Part One in a Two-Part Series on New Age Christology, from the Christian Research Journal, Summer 1989, page 9. The Editor-in-Chief of the Christian Research Journal is Elliot Miller.
"Who do you say I am?" (Luke 9:20, NIV) The question was first asked of Peter by Christ nineteen centuries ago, and has continued since then to the present day to be the litmus test of spiritual authenticity. Perhaps never in the history of the Christian church has this question been more relevant than it is today. One reason for this is that New Agers have taken the New Testament sculpture (if you will) of Christ, crafted an esoteric/mystical chisel, and hammered away at this sculpture until a completely new image has been formed.
The new sculpture is one that fits nicely on a display shelf with sculptures of Buddha, Krishna, and other "holy men." This Christ is broad-minded and nonjudgmental. He is a "Master" among "Masters," who -- with the others -- is leading the human race into a New Age of enlightenment and harmony.
Glossary of Key Terms
Avatar. One who "descends" into human form from above, never having gone through reincarnation. Such a one is considered a manifestation of divinity and seeks to reveal divine truths especially important to a particular age.
Christology. The doctrinal study of the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Esoteric. A word used to describe knowledge that is possessed or understood only by a few.
Esoteric Christianity. A mystical interpretation of Christianity which sees its "core truth" as identical to that of every other religion (i.e., man is divine). This approach seeks hidden or inner meanings in Scripture.
Karma. Refers to the "debt" a soul accumulates as a result of good or bad actions committed during one's life (or past lives). If one accumulates good Karma, he or she will be reincarnated in a desirable state. If one accumulates bad Karma, he or she will be reincarnated in a less desirable state.
Mass Incarnation. An incarnation of the Christ in all humanity. Some say this incarnation is now taking place on a planetary scale, and is not unlike the incarnation of the cosmic Christ in the body of Jesus, 2000 years ago.
Medium. Traditionally, the word refers to an occultist through whom disembodied spirits communicate. New Agers use the word of Jesus acting as a bodily vehicle for the Christ.
Metaphysics. A branch of philosophy which focuses on the ultimate nature of reality. In New Age circles, the term has become synonymous with the "mind science" school of thought developed by P. P. Quimby (see article) and with New Age philosophy in general.
Monism. A metaphysical theory which sees all reality as a unified whole. Everything is seen as being composed of the same substance.
Note: Additional technical terms used in this article are defined within the text.
Fundamental to any discussion of New Age Christology is the recognition that New Agers distinguish between Jesus (a mere human vessel) and the Christ (variously defined, but always divine, and often a cosmic, impersonal entity). Part One of this series will therefore focus on the Christ of the New Age, and will provide a brief history of the various views as to his (or its) identity, his purpose, how he aims to accomplish this purpose, and his relationship to humanity. Part Two will focus on the Jesus of the New Age, and will address such issues as the "lost years" of Jesus (as described by Levi Dowling, Edgar Cayce, and others), his supposed training in Eastern/occultic concepts, his "attunement" to the Christ, and his "New Age teachings."
Regarding methodology, this article will anchor on two reference points -- one primary and one secondary -- from which the history of New Age Christology will be traced. The primary reference point will be Theosophy; the secondary reference point will be the teachings of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby. We might liken Theosophy and Quimby's teachings to two trees which grew side by side, having been planted close to the same time (the mid to late 1800s) in the same soil, fertilized with common ingredients (nineteenth-century transcendentalism, the philosophy of Emmanuel Swedenborg, the influx of Hindu monism, etc.). Certainly, in many respects these two have distinct beliefs and different goals, but they both took root and flourished in the same mystical climate. Taken together, these represent an appropriate starting point for a study in New Age Christology.
THEOSOPHY AND ITS OFFSHOOTS
Theosophy, founded in 1875 by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, teaches that each human being evolves through seven planes of existence (the physical plane, the astral plane, the mental plane, etc.). Each plane a person evolves through brings him or her ever closer to union with the Absolute (God). Theosophists reason that this process can take a very long time, hence requiring innumerable reincarnations.
