Christianism ("Christianity"), Etc.

The Keys of the Creeds


from: The Keys of the Creeds, [Edward Maitland 1824 - 1897 ("English mystic" (Webster's Bio. Dict.))] [published anonymously], New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1875. [See (my source): 809, 810 (Forlong)].


The Letters [I-XXX] contained in this volume were written between the autumns of 1873 and 1874. The reason for publishing them anonymously will be obvious to all who read them. Happily, religious and historical truth needs not for its confirmation the authority of a name.... London: Easter 1875." ["v"].

"Letter 1."

"the truth is that, though as Anglican parson and Catholic priest it has been my function to advocate the claims of faith, as a man I am not the less alive to those of the intellect". [6].

"I conscientiously remained an officiating priest of the Catholic Church, even while convinced that the authority and doctrines of the Church are founded altogether in what would commonly be regarded as an illusion." [7].

"Letter V."

"....El, the root of Elohim, the name under which God was known to the Israelites prior to their entry into Canaan, signifying the masculine sex only; while Jahveh, or Jehovah, denotes both sexes in combination. The religious rites practised by Abraham and Jacob prove incontestably their adherence to this even then ancient mode of symbolising deity; and though after the entry into Canaan the leaders and reformers of the Israelites strove to keep the people from exchanging the worship of their own divinity for that of the exclusively feminine principle worshipped by the Canaanites with unbridled licence under the name of Ashera, yet the indigenous religion became closely incorporated with the Jewish; and even Moses himself fell back upon it when, yielding to a pressing emergency, he gave his sanction to the prevailing 'Tree and Serpent' worship by his elevation of a brazen serpent upon a pole or cross. For all portions of this structure constitute the most universally accepted symbols of sex in the world.

It is to India that we must go for the earliest traces of these things. The Jews originated nothing, though they were skilful appropriators and adapters of other men's effects...." [25-26].

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"Letter VIII."

"The Old Testament consigns no one to eternal punishment, nor does it make penal the honest conclusions of the understanding. The New Testament, on the contrary, abounds in dire menaces not only against evil-doers, but against independent thinkers. Here the deity appears as inflicting torture for torture's sake, without any pretence of reforming the offender or promoting the security of society. 'The unbelieving and the abominable' are placed in the same category, and both 'have their portion in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone,' 'where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched,' and where there is 'weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

It is the love of blood evinced by this the lower deity [Christ] of the Jews [which Jews? where? when?] that Christians recognise and sanction when they receive in the gross material sense the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist." [49-50].

"Letter XI.

The Light of the World.

India, Persia, Egypt, Syria, Greece, and many more countries of the ancient world, place themselves at our disposal the moment we seek to explore the mysteries of the solar culte. I will commence with Persia, under the influences of whose philosophy the Jews, in their captivity, finally abandoned their passion for the grosser idolatries of Syria; and after their release collated their legends, and re-wrote what they are pleased to call their history." [62].

"....Plato [c. 428 - c. 348 B.C.E.], who was said to be the child of Apollo, and born of a virgin named Perictione. Ariston, who was betrothed to her, postponed his marriage because Apollo appeared to him in a dream and told him that she was with child. Genius was for the ancients ever associated with a divine origin." [64].

"Passing to Egypt, we find the sun-god Osiris, a member of a triune godhead—product of Egyptian metaphysics—coming upon earth for the benefit of mankind, and gifted with the titles Manifestor of God and Revealer of Truth. Born of a divine virgin, he was persecuted and put to death through the malevolence of the Evil one, namely winter or darkness. He was buried and rose again, and returning to heaven became the judge of all men. Such was the Man-god of the Egyptians, whose worship pervaded the country that gave tone and colour, if not actual birth to the Gospels, and which gradually paled and died out before the ascendancy of Christianity." [64-65].

