Intro to the Gnostic Church
- The Gnostique Church is ONE: Her doctrine is unique. She adapts herself through various epochs, but the basis of all those adaptations is absolutely the same.
- The Gnostic Church is Holy: Her moral is the pure evangelical moral which alone is capable of making Saints.
- The Gnostic Church is Apostolic: She recognizes the Apostle John as her leader of origin.
- The Gnostic Church is Universal: She is intimately linked to the Primordial Tradition of which She is an adaptation; one could say that She has always existed across the face of the earth.
While it may seem "unusual" or even "uncomfortable" to many for Gnosticism to manifest itself within a "church", it is this structure with which we in western society have become familiar. Arguments have been heard that historically, Gnosticism was an umbrella term for several streams and groups which had no centralized dogma or structure. While there may be some truth to this, there is also evidence that some of these groups did have enough of a structure in place to differentiate among themselves, to ally and to develop or disintegrate. The French Gnostic Tradition takes as its basis three (3) different schools of Gnosticism; their physical founders are referred to as the 'Three Great Doctors of the Gnosis', being: Simon Magus, Basilides and Valentinus. Valentinus would become central to the cosmological view developed by Jules Doinel as he ateempted to reestablish the Albigensian Church of the Cathars. For political reasons, and for self-preservation during an era of excommunication and oppression, the outward appearance will seem familiar, however, there are certain elements within the church that are in a format which is less like the "Roman" church. We do, however, acknowledge that the so-called "fathers of the church" (which DID include women!) contributed greatly to the establishment and continuation of Gnosis within the mainstream churches - and which was preserved to an extent by the Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Churches. Perhaps the most obvious of these similarities, is the valid Apostolic Succession of our Church. While our Church is now the custodian of all valid lines of succession, the principal line historically came from the Church of Antioch via Archbishop Joseph René Vilatte.
From Gnostic Scriptures and The Gnostic Church by +Stephan A. Hoeller, Ecclesia Gnostica:
"The last few years have brought to the forefront a considerable number of organizations bearing the name "Gnostic". The principal reason for this was the discovery in 1945 and the publication in fully translated form in 1977 of the Nag Hammadi Library of Coptic Gnostic scriptures - the largest collection of Gnostic writings ever discovered. The Nag Hammadi Library has not only brought the name "Gnostic" into prominence but has also convinced many persons in our culture that Gnosticism is more than a peculiar ancient heresy of mainly antiquarian interest. On the contrary, Gnosticism now stands revealed as a fascinating and creative early variant of Christianity that possesses many features of contemporary relevance.
"To those of us who are committed to the Gnostic Tradition, these developments have brought both satisfaction and concern. Understandably, we are encouraged by the increase of interest in our tradition. It is also gratifying for us to note that today, unlike some years ago, the use of the name "Gnostic" is considered advantageous by many. At the same time we are compelled to recognize that many avail themselves of the name "Gnostic" without adequate justification. Just as not all is gold that glitters, so not all who call themselves "Gnostic" have a just claim to this name.
"The two principal branches of the Gnostic Church with which we are concerned are the French and the English. Of these, the French is the older and more widely disseminated. Long before there was a country named France, Gnostics were already present in that land. Irenaeus, bishop of Lyon (c.a. 180 A.D.) was so troubled by the presence of Gnostics in his diocese that he devoted volumes of diatribes to combat them. Gnostic groups of various kinds flourished in France throughout history, the best known and most numerous being the Cathar Church in the Middle Ages. French crusaders also came into contact with Gnostic groups in the Middle East and brought their teachings back to the French homeland where these teachings were cultivated in secret by generations of French devotees of the Gnosis. This seems to have been the case with the Knights Templar , who, not unlike the Cathar Gnostics, were cruelly exterminated by the unholy alliance of the French crown and papacy."
You may wish to read one version of the extensive history of the development of the Gnostic Church since its foundation in 1890 by Milko Bogaard. Not all the information is correct, but it provides an outsider's perspective on the overal movement:
- Bogaard Gnostic Church History Part 1
- Bogaard Gnostic Church History Part 2
- Bogaard Gnostic Church History Part 3
Our history, according to archival material, consultation with individuals still connected, etc. is available HERE.
There are many so-called "gnostic" churches around the world, a listing of some can be found on our links page. However, only a very few can legitimately claim to have any relation to the legitimate stream of the French Gnostic Tradition.