Esoteric Christianity, what does it mean?

Bishop James posted Wikipedia’s definition of esoteric Christianity,

Esoteric Christianity is an ensemble of spiritual currents which regard Christianity as a mystery religion,[1][2] and profess the existence and possession of certain esoteric doctrines or practices[3][4] of which the public is unaware (or even to which they may be denied access) but which are understood by a small group of people.[5]

and then he asked:

Do you think it is an accurate description?  How can it be defined as “the existence and possession of certain esoteric doctrines or practices of which the public is unaware (or even to which they may be denied access) but which are understood by a small group of people” and yet many of the described elements have so many books and public websites devoted to it?

How can a Christian possibly be devoted to Crowley type goetia?

* * * * * * * * * * *

Very thought provoking question; I responded thus:

Aleister Crowley’s perverted nonsense is not esoteric Christianity.  One might call it esoteric Satanism, but never Christianity.
The Wikipedia definition of esoteric Christianity is accurate in my opinion for the “original” esoteric Christianity. Almost exactly 100 years ago esoteric Christianity finally became talked about in the salons and publications of the Western world.  Of course it did exist before, but the turn of the last century is when it gained a wider audience, a small niche, but much wider than the centuries before.
Now there are indeed tons of books and websites dedicated to esoteric Christianity, my first website in 1999 was one of them. But the esoteric underground stream is still just a small niche in Christianity. In this Internet Age esoteric is still little known, but not as obscure and “occulted” as it once was.
My favorite definition of the word esoteric is based on the original Greek word “esoteric”, which means “inner”. Esoteric Christianity is really “inner” Christianity. Richard Smoley lays it out perfectly in his very enjoyable book, Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition
Here are our lessons based on that book:
Because we are the Esoteric Interfaith Church, Inc. esoteric teachings and Smoley’s book figure prominently on our tenets of faith page here:
Our tenets of faith are not dogmas that must be followed by all our ordained minister and rabbi clergy. We are definitely multi-faith and interfaith in addition to being esoteric. We recently ordained a New Thought minister and a Celtic Minister. Technically since esoteric Judaism (Kabbalah, etc.) is part of the underground stream we enjoy, we should call ourselves esoteric Judeo-Christianity….and multi-faith, interfaith, spiritual…

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Katia is a consecrated independent sacramental bishop. She directs the online Esoteric Mystery School and Interfaith Theological Seminary. Check it out at

3 thoughts on “Esoteric Christianity, what does it mean?”

  1. To me, I was taught that Esoteric means “not written” or Verbal. Much of Christianity was and still is like that. I mean heck as far as secret knowledge goes Contemporary Christians until very recently kept secret knowledge only Priests knew like Exorcistic texts and what not.

    And they still hide things like those books and other things they hide in the Vatican. So that could also be used as a counter to this Bishop’s argument. Plus, The Key of Solomon was written by Solomon not Crowley with newer spells added from generations later (All Gremoires continue to grow even after the original author long passed.)

    The Bishop should know that this Spell book was used by Priests of the Church and is still used today. I came across a man who used it as part of his Exorcism and he was trained by the Church. He claimed the Church taught him to use it.

    That was in a Paranormal group in a case. And he used actual blood to draw the sigils. Crowley wrote the Lesser and Greater Key which is a perversion of the actual Key of Solomon. It’s not uncommon for Satanists, especially those adept at traditional Left Handed techniques from Hinduism to use holy prayers and symbols in order to try and steal divine power for their spells.

    Heck the traditional Black Mass uses the Prayer for Mass backwards. So does that mean the original source material from the Church is Satanic? When you apply their own arguments to them, it doesn’t make so much sense anymore.

  2. I can live with this as a more- or- less reasonable explanation from the entry:

    “Theologians give the name mystery to revealed truths that surpass the powers of natural reason, so, in a narrow sense, the Mystery is a truth that transcends the created intellect. The impossibility of obtaining a rational comprehension of the Mystery leads to an inner or hidden way of comprehension of the Christian Mystery that is indicated by the term esoteric in Esoteric Christianity.”

    You might be even able to use that as a way to back into an explanation of lower- case “g” gnosticism. But, as to the public being denied access or a set “hidden” doctrine, no. And, I’m with +Katia on Crowley. Likewise, I tend to recommend Smoley’s book (and Watts “Behold the Spirit, as well) to anybody inquiring into esoteric Christianity- strictly speaking, it does mean “inner,” rather than “hidden,” intentionally or otherwise.

  3. Hello Bishop Katia. I enjoyed reading your response.

    I found Wikipedia’s phrase “of which the public … may be denied access” to be particularly troubling as applied to Christianity.

    One of Christ’s commands was ““Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.” It was not hide the message from all but a select few.

    Perhaps one of Christianity’s biggest secrets is that there are no secrets, just facts and concepts that many people don’t take the effort to study but are widely available. Many Christians are shocked to learn that Mark did not write the Gospel of Mark, and that Matthew did not write the Gospel of Matthew. It comes as a surprise to many that the Bible does not provide a number of Magi visiting Jesus. Of course, King Solomon did not write the Key of Solomon.

    Your site and other publications are to be commended for providing a wider audience for teachings.

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