Saturday 10 October 2020

The Outer Church and the Inner Church

 I have been a regular churchgoer four times in my life. Once when I was at school which was obviously not something I did as a matter of personal choice. But that gave me a good grounding in the Christian faith or the Church of England version of it, though it was fairly traditional at that time. I learnt the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, about matins and evensong, and I still have a fondness for hymns.

The second time was when I began living with Michael Lord. He was Catholic and we went to Mass on Sunday. He took communion, I didn't. I had Catholic friends with whom I stayed occasionally as a child so the Mass wasn't unfamiliar to me but the "smells and bells" aspect was rather different to what I had been used to. This was also the time when the Masters first began talking to me and I was becoming familiar with various esoteric teachings. As a consequence, the conventionalism of orthodox religion seemed spiritually restricting to me and, though I could appreciate the beauty of the ritual, I could not avoid thinking of it as limiting, for me at any rate. I spoke of this to the Masters and this is what they said. Let me remind the reader that they spoke to me through the mediumship of Michael who was in unconscious trance at the time. 

I asked if it was wrong of me to try to ease Michael away from the Catholic Church and he replied that he had told me before to trust my instinct. He said that the Catholic Church, like any outward form of religion, was good for souls on a certain level but it was time to lead Michael away from it into a new and higher understanding of life. 

I realise, as I think I have said before, that this would be quite enough to get the Masters condemned as demons in certain quarters. But wait a minute! What is being said here is that there is an inner religion and an outer one. By and large, the Church, meaning all churches, teaches the outer path. The Master is not condemning the Church. He says it is good. But he also says there is more and if we are to find the more we have to look for it. Some people can find the inner path through the Church but I think that is increasingly difficult as all outer institutions have become corrupt, losing touch with their animating spirit and calcifying into just the body, the organisation itself which is the thing that matters and must be preserved. The inner path is when we cease just to follow and start to make the truths of religion our own. It is the path in which intuition and personal insight must be developed, on which we must forge our own souls and not rely on anything external. Move from the external to the eternal. The dangers of inflation and egotism are obvious but just because we can fall does not mean we should not attempt to rise. 

The third time was when I was living in India. The Church of South India is an Anglican church and Michael and I attended services in the local church of our village partly in order to join the local community and partly as a way of affirming our spiritual beliefs publicly. It was a Victorian church built for 19th century English coffee planters and I have to say I learnt a lot about the Christian life there. Somewhat strange you might think as I was practising meditation for a couple of hours a day at the time, investigating Hinduism and talking to the Masters on two or three occasions a month as I think it was then. But it was all grist to my spiritual mill and possibly took me away from the potentially delusionary idea that spirituality in the advanced sense is only mysticism, meaning a concern with higher consciousness.

The fourth time was when my children were young. Their mother is Catholic and I was happy for them to be baptised as Catholics since by then the Church of England had more or less become the benevolent society it now is, that is to say, a leftist political body only really concerned with good works. I wanted them to have some kind of spiritual education in our godless world and church attendance seemed the best way to go about that. I'm not sure how much they got out of it (it lasted for about 4 or 5 years) but at least they know something about Christianity which an alarming number of their contemporaries do not.

I am no longer a churchgoer and doubt I will be again except for the occasional festivals such as Christmas and Easter. I would say that I haven't left the church but the church has left me. When you find more spiritual sustenance in an empty church than the actual service, something has gone badly wrong. This is my case and I think it is the case of many other believing Christians. The light has gone out and the beauty and truth are in the past now.

This may seem a terrible thing but there is another way to look at it. The spiritual path is fundamentally an inner path as the Master implied. When the outer path has become overgrown with weeds as it now has and effectively leads into a swamp, you have to turn inwards and start to look for God within yourself, remembering, of course, that God is not in you so much as you are in him so it is not in your own self you should be looking so much as just within. Or within and beyond at the same time. Now it may be that a new age really is dawning when the path of Peter, the church of Peter, must be replaced by that of John. Or perhaps I should say be fulfilled in rather than replaced by. At any rate, it is John we should be looking to today as our principal spiritual guide.


S.K. Orr said...

This was a lovely post, and a timely one for me. I particularly liked your statement, "When you find more spiritual sustenance in an empty church than the actual service, something has gone badly wrong." Isn't THAT the truth?

Everything has changed, and it will never return to the way it was. This should encourage us, not dismay us. We're each walking our path, and we're being watched by our Father, Who loves us so very much.

Thank you for this, William.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - It is interesting, though, that this choice has become almost the default decision as the churches are either closed, or actively spiritually-(as well as physically-) unwelcoming places to attend.

Or rather, the choice that forces itself upon ex-church-going Christians is either to give-up Christianity altogether (which I fear is what is mostly happening), or move to anew kind of practice based-on the 'inner church'.

William Wildblood said...

Everything has changed but perhaps the present crisis has only brought to a head something that has been brewing for a long time.

BSRK Aditya said...

Hello William,

Sorry for an off topic post.

How acquainted are you with other spiritualist literature? In particular, there is this book "Songs of a vagrom angel" (

I would like your opinion of it.


William Wildblood said...

I'm sorry but I don't know anything about that. There's a lot of spiritualist literature going back over 100 years. Some of it is interesting. Most of it not so much in my experience.

cae said...

"Everything has changed but perhaps the present crisis has only brought to a head something that has been brewing for a long time."