According to "revelations" received by Blavatsky, it is not only individuals who evolve; the human race as a whole also evolves. So far there have allegedly been three races: the Lemurian, the Atlantean, and the Aryan. Each of these three (which Theosophists call "rootraces") are divided into "subraces." Mankind is now in the third rootrace -- the Aryan rootrace -- and is about to enter the sixth subrace of the Aryan rootrace.
Theosophy teaches that at the beginning of each subrace, the Supreme World Teacher (also known as "the Christ," the bestower of divine wisdom) enters the body of a disciple in order to assist and guide the spiritual evolution of man. Each "incarnation" reveals more to man about God than the previous one. The five incarnations of Christ in the five subraces of the Aryan rootrace were Buddha (in India), Hermes (in Egypt), Zoroaster (in Persia), Orpheus (in Greece), and Jesus (at the River Jordan, where the Christ came upon Jesus at His baptism).
Jesus is said to have volunteered his body for use by the Christ. Annie Besant, who took over Theosophical leadership when Blavatsky died, said: "For Him [the Christ] was needed an earthly tabernacle, a human form, the body of a man...The man Jesus yielded himself a willing sacrifice, 'offered himself without spot' to the Lord of Love, who took unto Himself that pure form as tabernacle, and dwelt therein for three years of mortal life."
Theosophists reject any suggestion that Jesus died on the cross to pay for man's sins. Man saves himself through continual reincarnations. This spiritual evolution leads men further and further away from the physical plane and closer and closer to spiritual planes of existence. Because of this process, every human being -- regardless of race or religion -- is a potential "Christ."
Human beings who continue to evolve through reincarnation eventually become "Masters." This is a group of formerly historical persons who have finished their earthly evolutions and voluntarily help lesser-evolved human beings to reach their level.
Because Theosophists believe the fifth subrace of the Aryan rootrace (the subrace of intellectual man) is about to give way to the sixth subrace (the subrace of spiritual man), they believe another incarnation of the Christ will soon take place. Note that since this will be the sixth appearance of the Christ in the Aryan rootrace, it is not spoken of as the "second coming."
Annie Besant first announced the coming of this Messiah in 1906. Her aim was to groom Jiddu Krishnamurti for the role of World Teacher or Messiah. In 1925 she claimed for this young Indian man the title of "Messianic Leader and Reincarnation of the World Teacher." But by 1929, Krishnamurti became convinced it was all a mistake. On November 20 of that year, he "refused to receive further adoration [saying frankly], 'I am not an actor; I refuse to wear the robes of a Messiah; so I am again free of all possessions.'" Theosophy's Christ remains to appear.
Under the leadership of Annie Besant, dissension took its toll on Theosophy. The result of growing discontent within the Society was a four-pronged theological fork in the road. Theosophy continued along its traditional path (the first prong). But Rudolf Steiner broke away to form the Anthroposophical Society in 1912 (the second prong); Alice Bailey broke away to establish the Arcane School in 1923 (the third prong); and Guy and Edna Ballard broke away to lead the "I AM" movement in the 1930s (the fourth prong). Each "prong" has made an impact on New Age Christology.
The Christ of Anthroposophy
Dr. Rudolf Steiner was an active member of the Theosophical Society and headed the German charter of the group. However, when a Theosophical subgroup, the "Order of the Star of the East," began promoting Krishnamurti as the new incarnation of the Christ, Steiner threatened to expel any member of the German charter who joined the Order. Annie Besant retaliated by cancelling Steiner's charter. Steiner then founded the Anthroposophical Society in 1912, and most of the German membership of Theosophy joined with him.
Steiner's emphasis represents a significant departure from his Theosophical roots. Instead of arguing for a Christ who periodically incarnates into individuals as each new "subrace" begins, Steiner's emphasis is on what the Christ accomplished through his decisive "incarnation" in the human Jesus.
