TLIAD: Ecclesia: An Alternate History of the Modern Gnostic Church

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Aqua817, Jun 5, 2018.

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  1. Aqua817 Eternally Exhausted

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    "There is the Son of Man and there is the son of the Son of Man. The Lord is the Son of Man, and the son of the Son of Man is he who creates through the Son of Man. The Son of Man received from God the capacity to create. He also has the ability to beget. He who has received the ability to create is a creature."

    -The Gospel of Phillip
    ___________

    Gnosticism was dead as a doornail.

    While it had flourished in the twilight of the Roman Empire, and even occasionally reappeared in groups such as the Cathars in the middle ages, by the time 1950 rolled around, Gnosticism was seen as simply a forgotten heresy, something that theologians and boring history people would be passingly interested in to make themselves seem superior.

    Enter a certain Ronald Powell, or, as he is better known, Richard Jean Chretien Duc de Palatine. A minor pastor of a schismatic movement in Catholicism, Duc de Palatine quickly became well known for his rather esoteric views. In 1953, Duc de Palatine created his own denomination, "the Pre-Nicene Gnostic Catholic Church," after his teacher (Hugh George de Willmott Newman) alienated most of the pastors under his jurisdiction.

    The PNGCC, later renamed (and further referred to as) the Ecclesia Gnostica, developed a small but devout following. Duc de Palatine, in 1955, officially (at least within the Ecclesia Gnostica) merged all lines of apostolic succession into himself, along with the lines of succession of several various secret organizations such as the Knights Templar and the Illuminati. The movement would spread to America in 1959 by the work of Stephan A. Hoeller, who even today works to spread his Gnostic faith across the Southern California region.

    In real life, the Ecclesia Gnostica would fail to achieve much significance besides being a treasured repository for sacred Gnostic texts, with a lack of internal unity and overall universalism would drain away most of its converts. However, in a world very similar to our own, the actions that would take place in the late 1900's and early 2000's would propel it to a place of power among Protestant churches. And it would all start when a relatively unassuming man walked through the doors of the small Gnostic church in Los Angeles, California.
     
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  2. Threadmarks: 1.) 1960-1969: A Change of Fate

    Aqua817 Eternally Exhausted

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    "And He said, Humankind is like a wise fisherman who cast his net into the sea and drew it up from the sea full of little fish. Among the fish he found a fine large fish. He threw all the little fish back into the sea and easily chose the large fish. Whoever has ears to hear should hear."

    -Thomas 8:1-3, NGT-Red Letter

    _____________________

    It is the year 1961. The Ecclesia Gnostica has quietly set roots in Los Angeles, it's membership no more than fifteen people. However, word has traveled quickly through Los Angeles of the new organization, and a handful of people trickled in the door every week. And it just so happened that this one week, a certain Tom R.K. Palmer would decide to enter the church.[1]

    Mr. Palmer was not exactly someone you would point to to suggest that they would cause a huge change in the world. The quiet 30 year old was still unmarried, quite a shocker in those times, and while he had some savings, he was by no means rich. There was no nobility in his family, no great oil barons or anything like that. He just happened to hear a lot of noises coming out of an open door, and he walked in to see what was going on.

    Over the next few months, Mr. Palmer would go extremely fond of the Ecclesia Gnostica, officially joining in January of 1962. He became good friends with Rev. Hoeller, and was eventually ordained a subdeacon in 1963 and a deacon in 1964. In this time, both Mr. Palmer and the Ecclesia Gnostica itself grew. Now, almost a hundred people were crammed into the small Church, and Mr. Palmer had become a leading manager at a certain automotive factory and had gotten married within the church. However, at this point in 1964, Mr. Palmer began to have some disdain for the Ecclesia Gnostica. From his diary:

    "I have come to the unfortunate realization that perhaps the Ecclesia Gnostica is not quite what I had thought. In fact, it would not be a stretch of the tongue to say that the Church is simply a form of paganism parading in Bishop's robes; such a fine tradition should be far more than this."

    A coworker at his factor invited him to attend a local Southern Baptist church in the area, and Mr. Palmer obliged. Upon entering the church, he was amazed, not so much by the church itself, but by some of the organizational ideas it had had. In contrast to the Ecclesia Gnostica, the Southern Baptist Convention had a strong prohibition on apostasy and a strong codified Biblical cannon. After attending Southern Baptist services for about a month, Mr. Palmer went back to the Ecclesia Gnostica, excited to bring some of the things he had learned into practice there.

    However, instead, he had gotten into a huge fight with Rev. Hoeller. Rev. Hoeller saw this kind of reform as a one-way ticket to having yet another church split, which, considering the one that had happened merely a decade before had nearly sunk the church. Mr. Palmer left, taking a small group of people with him

    Mr. Palmer's group began to meet at his house as the "Church of the Wisdom of God." Mr. Palmer, now free from the oversight of the Ecclesia Gnostica, but in possession of several Gnostic texts, including an early translation into English of some of the works of the Nag Hamadi Library. Over the span of about a month, Mr. Palmer prayerfully put together a full Old and New Testaments, using the ASV as a base. His Bible was essentially the same as the standard Protestant cannon, but included the newly translated Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Phillip, the Letter of Abgar, and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs in the Old Testament. Originally, there was just one Bible that he would read to the congregation during a very protestantized church service. The liturgical trappings of the Ecclesia Gnostica only came out during Easter, when a full liturgical service, complete with incense burning, was held. However, soon Mr. Palmer's group had grown to the point that he needed to establish a permanent residence, moving the Church of the Wisdom of God into a former corner store. This even was beginning to feel cramped with 200 souls meeting biweekly for a lesson and communion. The church's rapid rise, gaining hundreds of people in a year, was seen as a miracle by Mr. Palmer.

    In 1967, this "miracle" is what lead him to try to publish a Gnostic version of the Bible. While he had a solid idea of what he wanted in his Bible, he still had to find a publisher. After being turned down from essentially every major publisher, both religious and secular, Mr. Palmer finally was able to find a publisher in a small Pentecostal Bible distributor. However, said distributor was extremely expensive. Mr Palmer, after going through and using much of his savings and taking a loan, was able to get a thousand Bible published. The ASV at this point had entered public domain, and so there was no legal issue with that, though there were some turned eyes. As the congregation grew, so did the need for these Bibles. Throughout 1967 and 1968, the Church grew vigorously, and by 1969, two thousand souls across three Churches of the Wisdom of God looked to Mr. Palmer as a leader. Mr. Palmer appointed two trusted men in the community to the positions of Bishop-Pastor (though in this tradition, Bishop was simply an identifyer for the chief Pastor of a church), which would meet every year to discuss what had happened.

    The Church was thriving, but as of yet, was still a peculiar tradition in the diverse religious landscape of SoCal. The Vietnam War, the draft, and the actions of the Churches of the Wisdom of God would change this dramatically, and in return, change the course of history.

    [1] A fictional name.
     
  3. thatsbunkers Banned

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    I do like the idea of 20th timelines about religion. Not covered much
     
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  4. Aqua817 Eternally Exhausted

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    Thank you! Considering the Pentecostal movement was founded in the early 1900's, I don't see why it is so overlooked. I'm going to bed now, but tomorrow I will be back to add more. I'm glad you like it!
     
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