Reprinted by Blavatsky Study Center

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Vicarious Atonement

Theosophy:

"We have often wondered at the extraordinary ideas of God and His justice that seem to be honestly held by those Christians who blindly rely upon the clergy for their religion, and never upon their own reason. How strangely illogical is this doctrine of the Atonement. We propose to discuss it with the Christians from the Buddhist standpoint, and to show at once by what a series of sophistries, directed toward the one object of tightening the ecclesiastical yoke upon, the popular neck, its acceptance as a divine command has been finally effected; also, that it has proved one of the most pernicious and demoralizing of doctrines. ...But if we step outside the little circle of creed and consider the universe as a whole balanced by the exquisite adjustment of parts, how all sound logic, how the faintest glimmering sense of Justice revolts against this Vicarious Atonement!" (Isis Unveiled II, p. 542)

 

Neo-Theosophy:

"None the less, as we look backwards over the effects produced by this doctrine, we find that belief in it, even in its legal - and to us crude exoteric - form, is connected with some of the very highest developments of Christian conduct, and that some of the noblest examples of Christian manhood and womanhood have drawn from it their strength, their inspiration, and their comfort. It would be unjust not to recognize this fact. And whenever we come upon a f act that seems to us startling and incongruous, we do well to pause upon that fact, and to endeavor to understand it. For if this doctrine contained nothing more than is seen in it by its assailants inside and outside the churches, if it were in its true meaning as repellent to the conscience and the intellect as it is found to be by many thoughtful Christians, then it could not possibly have exercised over the minds and hearts of men a compelling fascination, nor could it have been the root of heroic self-surrenders, or touching and pathetic examples of self-sacrifice in the service of men." (Annie Besant, Esoteric Christianity, p. 136 ) [5]