Before we can have any discussion of these issues we must define exactly what it is we are debating and come to a common understanding. The problem I always run into is many people attempt to blur facts and hijack ideas or terms out of context or claim false authority of famous historical figures in order to bolster their claims. Let's turn to the Catholic Encyclopedia and other sources:
Syncretism -- the attempt to reconcile disparate, even opposing, beliefs and to meld practices of various schools of thought. It is especially associated with the attempt to merge and analogize several originally discrete traditions, especially in the theology and mythology of religion, and thus assert an underlying unity. Syncretism was an essential feature of Greek paganism...
Christianity and the assorted heresies often called gnosticism are the results of syncretism when Greek philosophy was melded with older belief systems such as Judaism. While the various faiths claim new or revised "revelation", it's odd the new revelations resemble existing beliefs perhaps with a new innovation or interpretation. While revelation is certainly possible, it's unreliable.
One tool of syncretism is allegory, which is why Christianity insist on allegorical interpretations of the Old Testament. (It's more complex than that.) This is how for example Paul and other evangelists managed to turn the Old Testament on its head to promote the new faith. Christianity became for Judaism what Theosophy is to Christianity today. The process continues today as many Christian churches and Jewish Synagogues have been hit with an onslaught of New Age religion and as political activism.
Modern/ancient Theosophy also makes use of syncretism by combining various myths, traditions, and philosophies into a new system. Like a virus these various forms of theosophy invade the host and destroy it from the inside.
Theology - "knowledge of God obtained by revelation."
Philosophy - "knowledge of Divine things acquire(d) by human reasoning." To further expand, "An academic discipline that seeks truth through reasoning rather than empiricism."
Doctrine - "a belief (or system of beliefs) accepted as authoritative by some group or school."
Empiricism - "(philosophy) the doctrine that knowledge derives from experience; the application of empirical methods in any art or science; (and in a possible negative form) quackery: medical practice and advice based on observation and experience in ignorance of scientific findings."
Theosophy- "the knowledge of God supposed to be obtained by the direct intuition of the Divine essence." The term is derived from the Greek word: theos, a "divine being," (or) a "god"; sophia, "wisdom"; hence divine wisdom.
Be very careful of the term "wisdom" is not like the dictionary definition. Wisdom (Jewish), Logos (Greek), and Word (Christian) all mean something like mind of God.
This mystical outlook was expanded by Plato (c. 427-347 BCE), neo-Platonists such as Plotinus (205-270) and was a major influence on many Church Fathers such as St. Augustine. (Augustine was influenced by Manicheanism gnosticism.) To quote the Catholic Encyclopedia,
"St. Augustine studied more closely this analogy between the Divine Word and human speech (see especially On the Holy Trinity IX.7.12 sq. and XV.10.17 sq.), and drew from it teachings long accepted in Catholic theology. He compares the Word of God, not to the word spoken by the lips, but to the interior speech of the soul, whereby we may in some measure grasp the Divine mystery; engendered by the mind it remains therein, is equal thereto, is the source of its operations..."
Sure if they say so. While the Church managed to control some of this nonsense speculation, it exploded onto the scene in the 19th century with German Idealism loaded with Eastern philosophy. This came about when atheistic Enlightenment philosophy destroyed/damaged Christianity leaving a void to be filled in by something.
What did the French Enlightenment do to fill in the void for Christianity and Western culture it sought to destroy? Pagan Greek philosophy and Eastern religion! How was it spread? Through higher education in elite universities on both sides of the Atlantic. They is why traditional Christianity meets so much hostility on college campuses.
This idea of 'logos" was derived from Greek philosophy and was invented by Heraclitus (ca. 535-475 BC) who was regarded by St. Justin "as a Christian before Christ." The often violent infighting in the early church over the exact nature of this Greek idea killed thousands and nearly destroyed the entire Church. Here is the origin of the Trinity concept.
A more expanded definition of theosophy: "Religious philosophy or speculation about the nature of the soul based on mystical insight into the nature of God; often Theosophy. The system of beliefs and teachings of the Theosophical Society, founded in New York City in 1875, incorporating aspects of Buddhism and Brahmanism, especially the belief in reincarnation and spiritual evolution."
There's a lot more than that.
