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

The Fourth Initiation - The Crucifixion


A fire-mist and a planet,
A crystal and a cell,
A jelly-fish and a saurian,
And caves where the cave-men dwell;
Then a sense of law and beauty,
And a face turned from the clod -
Some call it Evolution,
And others call it God.

Like tides on a crescent sea-beach
When the moon is new and thin,
Into our hearts high yearnings
Come welling and surging in:
Come from the mystic ocean
Whose rim no foot has trod -
Some of us call it Longing,
And others call it God.

A picket frozen on duty,
A mother starved for her brood,
Socrates drinking the hemlock,
And Jesus on the rood;
And millions who, humble and nameless,
The straight, hard pathway plod -
Some call it Consecration,
And others call it God.

William Herbert Carruth. [175]


We now come to the central mystery of Christianity, and to the climaxing initiation to which men, as human beings, can aspire. Of the next initiation, the Resurrection, and of the Ascension connected with it, we know practically nothing, beyond the fact that Christ rose from the dead. The Resurrection initiation is veiled in silence. All that is recorded is the reaction of those who knew and loved the Lord, and the after effects upon the history of the Christian Church. But the Crucifixion has always been the outstanding, dramatic episode upon which the entire structure of Christian theology has been founded. Upon this has the emphasis been laid. Millions of words have been written about it, and thousands of books and commentaries have attempted to elucidate its meaning and to explain the significance of its mystery. Down the ages a myriad points of view have been presented for the consideration of men. There has been much misinterpretation, but much also that is divinely real has been expressed. God has been misrepresented many times, and the interpretation of what Christ did has been travestied in terms of men's small views. The wonder of the happening on Mount Calvary has been unveiled through the illumined experiences of the believer and the knower.

A new world order came into being when Christ came to earth, and from that time on we have moved steadily forward towards a new age wherein men inevitably will live as brothers because Christ died, and the true nature of the kingdom of God will find expression on earth. Of this, past [176] progress is the guarantee. The immediacy of this happening is already faintly understood by those who, as Christ has said, have the eyes to see and the ears to hear. Inevitably we are moving forward towards greatness, and Christ emphasized this in His life and work. We have not yet achieved this greatness, but the signs of it can be seen. Already there are indications of the coming of this new era, and the dim outlines of a new and more nearly ideal social structure, based on perfected humanity, are discernible. It is this perfection which is of importance.

One of the first things that it seems essential to recognize is the fact, the definite fact, that Christ's Crucifixion must be lifted out of the realm of its purely individual application, into the realm of the universal and the whole. It may perhaps cause some consternation when we emphasize the necessity of realizing that the death of the historical Christ upon the Cross was not primarily concerned with each individual man who claims to profit by it. It was a great cosmic event. Its implications and its results concern the masses of humanity, and do not concern specifically the individual. We are so apt to take to ourselves, as a personal affair, the many implications of Christ's sacrifice. The selfishness of the spiritual aspirant is often very real.

It is surely evident, if one approaches the subject intelligently, that Christ did not die in order that you and I might go to heaven. He died as the result of the very nature of the service which He rendered, of the note which He struck, and because He inaugurated a new age and told men how to live as sons of God.

In considering the story of Jesus upon the Cross, it is essential, therefore, that we see it in broader and more general terms than is usually the case. Most of the treatises and writings upon the subject are controversial and argumentative, usually defending or attacking the evidence or the theology associated with the theme. Or they may be of a purely mystical or sentimental nature in tone and object, concerning themselves with the relation of the individual [177] to the truth or with his personal salvation in Christ. But in so doing, it is possible that the real elements of the story and their highest meaning have been lost. Two things emerge, however, from the research and the questionings of the past century. One is that the Gospel story is not unique, but has been paralleled in the lives of other Sons of God; secondly, that Christ was unique in His particular Person and mission, and that, from a specific angle, His appearance was unprecedented. No student of comparative religion will question the Christian parallels to earlier events. No man who has truly investigated with an open mind will deny that Christ was an integral part of a great continuity of revelation. God has never "left Himself without witness." (Acts, XIV, 17.) And the salvation of mankind has always been close to the heart of the Father. To quote one writer who seeks to prove this continuity:

"At the time of the life or recorded appearance of Jesus of Nazareth and for some centuries before, the Mediterranean and neighboring world had been the scene of a vast number of pagan creeds and rituals. There were Temples without end dedicated to gods like Apollo or Dionysus among the Greeks, Hercules among the Romans, Mithra among the Persians, Adonis and Arris in Syria and Phrygia, Osiris and Isis and Horus in Egypt, Baal and Astarte among the Babylonians and Carthaginians, and so forth. Societies, large or small, united believers and the devout in the service or ceremonials connected with their respective deities, and in the creeds which they confessed concerning these deities. And an extraordinarily interesting fact, for us, is that, notwithstanding great geographical distances and racial differences in the details of their services, the general outlines of their creeds and ceremonials were - if not identical - so markedly similar as we find them.

"I cannot of course go at length into these different cults, but I may say roughly that of all or nearly all the deities above mentioned it was said and believed that:

  1. They were born on or very near our Christmas Day.
  2. They were born of a Virgin-Mother. [178]
  3. And in a Cave or Underground Chamber.
  4. They led a life of toil for Mankind.
  5. And were called by the names of Light-bringer, Healer, Mediator, Savior, Deliverer.
  6. They were, however, vanquished by the Powers of Darkness.
  7. And descended into Hell or the Underworld.
  8. They rose again from the dead, and became the pioneers of mankind to the Heavenly world.
  9. They founded Communions of Saints and Churches into which disciples were received by Baptism.
  10. And they were commemorated by Eucharistic meals."

- Pagan and Christian Creeds, by Edward Carpenter, pp. 20, 21.

These facts can be checked by anyone who cares to do so and who is sufficiently interested to trace the growth of the doctrine of world Saviors in world idealism. Edward Carpenter goes on to say, in the same book:

"The number of pagan deities (mostly virgin-born and done to death in some way or other in their efforts to save mankind) is so great as to be difficult to keep account of. The god Krishna in India, the god Indra in Nepal and Tibet spilt their blood for the salvation of men; Buddha said, according to Max Müller, 'Let all the sins that were in the world fall on me, that the world may be delivered;' the Chinese Tien the Holy One - 'one with God and existing with him from all eternity' - died to save the world; The Egyptian Osiris was called Savior, so was Horus; so was the Persian Mithra; so was the Greek Hercules who overcame Death though his body was consumed in the burning garment of mortality, out of which he rose into heaven. So also was the Phrygian Attis called Savior, and the Syrian Tammuz or Adonis likewise - both of whom, as we have seen, were nailed or tied to a tree, and afterwards rose again from their biers or coffins. Prometheus, the greatest and earliest benefactor of the human race, was nailed by the hands and the feet, and with arms extended, to the rocks of Mount Caucasus. Bacchus or Dionysus, born of the virgin Semele to be the Liberator of mankind (Dionysus Eleutherios as he was called) was torn to pieces, not unlike Osiris. Even in far Mexico [179] Quetzalcoatl, the Savior, was born of a virgin, was tempted, and fasted forty days, was done to death, and his second coming looked for so eagerly that (as is well known) when Cortes appeared, the Mexicans, poor things, greeted him as the returning god! In Peru and among the American Indians, North and South of the Equator, similar legends are, or were, to be found."
- Pagan and Christian Creeds, by Edward Carpenter, pp. 129, 130.

Into the argument for and against these ideas it is no part of this book to enter. The only question which is of importance for us is what part Christ really played as the World Savior, and what constituted the uniqueness of His mission. What was this world to which He came; and what is the significance of His death to the average human being today? Are the facts of His life historically true; and was there a period in our racial history wherein He walked and talked and lived an ordinary human life? Did He serve His race and return to the Source whence He came?

The fact of Christ constitutes no problem to those who know Him. They realize, past all controversy, that He exists. They know Whom they have believed. (II Tim., I, 12.) For them, His reality cannot be disproved. They may differ among themselves as to the emphasis to be laid upon the various theological interpretations of His life story, but Christ they know, and with Him they tread life's pathway. They may argue about whether He was God or man, or God-Man, or Man-God, but on one point they all agree, and that is that He was God and Man, manifesting in one body. They may struggle to perpetuate the memory of the dead Christ upon the Cross, or they may endeavor to live by the life of the risen Christ, but to the reality of Christ Himself they all bear testimony, and by the multitude of witnesses the fact is surely established. The one who knows cannot doubt.

Christianity is the restatement of a very old doctrine. It is not new. It is so essential to the salvation and to the happiness of the world that God has always proclaimed it. [180] The Gospel narratives are dependable and true, just because they are integrated with the spiritual revelation of the past, and are being reinterpreted today in terms of Christ. Therefore, mankind being more evolved and intelligent, that reinterpretation will more readily and adequately meet humanity's need. But it is no new thing, and Christ never proclaimed Himself in such terms. He foretold a new age and a coming kingdom of God. Out of the wide sweep of time and out of the aeonian grasp of God's consciousness, mankind is only today beginning to see a world and a humanity ready for the new revelation - a revelation which will be based upon truly Christian ethics and vital Christian truths. That for which Christ stood, the truth which He embodies, is so old that there has never been a time when it was not present as a need in the human consciousness, and yet it is so new that there will never be a time when the story of the birth and the death of the world Savior will not be of the utmost moment to man. Edward Carpenter points this out, throwing light upon this ceaseless and age-old focusing of the love of God and the desire of man in the person of a son of God. He says:

"If the historicity of Jesus, in any degree, could be proved, it would give us reason for supposing - what I have personally always been inclined to believe - that there was also a historical nucleus for such personages as Osiris, Mithra, Krishna, Hercules, Apollo and the rest. The question, in fact, narrows itself down to this, Have there been in the course of human evolution certain, so to speak, nodal points or periods at which the psychology currents ran together and condensed themselves for a new start, and has each such node or point of condensation been marked by the appearance of an actual and heroic man (or woman) who supplied a necessary impetus for the new departure, and gave his name to the resulting movement? or is it sufficient to suppose the automatic formation of such nodes or starting-points without the intervention of any special hero or genius, and to imagine that in each case the myth-making tendency of mankind created a legendary and inspiring figure and worshiped the same for a long period afterwards as a god? [181]

"As I have said before, this is a question which, interesting as it is, is not really very important. The main thing being that the prophetic and creative spirit of mankind has from time to time evolved those figures as idealizations of its "heart's desire" and placed a halo round their heads. The long procession of them becomes a real piece of history - the history of the evolution of the human heart, and of human consciousness."
- Pagan and Christian Creeds, by Edward Carpenter, pp. 217, 218.