Steiner's Christology is based on his investigation into the "Akashic Records." Occultists believe that the physical earth is surrounded by an immense spiritual field known as "Akasha" in which is impressed -- like a celestial tape recording -- every impulse of human thought, will, and emotion. It therefore constitutes a complete record of human history. Steiner claimed to be able to "read" the Akashic Records, thus enabling him to investigate human history without use of written records. Based on this, he discovered that the descent of the Christ on the human Jesus was the absolutely central event of human evolution.
In Steiner's theology, the Christ's descent on Jesus became necessary because man's consciousness had progressively become too focused on the material realm and had completely lost touch with the spiritual nature behind physical reality. The danger was that this situation could become permanent.
To prevent this, the Christ's initial goal was to "incarnate" into a human being (Jesus) so he could accomplish his greater goal of "incarnating" from Jesus into the "etheric earth." Occultists believe an etheric earth exists behind the physical earth. The etheric earth is thought to be made up of a fine energy substance from which is created the mold for every form that is manifested in the physical plane. Every material object on the physical plane has an etheric counterpart. All material forms in the physical universe find their ultimate source in this energy substance of the etheric realm. The Christ desired to enter this etheric earth so he could bring about spiritual changes among people living on the physical earth. But in order to transfer from his spiritual realm to the etheric realm, he needed a human instrument through which to work. This instrument was found in Jesus.
The Christ "incarnated" into Jesus, and three years later was crucified. At the crucifixion, the Christ left Jesus' body and "incarnated" into the etheric earth:
The blood flowed from the wounds of Jesus Christ. This blood must not be regarded simply as chemical substance...it must be recognized as something altogether unique. When it flowed from His wounds and into the earth, a substance was imparted to our earth which, in uniting with it, constituted an event of the greatest possible significance...this blood passed through a process of 'etherization'...since the Mystery of Golgotha, the etherized blood of Christ Jesus has lived in the ether of the earth. The etheric body of the earth is permeated by what the blood that flowed on Golgotha became.
Because of this, "ever since the Mystery of Golgotha man lives in a spiritual environment, an environment that has been Christianized because it has absorbed the Christ impulse."
Having mystically entered the etheric earth via his "etherized" blood, the Christ now seeks to "mass incarnate" into all humanity. This will lead to man's redemption. Steiner says that the "Christ impulse will penetrate humanity...He belongs to the whole earth and can enter all human souls, regardless of nation and religion." This, says Steiner, is the true "second coming."
The Christ of the Arcane School
Alice Bailey had been an active member in the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society (an inner group of trusted members who faithfully practiced Theosophy). But she eventually became critical of the organization's policy that one could not become a disciple of a Master (which Bailey believed she already was) unless one was notified by Annie Besant (who seemed to have overlooked Bailey in this). This led to her dismissal from the Society, and shortly thereafter in 1923, she and her husband Foster founded the Arcane School.
Like Theosophy and Anthroposophy, Bailey believed that Jesus was a medium who allowed the Christ to use his body. But Bailey distinguished her beliefs from Anthroposophy by arguing that the "second coming" referred to the Christ coming in a single Avatar, not in all humanity. According to Arcane thought, the Christ -- along with his disciples, the Masters -- will draw closer and closer to humanity and eventually appear on the physical plane. Bailey said this return necessitated three conditions that either have already come or are currently coming to pass: (1) catastrophic planetary conditions; (2) a spiritual awakening; and (3) a steadily mounting invocative prayer. This last condition involves use of The Great Invocation, a prayer which is intended to speed the reappearance of the Christ.
Preparation for the Second Coming is hence the responsibility of "attuned" human beings. Those who know about this Coming are to help create conditions of "spiritual alignment" which will ultimately draw the Christ forth into our midst. Without this, the Christ is impotent to act.
Bailey believed the Christ will come again in a way which will create no divisions or separations between men, either religious, social, or ideological. When he comes, it will be to establish through precept and example (in world service) the principles on which an interdependent world may create a new civilization.
While Bailey taught that the Second Coming will be in a single Avatar, she also affirmed that he will be mystically manifested in humanity: "There is a growing and developing belief that Christ is in us, as He was in the Master Jesus, and this belief will alter world affairs and mankind's entire attitude to life."
