(2nd of 7) We continue our ‘journey’ as I pray it will inform readers who are not-yet Christians about avoiding the pitfalls and dangers of suspect spiritual matters:
The intellectual freedom of higher education in the ‘swinging 60’s’ enabled me to break loose from the values of my parents and their generation. Even so, I recognised their values had enabled them to come through the destruction and deprivation of the Great Depression, World War and post-war Britain austerity with great fortitude.
As in the previous post about attending the “wrong school”, a formative influence upon this boy of the post-war ‘baby boom’ was the disharmony and hypocrisy between churches. In my mind it tarred all Christians with the same brush and badly reflected upon the God they believed in.
Nevertheless, once whilst in church, I had thought it must have been awesome to have been around Jesus and seen everything He said and did.
Also, two verses noticed in my mother’s Sunday Missal stuck in my mind and, although buried in the unconscious, they never got forgotten. One was Jesus telling his disciples they’d do even greater works than He was doing! The other was by someone who’d seen and been with Jesus, and who wrote: If everything He’d done was written down there wouldn’t be enough room in the world to contain the books! [John 14:12 and closing sentence of that Gospel.]
In view of that eye-witness account and churches’ misrepresentation of their founder, I became convinced a lot of what he’d taught had been lost – or even suppressed – by the early church.
THE NEXT STAGE OF MY JOURNEY INTO ‘FREEDOM’
The first two stages leading to my freedom were the perceived clashes between school and church. The truth must be out there somewhere and so I decided to investigate and search it out for myself.
First port of call was the supernatural and possibility of an afterlife. After all, maternal grandmother occasionally referred to the first. Seances seemed open to trickery and were renowned for variability and inconsistency. So I never attended any. Having a scientific bent I looked for consistent, reliable reports of such contacts. Accounts by those who’d almost died seemed more authentic than mediums’ claims of contact with the dead.
Next came yoga and eastern religions, some years before the ‘fab four’ musical band The Beatles became interested in and promoted Transcendental Meditation. That is, I’d already delved into those esoteric spiritual doctrines, including reincarnation and karma.
Then at 21 years of age, after learning about the Western esoteric tradition, I associated with a mystic brotherhood supposedly descended from ancient Egypt through a chain of historic personages such as Da Vinci, Bacon, Wren and Newton all of whom, it was claimed, added to and transmitted that ancient wisdom which had been held ‘sacred’ by 12-13th Century ‘heretical’ Cathars of southern France, and later the Knights Templar. (Later freemasonry merely skimmed the surface of that arcane, initiatory knowledge.)
What made it especially attractive from my standpoint were references to the ‘mystical life’ and ‘secret doctrines’ of Jesus, who was claimed to have been one of the perfected ‘masters’! This teaching was supposed to have been akin to that of Gnosticism and the Jewish Kabbalah.
My historical interests devoured the rise of the early Church, medieval alchemy and the start of scientific method in the early 17th Century, as well as literature and secret codes then in use in England and German Brunswick-Luneberg and Palatinate of the Rhine.
This opened up research into early Church history including the ‘French connection’ to Glastonbury and its legends. Developments of early science from alchemical literature and secrets buried in codes, plus claims about Cathars of the Langued’oc (persecuted Christians also known as Albigensians) and the Knights Templar in France were highly fascinating.
Consequently, I was well placed and connected to know modern authors’ claims about a supposed romantic connection between Jesus and his disciple, Mary Magdalene, were untrue. Such stories and their dramatic conspiracy claims make fascinating fiction. (My publishing source confided that it was a marketing ploy to increase sales!)
[For more on the last read What Have Paul Keith Davis Video and Mary Magdalene In Common? and my ‘The Magdalene Legacy’ – a Critique’, as well as Ian Paul’s article The Evidence for Jesus outside the New Testament.]
You may think of that esoteric brotherhood as akin to freemasonry, which to me felt quite ‘creepy’. There was no ostensible connection and the history, principles and exercises taught by the first made it very different. They taught about a ‘Cosmic’ supreme being, not the God of Abraham, but an ultra-intelligent, superhuman, all-pervasive mind. Thus, it was important to ‘attune’ with its ‘cosmic consciousness’ by exercises for developing the inner self and supernatural senses – even the facility of invisibility.
Naturally endowed with being able to dream vividly in colour, I now found I could control and change content during a dream. That is, to make a conscious decision to shut down one unsatisfactory dream and move into, or even replay, a better one. I was, however, to fail spectacularly with two, as you’ll read later…
One night, whilst asleep, I experienced nirvana – the sublime state sought by Buddhists – only to discover its dreadful hidden danger. I was floating in a transcendent, golden light. BUT going deeper this light changed, as though an invisible hand had drawn a curtain aside. Then I saw behind the peaceful and beautiful light a terrifying darkness lay deliberately hidden. It appeared as a gigantic, devouring spider – I was thoroughly repelled and frightened for my life! Next, I awoke alarmed and grateful, yet unable to fathom its meaning.
My search for Truth had led me unwittingly into captivity and I became entangled within an invisible demonic web. I didn’t know I’d been seriously misled and deceived and was in grave personal peril.
After 21 years of searching for and attaining extensive esoteric knowledge, I’d find myself in a diametrically opposite situation – utterly incredible!
The allure of a ‘false Gospel’ had taken me through the devil’s door and right into its domain, yet my journey was to start entering its next stage – the one where I found Truth and gained my freedom!
To read testimony in full click: to read from beginning – for Appendix of validations
[Bible quotations courtesy of BibleGateway.com]
Fascinating and a salutary warning to people who might be tempted to meddle with forces best left alone. Having an interest in these matters myself, I have come across numerous testimonies of Christians who, like you, had engaged with the spiritual world and faced terrible consequences.
I believe some blame for this phenomenon can be placed on the rise of materialism as a pervasive philosophy following the two World Wars. Man intuitively knows there is a supernatural world out there and longs to be linked with it. Refusing to bow to the authority of God, either because God’s morality is inherently unattractive to the sin nature or because the Church badly models Christ, he seeks the supernatural in places that reject the Gospel. Evil ensues.
I suspect another contributing factor in some cases is the simple, dressed-down version of liturgy found in a number of Protestant churches, including my own. While many of us, particularly Puritanesque Christians, approve of this, for some people worship needs to be outwardly special, not just about the connection in our hearts and minds. The spectacle of pagan and Jewish temple-style worship has been with mankind longer than the simplicity of the Protestant/Evangelical churches. Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and mid-to-high Anglicanism retain this spectacle with their vestments etc. If that sort of thing is what you need (or want?), but you do not want Christianity itself, I can see how you might be attracted to neo-paganism or esotericism, or living religions that have such displays.
Regarding miracles and unity, like you, I care about those things. But I also feel a tension in them, which perhaps the Lord will resolve now – but maybe not. I think, especially in the case of healing, there is a concern among many of us about the times when nothing seems to happen and we wonder what went wrong and feel bad for raising anybody’s hopes. In unity, there is the problem of doctrinal differences, and how to overcome them. Much as I would like to be a Catholic, and have wanted to be for much of my life, there is a part of me that has something like a Puritan’s worldview, and this prevents me from joining Rome. I reject the claims of the Magisterium and other parts of its structure and there is nothing I can do about that, because it is a conscience issue. In some respects, I think we are actually better at unity now than we used to be because we respect each other’s boundaries and consciences more; there is more of a modus vivendi than there was in previous history – even some acknowledgement of the good things in each other’s denominations.
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Great post 😄