Tuesday, March 10, 2009

there is gnosis and then there's gnosis

France-Spiritualités: To illustrate your idea, we can recall that many leading esotericists and occultists belonged to one or another of the branches of the Gnostic Church. We'll simply cite, among the best-known, Papus and many of those who moved in his entourage, as well as, closer to our time, Robert Ambelain. But the list is quite long.

Serge Caillet: Indeed, the list is long! Jules Doinel, the founder of the first Gnostic Church–from which come all of today's gnostic churches–had dreamed of a church which would give back to Christianity its gnostic dimension. But there is gnosis and then there's gnosis. Let's not confuse the very holy gnosis which, as Clement of Alexandria said, does not oppose faith but perfects it, with the "gnosis whose name is a lie" denounced by Saint Irenaeus in his treatise against heresies in the 2nd century. Some of today's gnostic chapels, which I refuse to qualify as churches, have committed themselves to this latter path, along the lines of Theodor Reuss and Aleister Crowley, by seizing the title of gnostic church and pretending to possess the apostolic filiation, which could never–thank God!–be transmitted in this way.
Among the occultists who have maintained Doinel's heritage, one must cite at least Jean Bricaud (1881-1934), Constant Chevillon (1880-1944), and, as you said, Robert Ambelain, who were all patriarchs of the Gnostic Church. Doinel's Church did not possess the apostolic filiation, but it was the wish of Providence that his successors should receive it through a line which passes through l'abbé Julio (the Abbot Julio: Julien-Ernest Houssay, 1844-1912). So, we can ask ourselves what the Martinists gathered around Papus, then around his successors at the head of the Martinist Order, were looking for. Wasn't it the one, undivided Church, faithful to the Tradition of the Apostles and the Fathers of the Church, and possessor and dispenser of the gnosis which Clement of Alexandria speaks of? Now, since its origin, this Church has remained alive in the East, after having disappeared in the West in the Middle Ages, to the advantage of Roman Catholicism. You will have understood that I'm talking about the Orthodox Church, whose providential return in the West allows Martinists today to once again find an authentic ecclesiastical practice, in parallel with those who follow the practice of the few rare Gnostic Churches worthy of this name, where the faithful are often hardly more numerous than the priests.

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