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CHAPTER V - THE PROBLEM OF THE CHURCHES - Part 1

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CHAPTER V

THE PROBLEM OF THE CHURCHES

The title of this chapter is not called the problem of religion but simply the problem of those people and organizations who attempt to teach religion, who claim to represent the spiritual life, to direct the spiritual approach of the human soul to God and to lay down the rules for the spiritual life. In writing on this theme we are treading on dangerous ground.

There is no justifiable quarrel with the religious spirit; it exists and is essential to a full and true life on earth. We can recognize the timelessness of faith and the witness of the Spirit, down countless ages, to the fact of God. Christ lives and guides the people of the world and He does this not from any vague or distant centre called the "right hand of God" (a symbolic phrase), but from close at hand and near to humanity whom He eternally loves. When He said, "Lo, I am with you all the days, even unto the end of the world", He meant exactly what He said. The approach of the human Spirit to its Source, to that spiritual Centre where divinity rules and to those Who guide and direct that approach, will inevitably go on; the way stands eternally open to pilgrims and all such pilgrims, all souls, find their way eventually into the Father's Home.

The fact of God, the fact of Christ, the fact of men's spiritual approach to divinity, the fact of the deathlessness of the Spirit, the fact of spiritual opportunity and the fact of man's relation to God and to his fellowmen—upon these we can take our stand. We should emphasize [123] also the evolutionary presentation of truth and its constant adaptation to the need of humanity at any given period in history.

Christianity is an expression—in essence, if not yet factually—of the love of God, immanent in His created universe. Churchianity has, however, laid itself open to attack and the mass of thinking people know this; unfortunately, these thinking people are a small minority.

For the sake of clarity and in order that the outline of the facts and of the potentialities may emerge clearly, we will divide this subject into the following sections, beginning with the most unpleasant and controversial and ending on a note of hope, of purpose and of vision.

I. The Failure of the Churches. Would you, in all truthfulness and in the light of world events, say that the churches had succeeded?

II. The Opportunity of the Churches. Do they recognize it?

III. The Essential Truths which Humanity needs and intuitively accepts. What are they?

IV. The Regeneration of the Churches. Is it possible?

V. The New World Religion.

Today the immediate need of mankind is emerging with clarity, and the steps which the churches propose taking to meet that need are also becoming clear. It seems essential, therefore, that we face the situation exactly as it is and that we isolate those truths which are essential to man's progress and enlightenment and eliminate factors which are controversial and unimportant; it is necessary also that we define the way of salvation which the churches should follow; if the churches are working and the churchmen are thinking in a Christlike way, then the salvation of humanity is assured. It is above all else essential that a vision is [124] presented which will be a vision for all men everywhere and not simply a beautiful hope of a sectarian group or a fanatical self-satisfied organization. It is essential that we return to Christ and to His message and to the way of life exemplified by Him.

Churchmen need to remember that the human spirit is greater than the churches and greater than their teaching. In the long run, that human spirit will defeat them and proceed triumphantly into the kingdom of God, leaving them far behind unless they enter as an humble part of the mass of men. Pompous prelates and executive ecclesiastics have no part in that kingdom. Christ does not need prelates and executives. He needs humble teachers of the truth able to exemplify the spiritual life. Nothing under heaven can arrest the progress of the human soul on its long pilgrimage from darkness to light, from the unreal to the real, from death to immortality and from ignorance to wisdom. If the great organized religious groups of churches in every land and composing all faiths do not offer spiritual guidance and help, humanity will find another way. Nothing can keep the spirit of man from God.

I. THE FAILURE OF THE CHURCHES

Let us remember: Christ has not failed. It is the human element which has failed and which has thwarted His intentions, and prostituted the truth which He presented. Theology, dogma, doctrine, materialism, politics and money have created a vast dark cloud between the churches and God; they have shut out the true vision of God's love, and it is to this vision of a loving reality and to a vital recognition of its implications that we must return.

Is there any chance that a renewal of the faith as it was in Christ will return? Are there enough men of vision in the churches to save the day—a vision of [125] meeting the need of man and not a vision of the growth and aggrandizement of the churches? Such men do exist in every religious organization, but they are deplorably few. Even if united (which seems as yet sadly impossible because of doctrinal differences), they present a somewhat futile group versus the organized power, the materialistic splendour, the vested interests and the fanatical determination of the reactionary ecclesiastics of all faiths. It is usually the struggling minority (in this case the spiritually-minded few) who guard the true vision and finally bring it into being; they are the ones who walk the torrid, unhappy streets with agonizing humanity and who, therefore, recognize in an acute sense the need for the regeneration of the churches.

