Inner and Outer Church Approaches
NCW 23, September 1995
Q. Jesus said that there was only one Way or Path to the Kingdom so why do you in the New Covenant have two -- an "inner" and an "outer"? The idea of having two or three different churches seems very confusing to me.
Such a question is not, in our opinion, valid, because it has no answer. There is only one Path -- one Way, one Truth and one Life; it may, however, be perceived in diferrent ways depending on a person's background, assumptions, and truth-perceptions. Likewise, there is in reality only one Church -- the Church of God. There is only one God but there are three Persons in the Godhead. Should one say that having more than one Person in the Godhead is confusing? Not when one understands the relationship between the parts.
In biology we speak of an organism, organ systems, organs, tissues, and individual cells. The Godhead, like a human body and the "Church", is a complex thing. Indeed, who can fully understand the Lord? We must be careful not to over-simplify what are complex systems.
I will try to explain why there is an inner and outer Church by asking you a question: What is the difference between the man who, accepting that the Bible as a whole is true, goes on to accept its principles as being true -- and a man who accepts Biblical principles as being true (without initially knowing they are biblical), and is finally forced to conclude that the Bible as a whole is true?
I recently read a well-known book by Dale Carnegie called, "How to Win Friends and Influence People". It's a most interesting book because the author, who makes no religious professions, has discovered various principles to be true without any reference to the Bible whatsoever. By studying scores of famous and not-so-famous people who found happiness and success, he found certain common behavioural denominators which are none other than the teachings of Christ. He discovered them, not by reading the Bible, but by observing people. And he is not the first to do so.
This is the essential difference between what might be called the "inner (esoteric) church approach" and the "outer (exoteric) church approach". Let me illustrate. The Bible teaches that marrital unfaithfulness is a law of God. The exoteric Christian accepts the Bible as God's Word and therefore he accepts the law on marrital faithfulness.
The esoteric Christian, by contrast, works the other way. Through observing and understanding the spiritual principles that lie behind marriage, and their spiritual origin, he accepts the Biblical law as being true.
Both approaches have their individual strengths and weaknesses but when working together are highly successful. The exoteric approach entails the risk of misinterpreting scripture; the esoteric approach entails the risk of being too subjective. The New Covenant Christian stresses the importance of both exoteric and esoteric approaches working hand-in-hand which he believes are complimentary since both lead to a sure underatanding of God's Law. The advantage of having a dual approach is that the searcher-after-truth ends up with two witnesses of the same truth, thus establishing that truth. The synthesis is effected on what might be called the "mesoteric plane", the point where object and subject, inner and outer, meet as one.
We find a similar pattern in the Godhead itself where Jesus Christ is both man and God, both of heaven and of earth, both spiritual and material. God chose this mesoteric Being to reveal His true nature to men and women and to reconcile men to Himself.
New Covenant Christians therefore follow a scriptural pattern in their search for truth. The Holy Spirit guides both approaches and effects the synthesis.
This page was created on 2 May 1998
Last updated on 2 May 1998
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