Manichaeism

Cayley Olivier and Anthony Madrigal

Manichaeism is a 3rd century religion founded by Mani the "Apostle of Light" and proposed to be a blend of numerous religions. Today Manichaeism is considered Christian heresy due to its controversial and heretic belief system.

The video above is a a man of Manichaeism explaining what his religion is and the basis of what he believes. He addresses the divine "message" of his faith, that of the totality of all creation, and talks much about the 'Third Messenger" and how his faith centered around "light."

What does Manichaeism believe about God and the Bible?

Manichaeists believe that the creator of good is God and the creator of evil is Satan. They believe that man's spirit is from God, his body is from the devil and there is an ever present struggle between the forces of good and those of evil. Manichaeism denies human responsibility for the evil doings, and believes the dominance of Satan's power in one's life is the cause of evil, not free will. Manichaeists refuse to accept the idea that God made the world, and the idea of Incarnation, or the union of God and human in a human body. They teach that Christ was a divine spirit in the appearance of a human body, and that his death was an appearance of death. The bible is not considered the sacred text in Manichaeism. Parts of Christian scripture are contained in Manichaeist scripture. Manichaeists believe that their scripture offers both the name of Christ and what a profound understanding of the universe and of human life.

What does Manichaeism believe about Creation?

Manichean creation does not follow the same creation story that Christianity does. Rather it has a more mystical aspect and deals with numerous different creations referred to as 'First Creation,' 'Second Creation,' and 'Third creation.' Gods are revealed as creators in these creation stories including the 'Third Messenger' who covered his manifestations and separated the sin from the Light. They look at the creation of the world as a doing of the gods and the creation of man as a doing by demons and focus on the duality of light and dark.

What do they believe about the human person?

As mentioned above, Manichaeists believe that man's spirit is from God, his body is from the devil. They believe that good triumphs over evil only if the spirit rises superior to the body. With the human person being a demonic creation, the human person is seen as a battleground for the constant fight between good and evil. The good part is the soul and the soul defines the person. Humans are said to be able to be saved from the evil power if they come to know who they are and identify themselves with their soul. The body is considered a 'dark' place in contrast to the earthy world which is considered full of 'light'

How did their beliefs oppose Christianity?

Their beliefs opposed Christianity in more ways than one. Mani, the founder of the religion proclaimed himself the 'Paraclete' promised by Jesus. Mani rejected the the Old Testament, including the Acts of the Apostles. Though Mani assumed himself the "Apostle of Jesus Christ by the providence of God the Father". This blasphemous assumption clearly opposes Christianity. To Mani, Jesus Christ was merely a persistent personification of Light in the world and referred to as "The son of a poor widow." In Christianity Jesus is the light of the world, however not interpreted in the literal way Manichaeism does. Manichaeism believes in the reality of "the Father of Majesty" along with the sun and moon and the five blessed aeons. Beliefs like these in the religion indicate how it not only opposed Christianity but merely chooses parts of it and ridicules critical aspects of the Christian faith.

How could Theology of the Body be used to argue against them?

Manichaeism believes that "To know one’s self is to recover one’s true self, which was previously clouded by ignorance and lack of self-consciousness because of its mingling with the body and with matter." This disordered view could be overcome by theology of the body as through the theology of the body we learn the importance of the body in that it was created with purpose and meaning. We learn the origin, history and destiny of man starting with man before the fall. By knowing and studying Theology of the Body, one can overcome the teachings of Manichaeism and understand the truth about man's need and desire for loving communion thus understand the dignity of the human person, and how it was distorted through sin, but restored and renewed through the redemption of Jesus Christ; and Catholic teachings about the sacramentality of marriage.

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