Our religious platforms, our pulpits, and our religious periodicals and magazines are full of appeals for men to turn again to God and to find in religion a way out of the present chaotic conditions. Yet, humanity has never before been so spiritually inclined or so consciously and definitely oriented to the spiritual values and to the need for spiritual revaluations and realizations. The appeals going out should be made to the church leaders and to the ecclesiastics of all faiths and to church workers everywhere; it is they who should return to the simplicity of the faith as it is in Christ. It is they who need regeneration. Men are everywhere demanding light. Who is to give it to them?

There are two major factors which are responsible for the failure of the churches:

1. Narrow theological interpretations of the Scriptures.

2. Material and political ambitions.

In every land down the ages men have sought to foist their personal, religious interpretations of truth, of [126] the Scriptures and of God upon the mass of men. They have taken the Bibles of the world and have attempted to explain them, passing the ideas they find through the filter of their own minds and brains and in the process inevitably stepping down the meaning. Not content with this, their followers have forced these man-evolved interpretations upon the unthinking and the ignorant. Every religion—Buddhism, Hinduism in its many aspects, Mohammedanism and Christianity—has produced a flock of outstanding minds who have sought (usually quite sincerely) to understand what God is supposed to have said, who have formulated doctrines and dogmas on this basis of what they thought God meant and their words and ideas have, therefore, become religious law and the irrefutable truths of countless millions. In the last analysis, what have you? The ideas of some human mind—interpreted in terms of his period, tradition and background—about what God said in some Scripture which has been subjected during the centuries to the difficulties and the mistakes incident to constant translation—a translation often based on oral teaching.

The doctrine of the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures of the world (deemed particularly applicable to the Christian Bible) is today completely exploded and with it the infallibility of interpretation; all the world Scriptures are now seen to be based on poor translations and no part of them—after thousands of years of translation—is as it originally was, if it ever existed as an original manuscript and was not in reality some man's recollection of what was said. At the same time, it must be remembered that the general trend and the basic teaching, as well as the significance of the symbols, is usually correct, though again, symbolism itself must be subjected to modern translation and not to the misinterpretation of ignorance. The point is that dogmas [127] and doctrines, theology and dogmatic affirmations, do not necessarily indicate the truth as it exists in the mind of God, with Whose mind the majority of dogmatic interpreters claim familiarity. Theology is simply what men think is in the mind of God.

The more ancient the Scripture, the greater, necessarily, the distortion. The doctrine of a vengeful God, the doctrine of retribution in some mythical hell, the teaching that God only loves those who interpret Him in terms of some particular school of theological thought, the symbolism of the blood sacrifice, the appropriation of the Cross as a Christian symbol, the teaching about the Virgin Birth and the picture of an angry Deity only appeased by death are the unhappy results of man's own thinking, of his own lower nature, of his sectarian isolationism (fostered by the Jewish Old Testament, but not generally found in the Oriental faiths) and of his sense of fear, inherited from the animal side of his nature—all these are fostered and inculcated by theology but not by Christ, or the Buddha or Shri Krishna.

The little minds of men at their past and present stages of evolution cannot today and never have comprehended the mind and the purposes of the One in Whom we live and move and have our being; they have interpreted God in terms of themselves; therefore when men unthinkingly accept a dogma, they are only accepting the point of view of some other fallible human being, and are not accepting a divine truth at all. It is this truth that theological seminaries must begin to teach, training their men to think for themselves and to remember that the key to truth lies in the unifying power of Comparative Religion. Only those principles and truths which are universally recognized and which find their place in every religion are truly necessary to salvation. The secondary and controversial line of presented [128] truths is usually unnecessary or significant only in so far as it buttresses the primary and essential truth.

It is this distorted presentation of truth which has led humanity to the formulation of a body of doctrines about which Christ apparently knew nothing. Christ cared only that men should recognize that God is love, that all men are the children of the one Father and, therefore, brothers; that man's spirit is eternal and that there is no death; He longed that the Christ within every man (the innate Christ consciousness which makes us one with each other and with Christ) should flower forth in all its glory; He taught that service was the keynote of the spiritual life and that the will of God would be revealed. These are not the points about which the mass of commentators have written. They have discussed ad nauseam how far Christ was divine and how far He was human, the nature of the Virgin Birth, the function of St. Paul as a teacher of Christian truth, the nature of hell, salvation through blood, and the authenticity and historicity of the Bible.

Today men's minds are recognizing the dawn of freedom; they are realizing that every man should be free to worship God in his own way. This will not mean (in the coming new age) that every man will pick a theological school to which he will choose to adhere. His own God-illumined mind will search for truth and he will interpret it for himself. The day of theology is over and that of a living truth is with us. This the orthodox churches refuse to recognize. Truth is essentially non-controversial; where controversy emerges, the concept is usually secondary in importance and consists largely of men's ideas about truth.

