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A Crisis of Faith ( The battle of beliefs between the Christian Church and Gnosticism)

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Religious history in the Western world has been dominated by the power and doctrinal discipline of the Catholic Church. But, argues Tony Sunderland in his new book, we are not solely products of this tradition, nor of that of its Protestant challengers. Lost in the footnotes of history is the story of the Church’s fascinating heretical counterpart, Gnosticism. The Gnostics Religious history in the Western world has been dominated by the power and doctrinal discipline of the Catholic Church. But, argues Tony Sunderland in his new book, we are not solely products of this tradition, nor of that of its Protestant challengers. Lost in the footnotes of history is the story of the Church’s fascinating heretical counterpart, Gnosticism. The Gnostics were brutally persecuted and their ideas were suppressed. But their teachings were powerful enough to linger on in the collective unconscious of succeeding generations and to re-emerge in the most unexpected places. From symbols on the American one-dollar bill to the ideals of the 1960s counterculture, from heavy metal music to twenty-first century technological innovations, various facets of Gnostic thought continue to offer us a way to interpret the meaning of our lives. As Sunderland traces the battle between the orthodox and heretical traditions of Christianity, his thorough research and ability to make counterintuitive connections reveal to us a struggle that continues to rage beneath the surface of contemporary life.


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Religious history in the Western world has been dominated by the power and doctrinal discipline of the Catholic Church. But, argues Tony Sunderland in his new book, we are not solely products of this tradition, nor of that of its Protestant challengers. Lost in the footnotes of history is the story of the Church’s fascinating heretical counterpart, Gnosticism. The Gnostics Religious history in the Western world has been dominated by the power and doctrinal discipline of the Catholic Church. But, argues Tony Sunderland in his new book, we are not solely products of this tradition, nor of that of its Protestant challengers. Lost in the footnotes of history is the story of the Church’s fascinating heretical counterpart, Gnosticism. The Gnostics were brutally persecuted and their ideas were suppressed. But their teachings were powerful enough to linger on in the collective unconscious of succeeding generations and to re-emerge in the most unexpected places. From symbols on the American one-dollar bill to the ideals of the 1960s counterculture, from heavy metal music to twenty-first century technological innovations, various facets of Gnostic thought continue to offer us a way to interpret the meaning of our lives. As Sunderland traces the battle between the orthodox and heretical traditions of Christianity, his thorough research and ability to make counterintuitive connections reveal to us a struggle that continues to rage beneath the surface of contemporary life.

49 review for A Crisis of Faith ( The battle of beliefs between the Christian Church and Gnosticism)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Harry Whitewolf

    I get the impression that it’s mostly non-Christians who read stuff about the origins of Christianity and the Gnostic texts; which is a bit odd really, because if you want to know more about your beloved Christ, reading the gospels of Judas and Mary etc. will give you a much better idea of what Jesus’ teachings actually were. It’s like saying you’re a massive fan of the Rolling Stones, but you’ve only ever listened to the Greatest Hits and have never heard albums like Sticky Fingers. But I guess I get the impression that it’s mostly non-Christians who read stuff about the origins of Christianity and the Gnostic texts; which is a bit odd really, because if you want to know more about your beloved Christ, reading the gospels of Judas and Mary etc. will give you a much better idea of what Jesus’ teachings actually were. It’s like saying you’re a massive fan of the Rolling Stones, but you’ve only ever listened to the Greatest Hits and have never heard albums like Sticky Fingers. But I guess most Christians don’t read things like the Nag Hammadi texts and the Dead Sea Scrolls simply because they weren’t included in the Bible (and they bizarrely think the Bible is the actual word of God) which is pretty crazy when we know it was the Council of Nicea and the later Church who decided how to edit the Bible – and from the vast amount of contradictions included in the text, they really could have done with a better proofreader. Anyway, I digress. I’m not a Christian man myself, but I am spiritual and I’ve always been fascinated by religions/their origins, and more importantly: the gods and spiritual beliefs that came long before the more popular ones like ol’ J.C, such as Osiris and Mithras (both of whom most certainly inspired many of the things we attribute to Christ, but I digress even further). So, I very much enjoyed reading Tony Sunderland’s book which focuses on the Gnostic beliefs. To be honest, I knew much of what was on offer, but it was still enjoyable to go over such things again; and if you’re new to reading about Gnosticism and the origins of Christianity and the Holy Bible, then you could do much worse than reading this very informative and extremely well written book. Sunderland has a way of writing that makes possibly complicated things easy to understand, whilst still keeping it within the realms of well-researched academia, where it’s clear that Sunderland has studied this stuff long and hard and knows what he’s talking about. So if you want to learn about Gnosticism, then you should definitely check out this great read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    James Morcan