The Crucifixion and the Cross of Christ are as old as humanity itself. Both are symbols of the eternal sacrifice of God as He immerses Himself in the form aspect of nature and thus becomes God immanent as well as God transcendent.

We have seen that Christ must be recognized, first of all, in the cosmic sense. The cosmic Christ has existed from all eternity. This cosmic Christ is divinity, or spirit, crucified in space. He personifies the immolation or sacrifice of spirit upon the cross of matter, of form or substance, in order that all divine forms, including the human, may live. This has ever been recognized by the so-called pagan faiths. If the symbolism of the cross is traced far back, it will be found that it antedates Christianity by thousands of years, and that finally, the four arms of the cross will be seen to drop away, leaving only the picture of the living Heavenly Man, with His arms outspread in space. North, south, east and west stands the cosmic Christ upon what is called "the fixed cross of the heavens." Upon this cross God is eternally crucified.

"The sky is mystically spoken of as the Temple and the eternal consciousness of God. Its altar is the sun, whose four arms or rays typify the four corners or the cardinal cross of the universe, which have become the four fixed signs of the Zodiac, and as the four powerful sacred animal signs, are both cosmical and spiritual... These four are known as the consecrated animals of the Zodiac, while the signs themselves represent the basic fundamental elements of life, Fire, Earth, Air and Water."
- The Celestial Ship of the North, by E. V. Straiton, Vol. 1, p. 104. [182]

These four signs are Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius, and they constitute pre-eminently the cross of the soul, the cross upon which the second Person of the divine Trinity is crucified. Christ personified in His mission these four aspects, and as the cosmic Christ He exemplified in His Person the qualities for which each sign stood. Even primitive man, unevolved and ignorant, was aware of the significance of the cosmic spirit, immolated in matter and crucified upon the four-armed cross. These four signs are to be found unequivocally in the Bible, and are regarded in our Christian belief as the four sacred animals. The Prophet Ezekiel refers to them in the words:

"As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side; and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle." (Ezekiel, I, 10.)

And again in the Book of Revelations, we find the same astrological symbology:

"And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes, before and behind.

"And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast was like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle."

(Rev. IV, 6.7.)

The "face of the man" is the ancient sign of Aquarius, the sign of the man carrying the water-pot, to which Christ referred when He sent His disciples into the city, saying: "Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in." (St. Luke, XXII, 10.) This is the zodiacal sign into which we are entering. It might be as well to point out that this is astronomically true and not simply a pronouncement [183] of the astrologers. The symbol which stands for the zodiacal sign Leo, is the Lion. This sign is the symbol of individuality, and under its influence the race arrives at self-consciousness and men can function as individuals. Christ, in His teaching, emphasized the significance of the individual and in His life demonstrated the supreme value of the individual, his perfecting, his service and his ultimate sacrifice in the interests of the whole. The constellation Aquila is always regarded as interchangeable with the sign Scorpio, the serpent, and it is therefore frequently used in this connection when considering the fixed cross of the cosmic Savior. Scorpio is the serpent of illusion from which the Christ nature finally frees us, and it is to the illusory wiles of this serpent Scorpio that Adam succumbed in the garden of Eden. The "face of the ox" is the biblical symbol for the sign Taurus, the Bull, which was the religion immediately antedating the Jewish revelation, and which found its exponents in Egypt and in the Mithraic Mysteries. Upon this fixed cross all the world Saviors, not excepting the Christ of the West, have been eternally crucified, as reminders to man of the divine intent based upon the divine sacrifice.

The early Fathers recognized this truth, and realized that the story written in the heavens had a definite relation to humanity and to the evolution of human souls. Clement of Alexandria tells us that "the path of souls to ascension lies through the twelve signs of the zodiac," and the church festivals today are based, not upon historical dates in connection with the outstanding religious figures to which they refer, but upon the times and the seasons. We saw how in the Birth at Bethlehem the date was fixed astronomically nearly four centuries after Christ was born. The combination of Virgo with the Star in the East (Sirius), and the Three Kings (symbolized by Orion's belt) was the determining factor. The Virgin was seen in the east, with the line of the horizon passing through her center, and this is one of the factors determining the doctrine of the Virgin birth. [184]

Another instance can here be given to illustrate the astronomical background of our Christian festivals. There are two festivals kept in the Roman Catholic and the higher Anglican Churches, called the Assumption of the Virgin and the Birth of the Virgin Mary. One is celebrated on August 15th and the other on September 8th. Each year, the sun can be seen entering the sign Virgo about the time of the Assumption, and the entire constellation is enveloped and lost to sight in the radiant glory of the sun. About September 8th the constellation Virgo can be seen slowly reappearing as it emerges from the rays of the sun. This is spoken of as the birth of the Virgin.

Easter Day is always decided astronomically. These facts warrant the most careful consideration. This information should be in the hands of all Christian people, because then and only then can they arrive at a full and clear understanding of what, in His cosmic nature, Christ came to Earth to do. That event was of far greater importance than simply bringing about the salvation of any individual human being. It signified far more than the basis of the belief of several million people in their heavenly future Christ's incarnation, apart from its historical value, and apart from the keynote which He sounded, marked the closing of a great cosmic cycle, but it marked also the opening of that door into the kingdom which had opened only occasionally theretofore, in order to permit the entrance of those sons of God who had triumphed over matter. After the advent of Christ, the door stood wide open for all time, and the kingdom of God began to form on Earth. In the long processes of time four great expressions of divine life, four forms of God immanent in nature, have appeared upon our planet. We call them the four kingdoms of nature. They constitute, symbolically, the planetary reflection of the four arms of the zodiacal cross upon which the cosmic Christ can be seen crucified. Down the ages human beings have symbolized the comic Christ immolated upon the cross of matter, and thus have perpetuated in the [185] consciousness of the race the knowledge of that event; so in a planetary sense, the four kingdoms of nature do the same, portraying the spirit of God stretched upon a cross of material form, in order eventually to make possible the appearance of the kingdom of God on Earth. This connotes the spiritualization of matter and form, the assumption of matter into heaven, and the release of God from the cosmic crucifixion. The poet, Joseph Plunkett, makes this beautifully clear in the following verses:

"I see His blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of His eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.

I see His face in every flower,
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but His voice - and carven by His power
Rocks are His written words.

All pathways by His feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree."

- Quoted in The Testament of Man, by Arthur Stanley, p. 498.

The wonder of Christ's mission lay in the fact that, though He was one of a long continuity of perfected divine men, He had a unique function. He summed up in Himself and brought to a conclusion the symbolic presentation of God's eternal sacrifice upon the fixed cross of the heavens, to which the stars bear testimony and which the history of religion has so successfully veiled, and today refuses to recognize. The Heavenly Man is today pendant in the Heavens, as He has been since the creation of the solar system, and as Christ said, "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me," (St. John, XII, 32.) and not all men only, but eventually all forms of life in all kingdoms will render up their life, not as an imposed sacrifice, but as a willing offering to the [186] final glory of God. "He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it," (St. Matt., X, 39.) is a fact which is often forgotten and one which has a definite bearing upon the story of the crucifixion its wider implications. It is, however, through the achievement of the last of the manifesting kingdoms, the human, that the cross and its purpose is completed, and to this the death of Christ bears testimony.

But the important point is not His death, though that was climactic in the evolutionary process, but the subsequent Resurrection, symbolizing as it did the formation and the precipitation upon Earth of a new kingdom in which men and all forms would be free from death - a kingdom of which the Man released from the Cross should be the symbol. We thus complete the entire circle, from the Man in space, with arms outspread in the form of a cross, through the sequence of crucified Saviors, telling us again and again what God had done for the universe, until we arrive at the culminating Son of God Who carried the symbolism down on to the physical plane, in all its stages. He then rose from the dead to tell us that the long task of evolution had at last reached its final phase - if we so choose, and if we are ready to do as He did - pay the price, and, passing through the gates of death, attain to a joyful resurrection. St. Paul sought to bring this truth home to us, though his words have been so often distorted through translation and theological misinterpretation:

"I long to know Christ and the power which is in His resurrection, and to share in His suffering and die even as He died; in the hope that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. I do not say that I have already gained this knowledge or already reached perfection, but I press on." (Phil., III, 10, 11, Weymouth's Translation.)