The Christ of the "I AM" Movements
Guy and Edna Ballard were Theosophists up until Guy was contacted by Saint Germain, an "Ascended Master" who allegedly appeared to him in a physical body. Saint Germain informed him that he lived on Mount Teton with ninety-eight other Ascended Masters.
Saint Germain appointed Guy, Edna, and their son Donald as the only "accredited" spokespeople for the Ascended Masters. Saint Germain also taught Guy about the "Great Creative Word" (I AM). The "I AM Presence" is said to be in each person and represents a point of contact with divine reality. One can attune to the I AM Presence by chanting I AM decrees. Such chanting reportedly brings about dramatic results in the life of the one chanting.
The Ballards' Christology is distinct in that Saint Germain is considered more important (in the dawning Aquarian Age) than Jesus, and is the primary object of worship among "I AM" devotees. Jesus -- himself an "Ascended Master" -- allegedly said that Saint Germain is "the Greatest Blessing that has ever come to mankind." The reason for this devotion to Saint Germain is that he has brought the Violet Consuming Flame: "The conscious use of the Violet Consuming Flame is the only means by which any human being can free himself or herself from his or her own human discord and imperfection." The I AM presence is invoked by chanting decrees, and this in turn activates the Violet Flame. The Violent Flame then burns away undesirable conditions in one's life. Of course, this nullifies any need for Jesus' work on the cross.
THE NEXT GENERATION
Having discussed the foundation for New Age Christology in Theosophy, Anthroposophy, the Arcane School, and the "I AM" movement, this article will now examine three representative contemporary New Age leaders to illustrate how this Christology has progressed historically.
Benjamin Creme and his Arcane Roots
From 1977 to the present Benjamin Creme has traveled around the world proclaiming that the coming of Maitreya (the Christ) is imminent. Maitreya, says Creme, is the leader of the Planetary Hierarchy and has been living incognito among human beings since 1977 when his consciousness entered a specially created body of manifestation, the "Mayavirupa."
Creme originally claimed that by the end of spring 1982, Maitreya would reveal himself via worldwide television on the "Day of Declaration," after which time would begin a new era of planetary happiness. This Christ would come not as a religious, political, or social leader, but as an "educationalist" who would solve all the world's problems in these areas and usher in the New Age of love, peace, and shared wealth.
Obviously 1982 has come and gone and the Christ remains to appear. The most common explanation for the Christ's no-show is that the media prevented it. Since the media represents humanity, the media's apathy is indicative of the broader apathy of humanity. And since the Christ's manifestation cannot occur against man's wishes, his "declaration" has been delayed.
Some of Creme's ideas are noticeably similar to Theosophy. For example, he divides the world and humanity into astral, ethereal, and physical planes. He also subscribes to the idea that the Christ inhabited the body of Jesus for three years.
But despite some Theosophical overtones, his ideas are primarily a reflection of Alice Bailey's writings, particularly her book The Reappearance of the Christ. In this book are found almost everything Creme was later to propagate: the Age of Aquarius, world service, The Great Invocation, "overshadowing" (the occult means used by a Master to inhabit a human disciple's body), and "transmission groups" (enlightened groups who "transmit" spiritual energy to the minds of other people in order to raise the Christ-consciousness of the planet).
Despite such similarities, there are at least three notable differences between Creme and Bailey. First, Creme is a date-setter regarding Maitreya's coming (i.e., spring 1982). Bailey was convinced the Christ would appear -- and she had some idea about the general timing (sometime after 2025) -- but she refused to set exact dates. She wrote: "It is not for us to set the date for the appearance of the Christ or to expect any spectacular aid or curious phenomena. If our work is rightly done, He will come at the set and appointed time."
Second, Bailey used the term "Christ" to refer to a person whereas Creme uses it in reference to an office or function. The present holder of this office, says Creme, is the Lord Maitreya, who has held it now for 2,600 years. It was Maitreya who -- while holding this office -- manifested himself through his disciple, Jesus, by the occult method of overshadowing.
