Ekklēsía Iwigá is under the purview of Ekklēsía Epignostika and its autocephalous Bishop. Furthermore, Ekklēsía Iwigá is a member church of the Esoteric Interfaith Church. All new members are encouraged to take the church's short study course. You need a Bible, an open mind, and a copy of Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition, by Richard Smoley. The book Inner Christianity is a perfect overview of our tradition, and we use it almost like a textbook.
Statement of Faith of The Ekklēsía Epignostika, The Church of (Divine) Realization
"Rather than contenting themselves with secondhand truths, people have begun to ask how they can know the presence of the divine."
Inner Christianity, by Richard Smoley
Ekklēsía Epignostika believes that spiritual liberation, wisdom, the enlightenment of the soul, mind, and spirit, are also goals of the believer; we are not only seeking "salvation" of the soul.
The knowledge that liberates consciousness is often described as esoteric. Etymologically the word comes from the Greek esotero, which means "further in." Our church believes you must go "further in" yourself to understand the meaning of this knowledge.
Esotericism teaches that this world within consists of many different levels of being. Although these levels stand between God and us, they do so not as obstacles but as way stations. Christ said, "In my Father's house are many mansions" (John 14:2). The Greek word here translated as "mansions" literally means "way stations."
Esoteric Christianity is characterized by an interest in these different levels of consciousness and being. We seek mystical union with God, yes, but we want to study the Word, too. Mysticism is not quite so concerned with these intermediate states; it focuses on reaching God most directly and immediately. The mystic wants to reach his destination as quickly as possible; the esotericist seeks to learn something about the landscape on the way. Moreover, mysticism tends more toward passivity: a quiet "waiting upon God" rather than active investigation.
We believe the individual should investigate these different levels between God and the physical realm and learn to experience them.
We believe esoteric Christianity offers the following to the individual and the collective Church:
1. A way of self-knowledge - a way, perhaps, to the ultimate knowledge of Self.
2. A resolution of the age-old dilemma of faith. Faith originally meant conviction or certainty: "Thy faith has made thee whole" (Luke 17:19). However, the term has been watered down into connoting a blind trust in secondhand dogma despite one's own better judgment. We at the Esoteric Interfaith Church believe faith is indeed vital, but it is not blind trust; rather, it is "the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1). Faith in this sense is the conviction, deeply felt and unshaken by whatever the world may say, that something real and vital lies beyond the surface of appearances. In this sense, faith also is a way station. It is the gateway to knowledge.
3. To Christianity collectively, esotericism offers an outlook that can revitalize the tradition and cut thru difficulties that now seem almost insurmountable. One example is biblical interpretation, which now focuses exclusively on the literal truth of Scripture. (Fundamentalists vs. Liberalists, Bible true vs. myths and legends). The liberal perspective, in writing off so much of the central sacred texts of the tradition, tends to weaken and even invalidate the Christian message. The endless debate about the "historical Jesus" versus the "Christ of faith," which has been going on for over two centuries without resolution is the most obvious example of this impasse. We believe in Jesus Christ (Yeshua the Anointed) came in the flesh and walked the earth among humankind. We reject the notion he was a "mythical" non-historical character, although we fully acknowledge that his life was the re-enactment of cosmic myth, the fulfillment of mythological archetypes he bore. We believe Mother Mary and Mary Magdalene also bore mythical patterns (Sophia, Mother-God) while being historical characters.
Some Tenets of our Esoteric Interfaith belief:
We believe the Bible has always been meant to be read on several different levels, of which the literal is only one and the lowest. For example, the Fall is not a folktale, but symbolic of our human predicament, the story of Christ is not only an account of a historical man but also a figurative representation of the path that each of us must follow to attain liberation.
Esoteric spirituality thus differs from exoteric (or outer) religion, which is the form of the faith that is known to the public at large. Esoteric Christianity has long been secret and to some degree inaccessible, but this is not out of a hard-hearted elitism. It is partly because for centuries the mainstream churches looked askance at anyone who did not see divine truth as they did and shunned or hunted down such people. However, even in our more open-minded era, esoteric work still requires the effort and sincerity to look within. This is not always pleasant or easy, and the forces of outside life pull one away from it. "Many are called, but few are chosen," said Christ (Matt.22:14). Ultimately this "choosing" is a process of self-selection. - Inner Christianity, by Richard Smoley
Ekklēsía Epignostika does not deny that there is an afterlife that will be shaped by our actions in the present, but we are less concerned with obtaining salvation in the future than with attaining illumination now.
