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Simon Magus - The First Great Heretic


By James Donahue


New Testament Bible students will note that the Book of Acts includes references to an ongoing struggle between the early efforts to establish the Christian Church and a peculiar counter movement by an individual named Simon, who appears to be a follower of the new faith, but is somehow on the outside creating conflict.


The writer of Acts, and subsequent church historians, have successfully vilified Simon. He is identified as Simon Magus, the first heretic. He appears in Acts 8-9-24 and is depicted attempting to buy the miraculous abilities displayed by the Apostles such as healing, and disrupting the teachings of Paul and Peter. The sin of Simon has even been given the name simony. This is the act of paying for position and influence in the church.


The pious church leaders have branded Simon Magus as a practitioner of antinomianism, which means a religion that disobeys the code of religious law in theology determined necessary for salvation.


So who was this Simon Magus, just when did he live, and how was it that he bore his way so deeply under the hide of the early Christians?


From other ancient writings including the Apologies by Justin Martyr, Adversus Haereses by Irenaeus and Philosophumena by Hippolytus, Simon Magus is depicted as a contemporary of Jesus who emerged from Samaria, now part of Turkey. Like Jesus, Simon was a charismatic leader who traveled the land preaching and gathering followers. But he taught a Gnostic-based theology that contradicted efforts by the early church leaders to teach the divinity of Christ.


Gnosticism is generally defined as a religion that regards this world as the creation of a series of evil powers that seek to keep the human soul trapped in the physical body. The religion teaches that a hidden wisdom, or knowledge, available to only a select group, is necessary for an escape from this world.


Gnosticism recognizes spiritual forces that not only share this world with humans, but have a powerful influence on how people think and act. These forces are unseen to most humans because they have not evolved to a spiritual level so that they can "see" beyond a veil that separates them from the invisible spiritual world.


Through possession by these unseen forces, the majority of humans on this planet are controlled by the spirit world. There is a war raging between the spiritual forces. Certain spirits seek to drive humanity into self-destruction while other forces are fighting to bring balance and thus save a remnant of the human race.


It has been suggested that Lucifer is the father of the human race, a powerful alien from another world who came to Earth in the distant past and manipulated the genes of the ape, inserted his own DNA, and thus created the first humans. We recognize the Mother Earth as a sentient being from where all life on the planet, including our own, emerged.


The Gnostic believes that the true God exists within. They believe that all humans share a single soul, and thus are all one.


Was this what Simon Magus taught?


The ancient historical text establishes a myth of Simon and a beautiful woman named Helene, who proclaimed themselves male and female gods battling the imprisonment of humanity from a rebellious number of fallen angels. Simon claimed he came to Earth to rescue Helene, the goddess Ennoia in human form. He promised that he would dissolve the world the angels had made. He promised that all who trusted in him and Helene could return with them to higher regions.


Whether this is a correct assessment of the true teachings of Simon Magus is unclear. But  the Apostle Luke, believed to have been the author of the Book of Acts, reveals some interesting facts that strike home.


In Acts 8-9 he says Simon Magus used demonistic powers to do miracles and wonders. And in the next verse he wrote that the whole population of Samaria gave heed to Simon Magus. He also was looked upon as the greatest prophet. Simon Magus taught that the demonic world wars against the angels who would destroy humanity.


Many today call for for replacing Christianity and the other world religions with a new form of spirituality that unites the world. Simon Magus actually traveled to Rome and established a universal church before he was murdered by the Christians.


It was written that Simon taught that the precepts of the law and the prophets were inspired by angels "in the desire to reduce men to slavery" and that those who believed in him and Helene were delivered from the tyranny of the law and were free to act as they would.” (From Liber Al-vel Legis: "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law")


Irenaeus wrote that the priests in the religious order established by Simon "led lascivious lives, used magic and incantations, made philtres, had familiar spirits whose aid they were able to trouble with dreams those whom they would."


Remember that the record of Simon Magus was either written by Christians or scholars strongly influenced by Christian dogma. Thus he is portrayed as a villain and enemy of the church. There is no objectivity within the existing historical record.


For example, the story of the death of Simon Magus is a twisted portrayal of what really happened. It seems that Simon was capable of leaving the body and traveling freely in the astral. Because he spoke of this, the Christians mocked him and claimed that he was a god and could literally fly at will.


As the Christian story is told, Simon was performing magic in the Roman forum, proving his divinity, and was flying up into the air. But the Apostle Peter prayed to God to stop his flying, and Simon fell to Earth, breaking his legs. The crowd then turned on him and stoned him to death.


What really happened was that the Christians threw Simon Magus off of a balcony, demanding that he show them his ability to fly. He fell to his death. Thus the first attempt to head-off the founding of the most enslaving religion that has ever existed was thwarted by a murder.