« Prev 3. Appreciation of Montanism and Gnosticism. Next »

3. APPRECIATION OF MONTANISM AND GNOSTICISM.

We see more clearly how the author appreciates those intellectual movements of his age with which he feels that he him self has something in common. He prepared the way even for Montanus of Phrygia and his followers, who after the year 156 came forward with new prophecies and declared that this age of theirs, the age of the Holy Spirit which filled them, represented a higher level compared with the time in which Jesus lived, by making Jesus himself say in Jn. xvi. 12 f., that the disciples could not at the time understand many other things which he had to say to them, but that after his death the Holy Spirit would come and lead them into all truth.

But it was, in particular, the captivating ideas of Gnosticism that the Fourth Evangelist appropriated (pp. 152 f. 158-160). He did a great service to his age by showing that one could be a thinker, appreciate knowledge, stand in the midst of a stream of thoroughly intellectual movements, and yet remain a faithful son of the Church. In this way, we may presume, he contributed not a little to keep Christians from splitting into two classes having hardly any connecting link, the intellectual aristocracy of the Gnostics and simple believers. In face of mutual feuds and of persecution 237from without, such cleavage might have endangered the continued existence of Christianity altogether. The Second and Third Epistles of John, which aimed at keeping the communities closely knit together by means of the authority of the Church, also deserve part of the credit for having warded off this danger. To us the effort may not seem, very exalted or even very beautiful: but, nevertheless, it was productive of good.

« Prev 3. Appreciation of Montanism and Gnosticism. Next »



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |