Friday, January 21, 2011

Beware House Church Gnosticism

This is as short post to myself as much as anyone else.

I'm currently writing quite a bit about house church life.  My goals are to explain what it is and why I find it both biblical and edifying.  Additionally, it generates a good deal of discussion that I hope can stretch us all.

In the midst of writing about these things, I want to avoid something else.  That thing is what I'll refer to as "House Church Gnosticism."

The original Gnosticism was an ancient heresy that, among other things, taught that secret knowledge exists that is important to spiritual life.  This is nonsense of course because we have all we need within the pages of scripture.  We enjoy both the freedom and the responsibility of reading the bible to see what it says about belief and practice.

In talking about the house church (or simple church/organic church/authentic church), those of us who favor this model of church life must be careful.  We should at all costs avoid even implying that we have come across some sort of special knowledge that others just haven't figured out.  If we suggest that we are somehow smarter than those who disagree with us on this issue, then we have slipped into a sort of gnosticism related to our beliefs about the church.

I'll admit that this is a gray area.  I find myself frustrated at times when others look in the pages of scripture and don't see what I see about the church (or other things for that matter).  Pride can rear its ugly head at this point.

Let us all be careful in the way we speak and write.  We can write in such a way that states why we believe what we believe.  It is also fair to point out weaknesses in opposing arguments.  However, if we begin in any way to disparage others for not seeing what we see or not discovering what we've discovered, then we begin to venture into at least borderline special knowledge.

Writing is difficult.  It is a medium that demands precision.  We can't use body language or tone of voice to convey what we are thinking.  Therefore, we have to put our thoughts down in a very clear manner.  In the case of church issues - which admittedly are often accompanied by high emotions - we must carefully think through every word we put on the screen.

So let's continue to engage important issues related to the church and other aspects of life.  We shouldn't avoid hard topics just to keep surface level harmony.  At the same time we ought to avoid writing in such a way that implies that we have discovered special, superior, or secret knowledge.  It does nothing for the discussion and simply smacks of pride. 


Richie said...

I think you're right in one sense, in terms of salvation. The Bible sets forth very plainly how to be saved, and the Gospel of John is contains all that is needed to know life. (John 20:31)

But the Bible also admonishes us to "desire solid food." It even describes understanding the priesthood of melchizedek as "milk". How many Christians understand that? Or even the understanding of the many symbols and types in the old testament? I'm sure these things aren't within the scope of what you're talking about, but they are within the Bible, and we should aspire to deepen our understanding of the Bible, so that we can deepen our understanding of God.

And your conclusion hit the nail on the head, pride is the constant battle for anyone who wants to know God deeper. Paul knew this well and was given a thorn in his flesh for that exact reason.

God bless, Richie

Eric said...


I agree. The bible is very clear on the mos important issues. Thank God for that.

It also requires deep thinking and study in order to understand more. That's where we must be careful. Satan just loves it when we walk around puffed up about our bible knowledge.

We all need to study hard, know why we believe what we believe, and try to graciously discuss it. That's easier said than done. We have to try.

Aussie John said...


You certainly hit the nail on the head with this one. The disparate groups, which I have come across, much like most systems of theology, often cause the Scriptures to march to the tunes dictated by their own "revelations" and "prophecies" which are far removed Scripture being interpreted by Scripture.

Eric said...


Thanks. We all need a double dose of humility every day!