Reincarnation and Christianity

Christianity and Reincarnation

Here in the West, the greatest opposition to reincarnation in the world of religion is posed by Christians and Christianity, although every year marks an increase in the percentage of Christians who admit to believing in it.

The fact is that reincarnation need no longer merely be a matter of belief, for as we have said in the article Being Sensible about Past Lives:

“In recent decades, meticulous scientific and analytical research, such as that of Dr. Ian Stevenson and now his successor Dr. Jim Tucker, has provided masses of extremely compelling and otherwise inexplicable evidence that reincarnation is real. The thoroughly documented findings and conclusions of such respected professionals as Stevenson, backed up as they are with masses of unquestionable evidence, can of course not be explained by materialistic science but nor can they be explained away. They all point to one and only possible explanation and conclusion, namely that the Wisdom of the Ages has always been correct in asserting that reincarnation not only can happen but that it does happen, as a matter of course.”

Several years ago a religious and scientific debate regarding reincarnation took place on British television, in which a black-robed Bishop informed representatives of Hinduism, Buddhism, and the scientific world that he was unable to explain or account for the facts and data that they were presenting but that he knew that they were all completely mistaken, simply on the grounds that “Reincarnation isn’t in the Bible and isn’t a doctrine of the Christian Church.”

But as has been remarked elsewhere on this site, the truth about Christianity is entirely different from what the vast majority of Christians believe or are even willing to believe. There is no group of religionists more profoundly ignorant of the history, background, and vital facts of their own religion than Christians.

In his book “Reincarnation in Christianity,” the respected Anglican priest Professor Geddes MacGregor wrote, “Reincarnation is one of the most fascinating ideas in the history of religion, as it is also one of the most recurrent themes in the literature of the world. It is widely assumed to be foreign to the Christian heritage, and especially alien to the Hebrew roots of biblical thought. That assumption is questionable. … It has persistently cropped up in various crannies along the Christian Way, from the earliest times down to the present. It has also flourished in Judaism. Wherever western thinkers have learned to love the Christian Way well enough to strip off dead dogma without destroying living tissue, it has found a place in the Church’s life.”

In a later book titled “Reincarnation as a Christian Hope,” the same author says, “I am immensely sympathetic to those of my fellow Christians who suspect reincarnationism as one of the extraneous weeds that has no place in the ongoing life of the Church … as ill-fitting as a pagoda atop a Gothic church. … Nevertheless, I believe their fears on this particular score to be entirely unwarranted. Dangers, however, do abound; not all forms of reincarnationism are compatible with an authentic Christian hope. That is why I stress so much the necessity of seeing in what form reincarnationism can properly be christened.”

Indeed, many commonly held beliefs and ideas regarding reincarnation are based on little more than superstition and misunderstanding. The purpose and cause of reincarnation is often not understood; the nature of soul and spirit are often inexcusably muddled and confused; the soul and the present personality are often naively assumed to be more or less identical in essence; the misleading notion that reincarnation occurs immediately after death prevails amongst many; and – perhaps worst of all – the idea that humans can reincarnate as animals, trees, plants, stones, etc. still has adherents.

The teaching of reincarnation as presented in Theosophy is free of such superstitions and false assumptions and provides the clearest, deepest, fullest, most logical, and most philosophically self-consistent explanation of this doctrine that is available to modern man. It was actually the Theosophical Movement which introduced, or rather reintroduced, the concept and awareness of reincarnation to the Western world, at the end of the 19th century. What has been written on this subject by H.P. Blavatsky and William Quan Judge, co-founders of the Movement, deserves serious study.

Whilst many Christians do indeed view reincarnationism as something “as ill-fitting as a pagoda atop a Gothic church,” this is most unwarranted. Reincarnation is not solely an Eastern teaching, as has often been thought, but has thrived in all parts of the Western world at various periods in history. The teachings of Pythagoras, Plato, and Plotinus, are just a few of the more notable examples of Western philosophies in which the concept of reincarnation was taught and promoted.

