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Mike Shreve was a teacher of yoga at four universities. (The portrait above was drawn by one of his students in 1970.) Then a spiritual rebirth brought him into a real relationship with God and drastically changed his heart, his life and his belief system.  Read his story here.

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Site Completed–10/15/01
Major Revision—5/28/03
Last Updated–03/19/09

The True Light Project
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©2002 copyright
Mike Shreve.
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How will this present age end and what is the meaning of the “Second Coming of Christ”?

Many modern religious groups have doctrines forecasting the ‘coming of Christ.’ The interpretation of this phrase, though, is quite varied:

Bahá’ís believe that the Bab (the founder of Babism and forerunner of the Bahá’í faith) was "the spiritual return of John the Baptist" and Bahá’u’lláh (the founder of Bahá’í) was "Christ returned in the glory of the Father."1

Helen Schucman, in her book, "A Course in Miracles" writes, "Christ’s Second coming, which is sure as God, is merely the correction of mistakes, and the return of sanity…It is the invitation to God’s Word to take illusion’s place; the willingness to let forgiveness rest upon all things without exception and without reverse…Forgiveness lights the Second Coming’s way, because it shines on everything as one…It needs your eyes and ears and hands and feet. It needs your voice. And most of all it needs your willingness."2

Ernest Holmes of the United Church of Religious Science defined the Second Coming of Christ as "the dawning in the individual consciousness of the meaning of the teachings of Jesus."3

Yogananda of Self-Realization Fellowship taught that the real explanation of Jesus descending out of the clouds is "metaphysical." On an individual basis, the Second Coming of Christ happens when a person overcomes the darkness of this world by recognizing the "inner light." In a universal sense, "through his oneness with the divine Christ Consciousness [Jesus] is incarnate in all that lives. If you have eyes to behold, you can see him enthroned throughout creation."4 This constitutes Jesus’ ‘return.’

David Spangler, a popular New Age writer, also spiritualizes this event. He insists that, "The Second Coming of Christ in our age will be fundamentally, most importantly, a mass coming. It will be the manifestation of a consciousness within the multitudes."5 Of course, this concept is based on the premise that all men have a spark of divine nature, a dormant ‘Christ consciousness’ that needs to be awakened. This planetary awakening is expected to usher in what has been termed the ‘Aquarian Age,’ a time of enlightenment and peace on this planet.

Dr. Rudolph Steiner, another New Age voice, echoes a similar opinion. This founder of the German offshoot of Theosophy (The Anthroposophical Society) explains that Christ is now seeking to "mass incarnate." In the 1920’s he foretold that the "Christ impulse will penetrate humanity…He belongs to the whole earth and can enter all human souls, regardless of nation and religion."6 It should be noted, though, that there are major disagreements in the ‘New Age’ arena concerning the exact nature of this pivotal planetary event.

Benjamin Creme, head of the Tara Center in Los Angeles, claimed divine revelation on a cosmic ‘change of plans.’ Some twenty years after Steiner’s death, Creme supposedly received communications from a higher sphere that the Christ had reversed his previous decision and decided, not to incarnate en masse in humanity, but to visit this world in his own "body of manifestation."7 Creme now insists that the ‘Second Coming of Christ’ has been realized in an individual known as Maitreya. He contends that Maitreya is the presiding head of the "Planetary Hierarchy"—a group of Ascended Masters who oversee the spiritual progress of the human race.

Supposedly, Maitreya has been secretly living among human beings since 1977 when his consciousness entered a supernaturally materialized human-type body called the "Mayavirupa." He descended from the Himalayas to a major city in India by airplane (Creme believes this fulfilled the prophecy concerning Christ "coming in the clouds"—Matthew 24:30). Maitreya then flew to a more modern part of the world. Though Maitreya was predicted to reveal himself to the world telepathically in 1982, via television and radio, it never happened. Human and media apathy were cited as the main hindrance. Creme suggests Maitreya will yet manifest himself and that he will remain in the world for the rest of the Aquarian Age (approximately 2,350 years) to lead mankind.