Men have gone far today in the rejection of dogmas and doctrine and this is good and right and encouraging. It signifies progress, but, as yet, the churches fail to see in this the workings of divinity. Freedom of [129] thought, the questioning of presented truths, a refusal to accept the teachings of the churches in terms of the past theology, and a rejection of imposed ecclesiastical authority are characteristic of creative spiritual thinking at this time; this is regarded by orthodox churchmen as indicative of dangerous tendencies and as a turning away from God and, consequently, of a loss of the sense of divinity. It indicates exactly the reverse.

Perhaps as serious, because of its effect upon untold thousands of the more ignorant public, are the materialistic and political ambitions of the churches. In the Eastern faiths this is not so prominently the case; in the Western world this tendency is fast bringing on the degeneration of the churches. In the Oriental religions a disastrous negativity has prevailed; the truths given out have not sufficed to better the daily life of the believer or to anchor the truths creatively upon the physical plane. The effect of the Eastern doctrines is largely subjective and negative as to daily affairs. The negativity of the theological interpretations of the Buddhist and Hindu Scriptures have kept the people in a quiescent condition from which they are slowly beginning to emerge. The Mohammedan faith is, like the Christian, a positive presentation of truth though very materialistic; both these faiths have been militant and political in their activities.

The great Western faith, Christianity, has been definitely objective in its presentation of truth; this was needed. It has been militant, fanatical, grossly materialistic and ambitious. It has combined political objectives with pomp and ceremony, with great stone structures, with power and an imposed authority of a most cramping nature.

The early Christian Church (which was relatively pure in its presentation of truth and in its living processes) eventually split into three main divisions—[130] the Roman Catholic Church which today seeks to make capital out of the claim that it was the Mother Church, the Byzantine or Greek Orthodox Church and the Protestant Churches. All of them split away on the question of doctrine and all of them were originally sincere and clean and relatively pure and good. All have steadily deteriorated since the day of their inception and today the following sad and serious situation can be found:

1. The Roman Catholic Church is distinguished by three things which are all contrary to the spirit of Christ:

a. An intensely materialistic attitude. The Church of Rome stands for great stone structures—cathedrals, churches, institutions, convents, monasteries. In order to build them, the policy down the centuries has been to drain the money out of the pockets of rich and poor alike. The Roman Catholic Church is a strictly capitalistic church. The money gathered into its coffers supports a powerful ecclesiastical hierarchy and provides for its many institutions and schools.

b. A far-reaching and far-sighted political program in which temporal power is the goal and not the welfare of the little people. The present program of the Catholic Church has definite political implications; their attitude to Communism has in it the seeds of another world war. The political activities of the Catholic Church have not built for peace, no matter under what guise they are presented.

c. A planned policy whereby the mass of the people are kept in intellectual ignorance and, through this ignorance, are naturally to be found among the reactionary and conservative forces which are so powerfully at work resisting the new age with its [131] new civilization and more enlightened culture. Blind faith and complete confidence in the priest and in the Vatican are regarded as spiritual duties.

The Roman Catholic Church stands entrenched and unified against any new and evolutionary presentation of truth to the people; its roots are in the past but it is not growing into the light; its vast financial resources enable it to menace the future enlightenment of mankind under the cloak of paternalism and a colourful outer appearance which hides a crystallization and an intellectual stupidity which must inevitably spell its eventual doom, unless the faint stirrings of new life following the advent of Pope John XXIII can be nourished and developed.

2. The Greek Orthodox Church reached such a high stage of corruption, graft, greed and sexual evil that, temporarily and under the Russian revolution, it was abolished. This was a wise, needed and right action. The emphasis of this church was entirely material but it never wielded (nor will it wield) such power as the Roman Catholic Church did in the past. The refusal of the revolutionary party in Russia to recognize this corrupt church was wise and salutary; it did no harm, for the sense of God can never be driven from the human heart. If all church organizations disappeared from off the earth, the sense of God and the recognition and the knowledge of Christ would emerge in strength and with a fresh and new conviction. The church in Russia has again received official recognition and faces a new opportunity. It does not yet constitute a factor in world affairs but there is hope that eventually it may emerge as a regenerating and spiritual force. The challenge of its environment is great and it cannot be reactionary as can—and are—the churches in other parts of the world.