Since "repentance" (metanoia) means a "change of mind," even a change in attention, we believe the call to "repent" is a call to look and go within, to turn away from looking outward toward the world. Repentance (metanoia) means a "change of mind," but in original Christianity, and I think you'll like this, "metanoia" was used metaphorically to describe a "change of heart" through embracing the gnosis.
Repentance and Gnosis Kardiaskardias - inner gnosis of the heart. Unlike, for example, Buddhism is unquestionably all about the mind; earliest Christianity was about "metanoia" through the practice of gnosis kardias - which is to say that original Christianity is heart-based although it is also mindful or mind (I know that tautological phrase seems contradictory).
Esotericists of different faiths (Christianity, Judaism, even Islam whose esotericists are the Sufis) may feel more affinity for one another than they do for members of their religions who see things only from the exterior. This is one of the reasons we have the word Interfaith in our name. Esoteric Jews (Kabbalists), esoteric Christians and esoteric Muslims (Sufis); even esoteric Buddhists and Hindus (Zen, Vedanta, Tantra) get along beautifully with one another -- better than they get along with fundamentalist believers of the mainstream (exoteric) versions of their religion. If you are an esoteric Christian, for example, you will find a more comfortable rapport with a Kabbalah student or a Zen Buddhist than you will with a fundamentalist Bible-thumping Christian.
We believe that as esotericists, we have the responsibility of trying to see inner reality as well as we can and express it according to the needs and understanding of the time.
Those pursuing a path of inner Christianity can be found in all denominations, and outside of them as well. This is not because dogmas and doctrines are of no interest to the esotericist, but because no single doctrine ever entirely or satisfactorily expresses spiritual truth. We have founded the Esoteric Interfaith church so that those pursuing the inner Christian path can have a church of like-minded souls to fellowship and grow with, to worship and study together.
We believe one's faith, one's religion must resonate with a person. More than most forms of discourse, esoteric thought calls upon you to assimilate it, not by citations and credentials, but by its resonance with your being. The Gospel alludes to this issue when it says of Christ "that the people were astonished at his doctrine, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes" (Matt. 7:28-29) The scribes quibble over chapter and verse. Christ's authority came from the knowledge that went deeper than the letter of the law. This is what "astonished" the people. At the same time, there had to be some deeper knowing in the people themselves that could recognize this authority, which could hear it in the ring of truth. It is this intuitive knowing (which all of us possess) that we believe draws the seeker to the right resonate faith for him or her.
We believe the devotional dimension of Christianity consisting of prayer, contemplation, and mysticism, called the heart and emotions, is necessary on the spiritual path, but it is not enough. For the spirit to develop in a harmonious and integrated fashion, the pole of love must be counterbalanced by the pole of knowledge. The polarity between love (heart) and knowledge (mind) is not a rivalry. These two opposites are like the sexes; they are differentiated to create not strife but dynamism. Left to its own, devotion becomes sentimental and even fanatical, while knowledge becomes dry and pedantic. When the two are connected and integrated, knowledge - which after all arises from a love of truth - begins to feed and delight the heart, which in its turn warms and stimulates the energy for further exploration. A 17th century Englishman named John Pordage expressed this truth by saying that the essence of the esoteric Christian path could be symbolized by the image of an eye in a flaming heart. This symbol is used by our Church.
We believe Our Great Purpose as thinking conscious human beings (different from all other creatures on this planet) is to link heaven and earth, creation to creator.
We believe each of us is a microcosm of the universe and we can come to know ourselves by contemplating the grand scheme of things, and vice-versa. In other words, the cosmos or grand scheme gets pleasure in getting to know Itself and us when we both unite, the seeker with the Divine.
