No matter how we view Gnosticism, it is always an elitist faith. Each member esteems himself superior to heaven (no wonder the "Gnostic Christian" shows no interest in heaven or the personal return of Christ). Only the "elite" (the subjectively illuminated ones) can achieve godhood.
All evidence of the writings of the Gnostics leads to an egocentric direction which is a religious life with self as the object of its devotion. It is a form of narcissism with an escape from the real world into a world of myth and fantasy where no absolutes, parameters or judgements apply. This is why "spiritual warfare" as promulgated today has such an appeal to many. The imagination is titillated as the "spirit realm" is unveiled, and excited warriors find they can do battle with creatures of the netherworld.
The essence of a "Gnostic" is a life-long journey into self. His (imaginary) pursuit is perfection, immortality, godhood and an "elite" form of godliness that sets him apart from the flesh and the world and takes him into the "unknown".
There are certain groups of Christians that fall into the category of "elitism" notwithstanding their affiliations. They use the same catch phrases: "Come out of your man-made systems", "Denominational walls are breaking down", and "Christians need to be 'delivered' from 'Spirits of Religion' and sound doctrine". The guilty groups are primarily among the Charismatics. They go by many names and sometimes no name at all. We spot them by the teachers that are involved and by similarities in their teachings. There may be some variations among the different groups; however the common denominator that ties them together is the "elitism" concept. This is set out as follows:
All do not necessarily use this terminology, but the premises are the same. The language is becoming increasingly militant as the "Army of God", "Gideon's Army", or "Joel's Army" take shape. A common thread is that they are expecting a "New Order": "In all revolutions there are noisy and dangerous times as the OLD ORDER is replaced by the new . . . after the dust settles, we can proceed to build the beautiful kingdom that the Lord has purposed from the foundations of the world", says Vinson Synan, one of the leaders of A.D.2000. [Fulness, Jan-Feb 1990, Vinson Synan, p. 24]
Gary North, a leader of the Reconstructionists, proclaims:
It all has such a spiritual sounding ring. One of the modern day prophets, Paul Cain, calls this elitism the "inner court experience". He announces joyfully that there is an empty place on Jesus' bosom for thos who can "enter in". The problem with this "elitism" theory is that Christians are to enter into the "inner court" of God, not by the way of the Cross, through faith, but through a subjective experience of a "nirvana" experience.
A Manifest Son adherent says:
A "prophet" from the Kansas City Fellowship in an interview session in 1988 proclaims that the Lord looked at him and said, "I have called the best of every blood line in earth unto this generation . . . I have elected to bring them forth in this generation . . . the ELECT GENERATION. [Bob Jones transcribed from 1988 tapes]
This "New Breed" does not believe in the Rapture eschatology. According to Rick Joyner, one of the "Prophets":
The Scripture, Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken and the other left. (Luke 17:34-36) is being construed to mean that the imperfect one shall be taken (removed from the earth) and the perfect one left. Since the Elite (The Manifest Sons) are being perfected on earth, the true Church is to become The Christ - the ongoing Incarnation of Christ. Therefore, the Church as "The Christ" is empowered to drive all demons from the earth, perfect the Church and establish the Elect's reign. The emphasis is always on the super spiritual race rather than on the person, Jesus Christ. One well known teacher summed it up as follows: "It is time to take him (Jesus) off and move up into the place God has ordained for us."
This is heresy in its diabolic essence.
The foremost danger in these divisive teachings is that Jesus Christ is removed from His high place as God the Son, to the level of all the sons of God. The sons of God are moved up to Christ's place. The truth of the humanity of Christ is taken to an extreme. This is one of Satan's chief ways to discredit and finally destroy God's Word - to add to His message by pushing it to the extreme. History shows that the worst danger in Gnosticism, especially in the concept of elitism, is its inherent propensity to extremism. Given free reign, it inevitably leads to moral, political and spiritual extremism.