Other Religions Have Predictions for the Future 
that seem Similar—Yet they Contain
Details that are Evidently Different

Buddhism—Some Buddhists anticipate the arrival of the next Buddha (presently a bodhisattva also named Maitreya) who will descend to earth from his present residence in the Tushita heaven. This fifth Buddha (some say twenty-fifth) will restore the teachings (dharma) of Gautama Buddha and convert this earth into a Buddhist paradise at the climax of this present mappo age (a time of increasing degeneracy). One reference states that Maitreya is slated to make his appearance "4,000 years after the disappearance of Buddha Gautama"8 (about 1,400 to 1,500 years from now). Other references speak of Maitreya coming 30,000 years in the future. Some believe he will preach for 60,000 years, then enter Nirvana. His spiritual influence will linger on the planet for another 10,000 years.9

Not all Buddhists are necessarily awaiting an actual person to fill this role. In "The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching," Thich Nhat Hanh suggests that "the Buddha of the twenty-first century—Maitreya, the Buddha of Love—may well be a community rather than an individual."10 The assumed meaning of this statement is that the coming of Maitreya may be a time when such compassion abounds in numerous communities of devoted Buddhist disciples that a supreme place of refuge (a sangha) is provided for all humanity.

Hinduism—Many Hindus believe Kalki (also spelled Kalkin) will be the last Avatar of Vishnu and that he will appear in about 425,000 years. One writer explains, "Kalkin will be born a Brahmin and will glorify Vishnu. Destroying all things, he will bring in a new age. As king of kings he will…restore order and peace to the world. At a great horse-sacrifice he will give away the earth to the Brahmins and retire to the forest…he will also roam the earth and destroy thieves and robbers." Kalki, similar to the apocalyptic presentation of Christ in the book of Revelation, is depicted "riding a white horse and holding a flaming sword."11

Islam—Certain Muslim groups believe in the emergence of an enlightened leader called the Imam Mahdhi ("the Guided One"), who will usher in a golden era of Muslim expansion that will only last seven to nine years before the end of the world and the final judgment of God. However, they actually believe that the Imam Mahdhi will come before the return of Jesus Christ. Some feel the Imam Mahdhi has been alive in the world for centuries.

Judaism—Jews are looking for the coming of the Messiah, who will usher in the resurrection and restore supremacy to Israel.

Zoroastrianism—Members of this religion believe that a third and last savior will be born into the world named Saoshyant. He will usher in the final judgment, grant the drink of immortality to men and bring about a New World.

The Kalachakra Tantra, an ancient Tantric text, predicts a time when evil forces will engulf this world. Shambhala, a mythical kingdom in the Himalayan Mountains, will then manifest visibly and its righteous King will go forth with his armies to conquer evil and reestablish the moral order (the dharma).

And there are other sects and groups that have global aspirations, ultimately to be realized under an ‘inspired leader.’ Are all of these just slightly different descriptions of the same event and different names for the same individual? The answer is, "No," and for the following six reasons:

(1) The coming of Christ will be a visible, bodily descent from heaven; it will not be an invisible mass incarnation in the whole human race. As the resurrected Christ ascended into heaven two men in white apparel (probably two angels) who were standing by prophesied, "This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw him go into heaven." (Acts 1:11) Notice he will return "in like manner." It will not be just a ‘Christ principle’ surfacing in humanity, but the very person of Jesus in bodily form. He will return in the very same glorious, resurrected body he had when he departed. His descent will once again be supernatural, after the pattern of his ascension. Rolling clouds of the glory of God will accompany him. He will not return in an airplane, as suggested in Benjamin Creme’s story concerning Maitreya.

(2) The coming of Christ will be universally witnessed, but will not be universally received. The Bible declares that Jesus will gloriously descend from heaven "with his mighty angels, in flaming fire" and that "every eye will see him."(2 Thessalonians 1:7–8, Revelation 1:7) However, the whole human race will not undergo some spiritual renewal that lifts everyone into God-consciousness. The positive effects of the coming of Christ are reserved primarily "to those who eagerly wait for him." (Hebrews 9:28) The Antichrist will be "destroyed by the brightness of his coming." (2 Thessalonians 2:8, See Revelation 19:19–21) Then "the angels will come forth" and "separate the wicked from among the just." (Matthew 13:49) Clearly, only those who are saved and ‘born again’ will receive the full benefits of the Second Coming.

(3) Jesus foretold that one of the main signs of the ‘last days’ would be the appearance of many false Christs in the world. If the Second Coming of Christ is, as some propose, an awakening of Christ Consciousness in the masses, as we near the end of the age, many ‘Christs’ should emerge in various parts of the world. This is only logical. Individuals walking in Christ Consciousness should be encountered everywhere: a pleasant and wonderful indication of the predicted ‘blossoming of planetary awareness.’ However, Jesus warned against this scenario in no uncertain terms.