It would not appear from this passage that St. Paul regarded it as sufficient to salvation that one should simply believe that Christ died for one's sins. [187]

Let me state here, briefly and succinctly, what it would appear really transpired when Christ died upon the Cross. He rendered up the form aspect and identified Himself as Man with the life aspect of Deity. He thereby liberate us from the form side of life, of religion and of matter, and demonstrated to us the possibility of being in the world and yet not of the world, (St. John, XVII, 16.) living as souls, released from the trammels and limitations of the flesh, while yet walking on earth. To the very deeps of its being humanity is tired of death. Its only rest lies in the belief that the ultimate victory is over death, and that some day death will be abolished. This we shall go into more definitely in our next chapter, but in passing, it may be said that the race is so imbued with the thought of death that it has been the line of least resistance for theology to emphasize the death of Christ, and to omit to lay the major emphasis upon the renewal of life to which that death was the prelude. This practice will end because the world today demands a living Christ rather than a dead Savior. It demands an ideal so universal in its implications - so inclusive of time and space and life - that the constant explanations and the endless attempts to make theology conform to the requirements of a deeply sensed vital truth will no longer be needed. The world has outlived the thought of a wrathful God who demands a blood sacrifice. Intelligent people today must agree that "...modern thought does not clash with primitive Christian ideas; but in regard to the propitiation for these evil inclinations the case is different. We can no longer accept the appalling theological doctrine that for some mystic reason a propitiatory sacrifice was necessary. It outrages either our conception of God as almighty or else our conception of Him as all-loving." (The Paganism in Our Christiantity, by Arthur Weigall, p. 152.) Humanity will accept the thought of a God who so loved the world that He sent His Son to give us the final expression of the cosmic sacrifice and to say to us, as He did [188] upon the Cross: "It is finished." (St. John XIX, 30.) We can now "enter into the joy of the Lord." (St. Matt., XXV, 21.) Men are learning to love, and the will, and do, repudiate a theology which makes of God a force of hardness and cruelty in the world, unparalleled by men.

The whole trend of human life tends to repudiate those ancient tenets which were founded in fear, and instead, courageously faces the facts and the responsibilities which are inherent in its spiritual birthright.


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?

The difference lay in the point in evolution which humanity itself had reached. The cycle which Christ inaugurated has been one in which men have become strictly human. Up till that Incarnation there had always been those who, having achieved humanity, had then passed on to demonstrate divinity. But now the whole race is at the point of so doing. Although today men are predominantly animal-emotional, yet through the success of the evolutionary process - leading as it has to our widespread educational systems and the general high level of mental awareness - men have reached the point where the masses themselves, given proper encouragement, can "enter into the kingdom of God." Who can say that it is not this realization, dim and uncertain as it may be, which prompts the universal unrest and the widespread determination to better conditions? That we interpret the kingdom of God in terms of the material is inevitable at first, but it is a hopeful and spiritual sign that we are today so [192] busy cleaning house, and thus attempting to raise the level of our civilization. Christ incarnated when, for the first time, humanity was a complete whole, as far as the form side its nature was concerned, with all the qualities manifesting - physical, psychic and mental - which distinguish the human animal. He brought to us a manifestation of what the perfect man could be who, regarding that form side as the temple of God, but recognizing his innate divinity, strives to bring it to the foreground, first of all in his own consciousness and then before the world. This Christ did. The mysteries had always been revealed to the individual who fitted himself to penetrate into a hidden arcanum or temple, but Christ revealed them to humanity as a whole, and enacted the whole drama of the God-Man before the race. This was His major achievement, and this we have forgotten - the living Christ - in the emphasis we have laid upon man himself, on his relation to himself as a sinner, and to God as the One against Whom he has sinned.

Again, every great organization or group religion or cult of any kind has originated with a person, and from that person the idea has spread out into the world, gathering adherents as time elapsed. Christ in this way precipitated the kingdom of God upon earth. It had always existed in the heavenly places. He caused it to materialize, thus becoming a fact to the consciousness of men.

Preparedness for the Kingdom, and the arrival of the time when men in large numbers could be initiated into the mysteries, required from them a recognition of an unworthiness and a sinfulness which only the development of the mind could give. The age of Christianity has been an age of mental unfoldment. It has been an age also wherein much emphasis has been laid upon sin and evil doing. There is no consciousness of sin in the animals, though there may be indications of a conscience among the domesticated animals, due to their association with man. Mind produces the power to analyze a observe, to differentiate and distinguish; and so with the [193] advent of mental development there has been, for a long time, a growing sense of sinfulness, of contrition, and of an almost abject attitude to the Creator, producing in humanity that strongly marked inferiority complex with which today psychologists have to deal. Against this sense of sin, with its concomitants of propitiation, at-one-ment and the sacrifice of Christ for us, there has been a revolt; and in this really wholesome reaction there is the normal tendency to go too far. Fortunately, we are never able to get too far from divinity; and that, as a race, we shall swing back into a state of greater spirituality than ever before is the sincere belief of all who know. Theology over-reached itself with its "miserable sinner" complex and its emphasis upon the necessity for the purification by blood. This teaching of purification through the blood of bulls and of rams (or lambs) was part of the ancient mysteries, and was inherited by us primarily from the Mysteries of Mithra. These mysteries, in their turn, inherited the teaching, and thus formulated their doctrine, which Christianity absorbed. When the sun was in the zodiacal sign of Taurus the Bull, the sacrifice of the bull was offered as a forecast of that which Christ came later to reveal. When the sun passed (in the precession of the equinoxes) into the next sign, that of Aries the Ram, we find the lamb was sacrificed and the scapegoat sent into the wilderness. Christ was born into the next sign, Pisces the Fishes, and it is for this reason that we eat fish on Good Friday, in commemoration of His coming. Tertullian, one of the early Church Fathers, speaks of Jesus Christ as the "Great Fish," and of us, His followers, as the "little fishes." These facts are well known, as the following extract will indicate:

"The ceremonies of purification by the sprinkling or drenching of the novice with the blood of bulls or rams were widespread, and were to be found in the rites of Mithra. By this purification a man was 'born again' and the Christian expression 'washed in the blood of the Lamb' is undoubtedly a reflection of this idea, the reference thus being clear in the words of the Epistle to the Hebrews: 'It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away [194] sins.' In this passage the writer goes on to say: 'Having boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which he hath consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say his flesh... let us draw near... having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.' But when we learn that the Mithraic initiation ceremony consisted in entering boldly into a mysterious underground 'holy of holies' with the eyes veiled, and there being sprinkled with blood, and washed with water, it is clear that the author of the Epistle thinking of those Mithraic rites with which everybody at that time must have been so familiar."
- The Paganism in Our Christianity, by Arthur Weigall, pp. 132, 133.

Christ came to abolish these sacrifices by showing us their true meaning, and in His Person as perfect man He died the death of the Cross to show us (in picture form and through actual demonstration) that divinity can be manifested and can truly express itself only when man, as man, has died in order that the hidden Christ may live. The lower carnal nature (as St. Paul loved to call it) must die in order that the higher divine nature may show forth in all its beauty. The lower self must die in order that the higher self can manifest on earth. Christ had to die in order that once and for all mankind might learn the lesson that by the sacrifice of the human nature the divine aspect might be "saved." Thus Christ summed up in Himself the significance of all the past world sacrifices. That mysterious truth which had been revealed only to the pledged and trained initiate when he was ready for the fourth initiation was given out by Christ to the world of men. He died for all so that all might live. But this is not the doctrine of the vicarious at-one-ment which was pre-eminently St. Paul's interpretation of the Crucifixion, but the doctrine which Christ Himself taught - the doctrine of divine immanence (see St. John XVII), and the doctrine of the God-Man.

Christianity inherited many of its interpretations, and the teachers and interpreters of the early Christian times were no more free from the thralldom of ancient beliefs than are we [195] from the interpretations given to Christianity during the past two thousand years. Christ did give us the teaching that we must die in order to live as Gods, and therefore He died. He did sum up in Himself all the traditions of the past for He "not only fulfiled the Judaic Scriptures, but He also fulfiled those of the pagan world, and therein lay the great appeal of early Christianity. In Him a dozen shadowy Gods were condensed into a proximate reality; and in His crucifixion the old stories of their ghastly at-oning sufferings and sacrificial deaths were made actual and given a direct meaning." (Ibid., p. 166.) But His death was also the consummating act of a life of sacrifice and service, and the logical outcome of His teaching. Pioneers and those who reveal to men their next step, those who come forth as the interpreters of the divine Plan, inevitably are repudiated, and usually die as the result of their courageous pronouncements. To this rule Christ was no exception. "Advanced Christian thinkers now regard the Crucifixion of our Lord as the supreme sacrifice made by Him for the sake of the principles of His teaching. It was the crowning act of His most heroic life, and it affords such a sublime example to mankind that meditation upon it may be said to produce a condition of at-one-ment with the Fountainhead of all goodness." (Ibid., p. 166.)

How then is it that today we have such an emphasis upon the blood sacrifice of Christ and upon the idea of sin? It would appear that two causes are responsible for this:

1. The inherited idea of blood sacrifice. As Dr. Rashdall tells us:

"The various authors of the canonical books in fact were so accustomed to the pre-Christian ideas of an expiatory sacrifice and at-one-ment that they accepted it without going to the roots of the matter. But this vagueness was not to the liking of the early Christian Fathers. In the Second Century A.D., Irenaeus, and after him other writers, explained the doctrine by what is called the 'Ransom Theory,' which states that the Devil was lawful lord of [196] mankind owing to Adam's fall, and that God, being unable with justice to take Satan's subjects from him without paying a ransom for them, handed over His own incarnate Son in exchange."
- The Idea of At-one-ment, by H. Rashdall, p. 248.

In this thought we have a definite demonstration of the way in which all ideas (intuitively perceived and infallibly right) are distorted. Men's minds and preconceived notions color them. The idea becomes the ideal, and serves a useful purpose and leads men on (as the idea of sacrifice has always led men nearer to God) until it becomes an idol, and consequently limiting and untrue.

2. The growth of the consciousness of sin in the race, due to its increasing sensitivity to divinity and its consequent recognition of the shortcomings and the relative evil of the lower human nature.