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3. The Protestant Churches. The church, covered by the generic name of "protestant", is distinguished by its multiplicity of divisions; it is broad, narrow, liberal, radical and ever protesting. It comprises within its borders many churches, large and small. These churches are also distinguished by material objectives. They are relatively free from any such political bias as conditions the Roman Catholic Church, but it is a quarrelling, fanatical and intolerant body of believers. The spirit of differentiation is rampant; there is no unity or cohesion among them, but usually a constant spirit of rejection, a virulent partisanship and the growth of hundreds of protestant cults, a constant presentation of a narrow theology which teaches nothing new but produces fresh quarrelling around some doctrines or some question of church organization or procedure. The Protestant Churches have set a precedent of acrimonious controversy from which the older churches are relatively free, owing to their hierarchical method of government and their centralized authoritarian control. Again, how ever, the first efforts to achieve some form of unity and cooperation have recently emerged and may continue to grow.

The question arises whether Christ would be at home in the churches if He walked again among men. The rituals and the ceremonies, the pomp and the vestments, the candles and the gold and silver, the graded order of popes, cardinals, archbishops, canons and ordinary rectors, pastors and clergy would seemingly have small interest to the simple Son of God Who—when on earth—had nowhere to lay His head.

There are deeply spiritual men whose lot is cast within the cramping walls of ecclesiasticism; they are many in the aggregate, and within all churches and faiths. Their lot is a difficult one; they are aware of conditions and they struggle and strive to present sound [133] Christian and religious ideas to a searching, suffering world. They are true sons of God; their feet are set in most unpleasant places; they are aware of the "dry rot" which has undermined the clerical structure and of the bigotry, selfishness, greed and narrow-mindedness with which they are surrounded.

They know well that no man has ever been saved by theology but only by the living Christ and through the awakened consciousness of the Christ within each human heart; they interiorly repudiate the materialism in their environment and see little hope for humanity in the churches; they know well that the spiritual realities have been forgotten in the material development of the churches; they love their fellowmen and would like to divert the money spent in the upkeep of church structures and overhead to the creation of that Temple of God "not made with hands, eternal in the heavens". They serve that spiritual Hierarchy which stands—unseen and serene—behind all human affairs and feel no inner allegiance to any outer ecclesiastical hierarchy. The guidance of the human being into conscious relation to Christ and that spiritual Hierarchy is to them the factor of major importance and not the increase of church attendance and the authority of little men. They believe in the Kingdom of God of which Christ is the outstanding Executive but have no confidence in the temporal power claimed and wielded by Popes and Archbishops.

Such men are found in every great religious organization, both in the East and in the West and in all spiritual groups, dedicated ostensibly to spiritual purpose. They are simple, saintly men, asking nothing for the separated self, representing God in truth and in life, and having no real part in the church wherein they work; the church suffers sadly through the contrast which they represent and seldom permits them to rise to place [134] and power; their temporal power is nil but their spiritual example brings illumination and strength to their people. They are the hope of humanity for they are in touch with Christ and are an integral part of the Kingdom of God; they represent Deity in a manner which the great ecclesiastics and the so-called Princes of the Church seldom do.

II. THE OPPORTUNITY OF THE CHURCHES

Something of great moment has happened in the world. The spirit of destruction has stampeded through the earth, leaving the world of the past and the civilization which controlled our modern life in ruins. Cities and homes have been destroyed; kingdoms and rulers have disappeared in the aftermath of war; ideologies and cherished beliefs have failed to meet the need of people and have broken down under the test of the times; starvation and insecurity are rampant everywhere; families and social groups have been disrupted; death has taken its toll of every nation and millions have died as a result of the inhuman processes of war. Broadly speaking, everyone has known terror, fear and hopelessness as they face the future; everyone is questioning what that future has in store and there is no surety anywhere. The voice of humanity is demanding light, peace and security.

Some seek it in the formation of new ideologies; some look for it along political lines and hope for relief and release through some form of government action or some political creed or party. Others demand the emergence of a leader, and there are few leaders anywhere to be seen at this time. The leadership provided is coming from groups of well-meaning people and a few statesmen who seem as bewildered as those they seek to help; they are rendered well-nigh impotent by the very magnitude of the task with which they are faced, [135] for the issue at stake is the rebuilding, the reconditioning and the re-educating of the entire world. Still others, more patient, are planning new educational processes and systems which will attempt to prepare the present generation of children for full living in the world of tomorrow, a world whose faint outlines are only dimly to be seen. Some are sinking back into a state of despair, escaping into isolationism and waiting, as philosophically as possible, for the release which death will bring, asking only a little food, some warmth, a few books and sufficient clothing. Many are refusing altogether to think and are instead filling their lives with relief work. All are experiencing the reaction which follows in the aftermath of war and are not familiar with the processes of peace, because peace has never truly been known and is obviously still far away.

