For 15 years one of my old theology professors, author Michael Wittmer, has been saying that evangelicals are Gnostic and they don’t even know it, as evidenced by some of the songs we sing. Songs like I'll Fly Away.
Who among us hasn't sung that old hymn with gusto? I'm particularly fond of letting the harmonies rip on the chorus. Though seemingly innocent, consider the second verse: When the shadows of this life have gone, I'll fly away; Like a bird from prison bars has flown, I'll fly away.
This world is a prison from which we must escape?
Sorry to break it to you, but elements in this hymn reflect the heresy of Gnosticism, an early church false teaching that still bears influence upon today's church.
Which is why Justin Holcomb's new book Know the Heretics is so important. In it he describes 14 major heresies in a way that's accessible and informative so we can avoid them in our own faith and life.
At root in our heresy du jour is the Greek word for “knowledge,” gnosis. “Gnostics claimed to have a special kind of knowledge that was hidden from most people.” (33) The Gnostic belief system has the potential to impact contemporary Christian beliefs in three major ways: How we view creation, God, and salvation.