We have seen that one of the factors responsible for the sin-complex of the West has been the development of the mind faculty, with its consequent aftermath of a developed conscience, a capacity to have a sense of values, and (as the result of that) the ability to see the higher and the lower natures in opposition to each other. When the higher self with its values and its range of contacts is instinctively contacted, and the lower self, with its lesser values and its more material range of activities is also realized, it necessarily follows that a sense of division and of failure is developed; man realize their lack of achievement; they become aware of God and humanity, of the world, of the flesh and the devil, but at the same time of the kingdom of God. As man develops, his definitions alter, and the crude so-called sins of the unevolved man, and the faults and failings of the average "nice" citizen of modern times involve different attitudes of mind and judgment, and surely different punitive approaches. As our sense of God changes and develops, and as we approach nearer to reality, our entire outlook upon life, ourselves and our fellow men is apt to alter and widen, and become more divine as well as more human. It is a human [197] characteristic to be conscious of sin, and to realize that when a man has offended he must, in some form or other, pay a price. The germ of mind, even in infant humanity, gives rise to this realization, but it took nearly two thousand years of Christianity to raise sin to a position of such importance that it occupied (as it still does) a primary place in the thought of the entire race. We have a situation wherein the law and the Church and the educators of the race are almost entirely occupied with sin and how to prevent it. One wonders sometimes what the world would have been like today if the exponents of the Christian faith had occupied themselves with the theme of love and loving service instead of with this constantly reiterated emphasis upon the blood sacrifice and upon the wickedness of man.

The theme of sin runs naturally and normally throughout human history; and the effort to expiate it, in the form of animal sacrifice, has always been present. The belief in an angry deity, who exacted penalties for all that was done by man against a brother, and who demanded a price for all that was given to man as a product of the natural processes of the earth, is as old as man himself. It has passed through many phases. The idea of a God Whose nature is love has battled for centuries with the idea of a God Whose nature is wrath. The outstanding contribution of Christ to world progress was His affirmation, through word and example, of the thought that God is love and not a wrathful deity, inflicting jealous retribution. The battle still rages between this ancient belief and the truth of God's love which Christ expressed, and which Shri Krishna also embodied. But the belief in an angry, jealous God is still strongly entrenched. It is rooted in the consciousness of the race, and only today are we slowly beginning to realize a different expression of divinity. Our interpretation of sin and its penalty has been at fault, but the reality of God's love can now be grasped and can thus offset the disastrous doctrine of an angry God Who sent His Son to be the propitiation for the world evil. Of this [198] belief Calvinism is perhaps the best and purest interpretation, and a brief statement as to that theological doctrine will present the concept in understandable terms.

"Calvinism is built upon the dogma of the absolute sovereignty of God, including omnipotence, omniscience and eternal justice - a common Christian doctrine, but developed by Calvinists with relentless logic to extreme conclusions. Calvinism is often summarized in five points. (1) Every human being as a descendant of Adam (whom all Christians in those times supposed to be an historical character) is guilty from his birth of original sin, in addition to later sins committed in his own lifetime. A man can do nothing to remove his own sin and guilt; that can only be done by the grace of God, mercifully vouchsafed to him through the at-one-ment of Christ, and without any merit whatever on his own part; (2) So only those certain persons can be saved (particular redemption); (3) To whom God gives an effectual calling, strengthening their wills, and enabling them to accept salvation; (4) Who shall, and who shall not be saved is thus a matter of divine election, or predestination; (5) God will never fail those who are his elect: they shall never fall from ultimate salvation (perseverance of the saints). Calvinists insisted with great heat, and endeavored with much subtility to demonstrate, that their doctrine fully provides for human freedom, and that God is in no way responsible for human sin."
- A Student's Philosophy of Religion, by William K. Wright, p. 178.

In view, therefore, of this emphasis upon human sinfulness, and as a result of the age-old habit of offering sacrifice to God, the true mission of Christ was long ignored. Instead of His being recognized as embodying in Himself an eternal hope for the race, He was incorporated into the ancient system of sacrifices, and the ancient habits of thought were too strong for the new idea which He came to give. Sin and sacrifice ousted and supplanted the love and service which He sought to bring to our attention through His life and His words. That is also why, from the psychological angle, Christianity has produced such sad, weary, and sin-conscious men. Christ, the sacrifice for sin, and the Cross of Christ as the [199] instrument of His death, have absorbed men's attention, whilst Christ the perfect man and Christ the Son of God have been less emphasized. The cosmic significance of the cross has been entirely forgotten (or never known) in the West.

Salvation is not primarily connected with sin. Sin is a symptom of a condition, and when a man is "truly saved" that condition is offset, and with it the incidental sinful nature. It was this that Christ came to do - to show us the nature of the "saved" life; to demonstrate to us the quality of the eternal Self which is in every man; this is the lesson of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection: the lower nature must die in order that the higher may be manifested, and the eternal immortal soul in every man must rise from the tomb of matter. It is interesting to trace the idea that men must suffer in this world as the result of sin. In the East, where the doctrines of reincarnation and of karma hold sway, a man suffers for his own deeds and sins and "works out his own salvation, with fear and trembling." (Phil. II, 12.) In the Jewish teaching a man suffers for the sins of his forebears and of his nation, and thus gives substance to a truth which is only today beginning to be a known fact - the truth of physical inheritance. Under the Christian teaching, Christ, the perfect man, suffers with God, because God so loved the world that, immanent in it as He is, He could not divorce Himself from the consequences of human frailty and ignorance. Thus humanity gives a purpose to pain, and thus evil is eventually defeated.

The thought and idea of sacrifice for the sins of the people was not the original and basic idea. Originally, infant humanity offered sacrifices to God to appease His wrath, displayed in the elements through storms and earthquakes and physical disasters. When, instinctively, men turned on each other, when they offended and hurt one another, and so transgressed a dimly sensed realization of human relationships and intercourse, sacrifice was offered again to God so that He too would not hurt mankind. Thus little by little [200] the idea grew until, at last, the salvation concept might be briefly summarized in the following terms:

  1. Men are saved from the wrath of God in natural phenomena through animal sacrifices, preceded in still more ancient times by the sacrifice of the fruits of the earth.
  2. Men are saved from God's wrath and from each other by the sacrifice of that which is valued, leading eventually to human sacrifices.
  3. Men are saved by the sacrifice of a recognized Son of God, hence the vicarious at-one-ment, for which the many crucified world Saviors prepared the way for Christ.
  4. Men are definitely saved from eternal punishment for their sins by the death of Christ upon the Cross, the sinner guilty of an unkind word being as much responsible for the death of Christ as the vilest murderer.
  5. Finally, the gradually emerging recognition that we are saved by the living risen Christ - historically presenting to us a goal, and present in each of us as the eternal omniscient soul of man.

Today it is the risen Christ who is emerging into the forefront of men's consciousness, and because of this we are on our way towards a period of greater spirituality and a truer expression of religion than at any other time in the history of man. The religious consciousness is the persistent expression of the indwelling spiritual man, the Christ within; and no outer earthly happenings, and no national situations, no matter how temporarily material they may appear to be in their objectives, can dull or obliterate the Presence of God in us. We are learning that that Presence can be released in us only by the death of the lower nature, and this is what Christ has always proclaimed to us from His Cross. We are realizing increasingly that the "fellowship of His sufferings" means that we mount the Cross with Him and share constantly in the Crucifixion experience. We are coming to the knowledge that the determining factor in human life is love, and that "God is love." (I St. John, IV, 8.) Christ came to show us that love was the [201] motivating power of the universe. He suffered and died because He loved and cared enough for human beings to demonstrate to them the Way that they must go - from the cave of Birth to the mount of Transfiguration, and on to the agony of the Crucifixion - if they too are to share in the life of humanity and become, in their turn, saviors of their fellowmen.

How then shall we define sin? First let us look at the words which are used in the Bible and in theological works and commentaries dealing with the theme of sin, transgression, iniquity, evil, separation. All of these are expressions of man's relation to God and to his fellowmen and, according to the New Testament, these terms - God and our fellowmen - are interchangeable terms. What do these words mean?

The real meaning of the word sin is very obscure. It signifies literally "the one who it is." (Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.) Literally, therefore, the one who is in existence, just in so far as he sets himself up against the divine aspect hidden in himself, is a sinner. Some words by Dr. Grensted are illuminating in this connection. He says:

" 'Men turned away from God,' says Athanasius, 'when they began to give heed to themselves.' Augustine identifies sin with the love of self. Dr. Williams has argued that the underlying principle from which sin arises is to be found in 'the self-assertion of the individual against the herd, a principle which we can only designate by the inadequate titles of selfishness, lovelessness and hate.' And Dr. Kirk declares that 'sin may be said to begin with self-regard.' "
- Psychology and God, by L. W. Grensted, p. 136.

These thoughts bring us directly to the central problem of sin which is (in the last analysis) the problem of man's essential duality, before he has made the at-one-ment for which Christ stood. When man, before he awakens to his dual nature, does that which is wrong and sinful, we cannot and do not regard him as a sinner - unless we are [202] old-fashioned enough to believe in the doctrine that every man is irretrievably lost unless he is "saved" in the orthodox sense of the term. To St. James, sin is acting against knowledge, and he says "To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." (St. James, IV, 17.) There we have a real definition of sin. It is to act against light and knowledge, and with deliberation to do that which we know is wrong and undesirable. Where there is no such knowledge there can be no sin; therefore animals are regarded as free from sin, and men acting in equal ignorance should likewise be so regarded. But the moment a man becomes aware that he is two persons in one form, that he is God and man, then responsibility steadily increases, sin becomes possible, and it is here that the mystery aspect of sin enters in. It consists in the relation between the "hidden man of the heart" (I St. Peter, III, 4.) and the outer, tangible man. Each has its own life and its own field of experience. Each therefore remains a mystery to the other. The at-one-ment consists in resolving the relationship between these two, and when the wishes of the "hidden man" are violated, the sin occurs.

When these two aspects of man are united and function together as a unity, and when the spiritual man controls the activities of the carnal man, sin becomes impossible, and man moves on towards greatness.

