually crucified.

Just a brilliant stroke of scholarship that I would recommend we examine further before we so quickly write off Cerinthianism, or for that matter, Docetism—though I don’t completely opt for either form of Christian Gnosticism—as I find them somewhat problematic having been almost persuaded that a somewhat higher Christology might be in order from what I have read in that rascal Paul’s writings. Now I also must say that I’m still not quite sure, of course, because those Scriptures are hard to understand. So perhaps we should reserve our judgment until someone can come along with another view on this important subject of Gnostic Christianity. We must never forget that despite our differences, and I freely admit some of them still remain significant, we are above all else to love one another. In closing, I remind you (gently, as I don’t wish to upset you) we certainly do not want to do anything that would bring division into the Body of Christ—whatever they are and whoever He may actually prove to be—not withstanding that we ever do discover such a thing, which I referred to in my book What I Might Believe As A Christian (Maybe), as “a knowable truth.” As another learned brother has said, we know that truth is an irreducible plurality so, I might suggest, we never really arrive at truth because it continues spinning back around. You see, our Gnostic brothers understand this type of thought on deeper level because of their practice of meditation.

But all that aside for now, certainly Cerinthus’ fine critique of Docetism and Apostolic Christianity now presents a formidable argument that is now emerging in favor of us all living together as friends of each other’s religion; faithfully seeking God, in love, in those other sails as it were. For as I have said many times before, if we will only be humble enough to learn from the sameness of our differences—once for all leaving the differences in our differences behind—then we will be able to just let go, and leave it for God sort it all out in the end. For as we grow in our newest understanding of the latest truth from Holy Spirit—that indeed no one can truly claim to understand—then it really could be, probably anyway, as I think that our brother Cerinthus may have observed in “The Brotherhood of Gnosis.” Oh yes, let us remember in that charming final chapter of his book where he writes: “The brotherhood of man—each a precious spark of the divine—must melt back together into the unknowable Pleroma that is god/spirit consciousness; for only then can we be born through the ultimate goodness of its message that we must be caring for our fellow travelers along this road back into that blessed nothingness.”

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