Third, Christ and Buddha are the central figures in Bailey's theology, while Maitreya is supreme in Creme's thinking. Bailey mentions Maitreya on occasion, but never as the leader of the Hierarchy, as does Creme.
Creme's following has understandably declined since 1982.
David Spangler and his Anthroposophic Roots
Like Rudolf Steiner, David Spangler understands Christ to be a cosmic spirit who utilized Jesus' body to make the transfer from His own realm (the spiritual realm) to Jesus' realm (the realm of matter).
Spangler sees the Christ as a cosmic principle: "Any old Christ will not do, not if we need to show that we have something better than the mainstream Christian traditions. It must be a cosmic Christ, a universal Christ, a New Age Christ." The Christ is not so much a religious figure, "but rather a cosmic principle, a spiritual presence whose quality infuses and appears in various ways in all the religions and philosophies that uplift humanity and seek unity with spirit."
Spangler believes a central purpose of the Christ is to act as a "universal educator." He uses "educate" in the sense of the Latin root educare, which means "to lead out." Most often he speaks of the Christ "leading out" man's "inner divinity." The "universal Presence that calls out of form and spirit the higher potentials of Divine life waiting to be released into expression, is the Christ."
Like Steiner, Spangler believes the Christ entered the etheric earth at the crucifixion. By so doing, the Christ was able to reverse man's "downward trend" toward a physical-oriented consciousness. The Christ is thus an "occult savior."
Spangler utilizes Christian terms to describe what the Christ accomplished through Jesus. For example, Spangler says that the Christ was occultly crucified (which resulted in placing his cosmic presence within the cross of matter, space, and time). The Christ was laid in a tomb (the tomb representing a level of life characterized by "great density" [i.e., the physical world], as opposed to the "low density" spiritual realm he was accustomed to). There he would stay until the resurrection (the outflowing of Christ-energies from the etheric earth) and ascension (the ascension of Christ-consciousness in humanity). Through this sacrifice, the cosmic Christ became a savior in that he no longer stood outside the evolution of the earth, but entered into that evolution by becoming incarnate into the earth. There he would function as a guide of man's spiritual evolution.
Like Steiner, Spangler believes the Christ is now incarnating into humanity from the etheric realm. This is not unlike what occurred in Jesus 2,000 years ago, for Jesus "was the prototype or the expression of the reality of the Christ consciousness which is inherent in us all." Spangler concludes that human beings can actually become "the Word made flesh." In fact, he says that the Word will eventually be made all flesh.
Elizabeth Clare Prophet and her "I AM" Roots
While the Ballards' "I AM" movement has considerably declined since its heyday in the 1930s, another "I AM" movement has achieved high visibility and much popularity in New Age circles. This is the Church Universal and Triumphant, founded in 1958 by Mark Prophet and now headed by his widow, Elizabeth Clare Prophet.
Foundationally, certain aspects of the Prophets' theology can be traced directly to Theosophy. These beliefs include (1) Masters who guide man's spiritual evolution; (2) revelations to man from these Masters; (3) the Christ's use of Jesus' body; (4) human evolution through progressive stages; and (5) the belief that Blavatsky's revelations marked the beginning of the Aquarian Age.
Beyond these similarities, the Prophets derived most of their theology from the Ballards. This is seen not only in their emphasis on the I AM Presence, but also on the prominent role of Saint Germain.
Elizabeth Clare Prophet says the I AM Presence has become hopelessly distorted within man due to negative energies from within and without. These negative energies impede spiritual progress, but are effectively combatted by the "Violet Consuming Flame" which is poured out on the world by Saint Germain. This Flame changes negative energy into positive energy. It is therefore an antidote to sin.
This makes Jesus' work on the cross unnecessary. In fact, Mark and Elizabeth Prophet dismiss the idea of Jesus' atonement on the cross as an "erroneous doctrine...which he himself never taught." Like the Ballards, the Prophets believe that Jesus attained Christhood as did other Ascended Masters. The "Christ" of "I AM" theology represents the divinity within all men: "God dwells in every man and not alone in His son Jesus the Christ. The only begotten Son of the Father, full of grace and truth, is the Christ whose Image the Lord has reproduced over and over again as the Christ-identity of every son and daughter who has come forth from the infinite Spirit of the Father-Mother God." The Prophets conclude that "to become the Christ, then, is the goal of every child of God."