Hinduism is the world’s oldest religion and so from the perspective of antiquity and historical chronology it is true to say that the teaching of reincarnation “originates in Hinduism,” yet reincarnation occurs all around the world and not just for Indians and thus is a universal teaching rather than an Eastern teaching. It is the case, however, that the people of the East accept and understand these things far more readily and easily than the people of the West, something for which the largely unphilosophical and illogical religion of Christianity is chiefly to blame.

Many of our Christian readers may be interested – or perhaps shocked, puzzled, and appalled – to learn that belief in reincarnation was quite widespread amongst Christians during the first few centuries of Christianity. Quite a number of the leading figures and “Fathers” in the early Christian Church supported and promoted the belief and many of these highly respected and influential individuals were followers of the philosophies of Platonism and Neo-Platonism, the latter of which was very popular at the time.

Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, who lived from 354-430 AD, once wrote, “The message of Plato, the purest and most luminous in all philosophy, has at last scattered the darkness of error, and now shines forth mainly in Plotinus, a Platonist so like his master that one would think they lived together, or rather – since so long a period of time separates them – that Plato is born again in Plotinus.” (Augustine, “Contra Academicos”)

Plotinus was the most influential figure amongst the Neo-Platonists, the “Eclectic Philosophical School” that had been founded by Ammonius Saccas, of whom Clement of Alexandria and Athenagoras (two important Church Fathers) were immediate disciples. The Neo-Platonists never actually referred to themselves as Neo-Platonists, nor to their teachings as Neo-Platonism, since this term was coined over a thousand years later by scholars as a convenient means by which to describe and identify them. They in fact referred to themselves as “Theosophists” and were also known as the “Philaletheans,” meaning “Lovers of Truth.” Some of the most well known and influential of these Lovers of Truth after Ammonius and Plotinus were Porphyry, Iamblichus, Proclus, Cassius Longinus, and the young female philosopher Hypatia.

The information in the preceding few paragraphs should be enough to indicate that early Christianity was in fact something very different from the Christianity of today. As H.P. Blavatsky once remarked, the Christianity of the Apostles was as profoundly and extremely different from the Christianity of the Middle Ages as the Christianity of the present day is from that of both!

Those who believe that Pentecostal or Charismatic Christianity is a return to the original Christianity of the early Church are certainly sincere but they are sincerely wrong. It must be remembered that the Gospels are proven beyond all doubt to have never been written by the actual Apostles and disciples of Jesus themselves but are instead the work of monks and theologians of later centuries. Besides this, the number of deliberate mistranslations, alterations, interpolations, and falsifications in the Christian scriptures is not only immense and spread out over the course of many centuries but it is proven. Many of the most important doctrines of Christianity today were entirely unknown to the early Christians, the doctrine of vicarious atonement – salvation through the blood of Jesus – included. Our article Blavatsky on Vicarious Atonement deals to some extent with this matter.

Whilst some Christians are likely to object strongly to the above and threaten us with all the torments of eternal hellfire, we would like to calmly clarify in advance that we would rather burn in hell for telling the truth than go to heaven for believing a lie.

But the precedent for the various degrees of aggressive and vicious behaviour that may be found amongst many branches of the Christian Church at large was set long ago, for it was not all the early Fathers who supported the belief in reincarnation and other aspects of Platonic philosophy. Madame Blavatsky informs us in the second volume of her first book “Isis Unveiled” that by the 5th century AD “The dispersion of the Eclectic school had become the fondest hope of the Christians. It had been looked for and contemplated with intense anxiety. It was finally achieved. The members were scattered by the hand of the monsters Theophilus, Bishop of Alexandria, and his nephew Cyril – the murderer of the young, the learned, and the innocent Hypatia!”