When asked what signs would precede his return, the Savior of the world cautioned, "Take heed that no one deceives you," and also, "If anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be." (Matthew 24:4, 23–27)

(4) Great opposition to the kingdom of God will precede the coming of Christ. Benjamin Creme cited world and media apathy as the main reason that Maitreya (the Christ) did not make his appearance in 1982. Yet the Bible plainly forecasts, not just apathy, but antipathy preceding the coming of Christ. The Antichrist will seize world dominion and attempt to stamp out any evidence of Christian faith in the world (as well as other faiths that do not acknowledge the Antichrist’s supremacy and divinity).

The Antichrist will "make war against the saints." (Revelation 13:7) He will oppose and exalt himself "above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God." (2 Thessalonians 2:4) In a final bid for world sovereignty, he will gather his armies together to the place in Israel known as Armageddon. However, none of this will hinder the coming of the true Christ. Amid circumstances far worse than media apathy, the Lord Jesus will descend with all his holy angels. He will quickly and successfully wrench this world free from the grip of this counterfeit Christ that the Bible dubs "the man of sin" and "the son of perdition." (2 Thessalonians 2:3)

(5) The heavenly source, the exact earthly destination of the returning Christ, and the length of the resulting kingdom of God are all important factors. According to the Bible, the Messiah will descend, not from a kingdom in the Himalayan Mountains, but from heaven. He will not be "born a Brahmin." In fact, he will not be born at all, in a physical sense. He will manifest himself in spectacular, celestial splendor. Also, his feet will "stand on the Mount of Olives…and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two" as a result of the intensity of his coming. (Zechariah 14:4) Jesus will then set up the seat of his kingdom on earth in the holy city, Jerusalem; not in Shambhala, or a forest in India, or any other location.

Some Muslims, who believe in the Imam Mahdi, teach that this messianic leader will usher in a golden era of justice, goodness and true religion in the earth, but it will only last seven to nine years before the end of the world. The Bible, however, teaches that when Jesus returns, this present evil age will come to an end. Many Bible theologians agree that Jesus will then set up the kingdom of God on earth for a thousand years. Immediately after this millennial period of ‘heaven on earth,’ a fiery universal renovation will bring about a final and climactic New Creation. (See Revelation 19–20.) Messianic predictions from many other religions do not include a permanent transformation of the universe, but rather, a temporary age-change in an endless series of spiritual cycles.

(6) At the end of the age, God’s people will experience, not a spiritual awakening, but something far more profound: either resurrection (if they have died) or translation (if they are alive) at the coming of the Lord. "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words." (1 Thessalonians 4:16–18)

The Scripture also explains concerning true believers, "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed…So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."" (1 Corinthians 15:51–54)

Final Conclusion—When all of this information is reviewed, it is quite evident that all of these various predictions from different religious sources cannot co-exist harmoniously. There are too many irreconcilable contradictions. The biblical view is not only unique; it is the correct projection of those future events that are soon to unfold. How can a person be assured of this? Once a seeker experiences the reality of Jesus, the dependability and infallibility of His Word become apparent.

1 Peter Smith, "Christianity," A Concise Encyclopedia of the Bahá’í Faith, p. 105.

2 Helen Schucman and William Thetford, A Course in Miracles, "Workbook for Students," p. 439.

3 Ernest Holmes, A Dictionary of New Thought Terms, p. 22.

4 Paramahansa Yogananda, Man’s Eternal Quest (Los Angeles, California: Self-Realization Fellowship, sec. ed., 1998) p. 232, see pp. 229-236.

5 David Spangler, Towards a Planetary Vision (Forres, Scotland: Findhorn, 1977) p. 108; quoted in Ron Rhodes, New Age Movement (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995) p. 72.

6 Rudolph Steiner, The Four Sacrifices of Christ (Spring Valley, New York: Anthroposophic Press, 1944) pp. 19-20; quoted in Ron Rhodes, The Counterfeit Christ of the New Age Movement (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1990) p. 124.

7 Benjamin Creme, The Reappearance of Christ and the Masters of Wisdom (Los Angeles, California: The Tara Center, 1980) pp. 54-55.

8 Richard Gard, Great Religions of Modern Man: Buddhism (New York: George Braziller, 1962) p. 93.

9 "Maitreya," The Encyclopedia of Eastern Philosophy and Religion (Boston, Massachusetts: Shambhala Publications, 1994) p. 217. See also "Maitreya," Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 99.

10 Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching (New York: Broadway Books, 1998) p. 167.

11 Geoffrey Parrinder, Avatar and Incarnation, The Divine in Human Form in the World’s Religions (Oxford, England: Oneworld Publications, 1970) p. 26.

"In Search of the True Light" ©2002 copyright by Mike Shreve.
All articles unless otherwise noted are copyright by Mike Shreve.
Personal Stories are the work of the individuals.
All Rights Reserved.

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