PHINEAS PARKHURST QUIMBY
Unquestionably, Theosophy and the groups that emerged from it are the source of many of the essential tenets of New Age Christology. But Phineas Parkhurst Quimby (who died in 1866) and the "metaphysical" groups his philosophy spawned also played a significant role.
Quimby espoused the metaphysical idea that the source of physical healing lies in the mind. He was convinced that physical diseases were caused by wrong thinking or false beliefs. These false beliefs are remedied by "the Christ."
Like other metaphysical writers, Quimby distinguished Jesus from the Christ. Quimby credited Jesus with discovering the "Truth" of how to correct the error of sickness. "Not that He as a man was any better," said Quimby, "but He was the embodiment of a higher Wisdom, more so than any man who has ever lived." This "Truth" or "higher Wisdom" discovered by Jesus was an impersonal mind-principle Quimby called "the Christ." Quimby's metaphysical concept of the Christ spawned several important movements.
New Thought developed slowly during the nineteenth century after Quimby's death in 1866. Quimby did not create an organization himself. But individuals he helped adopted his ideas and passed them on to others, adding to or modifying them along the way. Mary Baker Eddy's Christian Science is a major example of this, though this tradition is too exclusive to meld with today's New Age movement. However, several smaller, more inclusive metaphysical groups also emerged, and in the 1890s the term "New Thought" surfaced as a way of describing them.
The Christ of New Thought was an outgrowth of Quimby's metaphysics. The Christ was considered not a person but an impersonal Divine Nature or Principle. Jesus was believed to have embodied or appropriated the Christ-principle as no human had before. He had fully realized his Christ-nature. But Jesus was not a savior to mankind; he was merely a "way-shower." Salvation is based not on Jesus but on the recognition of the Divine Nature or Christ-principle within.
Unity School of Christianity
The Unity School of Christianity, an offshoot of New Thought, was founded by Charles and Myrtle Fillmore in 1891. They are distinguished from mainstream New Thought by their belief in reincarnation.
In Unity, salvation is attained by "at-one-ment" with God -- a reuniting of human consciousness with God-consciousness. Jesus attained this; all men can: "The difference between Jesus and us is not one of inherent spiritual capacity, but in difference of demonstration of it. Jesus was potentially perfect, and He expressed that perfection; we are potentially perfect, [but] we have not yet expressed it."
United Church of Religious Science
The United Church of Religious Science, another offshoot of New Thought, was founded by "Dr." Ernest Holmes who wrote The Science of Mind in 1926. This book later became the textbook for Religious Science. Holmes was extremely eclectic, attempting to syncretize the metaphysical ideas he sifted from New Thought with psychology, philosophy, and the various world religions.
His ideas about Jesus, the Christ, and mankind are similar to other New Thought groups: "Every man is a potential Christ. From the least to the greatest the same life runs through all, threading itself into the patterns of our individuality. He is 'over all, in all and through all.'" Jesus was merely a way-shower who embodied the impersonal Christ.
The groups and individuals described above have all contributed to the emergence of a mystical and esoteric theological climate. This has paved the way for numerous other individuals and groups to hop on the New Age bandwagon and offer their own reinterpretations of the person and work of Christ. Two of the more notable developments are the following:
A Course in Miracles. According to this New Age textbook, the "Son of God" was created by God in a state of "wakefulness." Later, however, the Son fell asleep and had a dream of being separate from God. In the dream, the Son denied that he was created by God, asserting instead that he created himself. This usurping of God's role as Creator marked the beginning of ego, and led the Son to conceive of himself as being separate from God.
God then created and commissioned the Holy Spirit to awaken the Son. But the Son wrongly interpreted the coming of the Holy Spirit as judgment from God because the Son thought he was guilty of usurping God's role as Creator.