The brutal murder of Hypatia, “soon become an unrecognizable mass of flesh and blood, pounded to jelly under the blows of the club of Peter the Reader … her youthful, innocent body cut to pieces, “the flesh scraped from the bones,” by oyster-shells and the rest of her cast into the fire, by order of the same Bishop Cyril” – marked the setting of the sun of Neo-Platonism and the beginning of the Dark Ages, a period in which the majority of the Western world was plunged into mental and spiritual darkness through the enforcement of ignorance, falsehood, and fear by the Christian Church, which today reveres the man who orchestrated Hypatia’s murder (and who was also a proven thief and fraud) as one of the first and greatest “Saints” of Christianity.

At the Second Council of Constantinople in 553 AD, all doctrines present in the Christian Church which were in any way suggestive of reincarnation and karma were officially repudiated and declared heretical, with the curse of damnation explicitly threatened as the penalty for holding to such beliefs. As Sylvia Cranston says in her book “Reincarnation: The Phoenix Fire Mystery,” “These curses brought in their wake serious consequences affecting for many centuries the life and thoughts of millions in the West.”

So the aforementioned Bishop on the television programme may have been correct in saying that reincarnation isn’t a doctrine of the Christian Church but was he as correct in his assertion that reincarnation isn’t in the Christian Bible? Let us briefly consider four points which would suggest otherwise…

#1. In John 9:1-2, the Bible states that “as Jesus passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” ”

This clearly shows that the disciples had two possibilities in their minds as to the cause of the man being born without the sense of sight, “ – either he had sinned before he came into incarnation, suggesting that he lived previously, or his parents had themselves been guilty of some transgression. That the idea of preexistence and possible reincarnations had entered the minds of the disciples appears to indicate it was a prevalent theory among the Jews of the time. It has been suggested that, because it was so well known, Jesus felt no need to make a special point of teaching it. Now, how did Jesus respond to the question? He said only that the man was afflicted because he was destined through Christ to have his sight restored in a miraculous way, so that “the works of God should be made manifest in him.” It is not known how Jesus would explain the cause of blindness in other cases where no supernatural healing is involved. In each generation, there are thousands of children born blind. What explanation would he offer?” (Sylvia Cranston, “Reincarnation – A New Horizon in Science, Religion, and Society”)

As Cranston added, this was the perfect opportunity for Jesus “to condemn reincarnation and warn all Christians it was untrue or pernicious, but he did not.” He simply informed the disciples that in this particular case the man had been born blind for this particular reason. No-one can be blamed, however, for rejecting or disbelieving the explanation attributed to Jesus, since it makes of God a cruel, callous, glory-seeking monster.

#2. To quote again from “Reincarnation – A New Horizon”: “In the ninth century B.C. the prophet Elijah is believed to have lived. According to scripture, when his time came to die, a fiery chariot appeared with horses of fire and Elijah went up in a whirlwind to heaven and was seen no more (II Kings 2:11). Four centuries later, Malachi recorded in the closing lines of the Old Testament, this prophecy made by God: “Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes” (Mal. 4:5). To the Jewish people this meant that, before their much-looked-for Messiah would appear, the signal of his coming would be the return of Elijah. Then, with the appearance of the Messiah, “the terrible day of the Lord,” or the last judgment would take place. Because the disciples of Jesus identified Christ as the Messiah, they naturally believed the prophecy recorded by Malachi should apply to him. But where was the forerunner? Where was the returned Elijah? So they asked Jesus to explain this. He made the astonishing reply that Elijah had already returned, that he had come back as John the Baptist.”

The notion that “John the Baptist is Elijah come again” is found expressed by Jesus in two separate situations in the Gospels, the first being portrayed in Matthew 11:2-15 and the second in both Matthew 17:10-13 and Mark 9:9-13.

In the first, we find Jesus speaking “to the crowds concerning John” and telling them that “if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear let him hear.” The Gospels show Jesus uttering the phrase “He who has ears to hear let him hear” several times and always to indicate that what he had been talking about at that moment was deserving of deeper reflection or that it possessed an inner meaning. These words, says Cranston, “are repeated several times in the Gospels, but the first time they appear is in this passage. How many millions over the centuries have read the message but have not heard?”

