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Gnostics offer an unorthodox view of Jesus

Brittney M. Walker | 5/18/2011, 5 p.m.

The great mysteries of Jesus have boggled minds for centuries and even to this day scholars look for answers about the one they call the risen savior. Christianity in its diversity has another group of believers. Some would argue gnosticism isn't quite Christianity due to its variety of beliefs that view Christ in an unorthodox way.

Paul Hughes writes in "Christ in Us: The Exalted Christ and the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit": "'Gnosticism' is a modern term applied to a number of religious groups that placed an emphasis on esoteric knowledge which is passed along, presumably, through the ages among those whom can be said to have 'arrived,' that is, achieved some higher spiritual plane."

A major difference that sets many gnostics apart from those of the Christian faith is their perspective of Christ. (Note: Gnosticism is a diverse set of beliefs that vary from individual to individual. Therefore, general and overall research is divulged throughout this article on the topic of gnosticism and Christ.)

"Jesus did not, say the Gnostics, come to bear the sins of men, that whoever believes in his atoning death may gain eternal life," writes Hughes. "'The real purpose of Jesus, or rather the Soter ['Savior'], was to communicate the hidden [knowledge].'"

He also notes that gnostics do not revere Jesus as the one and only redeemer, but one of many. In fact, the author says the redeemer figure is one who has been "assembled from ancient myths and traditions."

Glorian Publishing, a group dedicated to educating the masses about gnostic teachings, writes in a pamphlet called "The Gnostic Christ" that many misunderstand and have misinterpreted the text of the Bible and have missed the true point God was conveying through the text. In regards to Jesus, the pamphlet says, "Although Jesus was Christ, Christ came before Jesus."

According to the group, Jesus was a man who manifested Christ, the divinity of God in the flesh. While many gnostics believe the flesh and material world is essentially evil, Jesus demonstrated that it is possible to live Christ-like in this life through his example and teachings.

Noting Samael Aun Weor, the pamphlet reads, "Jesus had the heroism to assimilate the Christic substance in all his internal vehicles... Jesus became a Christ and ascended to the Father.

Everyone who assimilates the Christic substance in the physiological, biological, psychic and spiritual self becomes a Christ. Therefore, Christ is not some kind of human or divine individual. Christ is a cosmic substance that is found in the whole infinite space. We need to form Christ within us."

Stephan Hoeller explains in "Gnosticism: New Light on the Ancient Tradition of Inner Knowing," that Jesus was regarded by his followers as a liberator in terms of knowledge and understanding, rather than a savior as many Christians deem him.

He writes that the teachings of Jesus were mysterious and beyond the topical understanding of many.

"His words are not so much intended to inform as to stimulate latent creative and imaginative faculties," the author writes. "The Jesus who emerges in these sayings is a Jesus quite different from the traditional meek and mild man of sorrows. This Jesus uses metaphor and myth, cryptic mystical adages and explicitly gnostic parables, to induce extraordinary states of consciousness in his followers."