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"We shall believe in the single Deity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, under the concept of equal majesty and of the Holy Trinity.

We command that those persons who follow this rule shall embrace the name of Catholic Christians. The rest, however, whom We adjudge demented and insane, shall sustain the infamy of heretical dogmas, their meeting places shall not receive the name of churches, and they shall be smitten first by divine vengeance and secondly by the retribution of Our own initiative, which We shall assume in accordance with the divine judgement."

(Emperor Theodosius, The Theodosian Laws, A.D. 380, quoted on pp.27-28 of Helen Ellerbe's The Dark Side of Christian History, pub. A.D.1995)


Gnostic Renaissance Information Project

Ever since Jesus first revealed His radical new gospel of knowledge and love, gnostic Christians have been heavily persecuted, first by the Roman Empire and for centuries afterwards by orthodox Christian authorities. This site was created to commemorate our fallen brothers and sisters in the gnosis and to ensure that persecution never returns.

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Gnostics & Persecution: the Sordid Truth

"Orthodox Christians assembled the Bible not to bring all the gospels together, but rather to encourage uniformity. From the plethora of Christian gospels, Bishop Irenaeus compiled the first list of biblical writings that resemble today's New Testament around 180 C.E. By 393 and 397, Bishop Athanasius had a similar list ratified by the Church councils of Hippo and Carthage. By prohibiting and burning any other writings, the Catholic Church eventually gave the impression that this Bible and its four canonized Gospels represented the only original Christian view. And yet, as late as 450, Theodore of Cyrrhus said that there were at least 200 different gospels circulating in his own diocese. Even the Catholic Encyclopedia now admits that the "idea of a complete and clear-cut canon of the New Testament existing from the beginning... has no foundation in history."

(Helen Ellerbe, The Dark Side of Christian History, p.16, pub. A.D.1995)
"You know, it's very interesting to think of the history of Christianity. During the first five centuries, there were lots of Christianities, lots of ways of being Christian. And then, in the period of Theodosius in the fourth century, the only religion allowed in the Roman Empire was the Christian religion, and the only form of Christianity allowed in the Roman Empire was the Christianity of Byzantium's throne."

(Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth, p.248, pub. A.D.1988)
"From the very first centuries, what was to become Christian orthodoxy vehemently suppressed those Christians of psychic, shamanic, or visionary temperament called the Gnostics. The authorities of the early institutional Church soon established a strict orthodoxy of doctrine against to which all contrary views were stigmatized as heretical. When in 313 the Emperor Constantine made Christianity the official state religion, attempting to syncretize it with various sun-god cults, Christianity was left to deal with the many cults that swarmed within the Roman Empire. The monotheistic zeal to convert and eradicate the diversity of polytheism gave the Church an authoritarian character that has plagued the West ever since with schisms, councils, inquisitions, and witch-hunts..."

(Roger J, Woolger, Other Lives, Other Selves, p. 71, pub. A.D. 1987)
"It may truly be said that the blackest and bloodiest records that history can show us are the attacks of the Orthodox Church upon the Gnostic mystics."

(Frances Swiney, quoted by Lloyd M. Graham in Myths & Deceptions of the Bible, p.446, pub. A.D. 1991)
"The persecuted primitive Church of the second century was to become in the fourth century itself the persecutor, and whereas in the earlier period Gnostics had been able to engage in theological dispute with the orthodox, later they were sought out, excommunicated, and sometimes burnt alive for their heresy."

(Stuart Holroyd, The Elements of Gnosticism, p.22, pub. A.D. 1994)
"... Christians burned down one of the world's greatest libraries in Alexandria, said to have housed 700,000 rolls. All the books of the Gnostic Basilides, Porphyry's 36 volumes, papyrus rolls of 27 schools of the Mysteries, and 270,000 ancient documents gathered by Ptolemy Philadelphus were burned. Ancient academies of learning were closed. Education for anyone outside of the Church came to an end..."

(Helen Ellerbe, The Dark Side of Christian History, p. 46, pub. 1995)
"When the great library at Alexandria was ransacked by Christian fanatics in 387... an inestimable wealth of gnostic literature must have been destroyed. Until the nineteenth century the main source of knowledge of Gnosticism was, ironically, in the writings of the Church Fathers, who in their refutations summarised gnostic texts and often quoted at length from them.

In the nineteenth and present centuries a number of original gnostic texts came to light, the most sensational find being an entire library of fifty-two texts discovered at Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt in 1946. These, scholars later ascertained, had belonged to an ascetic Christian community which, fearing discovery by the ecclesiastical authorities and the consequences of being charged with heresy, had sealed up their forbidden library in a large jar and buried it in the sand beneath a cliff near their monastery in about the year 360."

(Stuart Holroyd, The Elements of Gnosticism)


Links

  1. A Short History of Gnosticism
    "The roots of Gnosticism reach far into antiquity and, during much of its history , has faced such persecution as to destroy most records about it..."

  2. Gnostic Christianity and the Myth of Sophia
    "Because [the gnostics] had always voiced the absolute necessity of individual freedom in finding salvation... they began to be viewed as... a danger to the growing power base of Constantine's church. Consequently, they were disdained and persecuted, not so much by forces outside the Christian community, but by the very community to which they had once belonged."

  3. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance: GNOSTICISM - ANCIENT AND MODERN
    "The [gnostic] movement and its literature were essentially wiped out by the end of the 5th century CE by heresy hunters from mainline Christianity. Its beliefs are currently experiencing a rebirth throughout the world..."

  4. Gnosis
    "Catharism may have been a rebirth of Gnosticism. Catharism was a sect of Christianity in the south of France whose members inspired such hatred in the Catholic Church that a Crusade was declared against them and they were slaughtered without mercy. The difficulty between distinguishing between Cathars and Catholics--and the resolution to destroy Catharism at any cost-- gave rise to the famous expression, "Kill them all; God will know his own.""

  5. The Church's War on the Cathars
    "At dawn the following day more than two hundred [Cathar] parfaits were dragged roughly down the mountainside. Not one recanted. There was not time to erect individual stakes. They were locked into a large wood-filled stockade at the foot of the mountain and burned en masse..."



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