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"Well, Christmas has come, and the sun is born; but winter has still a long career to run, and consequently, the sun, as yet a feeble infant, has to undergo a series of struggles with the powers of darkness. And so, just as we find the infant Christ exposed to the perils celebrated on Innocents' Day, we find the various representatives of the sun with difficulty and danger emerging into childhood. In the case of the Hindoo deity, Crishna, who was cradled among shepherds, and greeted at his birth by an angelic chorus, a massacre of children was ordered by a jealous king, in exact correspondence with the slaughter afterwards ascribed to Herod. In every case, however, the Sun-god escapes all dangers, and grows in stature and in favour with God and man, the days gradually gaining on the nights as he rises higher above the horizon, until the spring equinox, when they are equal.

This period of equality constitutes in all the solar religions a serious crisis in the god's history, and it becomes an anxious question for his adorers whether he on whom their very existence depends will still be able to make good his way against the powers of darkness; or whether the world will be thrust back into the region of winter, and never more see sweet summer skies...." [?] [66-67].

"Osiris, Mithra, Bacchus, Christ, are all represented as having been born at the moment of midnight, between Christmas eve and Christmas day, in a cave or stable....

Justin Martyr [c. 100 - c. 165] boasts that Christ was born when the sun takes its birth in the Stable of Augeas, coming as a second Hercules to cleanse a foul world...." [70].

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"Letter XII."

"But on whatever ground Christianity obtained acceptance as the new rule of faith, whether from pagans as constituting a new form of sun-and-sex worship; from Jews as the fulfilment of the Law and Prophets, and the reign of the Messiah; or from philosophers as a complement to metaphysics, in that it seemed to demonstrate what metaphysics had only postulated, and by a practical instance to bridge the gulf between the finite and the infinite; whether, again, it obtained acceptance from the masses in virtue of the supernatural physical powers with which Christ, in common with all the other Sun-gods, was credited; from moralists, through their recognising in the teaching ascribed to Christ a standard of conduct of absolute perfection; or from theologians, on the ground of his proclaiming the spiritual nature of God and his own identity therewith, and living consistently with such claim;—in no case does the rule fail to hold good, that in exalting him into a god, all these classes but exalted that which they deemed best in humanity, and so made God in their own image, only divested of limitations.

If proof were wanted of the affection still entertained in the fourth century for the old religion, and of the moral advance made by men through the contemplation of a life of earnestness, purity, and unselfishness, such as was presented to them of Christ, we have it in the attempt of Julian [331 - 363] to undo the work of Constantine [280? - 337] and reinstate paganism. Constantine, an ardent worshiper of the sun, whom he chose to be his tutelar deity, adopted on the grandest scale the principle of 'concurrent endowment,' and established Christianity in connection with sunworship. Julian, similarly devoted, sought to reestablish sun-worship in connection with Christianity. That is, he wished to retain the old creed and ritual under their true and original forms, but with the additional spirituality, morality, simplicity, and purity acquired by the recent generations from the contemplation of a life that was beautiful all round; a life which the Jewish Christians had learnt, under Neoplatonic influences, to regard as that of the incarnate Logos, or the Word made flesh, of their Jehovah; but which the rest of the world insisted on regarding as a new and more noble incarnation of the sun.

Both sides could adduce what must have seemed to them irresistible reasons for their views. The Pagan could point triumphantly to the heavens for the visible origin and sustainer of life, who already in the persons of Crishna, Mithra, Osiris, Hercules, Bacchus, Apollo, Adonis, and many others, had condescended to man's estate to redeem mankind from evil...." [77-79].

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"Letter XVI."

"of all bodies claiming to be Churches, the Roman alone has exhibited the spiritual knowledge and vitality which mark the true Church. She alone is orthodox and catholic. She alone possesses the Keys which enable her to unlock successively in their due course of development the divine mysteries of religion. There is no other system that does not fail in these essential respects. Protestantism, whose theology is but an arbitrary selection from the body of Catholic doctrine, represents a retrograde step in that it is an appeal from the spirit to the letter, from the ideal to the material. Putting the imperfect records of a single period in the soul's history, above the universal consciousness of the soul in all places and ages, it seeks to interpret Scripture by itself and apart from its context in humanity, and thus makes catholic doctrine the result of Christ, instead of making Christ the result of catholic doctrine!" [106-107].