The word "transgression" signifies the walking across a boundary; it involves the displacing of a landmark, as it is called in Masonry, or the infringement of one of the basic principles of living. There are certain things which are recognized by all as having a controlling relation to man. Such a compilation of principles as the Ten Commandments might be cited as a case in point. They constitute the boundary which ancient custom, ordained right habits, and the social order have imposed upon the race. To step across these boundaries, which man, from experience, has himself instituted, and to which God has accorded divine recognition, [203] is to transgress, and for every transgression there is an inevitable penalty. We pay the price of ignorance every time, and thereby learn not to sin; we are penalized when we do not keep the rules, and in time we learn not to transgress them. Instinctively we keep certain rules; probably because we have often paid the price, and certainly because we care too much about our reputations and public opinion to transgress them now. There are boundaries across which the average right-minded citizen does not step. When he does, he joins the large group of sinners. Controlled action in every department of human life is the ideal, and this action must be based on right motive, be actuated by unselfish purpose, and be carried forward in the strength of the inner spiritual man, the "hidden man of the heart."

"Iniquity" is a word with a seemingly innocuous meaning. It signifies simply an unevenness, an inequality. An iniquitous man is therefore technically an unbalanced man, one who tolerates some unevennesses in his daily life. A definition such as this is broadly inclusive, and even if we do not regard ourselves as sinners and transgressors, we surely come under the category of those whose lives show certain inequalities in conduct. We are not always the same. We are fluid in our expression of living. We are some days one thing and some days another, and because of this lack of balance and of equilibrium, we are iniquitous people in the true sense of the word. These things are good to remember, for they prevent that dire sin, self-satisfaction.

The question of evil is too large to elucidate at length, but it might be defined simply as adherence to that which we should have outgrown, the grasping of that which we should have left behind. Evil is, for the bulk of us, simply and solely an effort to identify ourselves with the form life when we have a capacity for soul consciousness; and righteousness is the steady turning of the thought and life towards the soul, leading to those activities which are spiritual and harmless and helpful. This sense of evil and this reaction to good is again latent in the relationship between the two [204] halves of man's nature - the spiritual and the strictly human. When we turn the light of our awakened consciousness into the lower nature, and then with deliberation do, "in the light," those things which are determined and vitalized from the lower levels of our existence, we are throwing the weight of our knowledge on the side of evil, and are retrogressing. It is not always expedient from the point of view of the "carnal man" to do, or to reject, certain things, and when we choose the lower, and do it, making a specific choice, then the evil which is in us is dominating.

It is gradually dawning on the human consciousness that a separative attitude has in it the elements of sin and of evil. When we are separative in our attitudes or do anything which produces separation, we are transgressing a fundamental law of God. What we are really doing is breaking the Law of Love, which knows no separation, but sees only unity and synthesis, brotherhood and interrelation everywhere. Herein lies our major problem. Our study in connection with sin and evil will, as Dr. Grensted tells us, serve...

"in the main to reveal the fundamental character of our problem as resulting from a failure of faith and a refusal of love. The psychologists do not escape from this view of sin when they deal with it as moral disease, for their one hope of treating such moral disease successfully rests in an attempt to awaken the latent personal resources of the ego, through processes in themselves personal. Where, as in certain of the major psychoses, this appeal cannot be made, there is no human hope of a cure. The key to psychological healing lies in the transference and there is the closest possible parallel between this and the Christian way of forgiveness. Both methods are wholly personal, both depend upon a readjustment of relationships which begins at priest or physician and passes out into every relationship of the social environment." [Italics are mine. A. A. B.]
- Psychology and God, by L. W. Grensted, p. 199.

The sense of responsibility for one's actions grows as one progresses from stage to stage upon the Path of Evolution. [205] In the early stages there is little or no responsibility. There is little or no knowledge, no sense of relationship to God, and very little sense of relationship to humanity. It is this sense of separateness, this emphasis upon personal and individual good, which is of the nature of sin. Love is unity, at-one-ment and synthesis. Separateness is hatred, aloneness and division. But man, being divine in nature, has to love, and the trouble has been that he has loved wrongly. In the early stages of his development he places his love in the wrong direction, and turning his back on the love of God, which is of the very nature of his own soul, he loves that which is connected with the form side of life, and not with the life side of form.

Sin is therefore a definite infringement of the Law of Love, as we show it in our relation with God or with our brother, a son of God. It is the doing of those things from purely selfish interest which brings suffering to those we have in our immediate surroundings, or to the group with which we may be affiliated - a family group, a social group, a business group, or just the group of human beings with whom our general destiny casts us.

This brings us to the realization that, in the last analysis, sin signifies wrong relation to other human beings. It was the sense of this wrong relation which in the early days of man's history gave rise to the sacrifice of worldly goods upon the altar, for primitive man seemed to feel that by making an offering to God he succeeded in making redemption of his character possible with his fellow men.

It is beginning to dawn upon the race today that the only real sin is to hurt another human being. Sin is the misuse of our relationships with each other, and there is no evading these relationships. They exist. We live in a world of men, and our lives are spent in contact with other human beings. The way in which we handle this daily problem demonstrates either our divinity or our erring lower nature. Our task in life is to express divinity. And that divinity manifests itself [206] in the same way that the divinity of Christ expressed itself; in harmless living and ceaseless service to our fellow men; in a careful watchfulness over words and deeds lest in any way we should "offend one of these little ones" (St. Luke, XVII, 2.); in the sharing with Christ of the urgency which He felt to meet the world's need and to act the part of a savior to men. It is gloriously true that this basic concept of Deity is beginning to grip humanity.

Christ's major task was the establishing of God's kingdom upon earth. He showed us the way in which humanity could enter that kingdom - by subjecting the lower nature to the death of the cross, and rising by the power of the indwelling Christ. Each one of us has to tread the way of the cross alone, and enter God's kingdom by right of achievement. But the way is found in service to our fellow men, and Christ's death, viewed from one angle, was the logical outcome of the service which He had rendered. Service, pain, difficulty and the cross - such are the rewards of the man who puts humanity first and himself second. But having done so, he discovers that the door into the kingdom is flung wide open and that he can enter in. But he has first to suffer. It is the Way.

It is through supreme service and sacrifice that we become followers of Christ and earn the right to enter into His kingdom, because we do not enter alone. This is the subjective element in all religious aspiration, and this all the sons of God have grasped and taught. Man triumphs through death and sacrifice.

That superhuman Spirit, Christ, did this perfectly. In Him was no sin because He had perfectly transcended the ephemeral lower self. His personality was subordinated to His divinity. The laws of transgression touched Him not, because He crossed no boundaries and infringed no principles. He embodied in Himself the principle of love and therefore it was not possible for Him, at the stage in [207] evolution which He had reached, to hurt a human being. He was perfectly balanced and had achieved that equilibrium which released Him from all lower impacts and set Him free to ascend to the throne of God. For Him there was no holding on to the lower and to that which was humanly desirable but divinely rejected. Evil therefore passed Him by, and he had no traffic with it. "He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." (Heb., IV, 15.) He knew no separateness. Rich men, publicans, fishermen, learned professors, harlots and simple folk were all His friends, and the "great heresy of separateness" was completely overcome by His all-inclusive spirit. Thus He fulfiled the law of the past, emphasized the type for the humanity of the future, and entered for us within the veil, leaving us an example that we should follow His steps - an example of sacrifice unto the death, of service rendered ceaselessly, of self-forgetfulness, and of a heroism that led Him from point to point upon the way, and from altitude to altitude, until no bonds could hold Him (not even the barriers of death). He remains the eternal God-Man, the Savior of the world. In perfection He fulfiled the will of God, and said to us the words which give us a simple rule with a great reward: "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God." (St. John, VII, 17.)

The simplicity of this instruction is almost baffling. We are told simply to do God's will and then truth will be revealed to us. There were times in Christ's life, as in the Garden of Gethsemane, when He fought with Himself to do God's will. There were moments when His human flesh quailed before the prospect which opened up before Him. He therefore knew the difficulty of this simple rule.


In turning our attention to the story of the Crucifixion it is obvious that there is no need to recount the details of it. [208] It is so well known and so familiar that the words in which it is couched are apt to mean little. The tale of Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem, of His gathering the disciples together into the upper room, and there sharing with them the communion of bread and of wine, and of the desertion of those who supposedly loved Him, with His subsequent agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, is as familiar to us as our own names, and much less arresting. That is the tragedy of Christ. He did so much, and we have recognized so little. It has taken us twenty centuries to begin to understand Him and His mission and career. The Crucifixion itself was only an anticipated and expected consummation of that career. No other end was possible. It was predetermined from the beginning, and really dated from the time when, after the Baptism initiation, He started out to serve humanity, and to teach and preach the good tidings of the kingdom of God. That was His theme, and we have forgotten it and have preached the Personality of Jesus Christ - one theme which He Himself ignored and which seemed to Him of small importance in view of the greater values involved. This again is the tragedy of Christ. He has one set of values and the world has another.

We have made of the Crucifixion a tragedy, whereas the real tragedy was our failure to recognize its true significance. The agony in the Garden of Gethsemane was based upon the fact that He was not understood. Many men have died violent deaths. In this, Christ was in no wise different from thousands of other farseeing men and reformers, down the ages. Many people have passed through the Gethsemane experience and prayed with the same fervor as Christ that God's will might be done. Many men have been deserted by those who might have been expected to understand and participate in the work and service visioned. In none of these respects was Christ really unique. But His suffering was based upon His unique vision. The lack of comprehension of the people, and the distorted interpretations which future theologians would give to His message must surely have been a part of [209] the prevision, as likewise the knowledge that the emphasis accorded to Him as the Savior of the world would retard for centuries the materializing of the kingdom of God on earth, which it was His mission to found. Christ came that all mankind might have "life... more abundantly." (St. John, X, 10.) We have so interpreted His words that only the "saved" are credited with having taken the necessary steps towards that life. But the abundant life is surely not a life to be lived hereafter, in some distant heaven where those who are believers shall enjoy an exclusive life of happiness, whilst the rest of God's children are left outside. The Cross was intended to indicate the line of demarcation between the kingdom of men and the kingdom of God, between one great kingdom in nature which had reached maturity, and another kingdom in nature which could now enter upon its cycle of activity. The human kingdom had evolved to the point where it had produced the Christ and those other children of God whose lives bore constant testimony to the divine nature.

