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Eastern Religion Cults

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Cults By Rev. Paul Seiler

Eastern Religion Cults

INTRODUCTION

At the present time there are a significant number of people in Australia caught up with and influenced by Eastern religions. This is particularly true of Hinduism and to a lesser extent Buddhism. Over the last century Eastern mysticism has influenced the thinking of many people in the Western world. Helena Blavatsky, the founder of the Theosophical Society, was one of the first people to popularise Hinduism in the West. She established the Theosophical Society in America in the year 1875. Since that time there has been a remarkable growth in the popularity of Eastern mysticism in the Western world. This trend received a tremendous boost with the rise of the rock and roll music group - the Beatles. They became interested in Hinduism and introduced its teachings into a number their songs. They led many young people in the sixties to embrace Eastern religious ideas and beliefs. In the last few decades Hinduism has presented itself in the form of what has become known as the "New Age movement." Its popularity in the Western world coincides with the demise of a Christian world view. The weakness of the present day church, due to liberalism and worldliness, has left a vacuum that Eastern mysticism is filling. The growth of this movement suggests that the church in the West is generally in a poor spiritual condition and is unable to hold its own against such a system of unbelief. The church cannot afford to ignore this movement and it needs to have answers for those who are embracing these Eastern religious cults. As Christians we have a God-given responsibility to evangelise people caught up with the cults. In order to do that effectively we need to know what they believe.

In this portion of the study into the cults the writer will give an account of the principal beliefs and practices of Eastern religious cults operating in Australia today.

THEOSOPHY

Among the Eastern cults operating in Australia today is the Theosophical Society. In this study we shall be considering the historical origin of this cult and its distinctive teachings and practices.

12.1 THE HISTORY OF THEOSOPHICAL CULT

The Theosophical Society was founded by Helena Petrovna. Helena was born in Ekaterinoslav, Russia in 1831, the daughter of Peter Hahn. At the age of seventeen she married the Czarist general, N. B. Blavatsky, who was many years her senior.203 She deserted him after only two months of marriage. As to the reasons for her short marriage, Walter Martin says:

"It is a known fact that Madam was notoriously short of the virtue of patience and had a violent temper. It is asserted by at least one of her biographers that she married General Blavatsky merely to spite her acid-tongued governess, who, in a moment of sarcasm, declared that even the noble old gentleman would not marry a shrew like Helena."204

Shortly after she left her husband, she commenced a life of travel. For the next twenty-five years Helena travelled widely to such places as Paris, London, Greece, the United States, Mexico, Canada, Egypt, Tibet and India.205 It was during these travels that she became interested in Eastern religions. She became particularly interested in spiritism and became a spiritistic medium. After travelling to Tibet, she became convinced that she was under the control of spirits. She believed that spirits were using her to reach the generations now living upon the earth with the restored truths of the great religions of the world, which had been perverted by mankind. In 1875, while in New York, she founded the Theosophical Society, aided by Colonel Olcott, and W.Q. Judge, two ardent devotees.206 In 1879, Helena Blavatsky left the United States for India, and later went to London where in 1888 she founded a school of Theosophy. She died in London in 1891. Helena's principal literary work is entitled: The Secret Doctrine, and is still held in high regard by members of the Theosophical Society.

While Helena was resident in England, she gained a significant follower in Annie Wood Besant. Annie Besant took over the leadership of the Theosophical society when Helena died. Annie Besant was born in England in 1847. She was the daughter of an English minister. She married an Anglican minister, whom she left in 1873. In 1889 she became enthralled by the personality and teaching of Madame Blavatsky, and became one her devout followers. She became a scholar, public speaker, and voluminous writer. Walter Martin says of her:

"Annie Besant was the most prominent of all British Theosophical luminaries, and one destined to become a bright star in the political fortunes of India. Among her many accomplishments, Mrs Besant founded the Central Hindu College at Benares, India, in 1898, and also the Indian Home Rule League in 1916. In the year 1917 she was elected president of the Indian National Congress, and was almost always regarded as a powerful figure in Indian politics."207

In 1925 she made the incredible claim that her adopted son, Krishna-murti, an Indian mystic, was the "Messianic Leader and Reincarnation of the World Teacher."208 It was somewhat embarrassing for Mrs Besant to have her son deny these claims. On the 20th November,1931 he announced that was not the Messiah, and refused to receive further adoration. After this time he played very little part in the Theosophical Society. Mrs Besant died in 1933, but the Theosophical Society has continued; and as we shall learn later, it has had quite an influence upon the teachings of the New Age Movement.

