Christian Theosophy - Is it What We Are Doing Here?

Recently in another posting the idea came up that the kind of Theosophy we are doing here is a "Christian Theosophy".

In a sense I would like to challenge that point, as the methodology can be applied to any system where the elements in our FAQ exists.

Can someone help me understand what is going on here?  Calling it Christian seems to introduce an unnecessary parochialism to the subject.

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Much of Hermetic theosophy fits the typology. That is pre-Christian, in principle.

It is odd that the Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism has an entry for "Christian Theosophy"  but none for "Theosophy".  Faivre does mention theosophists like Corbin who were not Christian and yet worked on "Theosophy" in the broader/typological sense which is referred to as "Christian Theosophy". The historical creation of the typology is from mostly Christian theosophists. I think the term Christian is best thought of as referring to the derivation of the typology.

Once you have a single non-Christian theosophist, who satisfies/follows the typology, then the typology cannot be exclusively Christian. The set of all "Christian Theosophists" are then not all Christian.

I believe it (Christian) is an adjective used to demarcate, or maybe just recognize, its historical origins. There are theosophies that do not quite align with the typology, but I am still looking for them.

The other issue is if you believe in the 5th and 6th item in Esotericism (Universalism and Transmission), then the perennial wisdom religion that then must exist, would preclude the existence of any distinction to be noted. 


Done: I sent an email to one of the programs in the USA.

Need a correction here.

The extant Corpus Hermeticum (and other Hermetic source texts) is not pre-Christian (it is CE).

However - references to Hermes Trismegistus are extant BCE.


 hi, friends!

 sorry, Joe, I don't understand it either, so I fear I'll not be able to help you


 a)  the fact is the word "theosophy" has been used by:


 1) HPB, but we'll not discuss her anymore here, it seems 

 2) a few Christians in modern times, the most famous of whom is J. Bohme

 3) a few Christians and neoplatonics, etc in ancient times, but not so ancient, Plato used theology If I remember right.

 ( I have not checked any book to write this, so there may be some misses on the list, anyone correcting will be welcome)


 in a sense, and

 by people who follow, critizice or study 1), 2), 3)


 in another sense, a quite different one...

 it is not the same to be interested in attaining divine wisdom than to be interested in the historical or philosophical study of the ideas of divine wisdom

 and it's not the same to study the great names and books of human cultural history as a help to personally attain divine wisdom than to study them as an historian



b) it can be minimized, but it can't be denied, the tipology in the FAQ is derived from the historical study of Christianism, yes, heterodox Christianism, of course, but nevertheless, this gives us the usual problems:

 1) can an historical tipology be used as an antropological one?  (with antropological I mean broad enough to include humanity as a whole)  ...1.1 which is an aspect of the philosophical problem of induction 1.2 historical tipologies are what we need to satisfy today's need? 1.3 are scholarly categories apt for a much broader use?

 2) can Christianism ( yeah, I mean cultural characteristics derived from historical Christianism, too, of course) become universal? (sorry, but anyone who does not want a Christian frame would do good in searching for a fundament elsewhere)

 3) does any "system", "tipology" or "methodology" have the power to help attain divine wisdom? what do we want, divine wisdom, or philosophical clarification?


  ...but of course, you can seek shelter in Ramana Maharshi's teaching, if he does not fit within Faivre's frame it's  because his grace is infinite hahahaha ;-)







I found an interesting analysis of various typologies by Dr. Arthur Versluis   here

What is interesting is that a major criticism of the characteristics we have used is that it is too broad. Dr. Versluis notes:


Faivre’s six characteristics are, again, as follows:
1. Correspondences & Interdependence
2. Living Nature
3. Imagination
4. Transmutation
5. Praxis of Concordance
6. Transmission.

Of course, these same elements can be found in other traditions, as various scholars have pointed out, which has led some scholars to question the utility of these six characteristics. If they can be found in Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism, for example, or indigenous religious traditions, then are these characteristics not too broad to be of definitive use? Correspondences between macrocosm and microcosm, living nature, the use of the visionary imaginative faculty, and the possibility of transmutation as well as transmission are certainly not unique to Western esotericism. One might well wonder whether, drawing on Faivre’s characteristics, one might be actually fashioning a larger framework for analyzing esoteric traditions both Asian and European in origin."

