Normally, on Mondays, I offer up a few pithy devotional thoughts to help start your week. I won’t say that these are deep thoughts; they’re not, and that’s by design. But for the past week or so, I’ve had a theological splinter stuck in my metaphorical skin, so to speak, one that’s been itching and irritating me. I tried to ignore it, but I soon realized that I wasn’t going to be able to for much longer. It hasn’t just been itching, it’s actually been boiling, and I caught myself thinking more and more about it and what I wanted to say about it. Well, my mental pot has boiled over and you guys get to deal with the mess.
Maybe I should stop speaking metaphorically and just get to it.
A few days ago, a friend of mine on Facebook made a very long post in which he asked a very loaded theological question, one the prompted a lot of very heated reactions. Normally, I would share the post, but I’m not going to in this case. That’s because technically, this post isn’t about the question he asked or any of the responses I saw, but is instead about an underlying assumption in the question he asked, one that most people seemed to accept uncritically. It’s that assumption that became the aforementioned mental splinter. It’s that theological premise that’s been bugging me for the past week or so.
So what is that undergirding assumption? It’s actually quite prevalent in modern American Christianity. It’s the belief that this world is merely a testing ground, an arena where souls are sent to see what kind of spiritual choices we make, which then determines where that soul winds up for the rest of eternity. It’s the belief that, in the eternal scheme of things, this world doesn’t matter because there’s a greater reality to come. I’ve seen this undergirding assumption expressed in interesting ways.
For example, a number of years ago, a Christian band wrote a song about the acronym B.I.B.L.E., which they interpreted as “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.” That’s clever, and it had a beat that you could dance to, but I think it missed the point.
I’ve also seen people throw around a quote that was supposedly spoken by C.S. Lewis:
You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.
(Small problem. C. S. Lewis most likely never said that).
And on and on it goes.
Now you may be scratching your head and wondering why I’m so worked up over this. Isn’t this what Christianity is all about? Isn’t this what Christianity has always taught?
No. No, it’s not. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that this belief is actually a watered down version of an ancient heresy that’s been rejected by Christianity for the past two millennia. But just because it isn’t full strength, that doesn’t mean it’s any less dangerous.
I’ll just give it a name right now, so we have a convenient label for it: Neo Pseudo Gnosticism. And we’re going to spend a couple of weeks unpacking what it is and why it’s important. Next week, we’ll take a look at what normal Gnosticism is and how vestiges of this heresy has corrupted modern Christianity.Author @JohnWOtte is dissecting a mistaken belief of modern Christianity he calls neo pseudo gnosticism. Click To Tweet