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Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition Paperback – October 8, 2002

4.2 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

While the institutional church has frequently set boundaries limiting what ideas, beliefs, and practices could be considered Christian, Smoley, a former editor of Gnosis magazine, reminds readers that adventurous seekers have always borrowed freely from many sources to enhance their inner spiritual knowledge. Smoley collectively labels these disparate voices "inner" (or "esoteric") Christianity. The writings used to construct this tradition are diverse, ranging from Gnostic gospels and kabbalistic cosmologies, through late medieval alchemical theory, right up to Swedenborgian and New Age teachings. An initial chapter spells out the historical breadth of these traditions, but the bulk of the book offers a contemporary synthesis, providing insight into the deeper, mystical meaning of traditional Christian doctrines. Quotations from the sources are usually more engaging than the synthesis itself, but the author makes the case for listening more closely to an eclectic Christianity's own esoteric voices. Many readers will filter much of the material through a selective sieve of skepticism, but the book overviews a wide range of material and provides a solid introduction to esoteric Christianity for the general reader. Recommended for all libraries.
Steve Young, McHenry Cty. Coll., Crystal Lake, IL
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"A wide range of material . . . provides a solid introduction to esoteric Christianity."— Library Journal

"Smoley traverses a vast continent of belief and practice in this lively guide to Christian esotericism, and he does so with great intelligence and style."—Philip Zaleski, editor of the Best Spiritual Writing series

"We overlook the very heart and soul of Christianity when we reduce it to rules, dogmas, and rigid moral directives. Inner Christianity helps correct that mistake by spelling out, clearly and thoughtfully, the subtle interior mysteries of this religion. This book could help many, Christians and others, find a new level of intelligence in Christian thought and practice. It could change the direction of your spiritual life."—Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul and The Soul's Religion

"In this deeply wise and important work, Richard Smoley restores the realm of inner space to the Christian tradition. Drawing upon a wide range of mystical and esoteric literature and practice, he shows how multidimensional is the Christian message, and how profound its understanding of the nature and purpose of the psyche. In a time of so much change and confusion, this potent book serves as a source of profound guidance and gnosis."—Jean Houston, Ph.D., author of A Mythic Life and Jump Time

"Richard Smoley has rolled away the rock of symbol, myth, metaphor, and obscuration and resurrected the radiant light of an inner Christianity. In clear and vibrant language, he makes the deepest wisdom of the Christian tradition available and accessible to everyone. This book is an empowerment of faith and spirit and will, I predict, become a classic for all who walk the path of Christ in the midst of their everyday lives."—David Spangler, author of Everyday Miracles, Blessing: The Art and the Practice, and Apprenticed to Spirit
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications; 1st edition (October 8, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570628106
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570628108
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #498,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By sewyew on November 24, 2005
Format: Paperback
To appreciate my comments it is perhaps necessary to tell you a itlle bit of where I am coming from. I was raised in an essentially non-practicing Eastern Orthodox family, where the church was more of a cultural and identity institution. Combine this with the innate belief in the supremacy of rationality, and I was at a point where I believed that Christianity was nothing more than a social institution with rituals to just perpetuate itself.

Theologically, I felt that the doctrine of original sin was something I could not believe. I also became convinced of the reality of re-incarnation, that Karma is not a "punishment" meted out by a "judge", but a universal principle of justice flowing from the fact that we create our destiny because of what we will into our lives. I thought the "faith only" formula was a socially useful convention, but that it did not answer our needs as intellectually curious human beings. So overall, one can see that by this point, it was hard for me to say I was a Christian according to the orthodox definition.

This led me to read a lot of New Age, Buddhist, Hindu, Gnostic and even some channelled literature. If there was a thread combining these, it was that we are spiritual beings, who can realize our true nature through internal contemplation.

I found this book, curiously enough, in the metaphysical section at a Borders shop, and not among the other Christian literature.

To my mind, the esoteric tradition described in this book starts by acknowledging the gnostic path. That is, inner knowledge of God is possible. It extends this by stating the inner journey is a journey back to our oneness with God and with our true nature.
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By A Customer on November 30, 2002
Format: Paperback
Inner Christianity give a new, powerful view of the Christian faith, its history and the work of self-transformation found within its teachings. Not pedantic, not preaching, just a clear, calm , non-sectarian guide to the inner meanings of Christianity. I have found over the years that Richard Smoley, who edited Gnosis magazine for many years, is one of the very best writers on (sometimes difficult) esoteric spiritual subjects, making them understandable without sacrificing intelligence or balance. I highly recommend this book.
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Format: Paperback
Unlocking the wisdom of esoteric Christianity
In this thought provoking work, the author draws upon a wide spectrum of esoteric and mystical sources to demonstrate how multidimensional the Christian tradition really is. In simple language he brings to light the most profound wisdom of Christianity as a remedy for the loss of faith in these times.
The book concentrates more on the esoteric rather than the mystical strain and claim that the Bible was always meant to be read on several different levels. It is certainly true that the universal truths of esoteric knowledge are expressed just as much in Christianity as in any other tradition.
Part One explores the history of the hidden teachings with reference to hermeticism, kabbalah, Rosicrucianism, monasticism, the church fathers Clement and Origin, plus Rudolf Steiner and Carl Jung. He also looks at modern practitioners of inner Christianity like Stephan Hoeller.
Part Two: The Vision, considers issues like The World and The Fall, Salvation and Gnosis, The Second Birth, Cosmology, The Gospels and the Works of Christ, and the Feminine Face of God. Part Three: Expressions, investigates spiritual practices, love, evil, forgiveness, symbols, sacraments and the secret church.
The afterword includes a list of recommended books with comments, such as A Course In Miracles, Meditations On The Tarot by Valentin Tomberg, The Cloud Upon The Sanctuary by Karl von Eckarthausen, A Different Christianity by Robin Amis, The New Man by Maurice Nicoll and The Rose Of The World by Daniel Andreev. The book includes black and white illustrations, copious notes, a selected bibliography and an index.
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Format: Paperback
As an evangelical christian, any hint of 'occult' being applied to christianity seems on the surface to be misguided and just plain wrong.

This book, with it's labrynth-decorated cover kept catching my eye though. 'Inner Christianity'. What could a book with that title be about?

Smoley is erudite and more, convincing.

Early christianity was pluralistic, primitive and from what I see, dogma-less and without creed.

The demarcation is that of outer and inner.

The outer is what I, and perhaps you, are most accustomed to, living in the United States.

But the inner, how rich and diverse a picture Richard Smoley presents!

And christianity is not the only world religion with an esoteric tradition.

Islam has it's own in sufism, for example.

As Mr. Smoley points out, the esoteric branches of the world traditions may have more in common with each other than with their own local external religions.

In this day of loud and the brash personalities who somehow manage to come to the fore in modern christianity, Mr. Smoley reveals a thread that has run through the faith since it's conception and before. The voice has just been more quiet and more still than what we have grown accustomed to.
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