Wednesday, February 14, 2007

More on Valentinus

AmyB at Exponent 2 put up a post this morning entitled "What If?" which introduced me to a fascinating character named Valentinus, a man who narrowly missed being elected Pope in the second century AD. Eminently worthy of Valentine's Day sentiments, he strove for a unification of the Gnostic approach and the message of Christ. I was attracted to his theology by AmyB's statement that he taught that the deity was a dyad consisting of God the Father and God the Mother. My view of the Godhead is similar to this in that I picture an "Elohim" figure composed of unified male and female elements in addition to a Christ and Holy Spirit.

Stephen A. Hoeller writes of Valentinus' world view as the position that

"something is wrong. Somewhere, somehow, the fabric of being at the existential
level of human functioning has lost its integrity. We live in a system which is
lacking in essential integrity, and thus is defective. So-called orthodox
Christians as well as Jews recognize that there is a certain "wrongness" in
human existence, but they account for it chiefly in terms of the effects of
human sin, original or other. Jews and Christians hold that whatever is wrong
with the world and human existence is the result of human disobedience to the
creator. This means, that all evil, discomfort, and terror in our lives and in
history are somehow our fault. A great cosmic statement of "Mea Culpa" runs
through this world view, which permanently affixes to the human psyche an
element of titanic guilt. Valentinus, in opposition to this guilt-ridden view of
life, held that the above-noted defect is not the result of our wrongdoing, but
is inherent in the system of existence wherein we live and move and have our
being. Moreover, by postulating that creation itself is lacking in integrity,
Valentinus not only removes the weight of personal and collective guilt from our
shoulders but also points to the redemptive potential resident in the soul of
every human being."

Without diminishing the importance of Jesus, Valentinus reverences Christ's role as

"indeed Saviour, but the term needs to be understood in the meaning of the
original Greek word, used by orthodox and Gnostic Christian alike. This word is
soter, meaning healer, or bestower of health. From this is derived the word
today translated as salvation, i.e., soteria, which originally meant
healthiness, deliverance from imperfection, becoming whole, and preserving one's

My heart goes out to those I've spoken to recently who hate Valentine's Day. Those who may not get a card, a hug, or a kiss today. For those who live in defective relationships I invoke Valentinus' belief in redemptive potential and strivings toward unification. Beginning this day and continuing through the years, may we combat fear, hate, worldly and unauthentic thinking.

May we be facilitators of wholeness, to bring Gnosis and healing to all we encounter.


Lizzilu said...

Bored in Vernal when did you serve in Montreal?

AmyB said...

Beautiful thoughts, BiV. It looks like you came across one of the same websites I did.

I loved this idea of yours at the end: "May we be facilitators of wholeness, to bring Gnosis and healing to all we encounter."

It reminds of the bodhissatva vow in Buddhism, and I think there are hints of it in Mormonism as well. We all have to "save" each other to attain enlightenment/exaltation/or whatever you want to call it. I'm moved by your post to be more compassionate and loving. Thank you.

Bored in Vernal said...

I served in the Canada Montreal Mission from June of 1981 to Dec of 1982. Pres: Curtis Wynder. Areas: Beloeil, Pte Gatineau, Longueuil, Arvida Chateauguay, Smith's Falls, Valleyfield. Comps: Laurie Smallcomb (MTC), Lynn Rogers, Debbie Fleming, Laura Lavigne, Pamela Bird, Radmila Ranovic, Annette Wood, Donna Carmack, Dianne Cook. Fave Elders: Don Lussier, Dave Patterson, Ron Stringham, Gregg Ewart, Dean Hainsworth, David Acheson, Jack Wood, and Armand Mauss's son Byron.

Lizzilu said...

You were here before I converted. I live in Montreal. The church has grown so much. Must have something to do with the strength of sis missionaries 81-82 era.;-)
When you were in Chateaguay did you go to church in Montreal at a converted synagogue?
If there are any members in the area you remember / wonder about let me know.
Thanks for taking the time to reply.
Btw, I was quite interested in learning about Valentinus, "what if's" are mind boggling.

journeygal said...

BiV - I loved Amy's post on exponent and tried to find a book at our local library on Valentinus without success. So thanks for this additional information on who he was! I loved your thoughts.

I didn't take the time to write up an adequate response to Amy's post, but I find the idea of one little, seemingly-insignificant decision causing huge alterations to a person's life or even for the world. Hard to wrap my mind around, but fascinating nonetheless.