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.