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Cults and World Religions

Theosophy



There is no religion higher than truth.

 

No man in becoming a Theosophist, need cease to be a Christian, a Buddhist, a Hindu; he will but acquire a deeper insight into his own faith.
Mrs. Besant 214

 

To be admitted to the highest degree of the first section, the Theosophist must have become free of every leaning toward any one form of religion in preference to another. He must be free from all exacting obligations of society politics and family.
Golden Book 215

Theo is the Greek word for God – this is the word used in the New Testament of God the Father.

Sophia is the Greek word for wisdom.

What we have in this name, then, is the “wisdom of God.” But, one might ask how wise is this group?

The wisdom of God, in both its true form, and in man’s version, are scattered throughout the Bible. Solomon, for example, records much of man’s wisdom in Ecclesiastes. Nothing is new!

History

The roots of the modern version are from Russia, via India and Tibet. The worldwide headquarters are actually in India, with the US group being operated out of Illinois. Big name members have included William Gladstone and Thomas Edison. The appeal of this group is, in one sense at least, to the intellectual who cannot not admit to the ability of one to take a “leap of faith.”

The group was started in New York in about 1875 by Madame Helena Petrova Blavatsky (1831-1891), who was born in Russia, and her “lover,” Henry Steel Olcott, a New York lawyer. Blavatsky was rich, twice divorced, and well traveled. In her travels she searched for the meaning of life. The teachings she learned while in Tibet and India came with her to the U.S. Mrs. Anne Besant left her husband to become the leader of the group in India and England at the death of Blavatsky.

The group has no doctrinal statements. It is governed by a set of general principles, of which there are three major ones:

Theosophy teaches that the universe is one interrelated whole. Everything is either matter or spirit and through the process of reincarnation, both are evolving closer and closer together, until they become totally united. As a person is evolving, he obtains enlightenment. This is probably as close to a definition of salvation as exists for this group. Man is composed of several elements which include the divine, monadic, spiritual, intuitional, mental, astral and physical.

Blavatsky believed that there was an ancient society of Masters or Adepts, also called Mahatmas. These persons had a complete understanding of Divine Wisdom. These were the great souls and they taught Blavatsky, via the spirit world. Koot Hoomi was one of the spirits who was the primary teacher of Blavatsky.

Beliefs

Jesus is considered to be the reincarnation of one of the great masters. He was not the world teacher the group looks for. In fact, Mrs. Besant claimed to have discovered the great teacher in her adopted son, an Indian, Krishnamurthi. While Krishnamurthi accepted this title for a while, he eventually rejected the designation.

The group teaches that all men become a little god or a little Christ through a series of evolutionary growth steps. While different versions of these steps exist in print, the idea is clearly summarized as follows:

So, Man is two parts, material (Body, Vitality, Astral) and Spirit (Animal, Human, and Spiritual), both of which will eventually merge in the future into Spirit.

As can be seen from this list, the ideas of revelation, a personal God, miracles, heaven, acts of faith, atonement, and personal salvation are all foreign to this belief system. It is all “karma,” the “law of sowing and reaping,” that directs a man’s footsteps. Man chooses his own course.

Braden sites another source to the effect that Blavatsky stated there were some 64,000 mistakes in the Bible. 217

In Perspective

If viewed from a Christian perspective, the idea of matter and spirit being separated and all there is arises from a form of Gnosticism. On the other hand, the “all-in-one, one-in-all” concept of reincarnation smacks of the Eastern concepts, reflecting the influences of the Hindu Blavatsky had contact with while in India. The concept of speaking to spirits for knowledge comes from Spiritism and the world of the occult. There is no Christianity here. This is not a cult, but is a world religion which must be reckoned with. There are roughly 120 theosophical society centers worldwide. There are no membership statistics, so it is unclear how large this group actually is.

Footnotes:
214. William C. Irvine, Heresies Exposed, New York: Loizeaux Brothers, Inc. Bible Truth Depot,1917, 192.
215. Charles S. Braden, These Also Believe, New York: The MacMillan Company, 1949, 228, quoting C. Jinarajadasa, The Golden Book of the Theosophical Society, The Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, India, 1925, 26
216. John H. Gerstner, The Theology of the Major Cults, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1960, 100.
217. Charles S. Braden, These Also Believe, 252.

 

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