Above everything else, men throughout the world in their countless millions are registering a deep spiritual need, are conscious of the stirrings of the spirit and are recognizing it for what it is. They may express this need in many forms and use many differing terminologies; they may look in diverse directions for the satisfaction of their longings, but everywhere there is a demand for things of truer value than those which conditioned the past and for the appearance of those virtues, spiritual impulses and incentives which men appear to have lost and which are the sum total of the forces which drive humanity on towards spiritual living.

Everywhere people are ready for the light; they are expectant of a new revelation and of a new dispensation. Humanity has advanced so far on the way of evolution that these demands and expectations are not couched in terms of material betterment only, but in terms of a spiritual vision, true values and right human relations. They are demanding teaching and spiritual help along with the necessary requests for food, clothes and the [136] opportunity to work and live in freedom; they face famine in large areas of the world and yet are registering with equal dismay the famine of the soul.

The great tragedy is, however, that they know not where to turn or to whose voice they should listen. The hope within them is spiritual and undying. This hope and this demand have reached the attentive ear of the Christ and His disciples in the place where They live, and work and watch over humanity. Through what agency will these forces of the spirit work for the restoration of the world? By what means will the spiritual Guides of the race lead men forward into greater light and the opportunity of the new age? Mankind faces towards the Way of Resurrection. Who shall lead him on that Way?

Will the organized religions and the churches throughout the world recognize the opportunity and respond to the appeal of Christ and to the spiritual demand of countless millions? Or will they work for organizations and the churches? Will the institutional aspect of the world religions loom more largely in the consciousness of churchmen than the need of the people for a simple presentation of life-giving truth? Will the interest and the power of the churches be turned to the rebuilding of the material structures, the re-establishing of financial security, the recovery of the status of outgrown theologies and the attainment anew of temporal power and prestige? Or will the churches have the vision and the courage to let the bad old ways go and turn to the people with the message that God is Love, proving the existence of that love by their own lives of simple loving service? Will they tell the people that Christ forever lives and bid them turn their eyes away from the old doctrines of death and blood and divine appeasement and centre them upon the Source of all life and upon the living Christ Who waits to pour out [137] upon them that "life more abundantly" for which they have so long waited and which He promised should be theirs? Will they teach that the destruction of the old forms was needed and that their disappearance is the guarantee that a new and fuller unlimited spiritual life is now possible? Will they remind the people that Christ Himself said that it is not possible to put new wine into old bottles? Will the potentates of the churches and the proud ecclesiastics relinquish publicly their wrong and material aims, their money and their palaces and "sell all that they have" and follow Christ on the path of service? Or will they—like the rich young man in the Gospel story—turn sadly away? Will they spend the available money in alleviating pain as Christ did, teaching the children the things of the kingdom of God as Christ did, and setting an example of simple faith, confident joy and assured knowledge of God as Christ did? Can churchmen of all faiths in both hemispheres attain that inner spiritual light which will make them light bearers and which will evoke that greater light which the new and anticipated revelation will surely bring? Can the materialism for which the churches have stood and the failures of their representatives to teach the people aright be swept away? These were the things which were responsible for the world war (1914-1945). There could have been no war if greed, hate and separativeness had not been rampant upon the earth and in the hearts of men; these disastrous faults were there because the spiritual values had no place in the life of the people and this was due to the fact that for centuries they have had small place in the life of the churches. The responsibility rests squarely upon the churches.

These are the questions with which the organized churches are confronted. Within the churches today there are men responding to the new spiritual idealism, [138] to the urgency of the opportunity and to the need for change. But the opportunity is controlled by reactionary minds. The movements towards the reorganization of the churches which are now proceeding all over the world still remain in the hands of the church dignitaries and synods and conclaves. The plans internationally being formed at this time would indicate that the authority is still vested in the wrong people.

There is no indication on any large scale within the churches of a basic change of attitude towards theological teaching or church government. There is no indication that the great Oriental religions are taking an active lead in producing a new and better world. And still humanity waits. Humanity wants above all else assurance that God Is and that there is a divine Plan—a Plan which fits into the scheme of things and which holds within it both hope and strength. Men want the conviction that Christ lives; that the Coming One—for Whom all men wait—will come and that He will not be Christian, Hindu or Buddhist but will belong to all men everywhere. Men want to be assured that a great spiritual revelation is due and cannot be arrested and that there lies ahead of them a spiritual future as well as a material one. It is with this demand and this opportunity that the churches are faced.

What is the solution of this intricate and difficult relationship throughout the world? A new presentation of truth, because God is not a fundamentalist; a new approach to divinity, because God is ever accessible and requires no outer intermediaries today; a new mode of interpreting the ancient spiritual teaching, because man has evolved and what was suitable for infant humanity is today unsuitable for adult mankind. These are imperative changes.