12.2 THEOSOPHISTS' UNDERSTANDING OF GOD.

Theosophists believe that God is impersonal.

Theosophists do not believe in the God who has revealed Himself in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Their god is not the personal God of the Scriptures, but an impersonal force. Note the following statements made by Helen Blavatsky:

Enquirer - "Do you believe in God?"

Theosophist - "That depends upon what you mean by the term."

Enq. - "I mean the God of Christians, the Father of Jesus, and the Creator; the Biblical God of Moses in short."

Theo.- "In such a God we do not believe. We reject the idea of a personal, or an extra-cosmic and anthropomorphic God, who is but the gigantic shadow of man, and not even of man at his best. The God of theology, we say- and prove it- is a bundle of contradictions and logical impossibilities."209

It will be observed by the above quotes that Theosophists do not believe in the God who reveals Himself in Scripture. They do not believe in a personal God who created all things. Their god is the pantheistic god of Hinduism. Pantheism is a view that regards everything as god. Unlike Christians, Theosophists do not make a clear distinction between God and His creation. Pantheists regard everything as god. The Columbia Encyclopedia gives the following explanation of pantheism.

"Pantheism is a name used to denote any system of belief or speculation which includes the teaching "God is all, and all is God." Pantheism in other words identifies the universe with God or God with the universe." 210

The god of the Theosophists is simply an impersonal force - a divine principle. H Blavatsky wrote the following with regard to Theosphosist's understanding of god.

Enq. -"Then are you an atheist?"

Theo.- "Not that we know of, and not unless the epithet of "atheist" is to be applied to all those who disbelieve in an anthropomorphic God. We believe in a Universal Divine Principle, the root of All, from which all proceeds, and within which all shall be absorbed at the end of the great cycle of Being.211"

It is very evident from the above that Mrs Blavatsky and Theosophists are pantheists. They regard everything as being part of the "Universal Divine Principle." L.W Rogers a leading Theosophist wrote the following about their society's understanding of God:

"In divine essence, latent power and potential spirituality, man is the image of God, because he is part of Him. The same idea is more directly put in the Psalms, with the assertion "Ye are Gods". If the idea of the immanence of God is sound, then man is a literal fragment of the consciousness of the supreme Being, is an embryo-god, being destined to ultimate evolve his latent powers into perfect expression. The oneness of life was explicitly asserted by Jesus..... It is an unqualified assertion that humanity is a part of God as leaves are part of the tree, not something the tree has created, in the sense that a man creates a machine, but something that is an emanation of the tree and is a living part of it. Thus, only has God made man. Humanity is a growth, a development, an emanation, an evolutionary expression of the Supreme Being..... It is simplicity itself when we think of the solar system as just an emanation of the Supreme Being, as something generated from a central life, an expression of the life which gives rise to the poles within it that we know as consciousness and matter. The human soul is an individualised fragment of that divine life... is literally a spark of the divine fire, and latent within it are the characteristics of that central light from which originated. The theosophical conception of the soul is that it is literally an emanation from God, and since it is therefore of its own essence, it becomes clear why Theosophists assert that man is a god in the making." 212

From the above statements it is evident that Theosophists have a conception of God far removed from that which is revealed in Scripture. Their god is not the personal, holy, righteous God of the Bible, but a divine principle. They thus see mankind as an extension of this false god. They regard people as simply being extensions of god itself.

Theosophists deny the uniqueness of Jesus Christ.

