The thesis, The Return of Christian Gnosticism. An Investigation of the Theology of Ulf Ekman, is divided into two main sections. In the first section I address the question of what can be seen as characteristic of modern Gnosticism. This section also performs a preparatory function for the second section which contains the primary focus of the thesis, namely an analysis of Ulf Ekman’s theology and an investigation as to whether this theology can be regarded as a modern expression of Gnostic ideas. The first section of the thesis thus creates a platform which is later used to provide answers for the questions found in the second section. In the final chapter of the thesis I shall also relate Ekman’s theology more generally to a neo-Gnostic intellectual climate.
In the second section of the thesis I investigate the extent to which Ekman’s theology, which is closely related to international, primarily American, religious movements, contains veins of Gnosticism. I discuss in the background of ideas behind the American religious movement’s theology. Kenyon is reckoned to be the American movement’s founder and he is considered Ekman’s most significant spiritual father. I also discuss briefly how Gnostic thinking has contributed in various ways to the ideas of romanticism. I return to this theme in the concluding chapter of the thesis where I reflect on Gnostic traditions and ideas, and their presence in our culture. Then I present Ekman’s main theological thoughts. The focal point of the thesis is to what extent Ulf Ekman’s theology can be viewed as an expression of Christian neo-Gnosticism. The comparison that I draw in this section between Ekman’s theology and modern Gnosticism is based on the “Gnostic grammar” formulated in the first section. This comparison lies on a structural level, that is to say I compare the extent to which the fundamental thought structures in Ekman’s theology agree with the term modern Gnosticism as used in this thesis. This analysis is conducted under headings such as view of humanity; faith; salvation and knowledge; the cosmos and the world; dualism. I then discuss the results of the analysis and pose the question as to whether Ekman’s theology can be seen as being a modern, Christian Gnostic theology. There then follows a reflection over Ekman’s Christian Gnostic grammar. In the concluding chapter, the return of Christian Gnosticism, I widen the perspective by relating Ekman’s thinking to other, more general, cultural examples of Gnosticism such as the film The Matrix and the philosophy of James Redfield. I also discuss the issue of whether Ulf Ekman’s theology can be viewed as an expression of secularisation, if by secularisation one means Christian convictions permeating culture to an ever decreasing extent. This chapter also makes even clearer the historical connections, and their importance for the understanding of Ekman’s theology.