The Pen

Polemics Term: Situational Gnosticism

You can’t criticize her until you’ve lived her life.


Situational Gnosticism is a spin-off of the term Racial Gnosticism, coined by Voddie Baucham to describe the sentiment that in order to understand the problems or challenges (or heresies) of a person from a particular ethnicity, you need to be of that ethnicity; it is the concept that black people can’t understand white people and white people can’t understand Hispanics, and so on. It is the idea that being of a particular ethnicity gives one secret or esoteric knowledge available only to those of that particular ethnicity.
Situational Gnosticism, similar to Racial Gnosticism, says that unless you’re in someone’s very specific situation, you can’t understand the issue and therefore can’t speak to the issue.


If someone says, “You can’t understand or speak to the issue of abortion, because you’ve never been a pregnant woman in a state of personal crisis,” that’s situational gnosticism.
If someone says, “You can’t understand or speak to the issue of welfare, unless you’ve been on welfare,” that’s situational gnosticism.
The expression, “Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their moccasins,” is actually a form of situational gnosticism.