The Theosophical Society was founded by a self-proclaimed mystic known as Helena Petrovna (Madame) Blavatsky (1831-1891) and her cohorts Henry Steel Olcott (1832-1907), and William Quan Judge (1851-1896). This one quote from Blavatsky tells me all I need to know,
"We assert that the divine spark in man being one and identical in its essence with the Universal Spirit, our "spiritual Self" is practically omniscient, but that it cannot manifest its knowledge owing to the impediments of matter. Now the more these impediments are removed, in other words, the more the physical body is paralyzed, as to its own independent activity and consciousness, as in deep sleep or deep trance, or, again, in illness, the more fully can the inner Self manifest on this plane. This is our explanation of those truly wonderful phenomena of a higher order, in which undeniable intelligence and knowledge are exhibited."
In other words it's just modern gnosticism. She also claimed "knowlegde" from various revelations and dreams. To quote the Theosophy Foundation of Georgia, "She saw the master who would be her teacher in her dreams as a child. She met him in Hyde Park in London when she was 20." She claimed to have traveled to various places such as Tibet, India, and Egypt to obtain these "secrets" from various masters, but also through special revelation with various beings or Adepts.
Like most of the ancient knowledge nonsense we get from New Age types, neo-Pagans, etc. is stuff they collect, alter, and claim as their own and exclusive. This was common in the 19th Century as all kinds of occult and historical material was becoming available through archeology and secular research.
These beliefs are broadly pantheism where nature, God, and all things are somehow one and the same. From Darwinian evolution these mystics have borrowed the idea of spiritual evolution. They also believe in relativism and have a hostile view of in particular Christianity and Judaism.
Here is a sample of their so-called science:
Theosophical writings propose that human civilizations, like all other parts of the universe, develop cyclically through seven stages. Blavatsky posited that the whole (of) humanity, and indeed every reincarnating human monad, evolves through a series of seven "Root Races".
Thus in the first age, humans were pure spirit; in the second age, they were sexless beings inhabiting the now lost continent of Hyperborea; in the third age the giant Lemurians were informed by spiritual impulses endowing them with human consciousness and sexual reproduction. Modern humans finally developed on the continent of Atlantis. Since Atlantis was the nadir of the cycle, the present fifth age is a time of reawakening humanity's psychic gifts.
Blavatsky said: "these two other senses on the ascending arc be on the same respective planes as hearing and touch", or perhaps rather intuition and telepathy as the reference seems to say. The term psychic here really means[says who?] the realization of the permeability of consciousness as it had not been known earlier in evolution, although sensed by some more sensitive individuals of our species. Blavatsky mentioned the psychic to be "the super-ethereal or connecting link between matter and pure spirit, and the physical."
Blavatsky suggested that most of present day humanity belongs to the fifth root race, the Aryans, which originally developed on Atlantis. It was her belief that the older races will eventually die out, as the fifth rootrace in time will be replaced by the more advanced peoples of the sixth root race which is set to develop on the reemerging Lemurian continent.
Blavatsky claimed that "The occult doctrine admits of no such divisions as the Aryan and the Semite, accepting even the Turanian with ample reservations. The Semites, especially the Arabs, are later Aryans-degenerate in spirituality and perfected in materiality." (Her followers claim this wasn't meant to be racist.) One of the main purposes of the Theosophical Society (they claim) was "To form a nucleus of the universal brotherhood of humanity without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste, or color." (That the collective nonsense we often hear today that has no regard for individuals.)
(Note the original Aryans were an Indo-European people that invaded India, destroyed the earlier Indus Civilization. They have no relation to this Blavatsky/Nazi nonsense.