"Letter XVII.

The Church; Its Secret and Method, In Theology.

So I seem to you to show that no religion is true except the Catholic, and that even that is false; and you marvel that I can thus exalt a system which I admit to be mainly founded on and occupied with illusions...." [110].

"the Church is what the world would, if it were given to thinking, call atheistic. But atheism is necessarily the secret of every anthropomorphic religion. For it is through failing to find in the world external to man aught that it can recognise as God, that the Church has sought to meet man's want of such a Being by constructing a substitute or equivalent out of the inherent characteristics of the race...." [111-112].

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"So common has it been for mankind to credit the objects of their veneration with miraculous powers, that the improbability that Christ should be so invested hardly becomes greater on the hypothesis that he was no real person at all, but wholly a creation of the imagination. To judge from what we know of previous incarnations, it does not appear to be absolutely necessary that the character selected as their subject should have an actual existence in the flesh. Indeed some early Christian sects denied such existence to Christ. Even the Pauline epistles often leave us in doubt whether the writer regarded Christ as a real person, so strong in his tendency to treat him as but an idea. The declaration, 'Last of all he was seen also by me, as by one born out of due time,' bears out this conjecture, inasmuch as it was not in the flesh, but only in the spirit, that Paul owns to having beheld him; while the refusal to know him after the flesh, indicates his strong preference for Christ as an idea and system of thought rather than as an individual.

Idealist as Paul was, it was assuredly not Christ as a person, but Christ as representing the ideal perfection contemplated in the law of Moses, and the triumph of that perfection over sin, death, and all the limitations of sense, that roused the apostle's enthusiasm to its highest pitch. His [Paul] principal solicitude was that the character represented by the name of Christ should proceed from the Jews. For in such a product he [Paul] beheld a power capable of subjugating the world, and demonstrating their superiority over the Gentiles." [129-130].

[Paul = Ecclesiastical Corporation!].

"Thirdly, that as the Pauline epistles implicitly if not explicitly set aside Jesus as a person for Jesus as an idea, it is far from improbable that the apostle himself may, under the sublimating process of historical criticism, be removed from the category of the real, and transferred to that of the ideal. Certainly is this true so far as concerns the identification of their writer with the Paul of the Acts. Every such exaltation, however, of the ideal in place of the individual, of the spirit in place of the letter, is a gain to religion. For we thereby escape more and more from the region of persons, fact, and controversy, into that of doctrine, faith, and unity; and become more and more one with God and with each other in the spirit of holiness. That is, more Catholic and less Protestant as we cease to worship the letter.

The mythical character of Paul's history finds exemplification in the narrative of his conversion, an event readily explicable on the solar hypothesis. As secondary founder of Christianity it was fitting that he should be represented as impelled to his mission by the direct action of the solar divinity with whom Christ had become identified." [136]. [End of "Letter XX."].

"Letter XXII."

"It was in furtherance of that ideal perfection which ever strives to renounce the real and its pleasures, that the Church, following some of the elder paganisms, enforced the principle of asceticism which finds its extreme outcome in the adoration of virginity and practice of celibacy. For in its view sense is the chief antagonist of soul, and sex is the chief agent of sense." [148].

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"Letter XXIII."

"In the Zoroastrian system, the most spiritual and catholic of all pagan religions, the necessary existence of the Devil as a complement and corollary to that of the Deity was first discerned and acknowledged. Then was the Deity first rehabilitated; for in the absence of a special representative for the evil side of their nature, men were compelled to ascribe good and evil alike to God.

