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In this thought-provoking work, the author draws upon a wide spectrum of esoteric and mystical sources to demonstrate the multidimensional nature of the Christian tradition. 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. In other words, the knowledge gained by going further into oneself, an active investigation as opposed to the passive tendency of mysticism.

The universal truths of esoteric knowledge are expressed just as much in Christianity as in other traditions. The Bible was always meant to be read on several different levels, the literal being only one of at least four. Smoley argues that the spirit's harmonious and integrated development requires that the pole of love be counterbalanced by the pole of knowledge. However, the polarity between heart and mind is not rivalry as blending the opposites creates positive energy. In this way, sentimental or fanatical devotion and pedantic or rigid knowledge may be avoided. Integrating the poles knowledge sets in motion a process of synergy which benefits both heart & mind.

Part One explores the history of the hidden teachings with reference to Hermeticism, Kabbalah, Rosicrucianism, Monasticism, the Church Fathers Clement and Origin, Gnosticism, Manichaeism, the Cathars, the Freemasonry of the Founding Fathers, William Blake, Theosophy, 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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on 11 June 2011
Richard Smoley's "Inner Christianity" isn't really a guide to a unified, Christian esoteric tradition. The reason, arguably, is that no such tradition exists. Indeed, Smoley admits that some of the ideas in the book are his own, and he is sometimes mildly critical of the various Gnostic and Gnosticizing groups which form part of his "tradition".

In the end, Smoley serves a somewhat eclectic dish. It seems to be a combination of Boris Mouravieff, Valentin Tomberg, G.I. Gurdjieff and A Course in Miracles (ACIM). He attempts to paint the ACIM in mysterious colours, but surely a well-read person like Smoley must know that Schucman simply reworked New Thought?

It's not clear whether Smoley believes that Jesus is a real historical figure, or simply an allegory. Perhaps it's not important, since all humans are part of both "Adam" and "Christ". Smoley does admit that the Christian message is unique at one point: the role of forgiveness. If we forgive and love our enemies, our negative karma will, to that extent, be forgiven us and disappear. This idea - that bad karma can be forgiven - is the great innovation of Christianity.

Personally, I found this book to be pretty boring and, as I said, very eclectic. I'm not sure whether it can really serve as an "introduction" to the subject. But yes, it does crack a few interesting ideas here and there. In the end, I'll give it three stars.
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on 18 March 2010
I can only concur with the other published reviews. I recommend this book to my students who are interested in gnostic or esoteric Chritianity as the clearest exposition of these issues I have yet come across for such.
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on 31 December 2015
Informed and inspiring account of living the inner life. Recommended.
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