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Theosophy and Christianity
The word 'Theosophy', which literally means 'Divine Wisdom', is used today to designate a worldview founded on the unity and interrelatedness of all life. Central to the concerns of Theosophy is the recognition that behind all outer forms of religion there is an inner core, a hidden side, the presence of which has been almost lost to view. Therefore it is suggested that Theosophy can greatly enrich an understanding of various traditions, including the Christian religion.
The Holy Bible
For those raised in the Christian tradition, the Holy Bible is a special piece of literature, not one book but a collection of books representing a variety of literary forms. However, as with the Scriptures of other great religions, reading the Holy Bible 'literally' is often to miss its deeper spiritual meaning and significance. Religious truths in the Holy Bible are expressed through language such as metaphor, parable and allegory.
Interpretation of the Holy Bible
Theosophists try to explore the ways in which the great truths have been expressed in the special language of various Scriptures. In fact, theosophical interpretations of the Holy Bible are in common use among biblical scholars today. The two major works of H.P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine, contain many ideas that can help clarify the meaning of biblical texts. For example, the idea of karma or divine justice is evident in the Holy Bible and the concept of reincarnation is implicit as an underlying assumption. The Christ story can be seen as representing the birth, crucifixion and resurrection of the Spirit in all of us as we make the human spiritual journey through many lives. The Dutch scholar, H.J. Spierenburg, has compiled and annotated statements made by H.P. Blavatsky on various parts of the Christian story, and his work has been published in the book, New Testament Commentaries of H.P. Blavatsky. Further theosophical writings on the inner side of Christianity include Esoteric Christianity by Annie Besant and The Hidden Wisdom in the Holy Bible and The Christ Life from Nativity to Ascension, both by Geoffrey Hodson.
A Hidden Wisdom
The New Testament frequently alludes to profound religious truths underlying the biblical texts. It is recorded that on one occasion Jesus said to his disciples, 'Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables.' (Mark 4:11) It is suggested that the phrase 'them that are without' refers to those who had not been initiated into the hidden meanings or mysteries of the deeper teachings of the Christ. Mark also relates that when they were alone, Jesus told his disciples certain truths which were not shared with the multitude. Equally suggestive are references to the hidden side of Christianity in the Epistles of St. Paul. Frequently we come across such passages as 'I speak God's hidden wisdom ....' Paul goes on to tell converted Christians that he is unable to impart such wisdom, implying that he had an inner knowledge which his followers were not sufficiently prepared to receive.
Manuscript findings during the past fifty or sixty years have shed new light on the Holy Bible and the development of Christianity in general. The more famous among these discoveries are the Qumran or Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi Library. The former manuscripts give accounts of the Essene community to which Jesus may have belonged, while the latter contain several Gnostic scriptures which throw more light on the mysteries on which Christianity was founded. Fortunately translations of most of these manuscripts are now available and a study of them will reward the serious student of the early Christian and even pre-Christian schools. It will be found that nothing in these manuscripts contradicts the theosophical interpretation, but on the contrary, they support the proposition that there is indeed a hidden wisdom to be found in the Holy Bible.
Jesus and the Christ
To Christian seekers, Theosophy points to the risen Christ, that Eternal Light 'which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.' (John 1:9) To point to that 'true light' is in no way to undervalue the character of Jesus of Nazareth. According to the gospel story Jesus was born, died and rose again. Consider that this is an aspect of an ageless truth about human evolution which has never ceased to be. The life of Jesus symbolises the journey that we all must take. Since humanity came into existence there has never been a time when the Christ, the Spirit within each individual, was not born and crucified on the cross of matter over many lives by incarnating in successive physical bodies. Ancient writings also suggest that, by personal effort, a human is finally resurrected into the full Light of illumined or transformed consciousness. Human transformation is accomplished by the universal Christ Consciousness (Christos) fulfilling its divine purpose in every human being. As the great Christian father who lived in the fifth century, St. Augustine, said: 'That which is called Christian religion existed among the ancients, and never did not exist, from the beginnings of the human race until Christ came in the flesh, at which time the true religion which already existed began to be called Christianity.' A theosophical view of the Christian tradition suggests that it is useful to consider focussing our hopes and aspiration on the Christ principle which dwells deep within each one of us, while maintaining that Jesus Christ was one of the great spiritual teachers of our humanity.
The writings of several Christian mystics, like Dionysius the Areopagite, Meister Eckhart, St John of the Cross, Julia of Norwich and Teresa de Avila, among others, reveal profound similarities with theosophical teachings by describing a mystical experience that unfolds the consciousness of our deep and undivided oneness with all existence. In the words of St Paul, 'in him we live, move and have our being' .
The Theosophical Perspective
Theosophical writings can help enrich our understanding of all traditions including Christianity and can help people to live their religion more fully and more clearly. Therefore the ageless teachings known as Theosophy merit study by all who wish to make their Christian faith more understandable and more deeply alive in their hearts.
Suggestions For Further Reading
The Hidden Wisdom in the Holy Bible
The Christ Life from Nativity to Ascension
Reincarnation in Christianity
The Christening of Karma
The Gospels as a Mandala of Wisdom
The Yoga of the Christ
Jesus Christ, Sun of God