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Re: Gnosticism and the Roman Catholic Church

Dear Sally;

Mankind's history is complex, and the religious aspects are no less so.
There are literally thousands of volumes of information on the topics of
Masonry, the development of the Christian Church and Gnostisim. I caution
that the reading list, even  to start into this study, is daunting. Of
course this topic ties into Sinclair Family History at a number of points as
it also does into the history of Great Britain and most of Europe.

I would offer that Gnostic thought, was not a spin off of the development of
the Catholic development, but was part of the religious maelstrom of ideas
abundant throughout the first century. These ideas which for that matter had
a number of variations on the tenants and beliefs of  both Christianity,
Jewish teachings and the esoteric and philosophical approaches to religion.
There were a
number of proponents of Gnosticism and writings which became incorporated
into a religious approach. Today as we see the great number of sects and
variations of every religion today, and we can understand the identical
pattern that existed between 50 BC and 500 AD with a multitude of approaches
to theology.

Masonry as a fraternity is complex having a number of variations and related
and concordant bodies. You are correct that many of its ideas and practices
come from Gnostic underpinnings, but not only from Gnostic approaches alone.
Jewish, Greek and Aramaic and Babylonian traditions can be seen as well.

Yes, I would confirm that Masonry is not to be viewed as "non Christian" in
any way, but was also greatly influenced by the preservation of religious
traditions that were not part of the Roman Catholic Church Dogma. Conversely
the Roman Catholic view has been theologically anti-Masonic because of that
same dogma, drawing upon its own approaches to theology including the
Divinity of Christ. Hence the Knights of Columbus are different than Masonic
Lodges, although many of the purposes are now quite common.

In this sense Masons, as were Gnostics and for that matter many Christian
sects, "heretical", being not in conformity to RC church teachings and
theology.  Hence the protestant reformation(s) were also "heretical" and not
in conformity with the teachings and accepted theology in Roman Catholic
Canon Law and teachings.

One of the chief tenants of Masonic tradition is that every human being is
free to use his own mind to discover his own truths about God. In that
approach Masonry transcends any particular theological approach, and masons
may be, and are, Muslims, Jewish, & Christians and so on. All are capable of
being  Masons. Indeed the concept behind Thomas Jefferson's Statement of
Freedom articulated every man being free to worship God in his own way. This
is and was a mirror  of Masonic orientation popular in the age and
reflective of the the growing liberal philosophies of that era on theology
and liberal ideas. The commonality of Masonic belief is the "Belief in a
Supreme Being", hence atheists are not Masons, nor are they properly members
of any faith at all. For our American Cousins, look at the American Dollar
Bill to see the orientation of religious underpinnings of 18th century
Masonic traditions and philosophy.

Returning back to the central Sinclair theme, one of the great unsung heroes
of independent Religious thought was William St. Clair who was the builder
of Roslyn. I still consider him to be one of the great Theologians of the
middle ages. He was one of the first "Universalists" and a brilliant mind,
open to ideas, thoughts, concepts. But I add he was instrumental in a
personal way in not only respecting and tolerating, but actually celebrating
differing approaches to religion  And he incorporated both the Northern
"spiritualistic approaches, as well as the southern "western traditional
approaches" to religious thought. We must remember that he did so in an era
where "freedom of thought" was not widespread and could be down right
dangerous. For those readers on the list I mention the traditional Masters
of the Masonic Lodge in Scotland were Sinclair's for many centuries, Rosslyn
Chapel is a document to the ancient mystical and traditional approaches. And
the links of the Family to the Church in Scotland part of our greater
"family" history.

Keep enjoying your reading Sally, you have a long and enriching journey
before you.

Neil Sinclair
Toronto/PEI/Forever Argyle

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