THE DEVIL, WHO IS HE?
[Lucifer, Vol. III, No. 16, December, 1888, pp. 343-345]
As I consider the criticism upon my letter in your issue of October altogether unjustified, I trust you will allow me space for a few lines in reply thereto.
There is one thing absolutely necessary to be observed in discussion in order for it to be of any profit, either to the parties themselves or to any one else who may either hear or read of it. And the one thing necessary in discussion is that the parties to the discussion should first understand and accept the premises upon which the argument is intended to be built, or the conclusion is intended to be drawn.
For if, in a written discussion, the critic assumes the writer to have taken certain dogmas or premises as the basis of his argument which he never dreamt of taking, and upon this erroneous assumption the critic then proceeds to ridicule the argument of the writer as though the writer’s argument had been based on the critic’s erroneous conception of his premises, such discussion and criticism is profitable to no one, and amuses no one but the superficial reader who is unable to see the delusion.
And that there may, at least, be no excuse in future for misapprehending my views, I may say that I know of; and believe in, no such person as the Devil, in the commonly reputed Orthodox sense.
But surely those who speak evil of God or their neighbours would be justly entitled to the name.
And, with respect to Jesus, I know nothing of Jesus, excepting that as a Man (whether historical or allegorical) he is the most Christ-like I can conceive, and therefore to me he is the Christ, and likewise therefore “the Son of God according to the spirit of holiness,” whom to know and love is to know and love God, and whom, therefore, to revile and reject, is to reject and hate God. And as I understood that Theosophists (in December No. of Lucifer) accepted this view of Jesus being the Christ, and his practical religion, therefore I am surprised that things should be thrown in my face as accepted by me which I have nowhere in any wise professed to accept. And I should think it as foolish to be offended with what is good in the Scriptures because of there being something hard to accept, as it would be to be offended with the nut and milk of the cocoanut only because the shell and the husk could not be eaten also. And if Theosophists are obliged to admit that philosophical postulates are absolutely necessary to be accepted as a basis of argument, I only ask the same; but I cannot see the need of taking offence at my having spoken of the Son of Man having been crucified as a devil.
Surely, if he was condemned to be a deceiver, a blasphemer and a devil, and to be therefore slain, it cannot be incorrect to say he was crucified as a blasphemer, or a devil, just as we speak, of the martyrs having been burnt as heretics. I have been a friend to Lucifer, both in word and deed, but with such hostile criticism as there is in the October number, one would suppose I had fallen into the midst of enemies.
REV. T. G. HEADLEY.
THE EDITOR’S REPLY
We feel sorry for having unintentionally given offence to our reverend friend and contributor; but we would have been still more sorry to publish in our magazine an unjust fling at another contributor’s ideas and to have facts denied—without entering a protest. Our magazine is essentially controversial, and was founded for the purpose of throwing light upon “the hidden things of darkness”—of religious superstition pre-eminently. And what superstition can be compared to that which accepts a “personal” God, or a “personal” devil? He who objects to having his views controverted and criticized must not write for Lucifer. Neither Mr. May’s nor the editor’s remarks were personal, and were concerned with the peculiar views about God and Devil made by Mr. Headley, and not at all with the reverend gentleman himself.
Moreover, we have given good proofs of our impartiality. We published articles and letters criticizing not alone our personal theosophical and philosophical views, but discussing on subjects directly concerned with our personal honour and reputation; reviving the infamous calumnies in which not simple doubts, but distinctly formulated charges of dishonesty were cast into our teeth and our private character was torn to shreds (Vide “A Glance at Theosophy from the Outside,” Lucifer for October, 1888). And if the editor will never shrink from what she considers her duty to her readers, and that she is prepared to throw every possible light upon mooted questions in order that truth should shine bright
and hideous lies and superstitions be shown under their true colours—why should our contributors prove themselves so thin-skinned? Magna est veritas et prevalebit. Every hitherto far-hidden truth, whether concealed out of sight by Nature’s secretiveness or human craft, must and shall be unveiled some day or other. Meanwhile, we do our best to help poor, shivering, naked Truth in her arduous progress, by cutting paths for her through the inextricable jungle of theological and social shams and lies. The best means of doing it is to open the pages of our magazine to free controversy and discussion, regardless of personalities or prejudices—though some of our friends may object to such modes of excavating far hidden truths. They are wrong, evidently. It is by this means alone that he who holds correct views has a chance of proving them, hence of seeing them accepted and firmly established; and he who is mistaken, of being benefited by having his better senses awakened and directed to the other side of the question he sees but in one of its aspects. Logic, Milton says to us, teaches us “that contraries laid together more evidently appear; it follows, then, that all controversy being permitted, falsehood will appear more false, and truth the more true; which must needs conduce much to the general confirmation of an implicit truth.” Again, “if it (controversy) be profitable for one man to read, why should it not at least be tolerable and free for his adversary to write?”
Why then should Mr. Headley address his opponent, while saying: “it is not true, as Mr. May asserts, that good and evil, or Jesus and the Devil, are one and the same,” instead of taking to task for it Lactantius, the Church father, who was the first to say so more than a millennium ago, by stating that the Logos or Christ was “the first-born brother of Satan”? Or why again, should not our reverend friend explain to us the real meaning of that verse in Revelation (xxii, 16) which makes Jesus say: “I Jesus . . . am . . . the bright and morning Star,” i.e., Phosphoros and Lucifer respectively in the Greek and Latin texts—and thus give the lie to the
editor of Revelation, instead of giving it to Mr. May? Nor does this gentleman say anywhere, as Mr. Headley accuses him of saying, that he regards God “the Supreme Being or Person”—as a person. Finally, to our humble mind, there is more truth and philosophy in Mr. May’s closing sentence, namely: “the divine ESSE or God is but One Supreme and All, even as the seven colours of the Sun’s rays appear but as one”—than in all the ecclesiastical theology put together, modern reformations included.
To close: we deny that our criticism of Mr. Headley’s letter was in any way “hostile,” and we can but regret that the reverend gentleman should labour under the very erroneous impression that he has “fallen in the midst of enemies.” We repeat again: Lucifer has a settled and plainly outlined policy of its own, and those who write for it have either to accept it, or—turn their backs on our magazine. No discourteous epithets or vulgar abuse of personalities shall ever be allowed in our Monthly. We should be very sorry to follow in the usual track of the English dailies, which—even those claiming to be considered as leading organs of the press, high-principled and high-toned—are ever indulging in personal attacks, not only on their political opponents, but, pandering to the public, even upon unpopular characters. No individual—friend or foe—risks being called in our journal “adventurer,” “hallucinated lunatic,” “impostor and free lover,” “charlatan” or “credulous fool,” as the leading theosophists of England and America are repeatedly referred to by the highly-cultured and learned editors of not only political but even drawing-room, “Society” papers on both sides of the Atlantic—save a few honourable exceptions.
But, on the other hand, no one—of whatever rank or influence—as nothing however “time-honoured,” shall ever be pandered to or propitiated in our magazine. Never shall any error, sham or superstition be daubed with the whitewash of propriety, or passed over in prudent silence. As our journal was not established for a moneymaking enterprise, but verily as a champion for every
fact and truth, however tabooed and unpopular—it need pander to no lie or absurd superstition. For this policy the Theosophical Publishing Co. is, already, several hundred pounds out of pocket. The editor invites free criticism upon everything that is said in Lucifer; and while protecting every contributor from direct personalities, is quite willing to accept any amount of such against herself, and promises to answer each and all to the best of her ability. Fas est et ab hoste doceri.
“FAIS QUE DOIS, ADVIENNE QUE POURRA.”