In the second instance, the disciples ask Jesus, “Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” whereupon Jesus replies, “Elijah does come, and he is to restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not know him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will suffer at their hands.” The Gospels inform us that the disciples then understood “that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.”

The inference is clear: The prophet Elijah had returned as John the Baptist, John was not recognised as such and was thus persecuted and beheaded, and a similar violent fate awaited Jesus himself. Many Christians appeal to the rather ambiguous statement attributed to an angel in Luke 1:13-17 that John the Baptist would live and work “in the spirit and power of Elijah” as proof that John was merely under the heavenly influence of Elijah or functioning “in Elijah’s anointing,” rather than actually being Elijah reincarnated. But which do you rate more highly? The ambiguous declaration of an angel or the clear and definite statement of the one you believe to be the only begotten Son of God: “This is Elijah. … He who has ears to hear let him hear.”

In his article “Christian Metempsychosis,” the late Francis Bowen of Harvard University wrote, “That the commentators have not been willing to receive, in their obvious and literal meaning, assertions so direct and so frequently repeated as these, but have attempted to explain them away in a non-natural and metaphorical sense, is a fact that proves nothing but the existence of an invincible prejudice against the doctrine of the transmigration of souls.”

Thankfully this prejudice on the part of many Christians is becoming less and less “invincible” as time goes on and as the truth, logic, philosophy, justice, and fact of reincarnation or re-embodiment become more and more apparent and undeniable.

#3. The passages found in Matthew 16:13, Mark 8:27-28, and Luke 9:18-19, all show that the people – or the people of “the district of Caesarea Philippi” at least – were of the opinion that Jesus was Elijah, Jeremiah, or another of the great Old Testament prophets, returned to Earth.

Sylvia Cranston writes, “Here Jesus does not again identify John the Baptist as Elijah but, from the question he asks [“Who do men say that I the Son of man am?”] and the reply of the disciples, it is evident that the people of the time were not only expecting Elijah to return but other of their great prophets. … In these three selections, there is no intimation that reincarnation was regarded as unusual or extraordinary. It seems to be taken for granted, the sole point of concern being the identity of the individual who was reborn. The reasoning seems to be that, if an individual was a seer, an inspired religious person, he must have been the return of a prophet that lived before.”

Those who have read Cranston’s excellent and highly recommended book will know from its twelfth chapter, titled “Judaic Teachers and Prophets,” that contrary to popular belief and pervasive misunderstanding there was a time “when rebirth was the dominant outlook in Judaism” and that the Jewish belief in “Gilgul,” their name for reincarnation, predated the Christian era. Thus it should be of little surprise to us if those various passages mentioned above are indeed referring to reincarnation, the periodical return of the soul to the physical plane in a successive series of bodies.

#4. It is clearly stated in the Gospels by Jesus himself that he had an esoteric teaching as well as an exoteric teaching. In the fourth chapter of Mark’s Gospel he relates a parable to the masses, concluding it with that mystic phrase mentioned a moment ago – “He who has ears to hear let him hear.” The disciples then ask him about this parable, to which he responds, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand.” (Mark 4:11)

So Jesus’ trusted disciples were apparently permitted by him to receive a secret teaching, a significantly deeper explanation of things, a doctrine which the King James Version of the Bible calls “the Mystery of the Kingdom of God,” and which was deemed unsuitable for the masses or the masses unsuitable for it. All but those few disciples were deemed to be “outside.” Outside what? Outside the esoteric circle of the Middle Eastern Initiate who most Westerners call “Jesus.” That which he taught the general public was sufficient to enable them to “indeed see” and “hear” but not to “perceive” and “understand,” presumably because he saw that they were not sufficiently inwardly advanced or spiritually ready to be able to receive those deeper and more profound teachings which could bring about true perception and understanding.

Later in that chapter, in Mark 4:33-34, we may read that “With many such parables he spoke the word to [the multitudes] as they were able to hear it, he did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.” But did he really explain everything? In John 16:12 he is portrayed as telling his disciples, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.”

