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by Jeremy Puma

Due to accidents of history which have occurred since

the original Gnostic movements went underground or
vanished, different expressions of community have developed
within spiritual culture. Within the language of
Christianity, we find a new demarcation between
“Catholic/Orthodox” and “Protestant” approaches to worship.
Whereas the former retain the High Mass and ceremony and
liturgy of the Christian Mysteries, the latter have
attempted to return to the “primitive” form of the Early
Church and celebrate as simply as followers of Christ
during the Apostolic Age. Unfortunately, the one arose as
protest, not complement, to the other, and further
developments have resulted in what many consider
irreconcilable differences.

There has been a susurration within modern Gnostic

circles that a more “Protestant” form of Gnostic worship
would be welcome within the current era. The author agrees,
except that “Protestant” is an inapproriate term in this
case, as differing forms of worship are considered welcome
within this context. For this reason, let us consider this
alternative worship “Elemental,” not in the sense of the
four elements, but in the sense that some Gnostics wish to
worship in as elemental an environment as possible, i.e.
with as minimal structure and hierarchy as possible, in
unembellished environments, sans vestments, Latin, etc.
This is not to be taken as a condemnation of Ecclesiastical
Worship. Rather, it is the natural result of the current
cultural context, in which these other forms of worship
have been common and familiar for hundreds of years. It
should be no surprise that some individuals would favor
this expression of worship over the more “Catholic”
expressions currently extant.

An Elemental Gnostic community would differ from

mainstream Protestantism in very important ways. Whereas in
mainstream Christian expression, primitivist worship relies
heavily on sola scriptura and the literal interpretation of
scripture, Modern Gnosticism considers this kind of
reliance on Gnostic scripture inappropriate, finding
scriptural sources human-created, fallible and subject to
interpretation. Also, whereas many modern Protestant

denominations subsist on evangelism, Gnostic expression
precludes proselytization. That said, there is a great deal
of support within the Gnostic context for pneumatic and
charismatic expressions of gnosis, which would be welcome
and expected within Elemental Gnostic groups.

What, then, would Modern Elemental Gnosticism “look

like”? First of all, it should be noted that the resistance
to structure sometimes implied in this discussion would not
apply in our case. Though the structure would be loose, it
would be required, if for no other reason than simple
practicality. Although the legend of the lot-drawing
Gnostics can in no way be proven, this would undoubtedly be
a workable structure for Elemental Gnostic Meetings,
provided that the lots cast contained the names only of
individuals who felt called to minister. Meetings would be
celebrated by Ministers and Deacons with a Lector also
present to read any scripture pertinent to the meeting.

Eucharist would remain an essential and central aspect

of Elemental Gnostic Meetings. At some point during the
meeting, congregants would be invited to take bread and
wine mixed with water to signify the presence of the divine
within. A sermon or talk might be delivered, and
individuals who felt so moved by the spirit would be
invited to discourse on their gnosis as so called. Modern
or Classical Spiritual Music, live or improvised by
members, would be welcome depending on the general sense of
the meeting. The community as a whole would have very great
latitude when deciding how to conduct church business.
Meetings could be held anywhere readily accessible to the
community, in houses, rented spaces or out-of-doors.
Sacramental tools could be as simple as desired, and
vestments completely unnecessary (though certainly welcome
if the community found value in them).

A typical Meeting for Worship in an Elemental Gnostic

Church might proceed as follows:

1. Music/Fifteen to twenty minutes for socializing.

2. Call to worship (Deacon).
3. Opening Prayer/Blessing (Minister).
4. Reading of Gospel, Lesson, Epistle chosen by
Minister (not of necessity from Gnostic scripture)
5. Sermon or Talk (Minister).

6. Eucharist (Prayer, blessing of meal, communion,
silence, closing) (Minister).
7. “Open Worship” and invitation to Sophia (Holy
Spirit). (At this point, the congregation would be
welcome to speak, pray, testify, etc. in the presence
of the Holy Spirit as so called).
8. Choosing by lots of officiants for next meeting.
9. Prayer of Thanksgiving (Minister).
10. Closing Prayer/Benediction/Dismissal (Deacon).

Keep in mind, of course, that this is a suggested outline

and does not serve as anything other than a possibility.
Nonetheless, as any student of, or regular participant in,
organizational processes will affirm, some kind of
structure is an absolute necessity for the continuity of
any congregational system. As Elemental Gnostic Communities
will likely be only loosely associated with one another,
and likely unaffiliated with any larger church body or
council, these groups will succeed or fail on their own
merits. If the need exists, the Logos and Sophia will
provide as necessary.

There will undoubtedly be some resistance to this

concept within some Modern Gnostic communities, though this
doesn’t need to be the case. What if the traditional
Ecclesiatsical modalities and the “Protestant” or
primitivist modalities within Christianity were not at odds
with one another? It is the author’s sincere belief that
Modern Gnosticism presents a scenario in which all of these
expressions can coexist and even establish relationships
which are mutually beneficial to one another within the
greater Gnostic Ecclesia.