Smells like gnosticism

I’m reposting this here because it’s a nice concise handy reference on gnosticism, which is alive and well all over the place.

John Z posted originally posted this at the BHT regarding a new book by Tom Hall.


The key elements of gnostic thought Hall identifies are:

  • Christian tradition is viewed as basically untrustworthy.
  • Traditional Christianity fails the theodicy test. [Why does evil exist?]
  • Christian eschatology is implausible.
  • The core of the faith is worth saving.
  • Christianity needs a top-down revision not small corrections.
  • There is a hunger for more spiritual interpretation of Scripture.
  • Conviction that there is a profound difference between ordinary church people and those who deeply understand the spiritual truth of Christianity.

Apparently Hall spends a lot of time examining the theology of Marcus Borg. [Scott] McKnight summarizes thus:

1. For Borg, humanity is saved by knowledge.
2. For Borg, there is a focus on the spiritual inner self, the divine spark within.
3. For Borg, there is an antipathy toward incarnation and embodiment. [Extensive discussion.]
4. For Borg, there is an emphasis on present spiritual reality rather than eschatological hope, on the God of timeless truth rather than the God who will bring history to consummation.

However, I think the post ends well with this:

Thus, he sees Borg as a combination of three features:

The piety of orthodoxy
The honest intellectual inquiry of liberalism
The spirituality of gnosticism.

Tom Long says Borg’s Jesus is too much like Marcus Borg himself.


A LOT of books on Jesus reimagine Jesus to look a lot like the author, whether he’s a hippy, a UFC fighter, a pastor, an eastern self-help guru, or what have you.