Theosophists deny Jesus Christ His unique place as the Saviour of the world and the Son of God. They teach that Jesus Christ, was simply one of many "Masters" who have frequented this world in its supposed millions of years of existence. L.W Rogers, says the following about Jesus of Nazareth:

"Most readers will probably agree that a world teacher known as the Christ did come, and that he founded a religion nearly 2,000 years ago. Why do they think so? They reply that God so loved the world that he sent his son the Christ to bring it light and life. If that is true, how can we avoid the conclusion that he or his predecessors, must have come many times before. The belief that he came but once is consistent only with the erroneous notion that Genesis is history, instead of allegory.... when a new era of human evolution begins, a world teacher comes in a voluntary incarnation and founds a religion that is suited to the requirements of the new age. Humanity is never left to grope along alone. All that it can comprehend and utilise is taught in the various religions. World teachers, the christs and saviours of the age, have been appearing at propitious times since humanity began existence..... In the face of such facts, what becomes of the assertion that God so love the world that he sent his son to help ignorant humanity about 2,000 years ago - but never before? What about hundreds of millions of human beings who lived and died before that time? Did he care nothing for them? Did he give his attention to humanity for a period of only 2,000 years and neglect it for millions of years? Has anybody believed that God in his great compassion sent just one world teacher for that brief period..... If God so loved the world that he sent his son 2,000 years ago, he sent him, or some predecessor very many times before. Supermen are not myths, or figments of the imagination. They are as natural and comprehensive as human beings. In the regular order of evolution, we shall ourselves reach their level, and join their rank, while younger humanity shall attain our present state. As they rose, we too shall rise. Our past has been evolution's night. Our present is its dawn. Our future shall be its perfect day..... That is the magnificent future the Theosophist sees for the human race."213

It is perfectly evident from the above quote that Theosophist do not regard Jesus of Nazareth, born in Bethlehem two thousand years ago, as being uniquely the Christ. Their christ is not the Son of God made flesh. Their Christ is a spirit, who has been embodied in many religious leaders through history. Who then is the Christ of the Theosophists? There is only one Christ, and He is Jesus of Nazareth. The Christ of Theosophy is an antichrist. Their religion is a lie and a deception of the devil. As the apostle John said:

"Dear children, this is the last hour and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming even now many antichrists have come." (1John 2:18)

12.3 THEOSOPHISTS DENY THE ATONEMENT.

Theosophists are opposed to the Biblical doctrine of the atonement. L.W. Rogers says the following concerning the Biblical doctrine of the atonement:

"Back of the ancient doctrine of the vicarious atonement is a profound and beautiful truth, but it has been degraded into a teaching that is as selfish as it is false. The natural truth is the sacrifice of the Solar Logos, the Deity of our system. Sacrifice consists of limiting himself in the manner of manifested worlds, and it is reflected in the sacrifice of the Christ and other great teachers. Not the sacrifice of life, but a voluntary returning to live in the confinement of material body. Nobody more than the Theosophist pays to Christ the tribute of the most reverent gratitude; we also hold with St Paul that each must work out his own salvation. Were it not for such sacrifice, the race would be very, very far below its present evolutionary level. The help that such great spiritual beings have given mankind is incalculable, and is undoubtedly altogether beyond what we were able to comprehend. But to assume that such a sacrifice has relieved man from the necessity of developing his spiritual nature, or in any degree nullify his personal responsibility for any evil he has done, is a false and dangerous doctrine..... And true too, we know that any belief that is not in harmony wi tth the facts of life is a wrong belief..... the vital point against this plan of salvation is that it ignores the soul's personal responsibility, and teaches that whatever the offences against God and man have been, they may be cancelled by the simple process of believing that another suffered and died in order that those sins might be forgiven. It is the pernicious doctrine that wrongdoing by one can be set right by the sacrifice of another. It is simply astounding that such belief could have survived the middle ages and should continue to find millions who accept it in these days of clearer thinking. The man who is willing to purchase bliss by the agony of another is unfit for heaven, and could not recognise it if he were there. A heaven that is populated with those who see in the vicarious atonement the happy arrangement letting them in pleasant and easily, would not be worth having. It would be a realm of selfishness, and that would not be heaven at all...... The hypothesis of reincarnation show our inherent divinity, and the method by which the latent becomes the actual. Instead of the ignoble belief that we can fling our sins upon another, it makes personal responsibility the keynote of life. It is the moral code of self-reliance. It is the religion of self-respect." e ne214

It is plainly evident that L. W. Rogers does not like the Biblical teaching that Jesus died in the place of sinners and was bruised for our iniquity. According to Rogers, Jesus' sacrifice was not His death on the cross, but His voluntary taking on human form. Jesus' act of humiliation was His willingness to be returned to the lowly state of flesh and blood. According to this view Jesus was originally a human being who existed at some time in the past and through His efforts graduated to a higher state of existence. His sacrifice is understood to be His willingness to return to the confinements of a human body. So Jesus' sacrifice was not His death on the cross but it was the act of taking on the human form again. Such a view is thoroughly divorced from the teaching of the Bible. For the Bible teaches that Jesus' death on the cross was a sacrifice for our sins. Jesus Christ stood in the place of the elect and died for them. He laid down His life for the sheep. (John 10:15 ) Theosophists reject the Biblical doctrine of the atonement.

