Guénonian Esoterism and Christian Mystery

Jean Borella

Hillsdale, NY: Sophia Perennis, 2004
524 pages
ISBN: 0-900588-10-1
Price: $26.95 US
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Rene Guénon’s explication of the principles of an interior understanding of sacred forms has established his reputation in the West as the master theorist of esoterism. But till now his doctrine has not been the focus of thorough study in Christian circles, and this has had serious consequences. Guénonian Esoterism and Christian Mystery is the first major work to combine an analysis of Guénon’s ideas about esoterism with a critical examination of their application to Christianity in terms of data provided by Christianity itself. But to accomplish this, such data cannot simply be surveyed superficially—it must be known firsthand; hence the abundance of citations and references in this text. Such an approach not only lets us decide about certain issues, but may also help us rediscover an all too misunderstood facet of the revelation of Christ.

Table of Contents

General Introduction: A Guénonian Interpretation of Christianity—Is it Legitimate?


Esoterism: History and Idea—Esoterism in its Essence and in its Existence—Esoterism-Exoterism: A Living Dialectic


Christian Esoterism according to Guénon—Appendix: 'Religion': History and Etymology—Jewish Esoterism or New Covenant?—Sacraments and Sacramentals—The Nature of the Sacraments is Immutable


Introduction: The Christian Religion Speaks of Itself—Mystery and Doctrine—Sacramental Initiation and the Discipline of the Arcane—The Mystical Way—Scriptural Index—General Index


René Guénon was one of the great metaphysical minds of the last few centuries, and it was a great loss to the Catholic Church when he converted to Islam. Prof. Borella shows in this landmark study exactly where Guenon's work remains of perennial value for Christians, but also demonstrates limitations that led Guénon to distort some important elements of Catholic and Orthodox doctrine. This work may well stimulate the recovery of authentic metaphysics within the Church for which Guénon longed, but which he despaired of seeing in his lifetime.
Stratford Caldecott, editor, Second Spring

Exhaustively documented and brilliantly conceived, this monumental treatise refutes a Guénonian thesis regarding the limits of Christianity and reaffirms the Patristic doctrine of theosis as the consummation of the Christian Way.
Wolfgang Smith, author of Cosmos & Transcendence

About the Author

Jean Borella taught philosophy at the University of Nancy until 1995. He has written extensively on theology, religious ideas, and symbolism. His key writings have been compiled, edited, and translated by G. John Champoux under the titleThe Secret of the Christian Way: A Contemplative Ascent through the Writings of Jean Borella. A Platonist by formation, he has been strongly influenced by Guénon and Eastern metaphysics. But his deepest inspiration derives from unceasing meditation on the Christian faith, which led him to undertake the present searching critique of 'Guénonian Christianity'. A religious philosopher, he strives to hear the reverberations awakened in human thought by revelation.