As other systems failed to gather up, idealise, and personify, all the best characteristics of humanity in a single deity, so had they failed to gather up, idealise, and personify the worst.

That is, they had no Devil. The credit of the revelation of this great personage was reserved for Persia; and it was thence that, after the captivity, he was adopted into the system of the Hebrews, to assume such stupendous proportions in that of the Christians. The Devil, as we have him, is the crowning proof of the divinity of the genius of Christianity, the final demonstration of the human soul. Had there been no Devil, there would have been no God. And without God, no soul.

As by idealising and personifying his best, man creates God, in the image of his own best; so by idealising and personifying his worst, man creates the Devil, also in his own image, but the image of his worst. The incapacity to idealise the one would involve the incapacity to idealise the other; would involve therefore the incapacity to idealise at all. Thus the sense of moral perfection, or conscience, is wanting to those who exclude the Devil from their theology. But this sense is of the very essence of the soul. So that the abolition of the Devil would involve the negation of conscience and the destruction of the soul of man." [151-152].

"Letter XXVIII."

"mankind has a good memory, and what it has suffered under the material lash wielded by spiritual hands, can never be forgotten. Never to trust ecclesiastics with power has rightly become the maxim most deeply graven in the human mind. Their very habit of judging things from the standpoint of the ideal, unfits them for the control of the real." [178].

"Letter XXX."

"....the Roman Church has sunk into imbecility. The recent enunciation of the Pope—that Christians owe no duty to the lower animals—exhibited gross ignorance even of the special function of the Church. For, setting aside the question as regards the animals themselves, it is manifest that if the culture of ideal perfection in man is compatible with the practice of cruelty to an humble and helpless servant, there is no vice whatever with which it is incompatible." [194]. [Absolutely! Demonstrated millions of times, before, and since, this writing (c. 1874)]. [See: #15, 341-343].

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"The notion that the Church has outlived its time, and that the world, having got science, can now dispense with religion, is wholly vain. All the science in the world is of small account in the absence of that perfect ideal in the heart through which alone we can ourselves be made perfect. Science may make our outward conditions perfect. But we are more than our conditions; and who or what is to make us perfect?" [written c. 1874] [197-198].

"Letter X."

"You have demanded of me the Keys of the Creeds. I gave you before the key to their moral side, in the worship of perfection. I give you now the key to their physical side. It is the worship of the sun. The sun and, as I have already indicated, the organs of sex, are the fundamental symbols of every religious worship known to us, each alike catholic in their acceptance, their necessity, and their functions. It was impossible for me to enter fully into detail respecting the second. Neither is it essential to my purpose to do so, seeing that, although incorporated with the basis of ecclesiastical Christianity, and discoverable by those who choose to search for it, it does not practically affect either its doctrine or its ritual; its function being purely antiquarian and aesthetic.

Far otherwise is it with the sun, whose course to this day not only controls both our secular and ecclesiastical calendars, and the character and times of the festivals held in honour of Christ, but coincides with the main circumstances narrated of his life, from his conception and birth to his ascension and reception into heaven.

So little is there strange and recondite in these facts, that it is a perpetual marvel among the initiated how even the least incredulous of the laity contrive to ignore them,—a marvel not unmixed with apprehension as to the result that would follow from their becoming enlightened. The blind impetuosity, on the other hand, with which Protestant sects indignantly denounce 'idolatry,' pagan or catholic, while themselves offering palpable homage to the sun under the name of Christ, is to us a never-failing source of amusement." [60-61]. [End of "Letter X."].

"Letter XXVII."

"A purely human product, Catholicism represents the divinest aspects of humanity. And to accept a part of it, as does the Protestant world, and vehemently reject the rest, is to rend in pieces the seamless garment of the ideal." [171].

"O missionary-loving England! Sending your apostles to convert the heathen from their idolatries, while yourself worshipping the sun under the name of Christ, and making a fetish of a book of palpably human origin." [172].

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