The demonic powers are the representatives of fate. The human soul which has fallen into their hands is liberated by the saviour and by the knowledge he gives.

One could say: What the saviour does in gnosticism is somehow to use white magic against the black magic of the planetary powers, the same powers of whom Paul speaks in Romans 8 that they are subdued to Christ. Therefore the magic power of the sacraments as mysterious practices is acknowledged. In them the highest Divine power comes to earth. But besides these sacramental and speculative tendencies, the Gnostics had ethical values of community and asceticism. What is demanded is the ascent of the soul, following the saviour who also ascended, but then descended.

The souls have descended; now they shall ascend. The savior liberates from demonic powers for the sake of union with the highest itself, with the fullness, the pleroma, the Spiritual Word.

On the upward way, the human soul meets these rulers, and then the soul tells the rulers what it knows about them. He knows their name, i. e., their mysterious power, the structure of evil they represent. When he tells them their name, they fall down and tremble and cannot stop the soul any more.

Now what really is meant in these poetic images is a religion of salvation from the demonic powers, which was the problem of the whole period, inside and outside Christianity. Man is somehow better .than his creator. Man can be saved from the powers of the demiurge, of him who creates the world. But not all men are able to be saved. There are three classes of human beings: the pneumatikoi, i. e. , the Spirituals; the psychikoi, those who follow the soul; and the sarkikoi, those who follow the f lesh. The sarkikoi are lost; the Spiritual ones are saved; but the middle group, the psychikoi, can go this way or that way. In order to reach the elevation, man must participate in the mysteries. These mysteries are mostly mysteries of purification, therefore mostly connected with baptism. The Spirit in baptism enters the matter of the sacrament (water) and dwells in it. After the Spirit has been brought down by a special formula, namely the formula of the initiation of the sacraments., – it is the magic idea of the sacraments which was accepted by these Stoics…

All these ideas were a great temptation to Christians. Christ remained in the center of history. He is he who brings salvation. But He is put into the frame of the dualistic world-view of Hellenism. He is put into the context of the great syncretism.

The religious mood of this whole time is beautifully expressed in the Acts of Andreas , one of those apocryphal writings. He says: “Blessed is our generation. We are not thrown down, for we have been recognized by the light. We do not belong to time, which would dissolve us. We are not a product of motion, which would destroy us again. We belong to the greatness towards which we are striving. We belong to Him who has mercy towards us, to the light which has expelled the darkness, to the One from whom we have turned away, to the Manifold, to the Super-heavenly, by whom we have understood the earthly. If we praise Him, it is because we are recognized by Him.” Now this is piety. It is not only speculation, as the critics of Gnosticism have said. This is really religion. And there are many people today who would like to renew gnostic religion as their own daily expression of their religious experience; and not because of the fantastic speculation, but because of the real piety in it, Gnosticism was a very great danger for Christianity, because if Christian theology had succumbed to this temptation, the individual character of Christianity would have been lost. The unique ground of the person Jesus would have become meaningless. The Old Testament would have disappeared, and with it the historical picture of the Christ. All this has been avoided by those men whom we call the anti-gnostic Fathers, the Fathers who were fighting against Gnosticism and who threw it out of the Church.

Now there are a few minutes and I would like to see how difficult, especially the first part of the lectures, were. Perhaps you have questions.