Nothing can prevent the new world religion from eventually emerging. It always has down the ages and [139] it always will. There is no finality in the presentation of truth; it develops and grows to meet man's growing demand for light. It will be implemented and developed by the spiritually minded in all churches, whose minds are open to the new inspirations of God's Mind, who are liberal and kind and whose individual lives are pure and aspiring. It will be hindered by the fundamentalists, the narrow-minded and the theologians in all the world religions, by those who refuse to let go the old interpretations and methods, who love the old doctrines and men's thoughts about them, and by those who lay the emphasis upon forms, upon rites and ceremonies, upon ritual and pomp, on authority and the building of stone edifices in these days of man's extremity, his starvation and his need.

The Roman Catholic Church here faces her greatest opportunity and also her greatest crisis. Catholicism is founded in ancient tradition, is assertive of ecclesiastical authority, is responsive to outer forms and rituals and—in spite of a wide and beneficent philanthropy—is quite unable to leave her children free. If the Catholic Church can change her techniques, can relinquish authority over the souls of men (which she has never truly had) and can really follow the way of the Saviour, of the humble Carpenter of Nazareth, she can render a world service and set an example which will serve to enlighten the followers of every faith and of every branch of Christianity.

The problem of the freedom of the human soul and its individual relation to God Immanent and God Transcendent is the spiritual problem, facing all the world religions at this time. No longer must the churches interpose their authority and their interpretations between God and man. The time for that is past. This problem has been slowly shaping up for centuries, developing with the growth of the human intellect and [140] the self-consciousness of the human being and it is one which now cries aloud for solution.

III. THE ESSENTIAL TRUTHS

There are certain keynotes—embodying the future of religion—which should govern the thinking of enlightened churchmen of all faiths at this time. They are appropriate to both the East and the West. These are: World Religion—Revelation—Recognition. They will not be accepted by the narrow-minded Christian or believer of any faith.

The day is dawning when all religions will be regarded as emanating from one great spiritual source; all will be seen as unitedly providing the one root out of which the universal world religion will inevitably emerge. Then there will be neither Christian nor heathen, neither Jew nor Gentile, but simply one great body of believers, gathered out of all the current religions. They will accept the same truths, not as theological concepts but as essential to spiritual living; they will stand together on the same platform of brotherhood and of human relations; they will recognize divine sonship and will seek unitedly to cooperate with the divine Plan, as it is revealed to them by the spiritual leaders of the race, and as it indicates to them the next step to be taken on the Path of Approach to God. Such a world religion is no idle dream but something which is definitely forming today.

A second emerging guide to the spiritual life is the hope of revelation. Never before has man's need been greater and never has the surety of revelation been more certain; never has the spirit of man been more invocative of divine aid than it is today and, therefore, never before has a greater revelation been on its way. What that revelation will be, we cannot know. The revelation [141] of the nature of God has been a slow unfolding process, paralleled by the evolutionary growth of the human consciousness. It is not for us to define or limit it with our concrete thinking but to prepare for it, to unfold our intuitive perception and to live in expectation of the revealing light.

A world religion, an expected revelation and then the development of the habit of spiritual recognition! It is the task of the churches to teach men to unfold this latent power of recognition—recognition of the beauty of divinity in all forms, recognition of that which is coming and of what an old Hindu seer has spoken of as the "raincloud of knowable things" which hovers over humanity, ready to precipitate the wonders which God holds in store for those who know the meaning of love. It is along these three lines that the work of the churches should, in the future, be directed; the carrying forward of this task would truly restore the churches and obliterate all the failures of the past.

In these three attitudes there are certain basic truths which the churches can present to men everywhere—truths which are uniform in all the world religions:

1. The Fact of God, Immanent and Transcendent

The Eastern faiths have ever emphasized God immanent, deep within the human heart, "nearer than hands or feet", the Self, the One, the Atma, smaller than the small, yet all-comprehensive. The Western faiths have presented God transcendent, outside His universe, an Onlooker. God transcendent first of all conditioned men's concept of Deity, for the action of this transcendent God appeared in the processes of nature; later, in the Jewish dispensation, God appeared as the tribal Jehovah, as the soul (the rather unpleasant soul) of a nation. Next God was seen as a perfected man, and [142] the divine God-man walked the earth in the Person of Christ. Today we have a rapidly growing emphasis upon God immanent in every human being and in every created form. Today we should have the churches presenting a synthesis of these two ideas which have been summed up for us in the statement of Shri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita: "Having pervaded this whole universe with a fragment of Myself, I remain". God, greater than the created whole, yet God present also in the part; God transcendent guarantees the plan for our world and is the Purpose, conditioning all lives from the minutest atom, up through all the kingdoms of nature to man.

