Tag Archives: Christianity

The Old Testament

Alice A. Bailey on the Old Testament

Alice A. Bailey (AAB) in her Unfinished Autobiography wrote of the Old Testament that:

“I asked myself a few days ago what part of the Old Testament was worth preserving. Much of it is dreadful, cruel and only because the literature is found in the Bible does it pass the post-office regulations. I decided that the ten commandments must be preserved, one or two of the Bible stories such as the love of David and Jonathan, the 23rd Psalm and the 91st Psalm with a few others and about four chapters in the Book of Isaiah. All the rest was largely useless or undesirable, …”  -The Unfinished Autobiography , CHAPTER III – Part 1

Symbolically she says the Old Testament stands for the “lower man”:

“The Old Testament stands for the natural lower man, the virgin Mary aspect, carrying within itself the promise of the Messiah, of Him Who shall come. The New Testament stands for the spiritual man, for God made flesh, and for the birth of that which the material nature carried and veiled for so long.” -From Bethlehem To Calvary , CHAPTER THREE – The Second Initiation . . . The Baptism in Jordan – Part 1

Love of Jehovah is taught with threats and immortality is not emphasized, per Alice A. Bailey:

“The word ‘love’ as it concerns relation to other people is lacking in their [Jews] religious presentation, though love of Jehovah is taught with due threats; the concept of a future life, dependent upon conduct and behaviour to others and on right action in the world of men, is almost entirely lacking in The Old Testament and teaching on immortality is nowhere emphasized; salvation is apparently dependent upon the keeping of numerous physical laws and rules related to physical cleanliness; …” -Problems Of Humanity , CHAPTER IV – THE PROBLEM OF THE RACIAL MINORITIES – Part 1

Personally I think she may be going a little overboard in these criticisms. In the days when the Jewish Tanakh (or written Torah) was coming into being just about all peoples were – by today’s standards – exceedingly cruel and materialistic. That people, at least in the civilized world, are much different in their views today is what we should properly call “evolution,” that is, spiritual evolution.

There are certainly enlightened passages in the Old Testament, for example

“And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” -Leviticus 19:33-34

Are the Israelites depicted as cruel and violent in the Old Testament? Yes, of course, but that was the norm of the day and they were probably no crueler or more violent than the peoples around them, and in many way more advanced. They were trying to wean themselves off of idols, although that was a the time still very much a work in progress.

It might also be remembered that centuries after the Tanakh was closed (nothing new to be added) that the Romans were still forcing slaves to murder each other in gladiatorial games.

Continuing with AAB on the Old Testament she has some less than charitable things to say about the Jewish people:

“He [the Gentile] regards the Jew as a follower of an obsolete religion; he intensely dislikes the cruel and jealous Jehovah of the Jews and looks upon The Old Testament as the history of a cruel and aggressive people—apart from the Psalms of David, which all men love.” -Problems Of Humanity , CHAPTER IV – THE PROBLEM OF THE RACIAL MINORITIES – Part 1

There is quite a bit more that she writes about the Jews (see in quotes to follow). I think she in some ways represents the views of many Christians of her time, although it can be argued that her views are more complex and charitable than they might superficially appear.

Finally she wrote, and I think very accurately, that “The more ancient the Scripture, the greater, necessarily, the distortion” (see quote below)

Below are the mostly abbreviated quotes on the Old Testament I found in the writings of AAB. In many cases to really get the context you will need to click on the link to the Lucis Trust site:


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Why Do They Say “Hell on Earth”?

The traditional concept of hell as a place of eternal damnation and punishment for the wicked does not seem to be a very viable idea for many modern people on a spiritual path. Most reject it out of hand as a relic of a past primitive belief system. I would tend to agree with them, but with a twist.

One problem with the concept of “eternal” punishment is in the translation from the original language of the New Testament, for example, take Matthew 25:41:

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

The original Koine Greek word underlined above is αἰώνιος which transliterated into English is AIONOS and that comes from αἰών which transliterated into English as AION. The Blue Letter Bible (BLB) Lexicon gives three possible translations:

  1. for ever, an unbroken age, perpetuity of time, eternity
  2. the worlds, universe
  3. period of time, age

The modern word “eon” comes from AION. An eon is admittedly a long period of time, but it is not forever. Matthew 24:2 uses this AION also:

 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

This corresponds more closely to the 3rd definition given from the BLB  as a “period of time” or “age” and I think this more closely reflects the original meaning. Christ would return at the end of the  age and no punishment is eternal. Punishment (or a time for correction) is for a period of time, the amount of time required to learn the necessary lessons to move on. Think of karma.

If you are you are old enough you might remember a popular TV series in the 1960s called The Twilight Zone. It included a fair amount of science fiction and fantasy that always had a surprise twist at the end.

I remember one episode where it starts out with a gangster getting killed in a gunfight with the police. He wakes up and is greeted by a man who is his guide to the world he finds himself in after death. It seems unbelievably pleasant. He can pretty much have anything he wants. He particularly likes to gamble so he goes to a beautiful casino and he can’t lose. Not even once. There are beautiful women everywhere who fawn over his every word and will jump in the sack with him anytime he wants. The finest food and booze are at his disposal just for the asking.

No matter what he does he can’t lose, but after a while it starts getting a little boring. Part of the spice of life was the potential to lose. But not here.

Eventually he is talking with his guide and he asks him a question that has been bothering him ever since he got here. He says, “So I wasn’t such a nice guy in life, so how did a guy like me end up in heaven?” The guide looks him in the eyes and replies, “Who told you this was heaven?

Exit episode with the guide howling with devilish laughter.

The reason I tell this story is that perhaps we need to rethink what hell is, and where it is. Maybe you are in hell right now and just don’t know it? (… Soundtrack: devilish laughter!)

Author Joseph J. Dewey has an inspiring story called The Parable of Decision which is well worth your time to read. In the story four men die and wake on a path and are greeted by a mysterious man who instructs them:

“Welcome, my friends’, he said. ‘You are approaching your new home and I am here to instruct you as much as is permitted. You notice there are two paths before you: One of them takes you to Heaven, a place more beautiful than you can imagine. The other takes you to Hell, a land full of darkness, despair and wretched individuals. All I can tell you at this point is you are to choose a path, but once you reach your destination you cannot turn back. Once you get to Heaven you will stay there, or once you get to Hell you will stay there. One more word I can say. Do not be frightened, for that reward you get in the end will be that which you deserve. Go forth confident that if you have led a just life, you will reap as you have sowed. You must proceed one at a time and each walk the path alone.’”

One of the things you learn in the story is that if you find yourself in hell you can work to turn hell into heaven. The other thing you learn is that there is no apparent end to the path. You really should read  The Parable of Decision.

If you think about it, and watch the evening news regularly, for a lot of people this world is not unlike a kind of hell. Disease, famine, war, all the horses of the apocalypse parade across our TV every night. Today it may be Syria, or the brutal dictatorship of North Korea, or drug cartels murdering with abandon.

Or closer to home, Democrats and celebrities enduring President Trump! 🙂

Like in the parable, perhaps the idea is not to give up, but to see that in time we have the possibility of turning hell into heaven. Like in the parable the only thing that is possibly eternal is the path.