Pop culture and conspiracy theorists have done well to popularize “Illuminati,” namely the Bavarian creation of Adam Weishaupt in the 18th century. However, what is lesser known are the “Illuminati,” of early Christianity.
In the early church, there was the disciplina arcani, or ‘discipline of the secret, a clandestine oral tradition believed to have originated from Christ, inherited by his disciples and kept silent by Christianity’s most influential and early theologians. The arcani involved knowledge of Christianity’s most intimate and sacred mysteries.
The discipline of the secret involved teaching Christianity through degrees of understanding, not unlike the mystery schools of the ancient world. A Christian’s ascent of understanding was identified by titles that helped the Christian recognize their progress as they came to know God and Christ.
The beginner, called a Catechumen, was given access to the doctrines and general practices of Christianity, not unlike the common contemporary church goer of today. However, the Catechumen was not baptized or even permitted to observe the ritual.
The second degree was the Competente, or “seeker,” who sought approval for the baptismal rite and, once granted, was instructed and given awareness of the Apostle’s Creed. After evidencing a proper understanding of Christianity, through a series of rigorous trials, the baptized “seeker” would then become one of the Fideles, or Faithful.
These Faithful were given several titles, namely, the Illuminati, or illuminated, and the Initiati, or initiated. The Illuminati were perceived as being illuminated because of the unique enlightenment granted to them by the Holy Spirit.
In my book, “The Discipline of the Secret,” Christianity’s mysteries are unraveled and the authentic power of the Holy Spirit as a sacred and transformative agent capable of transforming man into an illumined being…or Illuminati, is revealed.
That there was a silent oral tradition of Christianity’s mysteries is evidenced by the writings of its earliest prominent adherents. Saint Ambrose went so far as to write a book titled, “Concerning those who are Initiated into the Mysteries.”
Saint Augustine, in one of his sermons, to the Illuminati notes, “Having now dismissed the Cathechumens, you alone have we retained to hear us, because in addition to those things which belong to all Christians in common, we are now about to speak in an special manner of the Heavenly Mysteries, which none can hear except those who by the Holy Spirit, are able to comprehend them.”
In my book, “The Discipline of the Secret,” light and life is given to an authentic practice of Christianity, not the half-hearted shell of what exists in our modern age.