Esoteric Christianity

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The Temple of the Rose Cross, Teophilus Schweighardt Constantiens, 1618. Templeofrosycross.png
The Temple of the Rose Cross, Teophilus Schweighardt Constantiens, 1618.
A 17th-century fresco from the Cathedral of Living Pillar in Georgia depicting Jesus within the Zodiac circle. Zodiac mtskheta.jpg
A 17th-century fresco from the Cathedral of Living Pillar in Georgia depicting Jesus within the Zodiac circle.

Esoteric Christianity (linked with the Hermetic Corpus since the Renaissance) is an ensemble of Christian theology which proposes that some spiritual doctrines of Christianity can only be understood by those who have undergone certain rites (such as baptism) within the religion. In mainstream Christianity, there is a similar idea that faith is the only means by which a true understanding of God can be gained. [1] The term esoteric was coined in the 17th century and derives from the Greek ἐσωτερικός (esôterikos, "inner"). [2]

Contents

These spiritual currents share some common denominators, 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. [3]

Mysticism

The word "mysticism" is derived from the Greek μυω, meaning "to conceal", [4] and its derivative μυστικός, mystikos, meaning 'an initiate'. In the Hellenistic world, 'mystical' referred to "secret" religious rituals. [4] The use of the word lacked any direct references to the transcendental. [5] A "mystikos" was an initiate of a mystery religion.

Theologians give the name mystery to revealed truths that surpass the powers of natural reason, [6] so, in a narrow sense, the Mystery is a truth that transcends the created intellect.

Ancient roots

Greek mysticism influenced many early church theologians such as Clement of Alexandria and Origen. Bronnikov gimnpifagoreizev.jpg
Greek mysticism influenced many early church theologians such as Clement of Alexandria and Origen.

Some modern scholars believe that in the early stages of non-Gnostic Christianity, a nucleus of oral teachings were inherited from Palestinian and Hellenistic Judaism. In the 4th century, it was believed to form the basis of a secret oral tradition which came to be called disciplina arcani. The mainstream theologians, however, believe that it contained only liturgical details and certain other traditions which remain a part of some branches of mainstream Christianity. [3] [7] [8] Important influences on Esoteric Christianity are the Christian theologians Clement of Alexandria and Origen, the leading figures of the Catechetical School of Alexandria. [9] [ need quotation to verify ]

Reincarnation was accepted by most of Gnostic Christian sects such as Valentinianism and Basilidians, but denied by the proto-orthodox one. While hypothetically considering a complex multiple-world transmigration scheme in De Principiis, Origen denies reincarnation in unmistakable terms in his work Against Celsus and elsewhere. [10] [11]

Despite this apparent contradiction, most modern Esoteric Christian movements refer to Origen's writings (along with other Church Fathers and biblical passages [12] ) 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. [13]

Scholar Jan Shipps describes The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as having esoteric elements. [14]

See also

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The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to spirituality:

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Disciplina arcani is the custom that prevailed in the 4th and 5th centuries of Early Christianity, whereby knowledge of the more intimate doctrines of the Christian religion was carefully kept from non-Christians and even from those who were undergoing instruction in the faith so that they may progressively learn the teachings of the faith and not fall to heresy due to simplistic misunderstandings.

April D. DeConick is the Isla Carroll and Percy E. Turner Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Rice University in Houston, Texas. She came to Rice University as a full professor in 2006, after receiving tenure at Illinois Wesleyan University in 2004. DeConick is the author of several books in the field of Early Christian Studies and is best known for her work on the Gospel of Thomas and ancient Gnosticism.

Christianity and Theosophy relation between the two religious movements of Christianity and Theosophy

Christianity and Theosophy, for more than a hundred years, have had a "complex and sometimes troubled" relationship. The Christian faith was always the native religion of the great majority of Western Theosophists, but many came to Theosophy through a process of examination or even opposition to Christianity. According to professor Robert S. Ellwood, "the whole matter has been a divisive issue within Theosophy."

References

  1. Patte, Daniel. The Cambridge Dictionary of Christianity. Ed. Daniel Patte. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010, 377.
  2. Oxford English Dictionary Compact Edition, Volume 1, Oxford University Press, 1971, p. 894.)
  3. 1 2 G.G. Stroumsa, Hidden Wisdom: Esoteric Traditions and the Roots of Christian Mysticism, 2005.
  4. 1 2 Gellman, Jerome, "Mysticism", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
  5. Parsons, William Barclay (2011), Teaching Mysticism, Oxford University Press, p. 3
  6. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X. Published 1911.
  7. Frommann, De Disciplina Arcani in vetere Ecclesia christiana obticuisse fertur, Jena 1833.
  8. Edwin Hatch, The Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages upon the Christian Church , London: Williams and Norgate, 1907, Lecture X.
  9. Jean Daniélou, Origen, translated by Walter Mitchell, 1955.
  10. Catholic Answers, Quotes by Church Fathers Against Reincarnation Archived June 28, 2011, at the Wayback Machine , 2004.
  11. John S. Uebersax, Early Christianity and Reincarnation: Modern Misrepresentation of Quotes by Origen , 2006.
  12. See Reincarnation and Christianity
  13. Archeosofica, Articles on Esoteric Christianity Archived 2007-11-02 at the Wayback Machine (classical authors)
  14. Shipps, Jan. The Mormons: Looking Forward and Outward. Christian Century, August 16-23, 1978, pp. 761-766.

Further reading