Colossians Bible Study The Truth about Religion – Proving the Lie – Gnosticism & The New Age
Why is Colossians so important?
Colossians 2:8 (KJB) “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”
For the rest of chapter two, Paul is about to bring an assault on the Colossian Cult called Gnostics. It’s important to understand why this was relevant then and now. To that end, we are going to pause to define Gnosticism again, and explain how it is relevant today.
The cult at Colosse was circulating five significant errors. They were encouraging intellectualism (2:8-10), ritualism (2:11-13), legalism (2:14-17), mysticism (2:18-19), and asceticism (2:20-23). Each of these will be discussed in videos in the future.
Historically what is Gnosticism and what did they believe? In his book Crowned with Glory, Dr. Thomas Holland describes Gnosticism as follows:
“Historian Will Durant defines Gnosticism as “the quest of godlike knowledge (gnosis) through mystic means.” Not only did the Gnostics corrupt many readings found in the New Testament; they offered their own writings as inspired scriptures such as The Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of the Ebionites, The Acts of Andrew, and The Gospel of Mary (Magdalene). Gnosticism assumed a variety of forms and sects that broadened its base and growth.”
The word Gnostic comes from the Greek word gnosis, which means “to know.” The Gnostics thought that they had specialized knowledge that could be revealed only to those who were initiated into their sects. Only the initiated could find the real truth. T. H. Huxley inspired by the word gnosis coined the phrase agnostic. A Gnostic is a man who says that he knows; an agnostic is a man who says that he doesn’t know.
There are many modern gnostic cults today — Theosophy, Christian Science, Scientology, and the New Age just to name a few.
- Historically, it absorbed non-Christian thought into the Christian faith.
- Philosophically, it lodged sin in matter and, therefore, repudiated the Creator as either impotent or evil.
- Practically, numerous Gnostic schools prohibited marriage as multiplying incurable matter.
- Similarly, numerous Gnostics prohibited the eating of certain foods, such as wine and meat, as being inherently evil.
- Theologically, the Jehovah of the Old Testament was portrayed as the tribal God of Israel. He was denounced as an alien and hostile deity.
- Christologically, it separated Jesus from the Christ, denying both the deity and humanity of the Lord.
- Inevitably, it sank finally into irreparable apostasy. Apostacy is not merely the corruption of the truth; it is a total change of the truth or a complete abandonment of the faith previously held.
Gnosticism and the New Age are hard to define in specific terms because they enveloped many beliefs from other cults and religions. Gnostics & New Age are divided when it comes to Jesus Christ. Some embrace a philosophy known as Docetism. They teach because matter is evil, Christ could not be associated with a human body – notwithstanding the clear teaching of the New Testament. Jesus, they explain only seemed to have a human body. He was not born, He did not die, His body was an illusion. They denied the humanity of Jesus Christ.
Cerenthianism, another form of Gnosticism, taught that “the Christ” came upon the human body of Jesus in the form of a dove at His Baptism and it left Him at the beginning of His suffering at Calvary. They denied the deity of Jesus Christ.
Because of the various ideas regarding the evil nature of matter, this allowed for many forms of gnostic & New Age teachings regarding the human body. Some taught asceticism or to deny the body its desires. They starved and scourged themselves and made themselves suffer they disallowed marriage and eating meat. These Gnostic New Age teachings are seen in some movies today such as the DaVinci Code. In the Bible the Essenes taught asceticism, among the Greeks, the Stoics were advocates. Among Christians, monks take vows of poverty and some wore hair shirts.
Some Gnostic & New Age teachings went in the opposite direction. They taught what is known as antinomianism. These groups believed the best thing to do with their body was to indulge its appetites to the point of exhaustion. The Epicureans and the Nicolaitans followed this path.
New Age Religion
Let’s talk about New Age Religion now, and you can see how the New Age has incorporated Gnosticism as well as many other false beliefs into their “religion.”
New Age Religion has roots in Taoism, Hinduism, Gnosticism, Theosophy, Spiritualism, and neo-paganism. Among New Age practices is the use of astrology, Tarot cards, fortune telling, alternative healing, drumming and chanting and if course yoga.
New Age is not a formal religion. You can say you are a “Christian” and practice New Age spirituality. New Age has no formal doctrine or leadership. It is a free-flowing, spiritual, mystical movement that changes the names of what it practices while maintaining those practices unchanged.
In the East, the two major religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, are 100% New Age. Or looking at it the other way around, New Age fully incorporates the beliefs and practices of Eastern religions. It also fully includes the occult.
In the west New Age practices are commonly found rooted in the three major religions, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Within the Christian circle, charismatic, health and wealth, and New Apostolic Reformation churches, in particular, make use of New Age practices. However, even conservative Christian churches are unknowingly adopting the methods of mystical Eastern religions.
A few of the New Age practices commonly used in Christian churches include yoga, spiritual directors, contemplative prayer, spiritual formation, centering prayer.
What is the distinctive of New Age?
New Age Religion can best be defined as having a focus on experience instead of knowledge. Christianity is a rational, knowledge-based religion that is rooted in actual historical facts such as the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the Bible.
A second distinctive of New Age Religion is that the focus is on you… on what you get from it. In Christianity, the center is always on God.
A third distinctive of New Age Religion is that of God being in us, and we are in God. This is called panentheism.
Conclusion – much like Gnosticism that adopted many false belief systems into its apostasy I hope you understand that New Age Religion today follows the same path. Religion today has been blending these false beliefs together for centuries. A couple of important notes is how do they support these false teachings? As we see above these false religions, have not only written their own books, but they are constantly changing God’s Word to adapt it to their false beliefs. The morphing of God’s Word from its pure form (God promised to preserve it) to the corrupted New Age Bibles of today is astounding. We must stand for the truth of God’s Word.
2 Peter 2:1-3 KJV — 2 Peter 1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. 3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. — 2 Peter 2:1-3 KJV