Christ assumed the ancient symbol and burden of the cross, and, taking His stand beside all the previous crucified Saviors, embodied in Himself the immediate and the cosmic, the past and the future, rearing the Cross on the hill outside Jerusalem (the name of which signifies the "vision of peace"), thus calling attention to the kingdom which He died to establish. The work had been completed, and in that strange little country called the Holy Land, a narrow strip of territory between the two hemispheres, the East and the West, the Orient and the Occident, Christ mounted the Cross and fixed the boundary between the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of the world, between the world of men and the world of Spirit. Thus He brought to a climax the ancient Mysteries, which had prophesied the coming of that kingdom, and instituted the Mysteries of the kingdom of God.

The effort to carry out to perfection the will of God brought to an end the most complete life that had been lived on earth. The attempt to found the kingdom, [210] preordained for all time, and the antagonism it evoked, brought Christ to the place of crucifixion. The hardness of men's hearts, the weakness of their love, and their failure to see the vision, broke the heart of the Savior of the world - a Savior because He opened the door into the kingdom.

It is time that the Church woke up to its true mission, which is to materialize the kingdom of God on earth, today, here and now. The time is past wherein we can emphasize a future and coming kingdom. People are no longer interested in a possible heavenly state or a probable hell. They need to learn that the kingdom is here, and must express itself on earth; it consists of those who do the will of God at any cost, as Christ did, and who can love one another as Christ loved us. The way into that kingdom is the way that Christ trod. It involves the sacrifice of the personal self for the good of the world, and the service of humanity instead of the service of one's own desires. In the course of enunciating these new truths concerning love and service Christ lost his life. Canon Streeter tells us that "the significance and value of the death of Christ springs from its inner quality. It is the expression in external act of a freely chosen self-dedication, ungrudging, and without reserve, to the highest service of God and man. The suffering incidental to such self-offering is morally creative." (The Buddha and the Christ, by B. H. Streeter, p. 215.)

Is it not, perhaps, a fact that the Crucifixion of Christ, with its great preceding events - the communion and the Gethsemane experience - is a tragedy which has its basis in the conflict between love and hate? It is not the intention of this book to belittle the world event which took place upon Calvary. But today as one looks back upon that event, a certain truth begins to emerge, and this is that we have interpreted that sacrifice and that death in purely selfish terms. We are concerned with our individual interest in the matter. We have emphasized the importance of our individual salvation and feel it to be of tremendous importance. But the world view and what Christ was destined to [211] do for humanity down the ages, and the attitude of God towards human beings from the earliest times, through the period of Christ's life in Palestine and on until the present time, are subordinated to the factor of our belief or non-belief in the efficacy of the Crucifixion upon Calvary to save our individual souls. Yet in His conversation with the repentant thief Christ admitted him into the kingdom of God on the basis of his recognition of divinity. Christ had not yet died, and the blood sacrifice of Christ had not yet been made. It was almost as if Christ had foreseen the turn which theology would give to His death, and endeavored to offset it by making the recognition of the dying thief one of the outstanding events at His death. He made no reference to the remission of sins through His blood as the reason for that admission.

The real issue was the issue between love and hate. Only St. John, the beloved Apostle, the one closest to Jesus, really understood; and in his Epistles the emphasis is entirely upon love, and the usual orthodox interpretation is nowhere to be found. Just love and hate; the desire to live as children of God and the inclination to live as ordinary human beings: herein lies the distinction between the citizen of the kingdom of God and a member of the human family. It was love which Christ endeavored to express, but it is hate and separation and war, culminating in the World War, which have characterized the official rendering of His teaching, down the ages. Christ died in order to bring to our notice that the way into the kingdom of God was the way of love and of service. He served and loved and wrought miracles, and gathered together the poor and the hungry. He fed them, and sought in every possible way to call attention to the principle of love as the major characteristic of divinity, only to find that this life of loving service brought Him trouble and eventually the death of the Cross.

We have fought for the theological doctrine of the Virgin Birth. We have fought over the doctrines whereby men shall be saved. We have fought over the subject of baptism, and [212] over the at-one-ment. We have fought over the fact and the denial of immortality, and what man must do in order to be raised from the dead. We have regarded half the world as lost and only the Christian believer as saved, yet all the time Christ has told us that love is the way into the kingdom, and that the fact of the presence of divinity in each of us makes us eligible for that kingdom. We have omitted to realize that the "vicarious at-one-ment is the harmonizing of the disharmony of others by the power of a spiritual presence, which brings about the great transmutation; evil is absorbed and transmuted into good or equilibrated." (Some Mystical Adventures, by G. R. S. Mead, p. 161.) This constitutes the endeavor of Christ, and the fact of His Presence is the harmonizing medium in life. Men are not saved by belief in the formulation of a theological dogma, but by the fact of His living Presence, of the living immediate Christ. It is the realization of the fact of the presence of God in the human heart which is the basis of the mystical vision, while the knowledge that one is a son of God gives one the strength to follow the Savior's footsteps from Bethlehem to Calvary. That which will eventually reorganize our human life is the presence in the world of those who know Christ as their example, and recognize that they possess the same divine life, just as the affirmation of the basic law of the kingdom of God, the Law of Love, will finally save the world. It is the substitution of the life of Christ for the life of the world, the flesh and the devil, which will inject a meaning and a value into life.

A sense of the failure of love constitutes the outstanding problem in the agony in the Garden; it was this sense of travail with world forces which enabled Christ to join the company of all His brothers. Men had failed Him, just as men fail us. In the moment when He most needed understanding, and all the strength which companionship gives, His nearest and dearest either deserted Him or slept, unaware of His agony of mind. "The Promethean conflict is the [213] strife which takes place in the human mind between the yearning for understanding, and the nearer more immediate pull of those living affections and desires which are conditioned upon the goodwill and the support of fellow beings; desires for the happiness of loved ones; for the alleviation of pain and disappointment in minds that cannot understand the inner dream; and for the warm reassurance of mundane honors. This conflict is the rock upon which the religious mind founders and is split against itself." (Psychology and the Promethean Will, by W. H. Sheldon, pp. 85, 86.) Upon this rock Christ did not founder, but He had His moments of intensest agony, finding relief only in the realization of the Fatherhood of God and its corollary, the brotherhood of man. "Father," He said. It was this sense of unity with God and His fellow men which led Him to institute the Last Supper, to originate that communion service, the symbolism of which has been so disastrously lost in theological practice. The keynote of that communion service was fellowship. "It is only thus that Jesus creates fellowship among us. It is not as a symbol that he does it... in so far as we with one another and with him are of one will, to place the Kingdom of God above all, and to serve in behalf of this faith and hope, so far is there fellowship between him and us and the men of all generations who lived and live in the same thought." (The Mystery of the Kingdom of God, by Albert Schweitzer, p. 56.)


  1. "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." (St. Luke, XXIII, 34.)
  2. "To day thou shalt be with me in paradise." (St. Luke XXIII, 43.)
  3. "Woman, behold thy son! Then saith He to the disciple, Behold thy mother!" (St. John, XIX, 26.)
  4. "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (St. Matt., XXVII, 46.) [214]
  5. "I thirst." (St. John, XIX, 28.)
  6. "It is finished." (St. John, XIX, 30.)
  7. "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." (St. Luke, XXIII, 46.)

The thought of the kingdom colored all that He said upon the Cross. The Word of Power which emanated from the Cross was spoken by Jesus Christ Himself and not, this time, by the Father. Christ spoke a sevenfold word, and in that word summed up for us the Word that inaugurated the kingdom of God. Each of His utterances had relation to that kingdom, and not the usual small, individual or selfish relation which we have so often ascribed to them. What were those seven words? Let us consider them, realizing while doing so that the causes which gave rise to them produced the manifestation of the kingdom of God on earth.

In every case the seven words have been interpreted as having either an individual application in connection with the person to whom they were supposedly spoken, or as having a personal significance to Christ Himself. We have always read the Bible in this manner, with the personal significance in our minds. But these words of Christ are of too great importance to be thus interpreted. They have a meaning far wider than those usually given. The wonder of all He said (as it is the wonder of all the world scriptures) is that the words are capable of various meanings. The time has come when the meaning that Christ gave should be more generally understood by us in the light of the kingdom of God, and with a wider connotation than the individual one. His words were Words of Power, evoking and invoking, potent and dynamic.