[emphasis mine]

he continues:

"in his work on Christian theosophy, Arthur Versluis outlined six different characteristics, not of Western esotericism more generally, but of Christian theosophy alone. These characteristics, outlined in Wisdom’s Book: The Sophia Anthology (2000), are as follows:

1. Focus upon the figure of divine Wisdom or Sophia, the “mirror of God,” generally conceived of as feminine;
2. an insistence upon direct spiritual experience or cognition, meaning both insight into the divine nature of the cosmos and metaphysical or transcendent gnosis;
3. non-sectarianism, and self-identification with the theosophic current;
4. a spiritual leader who guides his or her spiritual circle through letters and spiritual advice.
5. Reference to the works and thought of Jacob Böhme; and perhaps
6. visionary insight into nature and non-physical realms, though 6. is actually a subset of 2. I have yet to find a single figure in the [Christian] theosophic current who does not exemplify at least four of the first five characteristics listed here.

"  (end of quote)

As one can see, the issue is really that the characteristics we use are so broad that they do cover eastern and western theosophy both.

We have gone directly into this broader path with the FAQ. The system does cover a general case, and is not just "Christian".

I added the Christian characteristics above (from Dr. Versluis) to illustrate what characteristics of a  truly "Christian Theosophy" would look like.


Dear Joe ,

         I tend to go with John who has come up with the right attitude to this vexing problem. Without going into semantics what I would like to point out is that it is inevitable where a group congregate to strait jacket or label it according to their understanding . The FAQ's are quite clear and do lay down the ground rules unambiguously... So really nothing much to worry. John is very correct here , I am like many people not a very time line conscious person and so Theosophy ( I  think in Greek when this word crops up )  is just that without any adjuncts to it is quite comfortable as it has the necessary width and power of accommodation ,  the word does have a timelessness bereft of history to it. Leave antiquity and history to scholars they are Pundits. Knowledge of knowledge is always ignorance and to be ignored .

 Hi, friends!

 I do agree with Erica.

 I can't agree with Hari.

 John, my honest opinion is that you are not respecting the work of historians, you use it as you like to try to strenghten somehow (academic respectability and this kind of social things being a part of that "strenghten somehow") your own ideal of what theosophy is or should be... why do you give such an emphasis where the author you quote just writes "one may well wonder" and "might"? ... it seems to me that the "new theosophy" is to change from worshipping HPB to worshipping academical degrees...

 the fact is that words have their own history, each word its history, using words as it pleases me may be very pleasant, but makes understanding among people much more difficult and produces some more problems



  '' Said the coal to the diamond why so hard ?

    Said the Diamond to the coal - why so soft my brother ? ''

                                                              - F.W. Nietzcshe

I wanted to make people aware that Erica has decided to delete herself from our site.

This action also removes all her posts (Ning does this automatically on a deletion).

In any case - the posts were not deleted by Theosophy Network moderators.

This is rather sad for us. I was hoping on getting her input on our FAQ.


 ... this is what happens when people indulge in the glamour of using words that belong to a language they have not studied... there's a lot of room for imagination!!!

  ... I have never understood this fancy of stealing Greek words to look "scientific and serious", to pretend that anything is known just by taggin' it with an unusual word... to me this is no more than bad use of language...

  I dare say that this would not have happenned if the English words "divine wisdom" had been used instead of "theosophy"

 ... and I can't help imagining that the definition of this "new" theosophy in my terms would be like: "anything but divine wisdom, we dislike the word "god" and we're above religious people, we know better than them, we don't want any wisdom higher than us, we can take the skeleton we need from any historian and fill it and dress it as we like, we are to own, not to serve"... I tried to make this clear in private discussion using more gentle words, but, having received no answer, I am left to my imagination...


 the path to divine wisdom is open for everyone, and it is indeed simple

 it consists of radical honesty towards oneself

 this makes self-respect possible, true self-respect, no difference made among myself or yourself

 and then comes true power, which is the power needed to heal ourselves and this world


 ... now anyone can think that these are just nice metaphors and go on searching for special secrets, initiations, rituals, hidden groups, old books in ancient languages or the newest equation or laboratory result from quantum physics, whatever may be needed to distract oneself from the practice of radical honesty, which would be crazy of course...

 good job, people!  Erica has left and Ferran writes bitter... :-P!


 I borrowed the expression "radical honesty" from Deb and now, lookin at her profile, I have noticed that these words have been used as the title of a book that I have not read and as the name of a "movement" that I didn't know existed ...   


 ... that which is holy to one person is a cover, unnecessary parochialism, or just stuff to play logical games to other people...

 ... everyone likes to feel respected but very few are those who do their best to respect what they do not understand...



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