The Son's ego then fragmented into myriads of egos with physical bodies (i.e., human beings), each believing themselves separate from each other and from God. Humanity's basic problem then is its belief in being separate from God. The solution to the problem is a rediscovery of one's Christhood. The Course sets out to help people attain this.
Matthew Fox and the Institute in Culture and Creation Spirituality. The mystical orientation of Matthew Fox, a Dominican priest, leads him to suggest that we abandon any further quest for the "historical Jesus" and refocus our attention on a quest for the cosmic Christ. He provides several definitions of the cosmic Christ, the most important being "the pattern that connects." The Cosmic Christ connects "heaven and earth, past and future, divinity and humanity, all of creation." This definition of Christ makes it possible for Fox to call for a "deep ecumenism," by which he means a genuine coming together of all persons of all religions at a mystical level. Thus, through Fox a New Age view of Christ has made significant inroads into orthodox (mostly Catholic, but also some Protestant) circles.
AN ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN RESPONSE
In responding to New Age claims about Christ, it is best to focus on several key issues rather than attempting to debate every nuance of New Age thought. The following represents a starting point for an orthodox rebuttal of New Age Christology.
An esoteric system of interpreting the Bible is unreliable. The primary problem with this kind of system (which seeks hidden, inner meanings in Bible verses) is that it bypasses rationality in favor of mysticism. In such a system, there is no way to prove that a given interpretation is right or wrong since "proof" presupposes rationality and objectivity. James Sire comments that "there is no way to tell if the system that derives from esotericism is really so or merely a figment of the esotericist's imagination -- or worse -- a direct plant by the Father of Lies." Incidentally, Jesus -- whom New Agers claim to revere as a Master -- clearly believed in a literal interpretation of Scripture (cf. Matt. 5:18).
Jesus was not a mere enlightened Master. The New Agers' rendition of Jesus as an "enlightened Master" in a class with Buddha, Zoroaster, and others is a radical distortion of the Jesus found in Scripture (which is to say, the Jesus of historical record rather than the Jesus of the mystical Akashic Records). The Jesus found in Scripture clearly believed and taught that He alone among men is God (John 8:58; 10:30; 14:9-10). Douglas Groothuis comments: "If Jesus thought he was uniquely God incarnate but he wasn't, he was far less than 'an enlightened master' -- he didn't even know who he was! If he knew he was not uniquely God incarnate, but said he was, he was a flaming fraud, and in no sense was he an 'enlightened master.' Worse yet, he would have been a deceiver, leading a multitude astray."
Jesus alone is the Christ. New Agers typically say "the Christ" came upon Jesus at His baptism and departed three years later at the cross. But even as a babe in Bethlehem -- decades before His baptism -- Jesus is called Immanuel, "God with us" (Matt. 1:23). When the angel announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds he identified Jesus this way: "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11). Simeon, who was filled with the Holy Spirit, recognized the babe Jesus as Christ, in fulfillment of God's promise to him that "he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ" (Luke 2:26).
John's first epistle warns us: "Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist -- he denies the Father and the Son" (1 John 2:22). This doesn't mean that David Spangler, for example, is the Antichrist, but certainly Spangler (like other New Age teachers) is an antichrist.
The Incarnation is personal and permanent. Contrary to the typical New Age scenario (a three-year incarnation of an impersonal Christ in a human Jesus), Scripture asserts that Jesus Christ -- personal and eternal God -- became incarnate via the virgin birth, and this incarnation lasts forever.
Of course, the real miracle here is not the virgin birth, but the virgin conception. Mary is told: 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God' (Luke 1:35). This is when the Incarnation occurred.
Moreover, the Incarnation was not a temporary arrangement. After Christ resurrected He made numerous appearances, proving beyond any doubt the continuance of his human-divine union. Jesus ascended bodily into heaven after the resurrection (Luke 24; John 20:22-28; Acts 1:1-11; 7:56). When Christ returns in glory, He will sit on the throne as the Son of Man: "You will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven" (Matt. 26:64).