One of the first things which emerge in one's consciousness as one studies the first word from the Cross was the fact that Jesus requested His Father to forgive the people who crucified Him; He evidently, then, did not regard His death upon the Cross as adequate to that need. There was [215] no remission of sins through the shedding of blood; but there was the need to ask God's pardon for the sin committed. The two facts which come to the fore in this word are the Fatherhood of God, and the fact that ignorance, if productive of wrongdoing, does not make a man guilty and therefore punishable. Sin and ignorance are frequently synonymous terms, but the sin is recognized as such by those who know and who are not ignorant. Where there is ignorance there is no sin. In this word from the Cross Christ tells us two things:

  1. That God is our Father, and that we approach Him through Christ. It is the inner hidden man of the heart, the unrealized Christ who can approach the Father. Christ had earned this right because of His proven divinity and because He had passed through the third initiation, the Transfiguration; when we too are transfigured (for only the transfigured Christ can be crucified) then we too can invoke the Father and call on the spirit, which is God, the life of all forms, to adjust relationships, and to bring about that forgiveness which is the very essence of life itself.
  2. That forgiveness is the result of life. This is a hard truth for the Western believer to accept. He is so used to resting back upon the activity of the Christ in the distant past. Forgiveness is, however, a result of living processes which bring adjustment, cause restitution, and produce that attitude wherein a man is no longer ignorant and therefore not in need of forgiveness. Life and experience do this for us, and nothing can arrest the process. It is not a theological belief that puts us right with God, but an attitude to life and an attitude to the Christ dwelling in the human heart. We learn through pain and suffering (that is, through experience) not to sin. We pay the price of our sins and mistakes, and cease to make them. We arrive eventually at the point, where we no longer make our earlier errors or commit our former sins. For we suffer and agonize, and learn that sin brings retribution and causes suffering. But suffering [216] has its uses, as Christ knew. In His Person He was not only the historical Jesus Whom we know and love, but He was also the symbol to us of the cosmic Christ, God suffering through the sufferings of His created beings.

Justice can be forgiveness when the facts of the case are rightly understood, and in this demand of the crucified Savior we have the recognition of the Law of justice, and not that of Retribution, in an act at which the whole world stands aghast. This work of forgiveness is the agelong work of the soul in matter or form. The Oriental believer calls this karma. The Western believer talks of the Law of Cause and Effect. Both, however, are dealing with the working out by a man of his soul's salvation, and the constant paying of the price which the ignorant pay for mistakes made and so-called sins committed. A man who deliberately sins against light and knowledge is rare. Most "sinners" are simply ignorant. "They know not what they do."

Then Christ turned to a sinner, to a man who had been convicted of wrong doing in the eyes of the world - and who himself recognized the correctness of the judgment and of his punishment. He stated that he received the due reward of his sins, but at the same time there was something in the quality of Jesus which arrested his attention and forced from him the admission that this third Malefactor had "done nothing amiss." The factor which accorded him admission into paradise was a two-fold one. He recognized the divinity of Christ. "Lord," he said. And he also had a realization of what Christ's mission was - to found a kingdom. "Remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom." The significance of his words is eternal and universal, for the man who recognizes divinity, and who at the same time is sensible of the kingdom, is ready to take advantage of the words, "To day, thou shalt be with me in paradise."

In the first word from the Cross, Jesus considered the ignorance and the feebleness of man. He was as helpless as a little child, and in His words He testified to the reality of the first initiation and to the time when He was a "babe in [217] Christ." The parallels between the two episodes are significant. The ignorance, helplessness and consequent maladjustment of human beings evoked from Jesus the demand that forgiveness be accorded. But when life experience has played its part, we have again the "babe in Christ," ignorant of the laws of the spiritual kingdom, yet released from the darkness and ignorance of the human kingdom.

In the second word from the Cross we have the recognition of the Baptism episode, which signified purity and release through the purification of the waters of life. The waters of John's Baptism released from the thralldom of the personality life. But the Baptism to which Christ was subjected through the power of His Own life, and to which we are also subjected through the life of Christ within us, was the Baptism of fire and of suffering, which finds its climax of pain upon the Cross. That climax of suffering, for the man who could endure unto the end, was his entrance to "paradise" - a name connoting bliss. Three words are used to express this power to enjoy - happiness, joy and bliss. Happiness has a purely physical connotation, and concerns our physical life and its relationships; joy is of the nature of the soul and reflects itself in happiness. But bliss, which is of the nature of God Himself, is an expression of divinity and of the spirit. Happiness might be regarded as the reward of the new birth, for it has a physical significance, and we are sure that Christ knew happiness, even though He was a "man of sorrows"; joy, being more especially of the soul, reaches its consummation at the Transfiguration. Though Christ was "acquainted with sorrow," He knew joy in its essence, for the "joy of the Lord is our strength," and it is the soul, the Christ in every human being, which is strength and joy and love. He knew also bliss, for at the Crucifixion the bliss which is the reward of the soul's triumph was His.

Thus in these two Words of power "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do," and "To day thou shalt be with me in paradise," we have the significances of the first two initiations summarized for us. [218]

Now we come to the extraordinary and much debated episode between Christ and His mother, summed up in the words: "Woman, behold thy son," and followed by the words spoken to the beloved apostle: "Behold thy mother." What did these words mean? Below Christ stood the two people who meant the most to Him, and from the agony of the Cross He spoke to them a special message, relating them to each other. Our consideration of the previous initiations may make the meaning clear. John typifies the personality which is reaching perfection and whose nature is becoming irradiated by divine love, the major characteristic of the second Person of the divine Triplicity, the soul, the son of God, whose nature is love. As we have seen, Mary represents the third Person of the Trinity, the material aspect of nature which cherishes and nurtures the son and gives birth to him in Bethlehem. In these words Christ, utilizing the symbolism of these two persons, relates them to each other, and practically says: Son, recognize who is to give thee birth at Bethlehem, the one who shelters and guards the Christ life. To His mother, He says: Recognize that in the developed personality there is latent the Christ child. Matter, or the virgin Mary, is glorified through her son. Therefore the words of Christ have a definite reference to the third initiation, that of the Transfiguration.

Thus in His first three Words from the Cross He refers to the first three initiations, and recalls to our minds the synthesis revealed in Himself and the stages which we must cover if we are to follow in His steps. It is possible also that the thought was in the consciousness of the crucified Savior that matter itself, being divine, was capable of infinite suffering; and in these words there was wrung from Him the recognition that though God suffers in the Person of His Son, He also suffers with similar acute agony in the person of that Son's mother, the material form which has given Him birth. Christ stands midway between the two - the mother and the Father. Therein is His problem, and therein is [219] found the problem of every human being. Christ draws the two together - the matter aspect and the spirit aspect, and the union of these two produces the son. This is humanity's problem and humanity's opportunity.

The fourth Word from the Cross admits us into one of the most intimate moments of Christ's life - a moment that has a definite relation to the kingdom, just as had the three previous Words. One always hesitates to intrude upon this episode in His life, because it is one of the deepest and most secret and perhaps most sacred phases of His life on earth. We read that there was "darkness on the face of the earth" for three hours. This is a most significant interlude. From the Cross, alone and in the dark, He symbolized all that was embodied in this tragic and agonized Word. The number three is, of course, one of the most important and sacred numbers. It stands for divinity, and also for perfected humanity. Christ, the perfect Man, hung upon the Cross for "three hours," and in that time each of the three aspects of His nature was carried to the highest point of its capacity for realization and for consequent suffering. At the end, this triple personality gave vent to the cry, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

Christ had passed through all the climaxing episodes of adjustment. The Transfiguration experience was only just over. Let us not forget that fact. In that experience God had been near, and the transfigured Christ had seemed in His initiation to link God and man. He had just uttered the Word which had testified to the relation of the body nature, the Mary aspect, and the personality, in the person of St. John - the symbol of a personality carried to a very high state of perfection and realization. Then for three long hours He wrestled in the dark with the problem of the relation of God and the soul. Spirit and soul had to be fused and blended to one great unity - just as He had already fused and blended the soul and the body, and had testified to that consummation in the Transfiguration. Suddenly He discovered [220] that all the achievement of the past, all that He had done, was but the prelude to another at-one-ment which He had to make as a human being; and there on the Cross, in the full blaze of publicity, He had to renounce that to which He had hitherto held, His soul, and realize for a brief instant that in this renunciation everything was at stake. Even the consciousness that He was the Son of God, the soul incarnate in the flesh (for which He had fought and sacrificed), had to disappear, and He be left bereft of all contacts. All sense of feeling and all possible reactions failed to fill the sensed void. He seemed deserted, not only by humanity, but by God. That upon which He had relied, the divinity of which He had felt assured, was found to be related to feeling. That feeling He must also transcend. All had therefore to be relinquished.

It was through this experience that Christ blazed the trail to the very heart of God Himself. Only when the soul has learnt to stand alone, assured of divinity, and yet with no outer recognition of that divinity, can the very center of spiritual life he recognized as stable and eternal. It was in this experience that Christ fitted Himself for the Resurrection initiation, and so proved to Himself, and to us, that God existed, and that the immortality of divinity is an established and unalterable fact. This experience of loneliness, of being bereft of all that protects, all that has hitherto been regarded as essential to one's very being, is the hall mark of achievement. Disciples are apt to forget this, and one wonders for a brief moment, as one listens to Christ thus veiling His agony, whether He was not again "in all points tempted like as we are," and whether at this moment He did not descend into the deepest recesses of the valley and feel that utter aloneness which is the reward of those who mount the Cross on Golgotha.

Although each son of God at different stages upon his way of initiation prepares for this final loneliness by phases of utter rejection, when the final crisis comes he must experience [221] moments of loneliness such as he could not previously conceive. He follows in the footsteps of his Master, being crucified before men and deserted both by his fellow men and by the comforting presence of the divine self upon which he has learnt to rely. Yet because Christ entered thus into the place of outer darkness, and felt entirely deserted of all that had hitherto meant so much to Him, both humanly and from the angle of divinity, He has enabled us to gauge the value of the experience, and has shown us that only through this place of outer darkness, which the mystics have justifiably called "the dark night of the soul," can we truly enter into the blessed companionship of the kingdom. Many books have been written about this experience, but it is rare - far rarer than the literature of the mystics would have us believe. It will become more frequent, as more and more men pass through the gates of suffering and of death into the kingdom. Christ hung pendent between heaven and earth, and although He was surrounded by crowds, and although at His feet stood those whom He loved, He was utterly alone. It is the loneliness whilst accompanied, the utter sense of being forsaken whilst surrounded by those who seek to understand and help, which constitutes the darkness. The light of the Transfiguration is suddenly obliterated; and because of the intensity of that light, the night appears more dark. But it is in the dark that we know God.

