The easiest way to become a leader these days is to simply begin every sentence with “God told me”. Sure enough before the sun sets you will have people slaughtering sheep and goats at your feet – that is if you are not vegetarian. So, what other tricks can one have in their bag to keep the magic going? How do cults end up deceiving many people and even Christians? An old good book published in 1980 by James W. Sire [Scripture Twisting: 20 Ways the Cults Misread the Bible] has really helped me know how to spot a charlatan. Yup, even on Christian television. Have you noticed how many cult leaders claim to have had a new revelation or new esoteric experience?
Two separate but related strains in the esoteric tradition concern us. The first is the notion that the Bible – and many other religious and non religious texts – contain a secret hidden, inner meaning that can only be spiritually discerned, what [is] called the esoteric translation. The second is the practice not only of divining the hidden meaning of already existing texts but of receiving new revelation, special communication from the Other Side which tells us new information about reality and even about Jesus supplementing biblical authority.
Esoteric interpretation assumes that the Bible does not mean what it says on the surface. As Madam Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, the late nineteenth century founder of Theosophical Society, says in “Isis Unveiled,” “The greatest teachers of divnity agree that nearly all ancient books were written symbolically and in a language intelligible only to the initiated.” Unless one has special insight given only to few, the elite, one will remain on the outside…But how does one become one of the elite capable of discerning the hidden meaning of these ancient texts? Marc Edmund Jones in “Occult Philosophy”, a helpful introduction to the occult world view gives some perspective. He describes how an occultist “seeks to establish himself as a spiritual figure of importance to the race”:
Whether the conscious charlatan, or merely megalomaniac to greater or lesser degree, he first claims instruction or approval by the elders – directly or through clairvoyant means and then seeks by actual or imaginary great travels about the globe to collect pearls of wisdom which he offers to the faithful…there os a bonafide relation of teacher and pupil to be found in all spiritual reality, together with every sort of broadening experience in meeting the diversity of human minds.
Do not be in a hurry to call some one “anointed” just because he says he is coming with a fresh revelation that he has been endowed with. The apostle Paul was quite clear: Even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you another gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. [Gal. 1:8]
The Bible can be understood by ordinary people with ordinary intelligence. When we try to seek out leaders who have had esoteric experiences to give us special insight hidden to the rest, especially when such “insight” disagrees with the plain sense of Scripture, the Scripture has already told us to reject it.
Even if they want to rush a bar of “miracle soap” to your door. 😉