Seminary Program

This is where we post the essays from many of our Universal Life Church Seminary students. When students finish a ULC course, they write a comprehensive essay about their experiences with the course, what they learned, didn't learn, were inspired by, etc. Here are their essays.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Master of Gnosticism
By Rev. Patricia Buben

The Gnostics had a very different worldview from that of most other religions.  In their view, the natural world is temporary and evil.  For example, giving to the poor in a world that is temporary and everything is evil, would make no sense.

Their salvation would depend on gnosis (knowledge) so the affected soul wouldn't pass the Archons. It is their fault and not the fault of the Gnostic.

One of the second century church writers Irenaeus wrote:  "The Gnostic must indulge in everything. To be saved, they must sin. They must learn the role of the poorest farmer, to the wealthiest merchant."

The soul aspiring to enlightenment must first rid itself of all debts and obligations. The Gnostic seeks to be like the light and return to it. According to Irenaeus, it is impossible for the spiritual element to suffer corruption, no matter what actions they have indulged in. He goes on to explain and illustrates their logic by comparing this spiritual element to a bar of gold dipped in filth, which will preserve its worth and be unaffected by the filth. Such enlightenment is not possible from the creator, for this entity cannot recognize the power greater than itself. It is flawed and imperfect, so he couldn't hope to achieve this revelation.

The concept of salvation to the Gnostic is somewhat simple while at the same time very complex. Most religions require faith, good works or both to avoid damnation. Gnostics believe salvation comes through gnosis or knowledge. Gnosticism seems to indicate that even those who are not pursuing saving knowledge can return to the light someday.

However there are those few unfortunate souls who seem to be damned forever. Studying the universe though comes into play when discussing the Gnostic salvation. 

There are many types of Gnosticism that spread throughout the world, but most can be defined as:  "a religious movement consisting of various belief systems generally united in the teaching that humans are divine souls trapped in a material world created by an imperfect god, the demiurge, who is frequently identified with the Abrahamic God.

Gnosticism is very interesting to study, but I did have difficulty relating to some of the underlying philosophies (especially in the beginning).  I'm glad I took the course, though.  Bishop Pat took something that was (in my opinion) very difficult to understand and broke it down thoroughly so that the concepts can be better understood.  I liked the contrast he gave between Gnostics and Christians.  It was very effectively presented.  In summary, I enjoyed the course—both the history and descriptions of the Gnostic beliefs.


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