2. The Fact of Immortality and Eternal Persistence

The spirit in man is undying; it forever endures, progressing from point to point and stage to stage upon the Path of Evolution, unfolding steadily and sequentially the divine attributes and aspects. This truth involves necessarily the recognition of two great natural laws: the Law of Rebirth and the Law of Cause and Effect. The churches in the West have refused officially to recognize the Law of Rebirth and have thereby wandered into a theological impasse and into a cul-de-sac from which there is no possible exit. The churches in the East have overemphasized these laws so that a negative, acquiescent attitude to life and its processes, based on continuously renewed opportunity, controls the people. Christianity has emphasized immortality but has made eternal happiness dependent upon the acceptance of a theological dogma: Be a true professing Christian and live eternally in a somewhat fatuous heaven or refuse to be an accepting Christian and go to an impossible hell—a hell growing out of the theology of The Old Testament and its presentation of a God full of hate and jealousy. Both concepts are today repudiated by all [143] sane, sincere, thinking people. No one of any true reasoning power or with any true belief in a God of love accepts the heaven of the churchmen or has any desire to go there. Still less do they accept the "lake that burneth with fire and brimstone" or the everlasting torture to which a God of love is supposed to condemn all who do not believe in the theological interpretations of the Middle Ages, of the modern fundamentalists or of the churchmen who seek—through doctrine, fear and threat—to keep people in line with the obsolete old teaching.

The essential truth lies elsewhere. "Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap" is the truth which needs re-emphasizing. In these words, St. Paul phrases for us the ancient and true teaching of the Law of Cause and Effect called in the Orient, the Law of Karma. To that, he adds in another place the injunction to "work out your own salvation" and—as that contradicts the theological teaching and above all else is not possible to do in any one life—he implicitly endorses the Law of Rebirth, and makes the school of life a constantly recurring experience until man has fulfilled the command of the Christ (and this refers to every man) "Be ye, therefore, perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect". Through recognition of the results of action—good or bad—and through constant reliving upon the earth, man eventually attains "unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ".

The fact of this innate divinity explains the urge at the heart of every man for betterment, for experience, for progress, for increasing realization and for his steady moving on towards the distant height which he has visioned. There is no other explanation of the capacity of the human spirit to emerge out of darkness, out of evil and death into life and goodness. This emergence has been the unfailing history of man. Something is [144] always happening to the human soul which projects him nearer to the Source of all good and nothing on earth can arrest this progress nearer to God.

3. Christ and the Hierarchy

The third great spiritual and essential truth is the fact of Christ, the living Christ, present among His people, fulfilling His promise, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world", and increasingly making His presence felt as men approach closer to Him and His group of disciples and world workers. The church emphasis has been (and is today) upon the dead Christ. Men have forgotten that He lives, though they give a tentative recognition to this hope and belief at Easter time, largely because His resurrection guarantees our own "rising again", and "because He lives, we shall live also". The fact of His livingness and of His presence today, here and now, on earth is not emphasized, except through vague and hopeful generalities. Men have forgotten the Christ who lives with us on earth, surrounded by His disciples, the Masters of the Wisdom, accessible to those who make the right approach and saving men by the force of His example and by the expression of the life which is in Him and is—unexpressed and largely undiscovered as yet by the majority—to be found also in every man.

In the coming world religion, the emphasis will be on these truths. Life and not death will be proclaimed; attainment of spiritual status through spiritual living will be taught, and the fact of the existence of those who have thus attained and who work with Christ for the helping and salvaging of humanity will be the goal. The fact of the spiritual Hierarchy of our planet, the ability of mankind to contact its Members and to work in co operation with Them, and the existence of Those Who [145] know what the will of God is and can work intelligently with that will—these are the truths upon which the future spiritual teaching will be based.

The fact of the existence of this Hierarchy and its supreme Head, the Christ, is consciously recognized by hundreds of thousands today, though still denied by the orthodox. So many know this truth and so many people of integrity and worth are cooperating consciously with the Members of the Hierarchy that ecclesiastical antagonisms and the belittling comments of the concrete minded are of no avail. Men are moving out from under doctrinal authority into direct, personal and spiritual experience; they are coming under the direct authority which contact with Christ and His disciples, the Masters, ever confers.