Jesus is uniquely and exclusively man's only means of coming into a relationship with God. Jesus asserted: "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through me" (John 14:6). A bold Peter proclaimed that "there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). And recall that previous to the birth of Jesus, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph saying, "you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He [emphatic] who will save His people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21). Paul likewise affirms that "there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 2:5).
Jesus Christ will come again in glory. In contrast with the New Age idea that the coming of Christ is contingent on man's ability to prepare the earth spiritually for this coming, Scripture says that Christ is coming as King of kings and Lord of lords, and man has power neither to invoke His coming nor to prevent it (Rev. 19:16). The phrase "King of kings and Lord of lords" emphasizes His supreme sovereignty and authority over mortal, weak man.
In conclusion, the true Christ is the Christ of the gospels. The many miraculous signs He performed attested to His supreme identity, not some divine potential we all possess: "These [miraculous signs] are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name" (John 20:31).
1 H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine (Wheaton, IL:
Theosophical Publishing House, 1966), 168-89.
2 Annie Besant, Esoteric Christianity (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1953), 90-91.
3 Cited by Jan Karel Van Baalen, Chaos of the Cults (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1956), 52.
4 Rudolf Steiner, The Reappearance of the Christ in the Etheric (Spring Valley, NY: Anthroposophic Press, 1983), 127-28.
5 Rudolf Steiner, Jesus and Christ (Spring Valley, NY: Anthroposophic Press, 1976), 16-17.
6 Rudolf Steiner, The Four Sacrifices of Christ (Spring Valley, NY: Anthroposophic Press, 1944), 19-20.
7 Alice A. Bailey, The Externalisation of the Hierarchy (New York: Lucis Publishing Co., 1957), 222.
8 Ibid., 592.
9 Mrs. G. W. and Donald Ballard, Purpose of the Ascended Masters "I AM" Activity (Chicago: Saint Germain Press, 1942), 110.
10 Ibid., 35.
11 Benjamin Creme, The Reappearance of the Christ and the Masters of Wisdom (North Hollywood, CA: Tara Center, 1980), 47.
12 Alice Bailey, The Reappearance of the Christ (New York: Lucis Publishing Co., 1979), 188.
13 David Spangler, Reflections on the Christ (Forres, Scotland: Findhorn Publications, 1981), 107.
14 David Spangler, Conversations with John (Middleton, WI: Lorian Press, 1983), 5.
15 David Spangler, Revelation: The Birth of a New Age (Middleton, WI: Lorian Press, 1976), 117.
17 Ibid., 141.
18 Ibid., 121.
19 Spangler, Reflections on the Christ, 14-15.
20 Ibid., 86.
21 Mark and Elizabeth Prophet, Climb the Highest Mountain (Los Angeles: Summit University Press, 1974), 279-80.
22 Ibid., 228.
23 Ibid., 160.
24 Phineas P. Quimby, The Quimby Manuscripts, ed. Horatio W. Dresser (New Hyde Park, NY: University Books, 1961), 283.
25 Elizabeth Sand Turner, What Unity Teaches, Lee's Summit, MO: Unity School of Christianity, n.d., 3.
26 Ernest Holmes, What Religious Science Teaches (Los Angeles: Science of Mind Publications, 1975), 20.
27 Dean C. Halverson, "A Course in Miracles: Seeing Yourself as Sinless," SCP Journal 7, 1 (1987):18-27.
28 Matthew Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1988), 133-35.
29 Ibid., 134.
30 Ibid., 228.
31 James W. Sire, Scripture Twisting (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1980), 113.
32 Douglas Groothuis, Confronting the New Age (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 121.
End of document, CRJ0035A.TXT (original CRI file name),
"The Christ of the New Age Movement"
release A, April 11, 1994
R. Poll, CRI
NOTE TO THE READER: Since he wrote this article, Ron Rhodes has published a related book on the subject titled The Counterfeit Christ of the New Age Movement (Baker Book House, 1990).
A special note of thanks to Bob and Pat Hunter for their help in the preparation of this ASCII file for BBS circulation.
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