Weren’t you saying something recently about how Alienism is a strange blend of Gnosticism (eschewing the physical in one sense) and Marxism (eschewing the spiritual in another sense)?
First, a little background before I try to answer your question.
Biblical theology includes the subcategory of Anthropology. Anthropology is incredibly important because if we get the doctrine of man wrong it means we have our doctrine of God wrong also since there can be no improper and errant doctrine of anything that does not begin with a errant doctrine of God.
In Biblical anthropology man is a bipartite being comprised of body and soul. Through the centuries some have argued that man is a tripartite being desiring to add that man is body, soul, and spirit. I think this is significant error but I don’t want to get into that right now.
When we say that man is body and soul we look to Genesis where the text teaches us that God formed man from the dust of the ground (body) and breathed into him the breath of life (soul). So, we do see these two parts of man. However, having established that it is not as if those two parts are not minutely integrated. Because we believe that there is the closest relationship possible to body and soul we speak of things like “mind-body relationship,” and we routinely recognize the effect that the mind has on the body and the body has on the mind.
Because this relationship is so intimate between mind and body some have eschewed the idea of “dichotomy” when speaking of man and have opted instead for the idea of “modified unichotomy.” When speaking this way there is the admission still that man is body and soul (mind) but what is added, by speaking of “unichotomy” is the intent to see the closest possible relationship between the body and soul in man.
What many heresies throughout Church History have done is to overturn this Biblical anthropology. This was the problem with many of the Christological debates in Church History. Apollonarianism, for example, wanted to deny that Jesus had a human soul, insisting that instead of a soul that Jesus, the man, was indwelt by the eternal Logos. Likewise, different forms of Gnosticism went the other direction and insisted that Christ was not really incarnated because it was not possible for the Divine to take on human flesh.
This anthropological error finds itself in many quarters today. For example in Marxism, with its materialism, there is the conviction that man has no soul but is just matter in motion. On the other end of the spectrum we see a Gnosticism that, while not well thought out, still suggests that the only really important aspect of man is his spiritual or soul-ish component. This Gnostic Christianity, for example, is outraged whenever any Christian theologian speaks of man in terms of his material and corporeal realities, seemingly insisting that in Christ Jesus corporeality is sloughed off. In this modern Gnostic Christianity there seems to be some kind of consensus that when the Scripture teaches,
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
The old that is “gone” is man in his God-given corporeality so that man now no longer is to be considered in his manishness with all the attendant DNA and familial God-givenness. Seemingly, once man is in Christ, man as a “new creation” no longer is man but is now a “Spiritual being.” This is just a updated version of Gnosticism where man’s corporeality and materiality is denied in favor of a super-spirituality.
This brings us to the term “Alienism.” It is the term that has been landed on to describe these types of Gnostics. Other terms might be used. One that has been banded about is “Oikophobia,” which literally means “fear of home or household.” Alienism and Oikophobia are attempts to communicate the tendency in these kinds of Gnostics described to so identify with their Spiritual-ness that they no longer see that they bear any significant relationship to who God has made them to be in their corporeal reality. For the Alienist any talk of family, land, place, ethnicity, nation, tribe, clan, race, is verboten since who we are in Christ has erased those categories and made them insignificant.
Now, to your question, I do think that in Alienism (as a form of Gnosticism) and in Marxism, where the only reality is the material, there is a common core. My theory is, is because each have lost their ability to make distinctions in this matter (i.e. — Marxism = all is material, Gnosticism = all is Spiritual) they therefore have a great deal in common even though they give the weight of reality to opposite ends of the spectrum.
For the Marxist, if all is material then even the spiritual is material and so monism. For the Gnostic if all is spiritual then even the material is spiritual and so monism from the other direction. The Marxist pours all the spiritual into the material and so all is one. The Gnostic pours all the material into the Spiritual and so all is one.
At the end of the day they really can be theoretical allies, since each is chasing one-ness. And when you throw in the bad anthropology factor of the Alienist Christians, it is not a wonder that they don’t see that they, at times, are chasing one-ness (Monism) from the opposite directions. It is also interesting that both Marxism and Christian theonomic Alienism also both pursue a type of Egalitarianism. If indeed all reality is monistic then it, by necessity, must be the case that egalitarianism must be prized.
This makes for some strange alliances. You will find, at times, the most ardent Materialist and the most ardent Christian theonomic Gnostic Alienist both supporting the idea that realities like ethnic distinction don’t exist or are superfluous. This can happen because each have embraced the presupposition of Monism at some foundational level. Now, the good Alienist Christian theologians would never admit this but when their doctrines begin to play out their concrete cash value is a kind of Egalitarianism.
Indeed, I’m so convinced about this that I would wager good money that within a generation the Christian Alienists will be embracing the idea that gender is a social construct. Their Gnosticism pushes them in that direction.
In the end the Biblical Christian embraces a Unichotomy in their Biblical anthropology because the Biblical Christian understands that body and soul are not to be separated or divorced. Christ is our great King and Spiritually provides the basis of unity for all those who claim Christ. However, these Spiritual realities as who we are in Christ do no negate creational categories as those pertain to who we are in our humanity in terms of our God-given corporeality.
The fact that God takes our corporeality serious even after conversion is seen in our Covenant theology. God makes a promise to us and to our children. Grace, by God’s ordination, does run in familial lines, and that not because of our blood but only because God is faithful to the generations. Family matters to God. When a man ceases to care about the creational categories of home, lineage, and place man has given up basic covenant theology and has become an Alienist.
Whether such a man remains Christian, when embracing this kind of Gnosticism, only God can say.
Thank you for your question Habakkuk. You probably got more of answer then you thought you might receive.