An immediate case in point is its extremist abuse of the Scriptures. Gnosticism has a notorious reputation for riding roughshod over the Scriptures then adding and subtracting in pursuit of extreme religious ideals. Revelation 22:19 clearly reveals what happens to anyone who adds to God's Word.
The new Elite doctrine undermines the message of evangelism. Everyone is just where he is supposed to be - where God wants him at that time. Recruits for the movement are not obtained from the ranks of the unsaved, but are plucked off one or two at a time from Christian groups by phrases like "Wouldn't you like to learn new, deep truths?", "Have you entered in?", "Come into the inner court", or "Surely, you want to move on with God?". These phrases stir spiritual pride and elitism in most, as well as a sense of inferiority or feeling of being unspiritual if we do not understand and want to participate. Everyone else seems to understand, why not us? Spiritual pride comes to those who think they understand and are part of the "New Thing" because they have these "new deeper truths" and the rest are just poor babes.
The Restoration Movement has had a profound impact on the Charismatic movement. With the new call to "unity" with no regard to doctrine, the influence is flooding all aspects of evangelical Christianity. Restorationism presents a great challenge to conservative Biblical interpretations and is successful because it appears to be more "spiritual". This "spirituality" actually causes a deterioration, becomes divisive and splits churches. A spiritual "elitism" is formed. Others who do not get into the same "deep revelations" of the hidden meanings of Scriptures are left out and made to feel that they are not "spiritual".
The new and yet old elite doctrine that has suddenly burst forth in the church is in actuality the brain child of New Age Christian Gnostics. Many of them do not even realise they are "Gnostics". At the expense of God's Word, the Scriptures are spiritualised to illustrate "The Church" (as they define it) as a special "breed" of God's people.
The Bible is perceived as a symbolic book. As a result of symbolic interpretations, preposterous thoughts and blatant cultish concepts have emerged. Rejecting the literal sense of the Word allows the Scriptures to be interpreted and applied indiscriminately. For example, 2 Corinthians 3:6 (The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life) is allegorised to mean the Scriptures is a dead letter without the Spirit. However, that is not what the Apostle Paul is saying. Paul is making a difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. The old brought death whereas the new as a life-giving spirit.
To the mind of the Gnostic, the true meaning of the Scriptures appears only when they are allegorised or spiritualised. Unless this rule is applied, the Scriptures remain a dead letter. By this non-literal method of interpretation, the neo-Gnostics have spiritualised themselves into being "Sons" equal with Christ and part of the "elite order" in the Church.
This teaching is becoming more widespread as popular circuit "Prophets" proclaim in Kansas City
Those who are overcomers believe they will never be sick or die and they will be here when Christ returns. They believe they are now living in the prophetic time when the Church is being restored and perfected by the five-fold ministries (apostles, prophets, etc.). The Elite (Overcomers) are now in the process of putting on immortality, perfection and godhood and taking dominion of the earth. The Church is about to birth the Man-child - the Sons of God, the incarnation of Christ and brotherhood of Christ.
The essence of this concept is pure Gnosticism and actually accords with the following New Age thought (Gnosticism):
The second object of man's life on earth is to lead other men VIA the same path so that ultimately all men shall have developed and brought into manifestation and activity this same nature and thus will God's church or universal Brotherhood become an established fact. [The Sons of God by R. Swinburnbe Clymer, Published by The Philosophical Publishing Company (emphasis theirs)]
The neo-Gnostic believes the manifestation of the Sons of God comes about in a secret inner coming of Christ TO some Christians which would transform them into "Overcomers". "Christ should visit the saints . . . and minister His life 'in secret' before He is openly manifest." [The Feast of Tabernacles, George Warnock, Springfield, MO - Bill Britton, 1951, pp 108]. In doing this they reject the literal resurrection and Rapture (the personal coming of Jesus Christ FOR His Church). It is interesting to note they will acknowledge Christ is coming, but His coming is off in the future. The emphasis is not on Christ's soon appearance but on the great "power" or "new anointing" that is to be manifest in the Church. Again, a subtle change of emphasis.