The proto-catholics definitely didn't like the docetic views on Christ that many gnostic sects had, and how it stripped the ransom of any meaning (in their eyes - at least).
What is Gnosticism and why do Christians dislike it ?
Not all Christians dislike it.
LT, of the "gnostic leanings" class
It doesn't make sence to me.
Narkissos, explained it pretty well, so I suggest looking closely at what he had to say.
I will be a little more blunt. Generally (not always) Christians embrace a very definable and diminutive, anthropomorphic image of the Divine. To which they intensely identify, which places them (in their eyes) into a separate group of the "saved" or God's "chosen". For a Christian it's about separating themselves from everyone else: all of us sinners and evil ones. Again, I am speaking in generalities here.
Gnosticism, is a view of spirituality outside such a conditioanl and restrictive box. It's about what unites us one and all. In other words it's a much wider understanding of the Divine which many Christians find threatening to thier grossily confined and constrained views which makes them special.
Fundamental Christianity's diminutive god leaves much room for inflation of the ego, whereas Gnostic Christianities limitless view of the Divine leave little if any room for the ego, and so can lead to the egoes death. It seems it takes a certain readiness to be open to something so radical in nature. IMO.
I am speaking in generalities here.
Glad you added that
Your comments seem bang on the button, for my money.
What about the jewish christians Paul butted heads with? I wouldn't say they were influenced by gnosticism, and they were clearly around before Paul put his spin on things. There's nothing gnostic that I can see in the "eucharist" as found in the Didache for example.
That would be one hypothesis...
The reality is that every sociological / political / religious group is influenced by its environment and contemporaries. While there is no doubt that Hellenistic, Gnostic and many other types of thought helped forge Christianity, it would be a misunderstanding to state that any one of them gave birth to it or any other religion. Mainstream Christianity is more influenced by Judaism than Gnosticism, which itself was influenced by...
I would add that Judeo-Christianity and gnosticism are not mutually exclusive either. The mandean Gnostics Leolaia referred to have John the Baptist, not Jesus, as their main reference. The Gnostic Gospel of Thomas refers to James (Paul's main foe by Galatians) as the head of the disciples; the Gospel of John combines Gnostic thought to a Jewish setting; so does Mark, in a different and more discrete way. The anti-Gnostic Pastorals condemn "Jewish fables"... That's too simple a dichotomy.
I think one of the primary "dangers" of gnosticism is that a person in search of knowledge might stumble across rationalism and realize that there is no hidden knowledge to be had.
We haven't "lost" the knowledge of the lever or the inclined plane, have we? If there was real knowledge about how to levitate a pyramid, it would too useful to forget. If, on the other hand, it was a fable...
The other thing is snakes. Gnostics adore snakes as bringers of wisdom.
Wisdom can be venomous to blind belief.
Surely you're praising the "accurate knowledge" revealed to us through the FDS, and not the "knowledge -falsely so called" of this world?
Its not a very simple division of camps, you're right. Like LittleToe said, one should expect multiple influences on any particular movement. I definitely think most of the above points you made speak to Jewish Gnosticism having to be factored into the mix. Jewish gnostics would be prime candidates for johannine christianity for example. The mandeans are an interesting group. Essene-like and gnostic. But was the gnosic element stressed more later on? Gospel of Thomas, definitely argues that James was respected by several gnostics. Many jews respected James the Just too according to Josephus. But what about the other side? I wonder how much respect the jewish christians recipricated for those gnostics.