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Re: Holy War and Authority

Jan 16, 1995 01:26 PM
by K. Paul Johnson

Dear Art--

You asked for personal experience of accepting traditional
authority vs.  that of individual judgment.  When I was a
teenager, the idea of an all-embracing religious authority
structure was very appealing to me.  Unsatisfied with the vague
and tepid Christianity of the Methodist Church in which I grew
up, I was attracted to Mormonism, Christian Science, and several
other alternative faiths before becoming a Baha'i.

Baha'i provided a complete set of answers to every question one
could possibly ask about religion and ethics.  The stability and
self-assurance this gave were satisfying for several years of
high school and college, but by age 20 I had come to conclude
that Baha'i left far too little room for individual
interpretation and investigation.  A few years after leaving
Baha'i, I found Theosophy.  For the first few years I studied it,
my approach to it was quite similar to the Baha'i outlook.  HPB
was the messenger for this messianic cycle, her books the most
complete and reliable statement of eternal truths, and everything
else in religious history was evaluated against her authoritative

But what happened with "following" HPB in my case is that after a
certain point, to borrow Stephan Hoeller's phrase, I got less
interested in going "back to Blavatsky" and more into going "back
through Blavatsky to her sources." From being a source of
answers, she became to me more a source of questions.  And those
questions led to more questions, in pursuing which I ended up
with my own answers which didn't cohere very well with any
traditional authority's.

Hope this is responsive to your request.

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