|Dr. Couch, didn't the Gnostics allegorize the Bible?|
ANSWER: Yes, but the problem with the Gnostics is something else besides allegorical interpretation. Allegorization started way before the Gnostic cults. The biggest issue with them was their secret-ness, their immorality, and their "spiritualizing" the person of Christ. We do not know all that they taught. In fact, each group held to somewhat different beliefs. And, they really came on the scene sometime after the time of Christ. John the apostle seems to be standing against incipient Gnosticism in his letters of I-III John, written about AD 90-95.
To allegorize the Scriptures is treated in detail in my book An Introduction to Classical Evangelical Hermeneutics (Kregel). The pages are 95-103. The word Gnostic is related to the Greek word ginosko, to know. They believed they had higher spiritual knowledge and knew things that the average person did not know.
Allegorization was expanded and made popular by Augustine. He taught that the Church had become Israel. Thus, the kingdom was the Church here on earth, and, God was finished with the Jews. When he came to the words Jerusalem, or kingdom, he said these words were really about the Church. Charismatics hold to some Gnostic thoughts. Everyone has heard them say, "I don't care what the Bible says, I know what my experience is!" Experience is seen as higher than objective fact in Scripture.
Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch