Simon Magus, A.D. 55

The gnostic heretic Simon Magus is the source of the term “simony” which is used to describe someone who tries to buy a clerical office in the Church:

The Gnostic Simon the Magician

The gnostic heretic Simon of Samaria (a.k.a.: Simon the Sorcerer, Simon the Magician, Samaritan Magus, or Simon Magus) was baptized by Phillip the Evangelist. The Apostle Luke tells us, in the book of Acts (8:9-24) when “a certain Simon who had practiced sorcery in the city” tried to get the Apostles Peter and John to give him the power to convey the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands in exchange for money (selling episcopal positions in exchange for money later became a canonical crime which is called Simony; see A.D. 1179).

Around A.D. 55 Simon went on to found one of the earliest many heretical sects of gnosticism, which was later referred to as Simonian Gnosticism. Like most of the gnostic sects Simon taught a syncronistic “gnosis” (knowledge) that included the idea that the material world was evil and that it must be over come by people who withdraw from it by spiritual acts (the less “worldly” you are, the more “spiritual” you become), which is a direct contradiction of the orthodox understanding that Christ not only redeemed mankind, but also redeemed all of creation, and that the world (all of creation) is as Holy and spiritual as any other portion (or realm) of creation.

Simon the Sorcerer taught of the existence of multiple Gods, and he denied the humanity of Christ (a true God would not mingle with worldly human flesh). He also taught that there were three kinds of people in the world, spiritual people (who would learn the secret gnosis and be saved, a.k.a.: “the elect”), psychic people who could possibly learn the secret gnosis, and carnal people who were “completely worldly” would never be saved.

Simon Magus also taught that those who were to be saved would be saved by “grace alone”, irrespective of their moral actions, so that moral responsibility was meaningless. This heretical view of classical gnostic fatalism (determinism) is strikingly close to the Protestant Doctrine of Predestination asserted in many protestant circles during “the Reformation” and the dependent heretical doctrine of antinomianism. The term antinomian was coined by Martin Luther. It derives from the Greek avri (anti, or against) and nomos (or law). An antinomian is one who holds that under the gospel dispensation of grace (e.g. the gospel) the moral law is of no use or obligation to Christians because faith alone is necessary for salvation (see Lutheran Controversies, A.D. 1524)

Simon Magus’s many heresies are divulged and rejected by the orthodox writings of the early Saints: Justin Martyr (see A.D. 140), Irenæus of Lugdunum (see A.D. 180), Hippolytus of Rome (see A.D. 199), and Epiphanius of Salamis (see A.D. 333). Simon Magus’s disciples included the gnostics Cerinthus & Saturninus.