We believe the awakened heart is not enough; awakened intelligence is also needed. A significant theme of Esoteric Christianity is:
We must search for meaning for true spiritual liberation and illumination to be achieved or theosis. We believe spiritual theosis can be obtained if it is nurtured by a lifelong program of prayer, study, meditation, along with the inevitable rigors of trying to lead a decent and ethical life.
This portion describes our beliefs on Spiritual Transformation of the Individual, Mysticism (esoteric), & How we relate in an integral manner to other spiritual traditions, churches, and religions (interfaith). It is adapted from another integral spirituality group's creed, and we thank them very much for writing it! We adapted it to match our church's belief-system.
The fundamental vocation and goal of every person are to share in the life of God. We have been created by God to live in fellowship with Him. The descent of God in the Person of Jesus Christ has made possible the human ascent to the Father through the work of the Holy Spirit. Orthodoxy believes that each Christian is involved in a movement toward God which is known as theosis or deification.
Theosis describes the spiritual pilgrimage in which each person becomes ever more perfect, ever more holy, ever more united with God. It is not a static relationship, nor does it take place only after death. On the contrary, theosis is a movement of love toward God which begins for each Christian with the rites of Baptism and which continues throughout this life, as well as the experience which is to come. Salvation means liberation from sin, death, and evil. Redemption means our repossession by God. In Orthodoxy, both salvation and redemption are within the context of theosis. This rich vision of Christian life was expressed well by Saint Peter when he wrote in the early pages of his second Epistle that we are called "to become partakers of the Divine nature." It was also affirmed by Saint Basil the Great when he described a man as the creature who has received the order to become a god.
These are undoubtedly bold affirmations which must be adequately understood. The Church recognizes theosis as a union with the energies of God and not with the essence of God which always remains hidden and unknown. However, the experience of the Church testifies that this is a real union with God. It is also one which is not pantheistic because in this union the divine and the human retain their unique characteristics. In this sense, Orthodoxy believes that human life reaches its fulfillment only when it becomes divine.
We Believe That:
The transformative, direct spiritual experience of God, the Ever-Present Origin of All Reality is the core essence of all religion as well as religion's single most powerful resource and tool for personal spiritual transformation. This requires looking within. Within oneself and one's faith system. This is why we designate our church Esoteric, because esoteric means "inner", referring to the inner path of spiritual transformation, the "within" place scripture and God have said we must look.
The transformative, direct spiritual experience of God (the Infinite Mystery and Oneness we all exist within no matter what you call it) as the core essence of religion is always freely and directly available to anyone anywhere at any time.
The main goal of all religions is the same (expanding transformative, direct spiritual experiences of God) and, only the paths to getting there are different.
It is both logical and spiritually enlightened to seek out the most useful and effective spiritual wisdom concerning the expansion of one's transformative, a direct spiritual experience of God.
We are non-denominational and designate our church Interfaith because we believe one religion or one religious perspective alone does not have all the answers and all current religions might be partial or complementary views of the infinite wholeness and unfathomable Mysteries, which will forever surround the infiniteness and absoluteness of God.
The deep personal spiritual transformation that comes from the direct spiritual experience of God also happens to be the most effective source of social and global healing and transformation.
It is up to the individual to be the final authority in honestly seeking out that which is spiritually true. Our church does not have a Pope or final ecclesiastical "authority" because our highest belief is that all final spiritual truth and authority is determined and held by the individual with the assistance of the Divine Presence within them. We further believe that complete individual free will in spiritual matters is the prime spiritual directive of the universe. We do not recognize anyone in our church who has been exclusively appointed by God or that have an exclusive claim to divine leadership or special or exclusive spiritual revelation that must or should be held as a new or final truth for all of our other church members to abide by in their spiritual matters and choices. Our church believes that the combined group spiritual wisdom and maturity of our membership and, the already existing spiritual validity tests from all of the spiritual heritage of humanity is fully sufficient for both the individual and our church to optimally decide how to evolve and grow in the optimal spiritual way. To help a member of our church make spiritual their final determinations of spiritual truth for themselves we provide extensive cross-cultural and cross-denominational spiritual information on how to best connect with the highest self and/or Divine Presence already within themselves and then how to know they are hearing its most authentic spiritual guidance as well as manifesting the fruits of authentic spiritual growth. To further help the individual have the most life-affirming spiritual information to use in their decisions, we also provide extensive cross-cultural and cross-denominational spiritual information, principles, creeds, codes of conduct, position papers, discussions, etc., on all matters and issues of spirituality or living a spiritually principled life in the secular world.
