The Heresy of Gnosticism

Gnosticism in the early Christian Church was a heresy of polymorphous doctrines, which preached a dizzying variety of myths and rituals, drawing selectively from the elements of Christian doctrine, as well as beliefs from judaisme and oriental traditions. Most of these sects emphasized a pseudo-mystical knowledge (in Greek, gnosis) intended only for the spiritual elite. Most believed that matter is evil, that the world was created by a wicked demigod, in order to imprison the spirits of light, with whom the Gnostics identify themselves.

For the Gnostics, there could be no redemption of matter, because matter was radically evil and radically opposed to the spirit of the true god. Hatred of creation led most of these sects to reject the doctrine of the Incarnation of the Word as well as the sacraments of the Church, all of which employed material elements – bread, wine, water, oil, – for spiritual ends. Most Gnostics also rejected the resurrection of the body, for Christ and for all believers. In Gnostic theology, the flesh was a prison from which the divine light must escape forever. Resurrection, then, could only be further entrapment.


1. The Mass of the Early Christians, Mike Aquilina, Our Sunday Visitor Publishing, 2001, chapter 11, pp. 90-91.