12.4 THEOSOPHISTS' BELIEF IN REINCARNATION.

Theosophists, in keeping with Eastern thought, embrace the belief in reincarnation. In order to understand the Theosophist's position on this subject, one must first understand Hinduism. Reincarnation is a prominent idea within Hinduistic belief. In their thinking a person is re-born into this world many times. The person who dies is re-born and lives another life, either on this earth, or in one of several heavens or hells. Hindus believe that a person may be re-born as a human, a vegetable, an animal or as an insect. What kind of life a person is re-born to depends on the law of Karma. If a person has lived a good life they will go up the grade and be born in a better position than their former existence. If, on the other hand, they have lived a bad life they will come back in a worse situation. The most desirable outcome of death, from the Hindu point of view, would be absorption of the human personality into Brahama.215 The Theosophical Society follows the Hindu doctrine of reincarnation in emphasising the law of Karma.216 Like Hindus they believe that people go through countless reincarnations, the purpose of which is to bring them back to God. Man is regarded as a "Divine Fragment," an emanation of God, whose ultimate destiny is to return to God. Theosophists do not believe that our human personality will always exist, but believe that ultimately our spirits will be absorbed back into the impersonal God from which we emanated. The purpose of the many reincarnations that an individual experiences is to enable that person to be re-absorbed back into God. Theosophists differ from Hindus in their doctrine of reincarnation in one respec t, in that unlike Hindus they believe that people are only re-born as people. They believe that there are different intervals between reincarnations. The normal interval between one life and another varies from a few score years in the case of an undeveloped soul, to twenty centuries or even more in the case of a far advanced type. It is held that you can improve your position, and decrease the amount of reincarnations you have to go through by the practice of yoga. Theosophists also have a doctrine of hell. They believe that some people, in the intermediate state between re-incarnations, go to a place called "Kamaloka." Their hell is not unlike Roman Catholic purgatory. It is a place where the atmosphere is gloomy and dreary; and it is a place of indescribable tortures and degrees of degradation.217

12.5 THEOSOPHISTS' BELIEF IN THE MAHATMAS.

Another important aspect of Theosophical belief is the existence of Mahatmas. Mahatmas parade also under the names of 'Masters,' 'Adepts,' and 'Initiates'. Mrs Blatvatsky said with regards to them:

Enq. "But what does the word Mahatma really mean?"

Theo. "Simply "great soul" - great through moral elevation and intellectual attainment. If the title of great is given to a drunken soldier like Alexander, why should we not call those great who have achieved far greater conquests in Nature's secrets than Alexander ever did on the field of battle? Beside, the term is an Indian and very old word."

Enq. - "And why do you call them "Masters"?"

Theo. - "We call them "Masters" because they are our teachers; and because from them we have derived all the Theosophical truths, however inadequately some of us may have expressed, and others understood them. They are men of great learning, and still greater holiness of life, whom we term Initiates. They are not ascetics in the ordinary sense, though they certainly remain apart for the turmoil and strife of your Western world."218

According to Theosophists, Mahatmas are spirits, who are the finished products of human evolution. They have successfully reached the pinnacle of evolution and are ready to be absorbed into God. However, they refrain from doing so in order to supervise human evolution. Theosophists believe that these spirit-like creatures live in Tibet, and periodically become incarnate in the bodies of Theosophists. They will only enter a person when he or she has achieved a certain level of evolution. According to Theosophist there is one supreme Mahatma, who is above all others. When he becomes incarnated, we shall have a christ among us. Annie Besant referred to him as the Logos. She says:

