I mean, Dr. Hoeller's view isn't exactly noncontroversial... but I find myself partial to his take, rosy-goggled and benefit-of-the-doubt as it may at times seem to be. (Note -- this is 5 years old now)
How would you describe Gnosticism to someone who's never heard of it before?
I think we could describe it as a very early form of Christianity, very different in many respects from what Christianity became later on. It is much more individualistic. It is much more orientated toward the personal, spiritual advancement and transformation of the individual, regarding figures such as Jesus as being helpers rather than sacrificial saviors. It is a form of religion that has a much more ecumenical and universal scope in terms of its relationship to spiritual, religious traditions other than the Christian.