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Christendom College Academic Dean Dr. Ben Reinhard dug into one of the “defining features” of modern discourse in his latest article for Catholic World Report, presenting the dangers of Gnosticism and its impact in today’s world. Examining the rise of modern Gnosticism, Reinhard argues for turning away from social media and the relentless news cycle back towards the family, prayer, and the Sacraments, following the example of the Incarnate Christ rather than the Gnostic views espoused by many in society.

Reinhard, who is also an Assistant Professor of English Language and Literature at Christendom, points to the “’wokeness’ of the modern left and the fringe QAnon theories of the right” as modern examples of Gnosticism — the ancient heresy which argues that salvation can be gained through a special form of secret knowledge, or personal revelation. The heresy, which was condemned in the second century by Church Fathers, has taken root in modern society due to two reasons, according to Reinhard.

Firstly, there is the loss of trust in public officials, according to Reinhard — something that is “richly deserved.” As a result of this loss of trust, people are often caught in a struggle between following gnostic progressive ideologies or the dangerous temptations of the resistance. For those on the side of the resistance, Gnosticism can also be alluring for them as they begin to see the world as evil and set themselves up as the “definitive arbiter of true and false.”

“Any piece of news can be filtered through the adept’s hermeneutical matrix, which will provide him with a quick, easy, and coherent explanation. If authoritative sources will not provide a reasonable semblance of stability, clarity, and truth, the gnostic conspiracy theory (whether Critical Race Theory or QAnon or anything else) will,” continues Reinhard.

The second reason for modern Gnosticism can be found in the dominance of the internet, according to Reinhard. In the second century, Gnostics despised the body and exalted the spirit, making the internet the natural continuation of that thought process — a place of limitless information and “unfettered spirit.”

Social Media only makes this worse, as users grow addicted to the virtual at the expense of the natural world.

“The loss of trust in public officials and the dehumanizing influence of the internet combine to create a perfect storm of cultural Gnosticism – one that is as overt as it is pervasive,” writes Reinhard.

The widespread nature of modern Gnosticism can be overwhelming, from the rise of the internet slang term “red pill” to the tendencies at work in the public square to reduce politics to mutual hatred. Nevertheless, Reinhard offers ways to fight back against the return of the ancient heresy.

“We must learn again to foster wisdom instead of mere knowledge, and to turn – as best we can – from the pseudo-world of social media, propaganda, and relentless news towards reality: life with our families, reading of Scriptures and the writings of the Saints, and especially liturgical prayer and the Sacraments. The Incarnate Christ was, after all, always the great scandal and enemy of the Gnostics,” concludes Reinhard.

To read the full article, click here.

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