Christ in every man, the guarantee of our eventual spiritual attainment; Christ as the living example of that attainment, Who has entered for us within the veil, leaving us an example that we should follow His steps; Christ Who ever lives and Who has stayed with us for two thousand years, watching over His people, inspiring His working disciples, the Masters of the Wisdom, those "just men, made perfect" (as the Bible calls them); Christ demonstrating for us the possibility of this unfolding, living, spiritual consciousness (which has been given the somewhat vague name of the "Christ consciousness") bringing every man, eventually—under the Laws of Rebirth and of Cause and Effect—to an ultimate perfection; these are the truths which the church will eventually endorse, teach and express through the lives and words of its exponents. This change in the doctrinal presentation will lead to a very different humanity to that which exists today; it will produce a humanity which will recognize the divine in all men, at varying stages of expression, a humanity which is not only expectant of the return of Christ but is assured of His [146] coming and reappearance—not from some distant Heaven but from that place on earth where He has always been, known and reached by thousands but held at a distance by the theologies and the fear-tactics of the church.

His coming will not be so much a triumphant return to a conquering church (conquering because the churches have done so fine a piece of work) but a recognition of His factual existence by those who have hitherto been blind to His presence with them and to the fact of His office and activities, ceaselessly carried forward on earth. He does not return to rule, for He has never left off ruling, working and loving; but men will come to recognize the signs of His activities and of His presence and will know that it is He Who is over throwing the churches by the strength of His influence over the hearts and lives of men. Men will then realize that the word "spiritual" has little reference to religion, as was hitherto its major significance, but that it connotes divine activity in every phase of human living and human thinking; they will grasp the stupendous truth that sound economics, clear humanitarianism, effective education (as it fits men for world citizenship) and a science, dedicated to human betterment, are all deeply spiritual and in their aggregated usefulness constitute a body of religious truth; they will discover that organized religion is only one phase of this worldwide experience of divinity.

Christ will, therefore, surely come in three ways. He will come as men recognize that He is truly here as He has been ever since He apparently left the earth; He will come in the sense also that He will overshadow, inspire and directly guide and personally confer with His advanced disciples as they labour in the field of the world, in the effort to establish right human relations and as they become known as the directing Agents of [147] God's will; He will come also in the hearts of men everywhere, manifesting as the indwelling Christ, struggling towards the light and influencing the lives of men towards conscious recognition of divinity. Men on a large scale will then pass through the Bethlehem experience, the Christ in them will come to the birth and they will become "new men".

It will be for the dissemination of these existing truths that the church of the future will work, bringing a great regeneration to the body of humanity, a resurrection into life, and the restoration of the life of God on earth through a Christ-conscious humanity.

When this has assumed large proportions and the recognition of these truths is worldwide, then we shall have the restoration of the Mysteries, the consequent realization that the Kingdom of God is on earth, and that man is in deed and in truth made in the image of God and must inevitably—through the passing of time and the discipline of life—manifest his essential divinity, as Christ did.

4. The Brotherhood of Man

Much has been written, preached and talked about brotherhood. So much has been said and so little brotherhood practised that the word has fallen somewhat into disrepute. Yet the word is a statement of the underlying origin and goal of humanity and is the keynote of the fourth kingdom in nature, the human.

Brotherhood is a great natural fact; all men are brothers; under the divergences of colour, creed, cultures and civilizations, there is only one humanity without distinction or differences in its essential nature, in its origin, its spiritual and mental objectives, its capacities, its qualities and its mode of development and of evolutionary unfoldment. In these divine attributes (for that is [148] what they are) all men are equal; it is only in relation to time and in the extent to which progress has been made in the revelation of innate divinity in all its fullness that temporary differences become apparent. It is the temporary differences and the sins which ignorance and inexperience betray which have engrossed the attention of the churches to the exclusion of the penetrating, piercing vision of the divine in every man. It is the fact of brotherhood which the churches must begin to teach—not from the angle of a transcendent God, an external unknowable Father—but from the angle of the divine life, eternally present in every human heart, and eternally struggling to express itself through individuals, nations and races.

The true expression of this realized brotherhood must inevitably come through the establishing of right human relations and the cultivation of goodwill. Churchmen have forgotten the sequence in the angel's song: "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, goodwill towards men". They have failed to realize and, therefore, to teach that only as goodwill is manifested in the daily lives of men are right human relations thereby established and peace on earth can come; they have failed also to realize that there is no glory to God until there is peace on earth through goodwill among men. The churches have forgotten that all men are sons of the Father and, therefore, brothers; that all men are divine, that some men are already God-conscious and expressing divinity and that some are not; they have overlooked the fact that because of their point in evolution some men know Christ, because the Christ in them is active while others are only struggling to bring the Christ life into activity; still others are entirely unaware of the divine Being hidden deep within their hearts. There is only difference in degree of consciousness; there is no difference in nature.

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5. The Divine Approaches