And as well as all that, we are informed at the very close of John’s Gospel that “There were also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them written, I suppose the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” Despite the obvious exaggeration in the latter part of the verse, this should indicate to Christians that on the authority of the Gospels themselves those Gospels should not necessarily be considered as being conclusive, final, or “the last word” about the life and activities of Jesus. If there were “many other things which Jesus did,” there must of necessity have also been many other things which Jesus said, unless we are to assume that he remained perfectly silent whilst doing all those “other things.”

The Bible does not include those esoteric teachings imparted privately by Jesus to his chosen disciples. It does, however, present many of Jesus’ parables but as he himself says in the Gospels, the parables only allow the listener to see and hear, not to truly perceive and understand. Sylvia Cranston said in regard to these matters that “All the foregoing leads to one conclusion: In the New Testament, we do not have all that Jesus knew, or all that he taught to his disciples. Consequently, it would be unwise to insist that only those things are true that may be found in the Bible, and that one is not permitted to investigate further.”

Closed-minded and wilfully ignorant bigots like to maintain that their fellow Christians should never trust and ideally never even read any other scriptures than the Bible and that they should view all non-Biblical sources regarding the life and teachings of Jesus as automatically false, evil, or – that favourite, fear-instilling, mind-controlling phrase – “lies of the devil.” As they have no sound Biblical basis whatsoever for such an attitude and perspective, we sincerely hope that any of our Christian readers who may have read this far are beyond being affected or shaken by such psychologically malicious fear tactics, which serve no other purpose than to keep people in ignorance and obedience.

The fact is that there are numerous documents or scriptures in existence, belonging to an ancient tradition known as Gnostic Christianity, these Gnostics claiming “to be in possession of genuine apostical traditions, deriving their doctrines, some from Saint Paul, others from Saint Peter, and others again from Thomas, Philip, and Matthew,” these being secret teachings “professed to have been received by oral tradition” but some based on “alleged writings of the apostles themselves or their disciples.” (Smith and Wace, “Dictionary of Christian Biography”)

Geddes MacGregor, from whom we quoted right at the start of this article, wrote that “Gnosticism was a far more powerful force in the background of Christianity than formerly supposed. … No longer can anyone suppose, as was customary fifty years ago, that the Gnostic movement that troubled the church in the second century can be dismissed as a mere ideological oddity, the creation of wild and fuzzy-minded deviants.” Christian Gnosticism was not a Church, nor a Church within the Church, but was, he says, “a climate of thought: an extremely pervasive one. It encouraged going beyond the symbols of popular religion to truths Gnostic teachers said were to be found underlying them. Transmigrationism found ready hospitality in such a climate.”

The Christian Gnostic teachings affirm and even specifically teach reincarnation. What is more, many of them have a distinctly Eastern style about them, with flavourings of Hindu and Buddhist esotericism. Many of these teachings purport to be representative of those private or secret teachings given by Jesus to his disciples. If those secret teachings of Jesus, expounding “The Mystery of the Kingdom of God,” are to be found anywhere, it is in these Gnostic Gospels, the majority of which have only recently been unearthed, “unearthed” being exactly the right term to use!

Sylvia Cranston writes, “That the views of the Gnostics were grossly distorted by the church – their bitterest theological enemy – is now well known. Furthermore, all Gnostic treatises that could be found were destroyed, and the views of their authors, it was hoped, were silenced forever. Professor Elaine Pagels notes in her renowned work, The Gnostic Gospels, that “the efforts of the majority to destroy every trace of heretical ‘blasphemy’ proved so successful that, until the discoveries at Nag Hammadi, nearly all our information concerning alternate forms of early Christianity came from the massive attacks upon them.” Hence MacGregor adds, “the reputation of the Christian Gnostics has turned whole generations of people against the very word gnosis as if the term were plague-infested.” One of the chief reasons for antagonism against Christian Gnosticism was its independence from such theological authorities as popes or bishops.”

