James Jordan on Gnosticism

I have recently read through James Jordan’s Creation in Six Days: A Defense of the Traditional Reading of Genesis 1. Though I am not certain I concur with all his conclusions, nevertheless Jim Jordan offers a compelling case to reject current scientific and theological denials of the traditional view of creation. ((The traditional view defended by the majority of the Reformed church throughout the centuries is the literal six-day view of creation)) One of my earlier posts generated some interesting discussion here.

Perhaps most compelling and pervasive leitmotif of Jordan’s arguments derives from his remarkable insights into the influence of gnosticism in contemporary thought. According to Jordan, “gnosticism is the tendency to de-historicize and de-physicalize the Christian religion.” ((Creation in Six Days, pg. 71)) On pages 82-95 Jordan analyzes carefully Meredith Kline’s Framework theory. He concludes that the framework theory has also succumbed to a form of gnostic thinking by allowing extra-biblical data form the bases of its thesis as opposed to God’s direct revelation to man.

Jordan does not simply attack what he considers to be erroneous interpretations of Genesis 1, he also gives a brief history of how gnosticism has affected the Reformed tradition in the area of the sacraments and worship. On page 72 he briefly touches on the consequences of gnostic thinking in our churches. Here are several signs that gnosticism has entered into our churches:

Whenever the ritual of the Lord’s Supper becomes a means of devotion and contemplation rather than an action performed in God’s presence. Whenever the Supper is restricted from small children because they have not reached some ‘age of reason.’ Whenever the sequence of the covenant renewal in worship is ignored and only the performance of certain ‘elements’ is considered important. Whenever the body is regarded as unimportant, so that we no longer need to kneel in worship, or greet one another with a holy kiss. ((Page 72))

Some may have strong disagreements with his position that Joseph was deeply involved in the writing of Genesis, nevertheless, his chapter on the influence of Gnosticism makes the entire volume a worthy read.


About Uri Brito

I am the Pastor of Providence Church (CREC) in Pensacola, Fl.
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3 Responses to James Jordan on Gnosticism

  1. Uri:

    I haven’t read Jordan’s “Creation in Six Days.” However, I did ask Dr. Jack Collins, my OT teacher here at Covenant, about it. Collins wrote “Science and Faith: Friends or Foes?” (check it out on Amazon), teaches Hebrew here, has two degrees from MIT, and in general is one of the smartest guys around here. He’d heard that R.C. adopted a six-day literal view based on Kelly’s book and Jordan’s book (something like that) and expressed surprise, given that the Hebrew isn’t treated very well, and that he expected better out of such scholars. Besides, I’ll be very curious about something that seems anti-scientific.
    Your thoughts?

  2. Uri Brito says:

    I am not sure if it anti-scientific, but it is certainly skeptical about science. Wouldn’t you be? Furthermore, Jordan is approaching things from a Van Tilian perspective; I am not certain Collins is.
    Doug Kelly deals more with the scientific side, Jordan deals with the theological aspect.

  3. jkru says:

    I went to the young-earth side of things precisely because I saw that, apart from materialist presuppositions, I never would have concluded that Scripture says something other than what it appears to say. I’m honestly still troubled about the whole Galileo issue as it pertains to creation… I never would have concluded from Scripture that the earth moves round the sun, and it seems to speak about the relationship of the earth and heavenly bodies, and yet here we are, spinning.

    Not sure what to do with it, but there is no view but YE that doesn’t create a worse problem for Biblical interpretation.

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