    An enlightening read. This is one of the clearest summaries of the Gnostic faiths throughout history. I like how Sunderland shows the reader in simple terms how the Gnostic traditions contrast with what the organised religion of Christianity eventually became (even though it appears Christianity derives at least in part from Gnosticism). I must admit the book raises more questions rather than answering everything, but that is the most honest approach given this part of history is still such a grea An enlightening read. This is one of the clearest summaries of the Gnostic faiths throughout history. I like how Sunderland shows the reader in simple terms how the Gnostic traditions contrast with what the organised religion of Christianity eventually became (even though it appears Christianity derives at least in part from Gnosticism). I must admit the book raises more questions rather than answering everything, but that is the most honest approach given this part of history is still such a great mystery. Maybe more scrolls like the Nag Hammadi will be found in future, but I appreciated how Sunderland decided not to "fill in the blanks" in terms of what may have or may not have occurred within the various Gnostic sects. For example, he admits there is no definite evidence to show whether the claimed Gnostic sect of the Essenes even existed. Gnosticism is a very important part of the West's history, and I see this book as a part of the revival into this underreported "Christian alternative to Christianity"!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin

    I enjoyed this book. The author has many focuses in common with myself. Christianity doesn't quite loom so large in my mental landscape as the author but I ruminate quite often on the topics the author describes and I enjoyed his tour of the tension between the orthodox and the esoteric in Christianity and its historical development. I may quibble with a point here or there but I enjoyed the perspective. If you are looking for a reliable summary of Christian esoterica without necessarily drinkin I enjoyed this book. The author has many focuses in common with myself. Christianity doesn't quite loom so large in my mental landscape as the author but I ruminate quite often on the topics the author describes and I enjoyed his tour of the tension between the orthodox and the esoteric in Christianity and its historical development. I may quibble with a point here or there but I enjoyed the perspective. If you are looking for a reliable summary of Christian esoterica without necessarily drinking the kool aid I think you are in good hands.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    This was an interesting read about the history of the Christian Church and Gnosticism, which was considered heretical at certain points of history. I have read several books on Christian Gnosticism and this is the first one that brought it into the present with the chapters on modern existentialism and technology. I won a copy of this book from the author as part of the Goodreads Giveaways program.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Richard Worden

    Great insights into Gnostic studies.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Richard Worden

    Excellent book...well written, and describes the intersection of the Church and Gnosticism. The book ends with an examination of the contemporary scene.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rosemary

    A Crisis of Faith (Gnostic vs Christian) A journey to the past and future of Gnosticism, against the rise and possible fall of Christianity. A technological Armageddon.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chichi Betaubun

  9. 5 out of 5

    Christopher A Meier

  10. 5 out of 5

    Stanley D Wallace

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tabitha

  12. 4 out of 5

    Laura

  13. 4 out of 5

    Marc

  14. 5 out of 5

    Roger Paine

  15. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

  16. 4 out of 5

    Luisa Jardinero

  17. 5 out of 5

    Paul Vittay

  18. 4 out of 5

    Steven Ridgely

  19. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Cheresnick

  20. 5 out of 5

    Subhajit Das

  21. 5 out of 5

    Carol

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jim

  23. 5 out of 5

    David Elkin

  24. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Williams

  25. 4 out of 5

    Heather Lowther

  26. 4 out of 5

    Laura

  27. 4 out of 5

    Janet Vasquez

  28. 5 out of 5

    Strong Extraordinary Dreams

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    Roseanne Wilkins

  30. 5 out of 5

    Gregory

  31. 5 out of 5

    JJ

  32. 4 out of 5

    Gareth

  33. 4 out of 5

    andie

  34. 5 out of 5

    Troy Beals

  35. 5 out of 5

    Adrian Ferrer

  36. 4 out of 5

    myriad obsessions

  37. 4 out of 5

    Leila

  38. 4 out of 5

    Kuljinder Singh

  39. 4 out of 5

    Julia Rehlin Kruse

  40. 5 out of 5

    Roth

  41. 4 out of 5

    Micielle

  42. 5 out of 5

    Melly Mel

  43. 4 out of 5

    Ronald Smith

  44. 4 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  45. 4 out of 5

    Erin Slaven

  46. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

  47. 5 out of 5

    Tracey A. Stark

  48. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Piper

  49. 5 out of 5

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