Page:Vactican as a World Power.djvu/49

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


1 20 and 1 60 in the form of the Gnostic mass movement. This did not well up suddenly, it was a compound of Greek, Jewish, Persian, Egyptian and Babylonian speculation a potpourri of systems which met, separated and subsided as do the waves. Its waters splashed upon the deck of the vessel of die Church and carried some of its treas- ure overboard. The ark of Christ had never been in such peril of the sea. There were moments when the waves seemed to cover it. Was not Gnosticism Christendom? And was not Christianity Gnos- tic? Many an eye lost sight of the difference between the two.

In Rome, too, the Church beheld the visage of her rival one of many such rivals when Marcion appeared there between 130 and 140. He was the son of a bishop dwelling in the region of the Black Sea, a shipbuilder and a well-to-do man. He gave the Roman Church the equivalent of $10,000, perhaps with the object of removing doubts as to the genuineness of his profession of the Catholic faith. He established contact with the Gnostic leaders in the metropolis; and the Church demanded that he submit to its leaders a written profes- sion of faith. This he did, but it was not his final statement. At heart neither a Christian nor a Gnostic, in the sense that he belonged either to the Christian community or to a Gnostic group, he formed his own teachings out of materials taken from both camps. This was far above the level of current piebald and fantastic systems. It pleased the earnest by being both strict and comforting, it directed words of serious counsel to the frivolous, and enkindled hope in the hearts of die despairing. The Gospel, said Marcion, is a new message to the world, which far surpasses all others, but it has nothing in common with the religion of the Jews. The Old Testament and its law must be thoroughly repudiated, for its God and the God of Jesus are antagonistic deities. The One is the creator of this evil world is jealous, vengeful toward rivals, a Giver of exacting laws, just to the point of cruelty. But above Him and His faulty creation there dwells the God who is really almighty and good: who docs not punish or scold, who is a distant, unfathomed, strange God of whom we should know nothing had it not been for His revelation in Jesus. He is the God of all comfort, as Paul says. He is the stronger, is the Master of the other whose creation He destroys. Jesus, the good God in human form, brought His gende law to a humanity which though