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    Manichees

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    MANICHEISM


    by Fr. William Most


    St. Augustine in His "Confessions" in 3.6. said that he fell "in
    with men proudly erring... a very birdlime made of a mixture of
    the syllables of your name - These were the Manichees. They did
    speak of Jesus, and that's a trap for him, for he wanted that
    name.


    At the very time he was disappointed in Scripture, he came upon
    the Manichees, founded by Manes, a Persian, executed 277 AD. He
    promised they would not need to take anything on faith, would
    prove all. He did not do that at all. (Cf. Augustine "De
    utilitate credendi" 1.2) Manes said there were two eternal
    kingdoms, light and darkness, each infinite except in the
    direction where they bordered on each other. The God of Light
    rules the one kingdom, but "Hyle" (matter) rules the other. In
    the darkness there were five provinces, corresponding to the five
    evil elements: darkness, evil water, evil wind, evil fire, and
    smoke. But some natives of the darkness looked up, saw the
    kingdom of light, got up an army to attack. God saw the five evil
    elements and forces coming and was terrified! He sent out Primal
    Man (not same as Adam) who was part of the divine substance, and
    who had as armor the five good elements. God let him be beaten,
    imprisoned in matter to prepare the way for a greater victory
    later - which never came. At request of Primal Man God sent out
    the Friend of Lights, who evoked the Great Architect, who evoked
    the Living Spirit - who rescued Primal Man, but the latter had
    lost some of his light and good elements were mixed with evil. To
    recover the lost light it was necessary to make a universe. The
    Living Spirit and his five sons formed ten heavens and eight
    earths out of the mixture, with everything arranged higher or
    lower according to the amount of light it had (light particles
    are parts of God). Four earths are filled with darkness, four
    with a mixture. So the Sun and Moon are to be adored, and contain
    holy virtues. The latter can take on either masculine or feminine
    appearance to attract others. This aroused concupiscence, and the
    light of the soul which is held captive in matter can be set
    free. Then the moon, a light ship, can carry it to the sun, dump
    it there, and come back as a crescent. The large animals and man
    originated in the realm of darkness. Man came from the den of
    smoke. When the Third Messenger came, in the third phase of the
    war, sin was captivated by the beauty of the Exalted One. So Sin
    made a tree, came forth from it as its fruit. In the fruit was
    the image of the Exalted One. The light of this image was given
    to one of the evil princes, Saclas, who was the father of Adam
    and Eve. So Adam was made in the image of the Exalted One. Man
    has a body of matter which is evil. He also has two souls, one
    from God, which is good, the other from the land of darkness. All
    sins are due to the evil soul. There is a twofold Jesus: 1) the
    Jesus of the Gospels, but he had no real flesh (flesh is evil)
    and only seemed to be born and crucified. So the Manichees made
    little of Easter, but exalted the feast of the Bema, the day on
    which Manes was killed. 2) the Suffering Jesus - that part of God
    which is held bound and defiled in demons, animals, and brings
    forth this suffering Jesus, the life of man, hanging from every
    tree. At the end will be a final conflagration. All evil plus
    whatever parts of God have not been liberated, will be bound in a
    globe of fire. So the greater victory never came.


    The Manichees attacked the OT, said misdeeds of some of the chief
    men proved the book was not of God. There was a hierarchy. There
    were Twelve Masters plus a chief, 72 Bishops were ordained by the
    Masters, and priests ordained by the bishops, and also deacons.
    But they rejected baptism. There were two classes, Elect, and
    Hearers, Elect did not kill animals or harvest plants or marry.
    Hearers did all these, furnished vegetables for the Elect, who
    then by eating, set free gods, from "the factory of their
    stomachs" ("Confessions" 4.1.1).


    Augustine began to have doubts in faith: what they said about the
    moon did not fit with what he read in astronomy. Local officials
    could not solve, said Faustus would come. Augustine waited 9
    years, but Faustus admitted he did not know. So became
    disillusioned.


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