The name for this heresy originated from the Greek word, gnosis, meaning "knowledge." The Greeks were the first, after the Jews, to be evangelized for Christ. With their great tradition of thinkers, like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, the Greeks were very attracted to human knowledge and speculation. This infatuation led to the first major heresy to plague the Church. St. John’s Epistles in the Bible already appear to be speaking against it. St. Irenaeus of Lyons in 190 A.D. wrote against it in his book, Against Heresies. His first volume is devoted to describing its many differing sects and their beliefs. Manicheism in the 4th century and Albigensism in the 12th century were later manifestations of this heresy. Even today the "New Age Movement" has many similarities. Basically this heresy exaggerated the importance of knowledge over faith. It also considered the body and matter to be evil; whereas, the soul and ideas were good. As a result, it denied the Incarnation of Christ, and even some sects claimed that the Creator was evil. Also marriage and sex were considered evil since their purpose was to make more "bodies." In a perverted twist in logic, the abuses of sex: contraception, adultery, fornication and sodomy, were considered good according to some sects. The Gnostics spent more time speculating on the succession of "angels" between God and man, than in meditating on God’s Commandments. Their focus was more on thinking rather than on living a good Christian life.
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