Guido von List (and his followers such as Lanz von Liebenfels) later took up some of Blavatsky's theories, mixing them with racist' nationalism to formulate Ariosophy, a precursor of Nazism. Ariosophy emphasized intellectual expositions of racial evolution. The Thule Society was one of several German occult groups drawing on Ariosophy to preach Aryan supremacy. It provides a direct link between occult racial theories and the racial ideology of Hitler and the emerging Nazi party." (Wiki)
The following shows Theosophy is all about. Here she incorporates Darwinian science and nature worship in to her gnostic nonsense:
"We assert that the divine spark in man being one and identical in its essence with the Universal Spirit, our "spiritual Self" is practically omniscient, but that it cannot manifest its knowledge owing to the impediments of matter." - from The Key to Theosophy, by H. P. Blavatsky, 1889 (rejection of matter, classical gnosticism)
"Theosophy is that ocean of knowledge which spreads from shore to shore of the evolution of sentient beings; unfathomable in its deepest parts, it gives the greatest minds their fullest scope, yet, shallow enough at its shores, it will not overwhelm the understanding of a child." - from The Ocean of Theosophy, by William Q. Judge, 1893
"Theosophy is the shoreless ocean of universal truth, love, and wisdom, reflecting its radiance on the earth... Theosophy is divine nature, visible and invisible... Theosophy is the fixed eternal sun... Theosophy is the quintessence of duty." - from The Key to Theosophy, by H. P. Blavatsky, 1889
"Theosophy, in its abstract meaning, is Divine Wisdom, or the aggregate of the knowledge and wisdom that underlie the Universe - the homogeneity of eternal GOOD; and in its concrete sense it is the sum total of the same as allotted to man by nature, on this earth, and no more." - from The Key to Theosophy, by H. P. Blavatsky, 1889
"Theosophia: Wisdom-religion, or 'Divine Wisdom'. The substratum and basis of all the world-religions and philosophies, taught and practised since man became a thinking being. In its practical bearing, Theosophy is purely divine ethics." - from The Theosophical Glossary, by H. P. Blavatsky, 1892
"To fully define Theosophy we must consider it under all its aspects. The interior world has not been hidden from all by impenetrable darkness. By that higher intuition acquired by Theosophia, or God-knowledge, which carried the mind from the world of form into that of formless spirit, man has been sometimes enabled in every age and every country to perceive things in the interior or invisible world." - from "What Is Theosophy?", by H. P. Blavatsky, 1879
"Once that a student abandons the old and trodden highway of routine, and enters upon the solitary path of independent thought-Godward-he is a Theosophist; an original thinker, a seeker after the eternal truth with 'an inspiration of his own' to solve the universal problems. With every man that is earnestly searching in his own way after a knowledge of the Divine Principle, of man's relations to it, and nature's manifestations of it, Theosophy is allied." - from "What Are The Theosophists?", by H. P. Blavatsky, 1879
"Theosophy believes in no miracle, whether divine or devilish; recognizes nothing as supernatural; believes only in facts and Science; studies the laws of Nature, both Occult and patent; and gives attention particularly to the former." - from "Occult Phenomenon", by H. P. Blavatsky, 1880 (spiritual atheism)
"A true Theosophist must put in practice the loftiest moral ideal, must strive to realize his unity with the whole of humanity, and work ceaselessly for others." - from The Key to Theosophy, by H. P. Blavatsky, 1889 (Humanist Society says the same thing.)
"THEOSOPHY... has existed eternally throughout the endless cycles upon cycles of the Past, so it will ever exist throughout the infinitudes of the Future, because Theosophy is synonymous with EVERLASTING TRUTH." - from The Key to Theosophy, by H. P. Blavatsky, 1889
Three chief objects:
1. Brotherhood of man, without distinction of race, color, religion, or social position
2. The serious study of the ancient world-religions for purposes of comparison and the selection therefrom of universal ethics
3. The study and development of the latent divine powers in man - from The Key to Theosophy, by H. P. Blavatsky, 1889
"Theosophy is wisdom about God... and wisdom about nature. Embracing both the scientific and the religious, Theosophy is a scientific religion and a religious science." - from The Ocean of Theosophy, by William Q. Judge, 1893
"Theosophy is not a belief or dogma formulated or invented by man, but is a knowledge of the laws which govern the evolution of the physical, astral, psychical, and intellectual constituents of nature and of man." - from The Ocean of Theosophy, by William Q. Judge, 1893
(Tries to hijack science when for far too many has become a religious dogma)
