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Esoteric Christianity Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esoteric_Christianity

The Temple of the Rose Cross, Teophilus Schweighardt Constantiens, 1618.

Esoteric Christianity is an approach to Christianity which features "secret traditions" that require an initiation to learn or understand.[1] The term esoteric was coined in the 17th century and derives from the Greek ἐσωτερικός (esôterikos, "inner").[2]

These spiritual currents share some common features, such as heterodox or heretical Christian theology; the canonical gospels, various apocalyptic literature, and some New Testament apocrypha as sacred texts;[citation needed] and disciplina arcani, a supposed oral tradition from the Twelve Apostles containing esoteric teachings of Jesus the Christ.[1]

Esoteric Christianity was closely related to gnosticism, and survives in a few modern churches.[1]

History[edit]

Ancient roots[edit]

Greek mysticism influenced many early church theologians such as Clement of Alexandria and Origen.[citation needed]

Some[who?] modern scholars believe that in the early stages of proto-orthodox Christianity, a nucleus of oral teachings were inherited from Palestinian and Hellenistic Judaism.[1] In the 4th century, it was believed to form the basis of a secret oral tradition which came to be called disciplina arcani.[1] Mainstream theologians, however, believe that it contained only liturgical details and certain other traditions which remain a part of some branches of mainstream Christianity.[1][3][4] Important influences on esoteric Christianity are the Christian theologians Clement of Alexandria and Origen, the leading figures of the Catechetical School of Alexandria.[5][need quotation to verify]

Present-day denominations[edit]

A denomination of esoteric Christianity is The Christian Community.[6] It focuses on the experiential aspect of sacraments, with the Eucharist serving as "the Rite of the Consecration of Man".[6]

Scholar Jan Shipps describes the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as having esoteric elements.[7]

Concepts[edit]

Reincarnation[edit]

Influenced by the Platonic doctrine of metempsychosis, reincarnation of the soul was accepted by most Gnostic Christian sects such as Valentinianism and the Basilidians, but denied by the proto-orthodox one.[citation needed] While hypothetically considering a complex multiple-world transmigration scheme in De Principiis, Origen denies reincarnation in his work Against Celsus and elsewhere.[8][9]

Despite this apparent contradiction, most modern esoteric Christian movements refer to Origen's writings (along with other Church Fathers and biblical passages[10]) to validate these ideas as part of the esoteric Christian tradition outside of the Gnostic schools, who were later considered heretical in the 3rd century.[11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Guy G. Stroumsa (2005). Hidden Wisdom: Esoteric Traditions and the Roots of Christian Mysticism. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 90-04-13635-5
  2. ^ Oxford English Dictionary Compact Edition, Volume 1, Oxford University Press, 1971, p. 894.)
  3. ^ Frommann, De Disciplina Arcani in vetere Ecclesia christiana obticuisse fertur, Jena 1833.
  4. ^ Edwin Hatch, The Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages upon the Christian Church, London: Williams and Norgate, 1907, Lecture X.
  5. ^ Jean Daniélou, Origen, translated by Walter Mitchell, 1955.
  6. ^ a b Melton, J. Gordon; Baumann, Martin (21 September 2010). Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices, 2nd Edition [6 volumes]. ABC-CLIO. p. 620. ISBN 978-1-59884-204-3.
  7. ^ Shipps, Jan. The Mormons: Looking Forward and Outward. Christian Century, August 16-23, 1978, pp. 761-766.
  8. ^ Catholic Answers, Quotes by Church Fathers Against Reincarnation Archived June 28, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, 2004.
  9. ^ John S. Uebersax, Early Christianity and Reincarnation: Modern Misrepresentation of Quotes by Origen, 2006.
  10. ^ See Reincarnation and Christianity
  11. ^ Archeosofica, Articles on Esoteric Christianity Archived 2007-11-02 at the Wayback Machine (classical authors)

Further reading[edit]

  • Anonymous [Valentin Tomberg] (1985). Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey Into Christian Hermeticism. New York, NY: Tarcher/Penguin. ISBN 978-1-5854-2161-9
  • Besant, Annie (2001). Esoteric Christianity or the Lesser Mysteries. City: Adamant Media Corporation. ISBN 978-1-4021-0029-1.
  • Brown, Coleston (2007). Magical Christianity: The Power of Symbols for Spiritual Renewal.Wheaton, IL: Quest Books. ISBN 978-0-8356-0855-8
  • Duncan, Anthony (1972, 1996). The Lord of the Dance: An Essay in Mysticism. Sun Chalice Books. ISBN 978-0-9650-8395-9
  • Knight, Gareth (1975, 2010). Experience of the Inner Worlds. Cheltenham, Gloucestershire: Skylight Press. ISBN 978-1-9080-1103-9
  • Knight, Gareth (2011). A History of White Magic. Cheltenham, Gloucestershire: Skylight Press. ISBN 978-1-9080-1104-6
  • Powell, Robert. (2007). The Sophia Teachings: The Emergence of the Divine Feminine in Our Time. Aurora, CO: Lindisfarne Books. ISBN 978-1-5842-0048-2
  • Rittelmeyer, Friedrich (Author), Mitchell, M.L. (Translator) (2004). Meditation: Letters on the Guidance of the Inner Life 1932. Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-4179-7983-7
  • Smoley, Richard (2002). Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition.Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications. ISBN 978-1-5706-2810-8
  • Steiner, Rudolf (1997). Christianity As Mystical Fact And The Mysteries Of Antiquity. Great Barrington, MA: Anthroposophic Press. ISBN 978-0-8801-0436-4

External links[edit]