Thursday, April 22, 2010


There is a powerful and highly addictive desire. It can be stronger than alcohol, drugs, or sex. This desire is esotericism. (Please pardon the big word, but I do not know a smaller one that will do.) This is the desire for mysterious, hidden knowledge. Now I realize there will always be things that are known by some people and not others and are hard to understand. Also, there will always be individuals who discover something first. But esotericism is the desire to know something because it is mysterious or little-known. It is the pride in knowing something that other people do not know.

Freud would trace this back to a cover-up for a desire for sex (which seems to me to say more about Freud than about psychology). The problem with this is it starts with the assumptions that we are (for reasons that are not altogether clear) so shocked by our sexual desires that we repress them and that they come out in our subconscious mind as something else. This may have made sense in 19th century Vienna, but makes no sense in 21th century America. In our highly sexualized culture, to attribute something to repressed sex seems extremely dubious. I suspect that in many cases it is exactly the opposite. Especially since Freud made sex more esoteric, many have involved themselves in it more out of the desire to have experiential knowledge of this mysterious secret than out of simple sexual desire.

This desire is highly problematic from a Christian point of view. It originates from pride, which is not an acceptable Christian motivation (Proverbs 16:18; 1 John 2:16). Neither is trust in your own knowledge (1 Corinthians 3:18; 8:2,3). Jesus said He did nothing in secret (John 18:20,21). Note that "mystery" in Scripture means something before unknown, which God has now revealed, or something beyond human understanding. But esotericism is also suspicious from any point of view. It causes people to choose a position not on the evidence, but on whether it can allow them to feel superior to others. It discourages them from asking whether the reason the ordinary person does not believe this view is that it is preposterous.

Therefore, we should avoid falling into this mindset, for there is nothing so well calculated as this to lead an individual off into bizarre opinions with little evidence. Also, while we must be careful of judging (Romans 2:1,2; Matthew 7:1-5) and rebuke error with gentleness (Galatians 6:1; 2 Timothy 2:24-26), it is helpful in evaluating opinions to recognize this as a possible motivation. The more so since this tends to be an error of the intelligent and the scholarly. But it is also not uncommon on the ordinary, practical level to find someone pushing a mysterious secret, unknown to others. When you meet this it should throw up a red flag. It does not prove the point being made is false. But it is two strikes against it.

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