History of the Doctrine Concerning the Nature of God
In the early centuries of Christianity
Gnosticism was in its origin. There were jewish And heathen types, which may be traced back to babylonian religious Conceptions, a dualistic view of the universe, persian in origin, and a Doctrine in the realm of the spirit, which was probably egyptian. Gnosticism taught that the world of matter is evil: its creator is Not, therefore, a high, good god, but an inferior being. Man, to be Saved must be free from this bondage to the visible world, and its Spiritual rulers. The means of his freedom is knowledge (gnosis), a Mystical spiritual enlightenment.
Gnosticism found much in christianity that it could use. Christ Was accepted as the revealer of the hitherto unknown high and all-Perfect god, the higher saving knowledge. But, since the material World is evil, christ would not have had a real incarnation — he was Merely an apparition, an apparent birth from a virgin mother, paul’s Writings were twisted so that he taught gnosticism — he was accepted As the chief apostle of their doctrine. Tradition points to simon magas (acts 8:9-24) as the founder of “christian-gnosticism.”
Gnosticism was an immense peril to the church as its god was not The god of the old testament, and (in their view) christ has no real Incarnation, death or resurrection. The peril was the greater because Gnosticism was represented by some of the keenest minds in the church Of the second century.
(it was against the teachings of gnosticism that the early post-Apostolic church defended itself; there was, as yet, no trinitarian Doctrine. The first and early second century Christians were believers In one god who was one person manifested as the father; as jesus, the Son of god; and as the holy spirit.)