Another reason for the distrust and hatred of the Gnostics by many leaders of the established Church was that the Gnostics considered men and women to be equal and treated them as such, something which is still often not the case in the Christian Church at large. They also had no priestly hierarchy and made no distinction of superiority or inferiority amongst adherents. Quite a number of the Church Fathers were themselves influenced by Gnosticism, as well as by Platonist and Neo-Platonist concepts and ideologies, but those in the Church who sought personal and organisational power were not at all happy with this and things eventually reached the point where “the death penalty was often exacted for being a Gnostic” (Cranston).

The word “gnostic” literally means “knower” or “one who knows,” just as the well known term “agnostic” means “one who does not know.” There were, however, numerous forms of Christian Gnosticism, from the Basilideans to the Valentinians to the Ophites, Marcionites, Marcosians, Adamites, and others besides.

In “Reincarnation – A New Horizon in Science, Religion, and Society” Sylvia Cranston informs us of the following, under the sub-heading of “Story of the Discovery of Long-Lost Gnostic Manuscripts”…

“In 1945, on a cliff near Nag Hammadi, a town on the Nile about 300 miles from Cairo, an Arab farmer named Muhammad Ali, in company with his brothers, made an astonishing discovery. Dismounting from their camels, they sought to obtain special soil to fertilize their crops and, digging around a massive boulder in an old Coptic cemetery, hit a red earthenware jar almost three feet high. Muhammad hesitated to break the jar, imagining a jinn, or spirit, might reside therein. But, thinking it might contain gold, he smashed it, only to be disappointed to find thirteen books bound in leather plus a mass of loose papyrus manuscript sheets. Returning home, he dumped it all by the oven, and his mother used many of the loose sheets to kindle the fire.

“How the books finally came to the attention of the authorities in Egypt – and of scholars around the globe – is a story of high drama, excitement, intrigue, and, in the Christian academic world, jealous battles for who would be first. What Muhammad unearthed proved more precious than a carload of gold – fifty-two papyrus Gnostic texts, including gospels and various secret writings, some dating from the beginning of the Christian era, the period when the New Testament Gospels themselves were written. They were Coptic copies made some 1,500 years ago of original Greek documents.

“It is believed they were buried by nearby Christian Coptic priests during one of the purges against the Gnostics. The American Scholar (Summer 1980) said that “the disappearance of the Gnostic literature is not hard to explain. By the time of Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons about AD 180, Gnosticism had already been branded a heresy, and the Roman church worked diligently to suppress it. After the conversion of Constantine, the church militant had the power of the State behind it, and the suppression became highly efficient. In a literary religion, the most effective way to extinguish nonconforming ideas is by burning books.” …”

Many of these texts have now been translated into English and in 2008 an 864 page book was published and made available for purchase online at a very affordable price, titled “The Nag Hammadi Scriptures – The Revised and Updated Translation of Sacred Gnostic Texts, Complete in One Volume.” It includes The Secret Book of James, The Gospel of Truth, The Treatise on Resurrection, The Secret Book of John, The Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Philip, On The Origin of the World, Exegesis on the Soul, The Book of Thomas, The Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit, The Wisdom of Jesus Christ, The Dialogue of the Savior, The Revelation of Paul, The Revelation of Peter, The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles, The Gospel of Mary, The Gospel of Judas, The Testimony of Truth, and The Interpretation of Knowledge, to name but a few.

Another important Gnostic scripture, the Valentinian “Pistis Sophia”, had already been discovered in Victorian times and was first translated into English by the Theosophist G.R.S. Mead, secretary to H.P. Blavatsky. Of all the Gnostic Gospels currently known to us, the Pistis Sophia is probably the one in which Jesus places the most repeated emphasis on the teaching of reincarnation.

Elaine Pagels, in her book “The Gnostic Gospels,” adds that “even the 52 writings discovered at Nag Hammadi offer only a glimpse of the complexity of the early Christian movement. We begin to see that what we call Christianity – and what we identify as Christian tradition – actually represents only a small selection of specific sources, chosen from among dozens of others.”