"When we think of the Logos as the Self of all, we think of him as One, as the Lord of the world and of humans. The highest Logos, we have heard, is One who has climbed the ladder of Being until he can hold his centre of consciousness, himself unparalysed and fully conscious, amid the mighty vibrations of the Great Life. Coming into manifestation, he limits himself to be the channel of that One Life to an universe.........The Logos has been human in an incalculable past, and has risen through every phase of superhuman being to the highest level of conditioned existence. Hence, he can condition himself at any point of such existence. When for some gracious purpose he thus takes on the human condition and is born into one his worlds, we call him an Avatara, a God-man. He lives again as a human on some globe, but the glory of Deity shines through him, and He is Emmanuel, God with us."219

According to Theosophist this great Mahatma has been incarnate many times in history. He was incarnate in Buddha, in Hermes, in Orpheus, in Zoroaster, and also in Jesus of Nazareth. They believe that Jesus surrendered his body to this world teacher, at His baptism. Theosophist expect that he will become incarnate in another individual very soon. They are expecting an imminent return of this christ, but not in the sense that Christians wait the second coming of Christ. The particular task of the coming Messiah will be "again to strike the keynote of a new civilisation, gathering all the religions of the world under that supreme teaching of His own. It is believed that each time the supreme teacher becomes incarnate, he contributes to the human race, not the totality of his divine knowledge (which would be "crushing") but as much as the race can bear at that state of its evolution. This is important, because as you will learn later when you study the New Age movement, this is an important aspect of New Age teaching.

12.6 THEOSOPHISTS' BELIEVE THAT ALL RELIGIONS ARE ONE.

The Theosophical Society believes that all religions are an expression of truth. It makes no demands of absolute allegiance to any religion or religious leader, and is resolutely opposed to any form of dogmatism. Note the following quote from the Theosophical Society:

The Theosophical Society maintains that it has three primary objectives which are: (1.) to form a nucleus of the brotherhood of humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or colour; (2.) to encourage the study of comparative religions through philosophy and science; (3.) to investigate the unexplained laws of nature, and the first of these objectives is required of membership; the remaining two are optional. The Society has no dogmas or creed, is entirely non-sectarian and include in its membership adherents of all faiths and of none, exacting from each member only his tolerance for the beliefs of others that he would wish them to exhibit toward his own.220

The premise of Theosophy that all religions are one is absolutely contrary to Scripture. Jesus said: "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but by Me". Theosophy is a lie, for it teaches that Buddha and other false Messiahs were actually other appearances of the same Christ in whom Christians believe. This is a lie, straight from the father of lies.

12.7 THEOSOPHY IN LIGHT OF THE SCRIPTURES.

It is plainly evident that the teachings of Theosophy are clearly contrary to the Scriptures. Their god is not the God of the Bible, but an impersonal force. Their god is not the personal, holy, loving God of the Bible, who loved this world so much that He gave His only begotten Son to die on a cross in order to redeem it. Their christ is not the Christ of the Bible, but a Mahatma who entered Jesus at His baptism. Their doctrine reincarnation is contrary to the teaching of the Bible, and represents a salvation based on human merit.

Theosophy is one of the clever lies of the devil to deceive people into believing a lie. Its demonic nature becomes very evident when you consider its history. Madame Blavatsky and other prominent Theosophists were led to their doctrines by their spirit guides - by their Mahatmas. Who are these Mahatmas? They are evil spirits, who like their master, Satan, seek to deceive people into believing a lie.

203Walter Martin The Kingdom of the Cults op cit p.224

204ibid p.224

205ibid p.224

206ibid p.224

207ibid p.224

208ibid p.225

209Helena Blavatsky The Key to Theosophy The Theosophical Publishing House Wheaton Ill USA 1953, p.51

210The Columbia Encyclopedia Columbia University Press, New York & London, p.1594

211Helena Blavatsky op cit p.51

212ibid p.226 (Quoted from Theosophical Publication - Elementary Theosophy by L W Rodgers

213ibid p.227

214ibid pp.229,230

215Johannes Vos A Christian Introduction to Religions of the World, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids Michigan, 1965, pp.34,35

216Maruice C Burell & J Stafford Wright op cit p.95

217Walter Martin Kingdom of the Cults op cit p.224

218Helena Blavatsky op cit p.226

219Annie Besant The Spiritual Life Quest Books Wheaton Ill. U.S.A 1991, p.126

220ibid p.226

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 August 2010 12:44  

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