"The teachings of Theosophy deal chiefly with our earth, although its purview extends to all the worlds, since no part of the manifested universe is outside the single body of laws which operate upon us" - from The Ocean of Theosophy, by William Q. Judge, 1893
"Religious doctrine gives a theory which conflicts with reason and fact, while science can give for the facts no reason which is in any way noble or elevating. Theosophy alone, inclusive of all systems and every experience, gives the key, the plan, the doctrine, the truth." - from The Ocean of Theosophy, by William Q. Judge, 1893
"Theosophy asks every one to reflect whether to give way to the animal below or look up to and be governed by the God within." - from The Ocean of Theosophy, by William Q. Judge, 1893
"Theosophy applies to the self - the thinker - the same laws which are seen everywhere in operation throughout nature... all varieties of the great law that effects follow causes and no effect is without a cause." - from The Ocean of Theosophy, by William Q. Judge, 1893
"Theosophy views the Universe as an intelligent whole, hence every motion in the Universe is an action of that whole leading to results, which themselves become causes for further results." - from The Ocean of Theosophy, by William Q. Judge, 1893 (pantheism)
"The strength of Theosophy lies in the fact that it is not to be defined. It is the wisdom of the gods, or of nature. This means, that evolution, slowly progressing will bring out new truths and new aspects of old truths, thus absolutely preventing any dogmas or 'unequivocal definitions.' Were we to make and declare a definition of Theosophy it would be only the words of those who participated in drawing it up, and not acceptable to all. And were it possible that all would accept, then would be sounded the doom of the movement.
Hence the reply to the question, "What is the criterion of Theosophy?" is that it is found in each man's perception of the Truth; therefore there is no single criterion. Inasmuch as Theosophy is the whole body of truth about man and nature, either known now or hereafter to be discovered, it has the 'power of growth, progress and advancement,' since every new truth makes it clearer." - from Forum Answers, by William Q. Judge, 1896
Note the term 'not to be defined' as many of these phony Deists fight tooth and nail not to define what it is they believe, but make up what they want and call it whatever they want, often going over to New Age pantheism. Blavatsky would be proud of them.
"Behold, O happy Pilgrim! The portal that faceth thee is high and wide, seems easy of access. The road that leads therethrough is straight and smooth and green. 'Tis like a sunny glade in the dark forest depths... There, nightingales of hope and birds of radiant plumage sing perched in green bowers, chanting success to fearless Pilgrims..." ." - from The Voice of the Silence, by H. P. Blavatsky, 1889
"Before the soul can comprehend and may remember, she must unto the Silent Speaker be united just as the form to which the clay is modeled, is first united with the potter's mind. For then the soul will hear, and will remember. And then to the inner ear will speak-- THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE." - from The Voice of the Silence, by H. P. Blavatsky, 1889
"Let thy Soul lend its ear to every cry of pain like as the lotus bares its heart to drink the morning sun. Let not the fierce Sun dry one tear of pain before thyself hast wiped it from the sufferer's eye. But let each burning human tear drop on thy heart and there remain, nor ever brush it off, until the pain that caused it is removed. These tears, O thou of heart most merciful, these are the streams that irrigate the fields of charity immortal." - from The Voice of the Silence, by H. P. Blavatsky, 1889
"The seeds of Wisdom cannot sprout and grow in airless space. To live and reap experience the mind needs breadth and depth and points to draw it towards the Diamond Soul." - from The Voice of the Silence, by H. P. Blavatsky, 1889 (hogwash)
"Dogma? Faith? These are the right and left pillars of every soul crushing Theology. Theosophists have no dogmas, exact no blind faith. Theosophists are ever ready to abandon every idea that is proved erroneous upon strictly logical deductions. Realizing, as they do, the boundlessness of the absolute truth, Theosophists repudiate all claim to infallibility. The most cherished preconceptions, the most 'pious hope,' the strongest 'master passion,' they sweep aside like dust from their path, when their error is pointed out." - from "A Society Without Dogma", by H. P. Blavatsky, 1877 (relativism and hogwash)
In conclusion if we go by some estimates that New Age religion in its many varied forms make up 25% of the US population, it's easily the 2nd largest belief system in the country. After the fall of Marxism, itself a pseudo-religion, syncretism is kicking into full gear. Environmentalism has now become the pseudo-religion of choice for the spiritual atheist. Combining New Age concepts, earth worship, and socialism, it stands as the biggest danger to God, liberty, and America.
That is my opinion.