We believe that no one individual spiritual perspective or church created the ecclesial statement of spiritual principle or conscience will completely define or limit the possible future spiritual evolution of that spiritual perspective, principle or statement of conscience or, the future spiritual development of the church. We believe that it will be this way because we are in the process of evolution and the ultimate mysteries and infinite, absoluteness of the Ever Present Origin will never be fully knowable to finite minds. Humility toward the unknowable aspects of the Divine Mystery will always exist in any authentic spirituality, and it is healthy for this to be openly recognized in our church. Because of these forever unknowable aspects of the Divine Mystery, all of our efforts to know and define it always will be at best, partial and incomplete. They always will be ever expanding and evolving spiritual metaphors, myths and constructive scaffolding that serves only to help us better grasp the spiritual realities of the absolute truth, beauty, and goodness of the Infinite. Our spiritual metaphors, myths, and scaffolding will evolve and continually be released, remade and upgraded with each major step we make in achieving greater understandings of new aspects of the previously unknown Divine Mystery. As a church and as members of our spiritual community, we further pledge not to let our spiritual metaphors, myths and scaffolding separate us from the hearts and souls of the members of other spiritualities nor be the cause of intolerance or mental or physical violence toward their spirituality or their spiritual metaphors, myths and scaffolding.
We further believe that members of an open source esoteric interfaith integrally-informed spirituality should try to:
Integrate the life-affirming wisdom of male and female spirituality.
Integrate life-affirming wisdom of rational science with the most universal and inclusive values and wisdom of spirituality.
Integrate both the many life-affirming, post-postmodern and prior era spiritual and philosophical ideas and principles of our spirituality into their lives.
Esoteric Christianity will not improve your sex life, nor get you power or success. We do not preach the "Prosperity Gospel.
These are Traps: Money, sex, power, pleasure, apathy.
Wealth is a distraction, say the wisdom teachers of all ages and traditions.
Jesus gives a one-sentence summary of esoteric Christianity when he says, "Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) Because the individual "I" that is each of us, the true inner us, does indeed need to overcome the world, the outer, to be freed.
An inner Church exists historically and has been symbolically called the "Secret Church of John" (the outer Church is called the Church of Paul, or mainstream Christianity).
The Way is the earliest name given to Christianity. The Ekklēsía Epignostika and its member communities endeavors to reconstruct and follow that way.
We do not attempt to "sell Christianity." We don't believe there is a need to "bring straying believers back into the fold."
The universal truths of esoteric knowledge are expressed just as much in Christianity as in other traditions culture universal truths are most clearly and comprehensibly stated in Christian terms. Christianity resonates with Western sensitivities. It is the spiritual system our ancestors chose. (Despite the politics and power struggles of such choices, survival of the fittest applies to Christianity!) A "new," deeper, esoteric, alternative Christianity that takes advantage of our ancient wisdom tradition rather than suppresses it, that celebrates direct mysticism and encourages practicing the Presence of the Divine, is what people now crave.; and for many people living in our
Other books and articles of interest:
Jesus Christ Sun of God: Ancient Cosmology & Early Christian Symbolism, by David Fideler. We also have a set of lessons on this book, email if you are desperate to see them.
Putting on the Mind of Christ: The Inner Work of Christian Spirituality, by Jim Marion
The Inner West: An Introduction to the Hidden Wisdom of the West by Jay Kinney
Hidden Wisdom: A Guide to the Western Inner Traditions
The Other Bible
A Theory of Everything by Ken Wilber
Sophia: Goddess of Wisdom by Caitlin Matthews
Gospel of Phillip by Jean-Yves Leloup, Gospel of Mary Magdalene, and all other books by him
The Woman With the Alabaster Jar, and Mary Magdalene Bride in Exile, by Margaret Starbird
The Mary Magdalene Within, by Joan Norton
The Gospel of Thomas interpreted and comments on by the following four authors (four separate books) Ron Miller, Tau Malachi or Jean-Yves