Gnosticism

[gnostic diagram]
Greek: gnosis, knowledge

Salvation by knowledge. Gnostics were people who claimed to know mysteries of the universe; various pantheistic sects, antedating the Christian era and lasting to the 5th century and borrowing the formulas of various religious, particularly of Christianity, to express their view of matter as inimical to spirit, and of the universe as a depravation of the Deity. It is an extinct force, so far as religion is concerned today, but there are survivals of it in Swedenborgianism, New Thought, and in some of the sects of Occultism.