Thursday, February 28, 2008

Lost Faith

Something that I have wondered about for quite some time is the role of faith in contemporary Gnosticism. Often, in mainstream Christian traditions, faith is used as a noun and is synonymous with the religion itself, e.g. "the Faith".

My impression is that faith is viewed somewhat as a naughty word in some Gnostic circles. Who needs simple belief in a thing when you already have a knowing of the thing, after all? I would agree, if the faith spoken of is a blind one. Blind faith is a mindless faith. It doesn't require examination, but simply adherence.

So what is faith to the Gnostic? For what purpose does it serve those who already know? I think of it in these terms: If gnosis is the lightbulb, "aha" moment, faith is why you reach for the light switch in the first place.

With any religion, I believe, you must make certain assumptions and hold to certain core ideas and principles for the process to have meaning. Why do I strive to maintain a praxis? Why do I continue to search out these things? Why do I seek for gnosis? I would have to attribute the answer to some level of faith, both in myself, and in the process.

I came across a translation of a section from the Gospel of Philip (Valentinian) today, on the blog of Dr. April DeConick, as translated by her:

The world's farming relies on four things. A harvest is gathered into the barn because of water, earth, wind, and light. God's farming likewise relies on four things - faith, hope, love and knowledge. Faith is our earth in which we take root. Hope is the water with which we are nourished. Love is the wind by which we grow. Knowledge is the light by which we [ripen].

I think this expresses the role of faith perfectly. It is my opinion that rejecting faith, a faith in context with love, hope, and knowledge, is anathema to the process of inner and spiritual growth.

I reserve the right to be entirely wrong, but I think we all start out with faith, that what we are doing is what we should be doing, so we keep doing it until we know. Once we know, faith remains as a map to the inner path. We keep looking to it when we are not sure of where we are, even if we know the ultimate destination. And so we trudge on.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you, Mark. I do not believe faith can be discarded in Gnosticism. It is faith that carries us into the grace of knowing our union with God.