“It really seems too bad to strip Rome of all her symbols at once; but justice must be done to the despoiled hierophants. Long before the sign of the cross was adopted as a Christian symbol, it was employed as a secret sign of recognition among neophytes and adepts. Says Levi:
“The sign of the Cross adopted by the Christians does not belong exclusively to them. It is kabalistic and represents the opposition and quaternary equilibrium of the elements. We see by the occult verse of the Pater, to which we have called attention in another work, that there were originally two ways of making it, or, at least, two very different formulas to express its meaning – one reserved for priests and initiates; the other given to neophytes and the profane. Thus, for example, the initiate carrying his hand to his forehead, said: To thee; then he added, belong; and continued, while carrying his hand to the breast – the kingdom; then to the left shoulder – justice; to the right shoulder – and mercy. Then he joined the two hands, adding: throughout the generating cycles: “Tibi sunt Malchut, et Geburah et Chassed per Aeonas’ – a sign of the Cross, absolutely and magnificently kabalistic, which the profanations of Gnosticism made the militant and official Church completely lose.”
How fantastical, therefore, is the assertion of Father Ventura, that, while Augustine was a Manichean, a philosopher, ignorant of and refusing to humble himself before the sublimity of the “grand Christian revelation”, he knew nothing, understood naught of God, man, or universe; “…he remained poor, small, obscure, sterile, and wrote nothing, did nothing really grand or useful.” But, hardly had he become a Christian “…when his reasoning powers and intellect, enlightened at the luminary of faith, elevated him to the most sublime heights of philosophy and theology.”
And his other proposition that Augustine’s genius, as a consequence, “developed itself in all its grandeur and prodigious fecundity…his intellect radiated with that immense splendour which, reflecting itself in his immortal writings, has never ceased for one moment during fourteen centuries to illuminate the Church and the world!”
Whatever Augustine was as a Manichean, we leave Father Ventura to discover; but that his ascension to Christianity established an everlasting enmity between theology and science is beyond doubt. While forced to confess that “the Gentiles had possibly something divine and true in their doctrines”, he, nevertheless, declared that for their superstition, idolatry, and pride, they had “to be detested, and, unless they improved, to be punished by divine judgment.” This furnishes the clue to the subsequent policy of the Christian Church, even to our day. If the Gentiles did not choose to come into the Church, all that was divine in their philosophy should go for naught, and the divine wrath of God should be visited upon their heads.
What effect this produced is succinctly stated by Draper: “No one did more than this Father to bring science and religion into antagonism; it was mainly he who diverted the Bible from its true office – a guide to purity of life – and placed it in the perilous position of being the arbiter of human knowledge, an audacious tyranny over the mind of man.
The example once set, there was no want of followers; the works of the Greek philosophers were stigmatized as profane; the transcendently glorious achievement of the Museum of Alexandria was hidden from sight by a cloud of ignorance, mysticism, and unintelligible jargon, out of which there too often flashed the destroying lightnings of ecclesiastical vengeance.”
H. P. Blavatsky