And how can the Christians of today insist that the doctrines, scriptures, and traditions to which they adhere are automatically the right ones, just because they happen to be the officially endorsed ones? This is equivalent to maintaining that the theological officials of the Christian Church who happened to make such decisions and endorsements several hundred years after the founding of Christianity must be viewed as infallible…and what we know about these individuals from a myriad of historical sources show that they were far from being infallible and in many cases were extremely fallible, to put it politely. As we said earlier, the truth about Christianity is entirely different from what the vast majority of Christians believe or are even willing to believe. Whether this article will make any difference in this regard remains to be seen.

Pagels continues, “When Muhammed Ali smashed the jar filled with papyrus on the cliff near Nag Hammadi and was disappointed not to find gold, he could not have imagined the implications of his accidental find. Had they been discovered 1,000 years earlier, the gnostic texts almost certainly would have been burned for their heresy. But they remained hidden until the twentieth century, when our own cultural experience has given us a new perspective on the issues they raise. Today we read them with different eyes, not merely as ‘madness and blasphemy’ but as Christians in the first centuries experienced them – a powerful alternative to what we know as orthodox Christian tradition. Only now are we beginning to consider the questions with which they confront us.”

But was it really an “accidental find”? 68 years earlier, in 1877, H.P. Blavatsky had written the following in the chapter titled “The Church: Where Is It?” in the second volume of “Isis Unveiled”…

“In their insatiable desire to extend the dominion of blind faith, the early architects of Christian theology had been forced to conceal, as much as it was possible, the true sources of the same. To this end they are said to have burned or otherwise destroyed all the original manuscripts on the Kabala, magic, and occult sciences upon which they could lay their hands. They ignorantly supposed that the most dangerous writings of this class had perished with the last Gnostic; but some day they may discover their mistake. Other authentic and as important documents will perhaps reappear in a “most unexpected and almost miraculous manner.” … One of the most surprising facts that have come under our observation, is that students of profound research should not couple the frequent recurrence of these “unexpected and almost miraculous” discoveries of important documents, at the most opportune moments, with a premeditated design. Is it so strange that the custodians of “Pagan” lore, seeing that the proper moment had arrived, should cause the needed document, book, or relic to fall as if by accident in the right man’s way?

Theosophy maintains that there is an Esoteric Teaching or Secret Doctrine which underlies all the world’s religions and that Gnosticism is one expression of this. It also maintains that there is a hidden Esoteric Brotherhood which guides and watches over the spiritual evolution and advancement of humanity. For Theosophists, the discovery and literal unearthing after one and a half millennia – in 1945, the very year the Second World War drew to a close – of these Gnostic Gospels was no accident, coincidence, or chance occurrence at all. Everything happens at the right time. Everything proceeds according to the Law of Karma. And according to Theosophy, every religion has its Karma, just like every individual soul.

Even Geddes MacGregor seems to acknowledge this, in saying that “We find over and over again the reincarnationist motif asserting itself just at those junctures in human history in which the institutional element in religion has become stultifying and the need for spiritualization enters. This indeed may be one of those periods in the long story of humanity.”

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SOME RELATED ARTICLES: A Right Understanding of Reincarnation, Being Sensible about Past Lives, A Right Understanding of Karma, Questions about Karma, 12 Things Theosophy Teaches, The Difference between Soul and Spirit, The Sevenfold Nature of Man, Theosophy on Jesus, Kabbalah: The Mystical Side of JudaismBlavatsky on Vicarious Atonement, Blavatsky on – Hell and Christianity, Greetings from “Lucifer” to the Archbishop of Canterbury!, Responding to Lies about H.P. Blavatsky, Praise for H.P. Blavatsky and Theosophy, Who was William Quan Judge?, The Masters and Madame Blavatsky, and An Invitation to The Secret Doctrine.

The late Sylvia Cranston (real name Anita Atkins) was a student of Theosophy and author of some of the most influential and respected books ever written on the subject of reincarnation as well as the definitive biography “HPB: The Extraordinary Life and Influence of Helena Blavatsky.” A brief but interesting overview of her life and work can be read by clicking here.