What you say in the above quote is a direct hit, I think!

I had to stop going to church services about 8 years ago, because 'something' changed in my spiritual understanding - I had the sense that the 'message', though still 'Godly' at the time, was no longer...umm...'relevant' (?) to the world's changing 'spiritual environment'....
Then at some point, I noticed that the church itself changed, becoming increasingly involved in materialism rather than spirituality.

Quite honestly, I don't know what I'd have done these last few years, if I hadn't stumbled on the "Albion Awakening" blog (by the Grace of God, truly).... discover a group of intelligent, well-educated, accomplished authors whose Faith aligns so similarly to mine was such a blessing! And when I started reading posts where you all acknowledged belief of (actual) demons actively working to destroy humanity -
- well, that was when I could finally stop wondering about my sanity and begin really trusting my intuition.

Sorry to go on so long - have needed to say that for awhile now ;)
Thank you!

William Wildblood said...

Thanks for your comment Carol. They say that one of the devil's greatest achievements is convincing humanity he doesn't exist and most of the clever people think that. But the clever are not the wise and all traditional wisdom knows better.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate this position, but the opposite is possibly also true.
I've reattended services after many years of mostly practicing in something corresponding to an inner church.
I share many of the points made (maybe it's our intuition of fault at the institutional level ? ), but I've found there is also a strength to be found in the community practice of ritual, praying together, etc. I think, for me, it has come with a realisation that there are many more modes of belief and relationship with the Christian revelation than I'd guessed at, this increased awareness of the breadth of faith & belief has come in an almost subconscious way from being around others in this setting.

William Wildblood said...

Everyone should do what suits them best, and the communal aspect can be very important. For me though, the churches have lost the inner connection.

MagnusStout said...

Thank you for continuing to post your insights during these spiritually-hostile times.

I have a somewhat long post...

I’ve been pondering Dr. Charlton’s powerful indictment of the System and your recent posts about the apparent failures of the Outward Church during Birdemic. The commonality between you two seems to be the importance of each of us independently reconciling ourselves to God through Christ. This seems to run counter to System-thinking (the System is salvation). And, if Dr. Charlton is correct, this implicates most of the Outward Church as well.

I wonder if part of our weakness to System-thinking is as a way to avoid individual spiritual responsibility. Put differently, do our ultimate values derive from Man (System) or God? If from Man, is that not an Idol? Isn’t that exactly what the Israelites were doing by making the idol of the Golden Calf? Perhaps building the Golden Calf reflects the (flawed) human impulse to create a value System from Man rather than relying upon God and individually reconciling ourselves to Him? Because the Golden Calf-impulse derives first from fear and control, it does not permit faith to flourish (even though they ironically proclaimed such idolatry was to be a celebration to the Lord).

If we recall, God was so angry He threatened to wipe them out and start a new people from Moses. This chilling realization should humble us and make us repent of our selfish impulse to wrest control from God—to elevate System above God (even if elements of the System appear outwardly Christian).

And, thinking about the life of Jesus (the circumstances of His birth and ministry) illustrates that He worked outside the System to literally show us the Way of being and doing. There is as much a lesson in what He did not do (did not overthrow the evil Roman Empire, did not setup a complex System, etc...) as what He did do. Further, it seems instructive that His greatest enemies were embedded members of the System at the time (religious leaders—no less!) who could not accept a Solution that did not comport with their System, thus elevating an idol above God.

What is Jesus’ perception of a Man’s heart if not the objective revelation of their reconciliation to God? Some of the most evil humans He encountered were System-leaders (religious and political leaders) who had the capacity to know the Truth, but refused to follow it for love of System and System-dictates. Put differently, each of these Men (ex: Jewish religious leaders and Roman political leaders) made choices that the System justified and ratified, but which were objectively Evil. They choose an idol over God (unlike the lowly Roman centurion on “Crucifixion duty” who exclaimed: “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

Without God, Man cannot separate the wheat from the chaff, which is precisely why we must be guided by the gift of the Holy Spirit and be individually reconciled to God. God is the ultimate and flawless “check” on the System—not more or other System.

Finally, your last point about an empty church made me ponder Heaven, which I imagine in not like Sunday morning in a traditional church, but rather as something like the most grand and unending symphony with everyone acting as the holy “instruments” to individually express our Love to the Most High. And, just looking at the created world in which we find such variety, it is no doubt that God enjoys variety and that we will be witness to an unending celebration where individuality and oneness are reconciled.

William Wildblood said...

Thanks for your excellent comment, Magnus, which I think puts the matter very well. System is control and death but God, who cannot be put into a System, is freedom and life. That is not to say that the truth of God can never be brought down into any organised form but the form will always have a tendency to corruption. It's essentially to do with the relationship between the spirit and the letter. Unless spirit is dominant, letter leads to death. This is now the case with all organisations, At one time they served to reveal spirit but now they obscure it. The breath of life which once animated them has passed on.

Chris said...

It seems to me that the distinction between the inner and outer Church trends towards granting authority to the individual and as a consequence, weakens orthodoxy. If the mass , or the Magisterium ,or some aspect of the "outer Church" is dispensable, what's to stop the individual from rejecting some or all points of doctrine as well?

William Wildblood said...

What's to stop you falling over when you first try to walk? If God is real then he is within us as well as out there and if we are to know him truly and spiritually it must be from within. The fact that we can fall into illusion does not mean that we should not try to know for ourselves.