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From Bethlehem to Calvary - Chapter Five - The Fourth Initiation - The Crucifixion

When the Church lays its emphasis upon the living Christ, and when it recognizes that its forms and ceremonies, its festivals and rituals are inherited from a very ancient past, we shall then have the emergence of a new religion which will be as much divorced from form and the past as the kingdom of God is divorced from matter and the body nature. Orthodox religion, as a whole, can be regarded as cross upon which we have crucified Christ; it has served its purpose as the custodian of the ages and the preserver of ancient forms, but it must enter into new life and pass through the resurrection if it is to meet the need of the deeply spiritual humanity of today. "Nations, like individuals," we are told, "are made, not only by what they acquire but by what they resign, and this is true also of religion at this time." (The Supreme Spiritual Ideal, by Sir Radhakrishnan, Hibbert Journal, October 1936.) Its form must be sacrificed upon the Cross of Christ in order that it may be resurrected into true and vital life for the meeting of the people's need. Let a living Christ be its theme, and not a dying Savior. Christ has died. About that let there be no mistake. The Christ of history passed through the gates of death for us. The cosmic [189] Christ its still dying upon the Cross of Matter. There He hangs fixed until the last weary pilgrim shall find his way home. (The Secret Doctrin, Vol. I, p. 229.) The planetary Christ, the life of the four kingdoms of nature, has been crucified on the four arms of the planetary Cross down the ages. But the end of this period of crucifixion is close upon us. Mankind can descend from the cross as Christ did, and enter into the kingdom of God, a living spirit. The sons of God are ready to be manifested. Today as never before:

"The Spirit Himself bears witness with our own spirits that we are children of God; and if children, then heirs too - heirs of God and coheirs with Christ; if indeed we share Christ's sufferings, in order to share also His glory...

"All creation is yearning, longing to see the manifestation of the sons of God. For the Creation was made subject to futility, not of its own choice, but by the will of Him who so subjected it; yet with the hope that at last the Creation itself would be set free from the thralldom of decay to enjoy the liberty that comes with the glory of the children of God.

"For we know that the whole of Creation is moaning in the pangs of childbirth until this hour. And more than that, we ourselves, though we possess the Spirit as a foretaste of bliss, yet we ourselves moan as we wait for full sonship in the redemption of our bodies."

- Romans, VIII, 16-24, Weymouth's Translation.

Towards this glorification of God we are all moving. Some of the sons of men have already achieved, through the realization of their divinity.

It is of interest to note how the two great branches of orthodox Christianity, the Eastern, as expressed through the Greek Church, and the Western, as expressed through the Roman Catholic and the Protestant Churches, have preserved two great concepts which the spirit of the race needed on its great evolutionary journey away from God and back to God. The Greek Church has always emphasized the [190] risen Christ. The West has emphasized the crucified Savior. Eastern Christianity looks to the resurrection as its pivotal teaching.

The need of a death unto things material, the tendency of man to sin and to forget God, and the necessity for a change of heart or of intention have been the contribution of Western Christianity to the religious beliefs in the world. But we have been so preoccupied with the subject of sin that we have forgotten our divinity; and we have been so intensely individual in our consciousness that we have depicted a Savior Who gave His life for us as individuals, believing that had He never died we could never enter heaven. On these truths the Eastern Christian has placed little emphasis, stressing the living Christ and the divine nature of man. Assuredly, only when the best of the two lines of presented truths are brought together and then reinterpreted shall we arrive at the basic concept upon which we can take our stand without questioning, and also with the certainty that it is inclusive enough to be really divine. Sin exists, and there is sacrifice involved in the process of adjusting our sinful natures. There is a death unto life, and a need to "die daily," (I Cor., XV, 31.) as St. Paul says, in order that we may live. Christ died to all that had its existence in form, leaving us an example that we should follow His steps. But we in the West have forgotten the Transfiguration and lost touch with divinity, and we should now stand ready to accept from the Eastern Christian what he has so long believed.

This gnosis has always been in the world. Long before Christ came the divinity of man was affirmed and divine incarnations were recognized.

The Gnostics themselves claimed to be the custodians of a revelation which was not uniquely theirs, but which had always been present in the world. G. R. S. Mead, an authority on these matters, remarks that: "The claim of these Gnostics was practically that the good news of Christ (the Christos) [191] was the consummation of the inner doctrine of the Mystery-Institutions of all the nations; the end of them all being the revelation of the Mystery of Man. In Christ the Mystery of Man was unveiled." (Thrice-Greatest Hermes, by G. R. S. Mead, Vol. I, p. 141.)

In view of the proven fact that there has been a continuity of revelation, and that Christ was one of the long line of manifesting Sons of God, wherein did His Person and His mission differ from that of the others? We can and must agree with Pfleger when he says: "The Incarnation of God in Christ is but a greater and more perfect theophany in a series of other more imperfect theophanies, which prepared the way for it by molding the human nature which received them... the Incarnation is not a miracle in the strict and crude sense of the term, any more than the Resurrection, which is the inner union of matter with spirit, is foreign to the universal order of existence." (Wrestlers with Christ, by Karl Pfleger, p. 242.) In what, therefore, did the mission of Christ differ from the others?

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