Four Words of Power had now been uttered by the Christ. He had spoken the Word for the plane of everyday life, the Word of forgiveness, and in it He indicated the principle upon which God works in relation to the evil done by men. Where there is ignorance and no defiance or wrong intent, then forgiveness is assured, for sin consists of definite action in the face of the warning voice of conscience. He had spoken the Word which brought peace to the dying thief, and had told him that he was assured, not only of forgiveness, but of peace and happiness. He had spoken the Word which brought together the two aspects which were being symbolically crucified [222] upon the Cross - matter and soul, the matter of the form and the perfected lower nature. These are the three Words of the physical, the emotional, and the mental planes, whereon man habitually lives. The sacrifice of the entire lower nature had been completed, and there was silence and darkness for three hours. Then was uttered that stupendous Word which indicated that Christ had reached the stage of the final sacrifice, and that even the consciousness of divinity, the consciousness of the soul itself, with its strength and power, its light and understanding, had also to be laid upon the altar. He had to undergo the experience of an utter renunciation of all that had constituted His very being. This brought the cry of protest and of questioning: "My God, my God! Why hast Thou forsaken me?"

Then followed three Words of a different quality altogether. In the words, "I thirst," He expressed the motivating power of every Savior. This was misinterpreted by the onlookers, who have given it most naturally a physical connotation; but it surely had a deeper meaning, and must have reference to that divine thirst which sweeps through the consciousness of every son of God who has achieved divinity, and which indicates his willingness to undertake the task of Savior. It is characteristic of all who have attained that they cannot rest satisfied with their achievement which brought them liberation and freedom, but immediately reorient themselves to the world of men and stay with humanity, working for the salvation of human beings until all the sons of God shall have found their way back to the Father's home. This thirst for the souls of men forced Christ to open the door into the kingdom, and to hold it open Himself, so that it might be His hand and His aid which should lift us over the threshold. This is the redemption, and in this redemption we all share, not from the selfish angle of our individual salvation, but from the consciousness that, as we redeem are we redeemed, as we save are we ourselves salvaged, and that as we help others to achieve, we too are [223] admitted as citizens into the kingdom. But this is the way of Crucifixion. Only when we can utter the five Words of Power do we really understand the meaning of God and His love. The way of the Savior becomes then our way. God's life and purpose stand revealed.

It is this thirst which we share with the Savior, and the world need (of which our own is a part, though relatively incidental) that unite us with Him. It is the "fellowship of His sufferings" to which He calls us, and the demand which we hear as He hears it. This aspect of the Cross and its lesson has been summed up in the following words, which warrant our careful consideration, and our consequent consecration to the service of the Cross, which is the service of humanity.

"When I... turned from that world-appealing sight, Christ crucified for us, to look upon life's most perplexed and sorrowful contradictions, I was not met as in intercourse with my fellowmen by the cold platitudes that fall so lightly from the lips of those whose hearts have never known one real pang, nor whose lives one crushing blow. I was not told that all things were ordered for the best, nor assured that the overwhelming disparities of life were but apparent, but I was met from the eyes and brow of Him who was indeed acquainted with grief, by a look of solemn recognition, such as may pass between friends who have endured between them some strange and secret sorrow, and are through it united in a bond that cannot be broken."
- Colloquia Crucis, by Dora Greenwell, p. 14 f.

Then there burst upon Christ's consciousness the wonder of accomplishment. He had succeeded, so that, with full realization of the significance of the statement, He could say, "It is finished." He had done what He came into incarnation to do. The gate into the kingdom stood open. The boundary between the world and the kingdom was clearly defined. He had given us an example of service unparalleled in history. He had shown us the way that we should go. He had demonstrated to us the nature of perfection. There was [224] no more that He could then do, and so we hear the triumphant cry, "It is finished."

Only one more Word of Power came forth from the darkness which shrouded the dying Christ. The moment of His death was prefaced by the words, "Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit." His first word and His last begin with the appeal: "Father" - for ever we are the children of God, and "If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together" (Romans, VIII, 17.); joint heirs of glory, but also joint heirs in the suffering which must be ours if the world is to be saved and humanity as a whole is to pass into the kingdom. The kingdom is in existence. Through the work of Christ and His living Presence in all of us there exists today, subjective as yet, but awaiting immediate tangible expression...

"One body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." (Eph., IV, 4, 5, 6.)

Furthermore, in words later used by Christ, the psalmist says, "Into thine hand I commit my spirit, for thou hast redeemed me." (Psalm XXXI, 5.) The implication here is clear. It is the spirit of life in Christ and in us which makes us sons of God, and it is that sonship (with its quality of divinity) which is the guarantee of our final accomplishment and entrance into the kingdom of spirit. The sign given is expressed in the words: "Behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom." (St. Matt., XXVII, 51.) Access to God was established, and the inner spiritual forces could pass out without hindrance into manifestation. This was an act of God, a stupendous recognition by the Father of what His [225] Son had done. Spirit and matter were now one. All separating barriers were abolished, and man and God could meet and hold intercourse.

In an ancient scripture of India we read these words, spoken thousands of years ago, yet capable of being applied in a most significant manner to this act of Christ, which linked Him up not only with ourselves and all past believers prior to His advent, but with the Cosmic Christ, so unmistakably speaking here:

"Brahma, the self-effulgent meditated. He considered... Come, let me sacrifice myself in living things and all living things in Myself... He thus acquired greatness, self-effulgence, lordship and mastery."

In concluding this chapter upon the Crucifixion, let us consider what really was the purpose of Christ's sacrifice. Why did He die? We are told why most clearly in St. John's Gospel, and yet very little emphasis has been laid upon the statement. Only today are we beginning to understand the meaning of what He did. Only today is the wonder of His sacrifice beginning to dawn upon the minds of those whose intuition is awakened. He came primarily to do two things, upon both of which we have already touched: first of all, He came to found, or to materialize upon the earth, the kingdom of God; secondly, to show us what the love of God signified and how it expressed itself in service and in the eternal sacrifice of divinity upon the cross of matter. Christ stood as a symbol and also as an example. He revealed to us God's Mind, and showed us the pattern upon which we should mould our lives.

The kingdom and the service! These are the keynotes which today have in them that rallying power which the believers of the world demand. Christ shared with us, as a human being, the path of world experience. He mounted the Cross and showed us in His sacrifice and example what we had to do. He shared with us the way of life, because there was nothing else for Him to do, as He was a human [226] being. But He threw upon this life experience the radiant light of divinity itself, telling us also to "let our light shine." (St. Matt., V, 16.) He proclaimed Himself Man, and then told us that we were the children of God. He was with us then, and He is with us now, for He is in us all the time, although very often unrecognized and unapproached.

The outstanding lesson with which we are confronted is the fact that "...human nature as we know it can neither attain happiness without suffering, nor perfection without the sacrifice of itself." (Mirage and Truth, by M. B. D'Arcy, S. J., p. 179.) For us the kingdom constitutes the vision, but for Christ it was a reality. The service of the kingdom is our duty and also our method of release from the thralldom of human experience. We must grasp this; we must realize that we shall find release only in the service of the kingdom. We have been held too long by the dogmas of the past, and there is today a natural revolt against the idea of individual salvation through the blood sacrifice of Christ. This latter is the outer and more obvious teaching - but it is the inner meaning which really concerns us, and this we can sense only when we ourselves come face to face with that which dwells within. As the outer forms lose their power it frequently happens that the true significance emerges. This we have each to prove for himself. Frequently fear prevents us from being truthful and from facing facts. It is essential that today we face the problem of the relation of Christ to the modern world, and dare to see the truth, without any theological bias. Our personal experience of Christ will not suffer in this process. No modern view and no theology can take Christ away from the soul which has once known Him. That is outside the range of possibility. But it is quite possible that we may find the ordinary orthodox theological interpretation at fault. It is quite possible that Christ is far more inclusive than we have been led to believe, and that the heart of God the Father is far kinder [227] than those who have sought to interpret it. We have preached a God of love and have spread a doctrine of hate. We have taught that Christ died to save the world and have endeavored to show that only believers could be saved - though millions live and die without ever hearing of Christ. We live in a world of chaos, endeavoring to build a kingdom of God divorced from current daily life and the general economic situation, and at the same time postulate a distant heaven which we may some day attain. But Christ founded a kingdom on earth, wherein all God's children would have equal opportunity of expressing themselves as sons of the Father. This, many Christians find impossible to accept, and some of the best minds of the age have repudiated the idea.

Individual salvation is surely selfish in its interest and its origin. We must serve in order to be saved, and only can we serve intelligently if we believe in the divinity of all men and also in Christ's outstanding service to the race. The kingdom is a kingdom of servers, for every saved soul must without compromise join the ranks of those who ceaselessly serve their fellow men. Dr. Schweitzer, whose vision of the kingdom of God is so rare and real, points out this truth and its gradations of recognition in the following words:

"The descending stages of service correspond to the ascending stages of rule.

  1. Whosoever would become great among you, shall be your servant. (Mark X, 43.)
  2. Whosoever of you would be first, shall be bondservant of all (others). (Mark X, 44.)
  3. Therefore the Son of Man expected the post of highest rule because he was not come to be served but to serve, in giving his life as ransom for many. (Mark X, 45.)

"The climax is a double one. The service of the Disciples extended only to their circle: the service of Jesus to an unlimited number, namely, to all such as were to benefit by his suffering and death. In the case of the Disciples it was merely a question of [228] unselfish subjection: in the case of Jesus it meant the bitter suffering of death. Both count as serving, inasmuch as they establish a claim to a position of rule in the Kingdom."
- The Mystery of the Kingdom of God, by Albert Schweitzer, p. 75.

Love is the beginning, and love the end, and in love we serve and work. The long journey ends thus, in the glory of the renunciation of personal desire, and in the dedication to living service. [229]