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Why did the developing church ban the Gnostic texts?

Question:

Why did the developing church ban the Gnostic texts?

The Orthodox Suppression of Gnostic Texts:

In the first three centuries of Christianity, there were many different approaches and doctrines that dominated in particular regions or among particular groups; but with the supremacy of Orthodox Christianity over these other groups in the fourth century CE, measures were taken to suppress them: a hierarchy of bishops that could suppress any ideas or behavior seen as unacceptable; the creation of a creed, like the Nicene Creed of 325 CE, which clearly stated which doctrines a Christian in good standing was supposed to believe; the creation of an official biblical canon; and the development of "heresiology", the study of groups now considered heretical in order to determine what was wrong with them. The most famous heresiological work is the Panarion of Epiphanius, the bishop of Salamis in Cyprus.

Answer and Explanation:

As Orthodox Christianity became the dominant form of the faith in the Mediterranean world, an accepted biblical canon was established and any heterodox writings were categorized as heretical, and therefore forbidden. Among the latter were the Gnostic texts, which were problematic for a number of reasons. First, they saw the material world as an essentially evil place to be contrasted with the light that existed outside it; and both the idea of a conflict between good and evil forces, and the belief that matter is evil, were alien to the orthodox Church. Second, Gnostics often saw Christ not as a human being but as the logos, a spirit of reason sent by the true God, which challenged the idea that he was both human and divine. Third, they described the God of the Bible as an incompetent or even wicked "demiurge", or craftsman, who did a bad job of creating the world we know. Finally, they believed that what Christ brought to humanity was not salvation through faith but knowledge, which meant that spiritual success was not available to everyone but only to those with whom this specoal knowledge was shared.


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The Conversion of Constantine and the Ascent of Christianity

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Chapter 5 / Lesson 8
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Learn about the conversion of Constantine to Christianity, his issuance of the Edict of Milan, and his hosting of the Council of Nicea to standardize the religion.


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