Many Far Eastern and New Age groups differentiate between the man, Jesus, and “the Christ.” Dr. Ernest Holmes, founder of the United Church of Religious Science, stressed:
George Trevelyan explained the related idea that, “Esoteric Christianity sees Jesus as the human vehicle for the Cosmic Being of the Christ.”4 If this notion is correct, Jesus is demoted to the position of a mere Way-Shower, a Revealer of Mysteries, a Divine Prototype. He is no more than a fellow human being who gave us an excellent example to emulate, that we too might walk in our own ‘Christhood.’ Believers of this view insist that the ‘Christ nature’ can be accessed even by those who do not accept Jesus as Lord of their lives. This theory is based on three main assumptions.
(1) The first assumption is that all human beings have a divine essence. The Bible does not teach that all men are expressions of God, possessing an inward ‘spark of divinity.’ It rather explains that men, though made in the image of God, are presently separated from God because of his transcendence and our inherited ‘fallen state.’ Isaiah 59:2 also warns, “your iniquities have separated you from your God.” During the experience of salvation, sins are washed away. Christians are then placed in a mystical union with Christ. The Spirit of Christ dwells within them. There is never a point, though, where they actually become God or become Christ, anymore than the tea becomes the cream when the two are mixed together.
(2) The second assumption is that all human beings are, fully and spiritually, children of God. A more thorough examination of this point is found in a later section. In one sense, all human beings are children of God after the creation. Jesus often indiscriminately addressed large crowds of people with general statements such as, “Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:8) In a spiritual sense, however, only those who receive Jesus into their hearts literally, supernaturally become the “children of God”— through the experience of being “born again.” (See John 1:12–13.) This experience alone grants full access into the divine family.
Those who have not yet partaken of this experience may be passionate lovers of God and sincere seekers of truth (and I have certainly met many beautiful non-Christians who fit this description). Unfortunately, though, they do not yet possess the indwelling of the true Spirit of God. In attempting to access the ‘Christ nature,’ at best, they succeed in responding to their conscience (that inward sense of what is morally right or wrong) or tapping into the latent power of the fallen human soul (which, of itself, can result in positive character development in a person’s life). At worst, they often inadvertently come under the influence of deceptive, demonic entities who provide counterfeit spiritual experiences in order to mislead those who are spiritually gullible. This does not negate the sincerity of individual seekers toward God, nor their importance and value in his sight. God intensely loves all who inhabit this world and his deepest desire is to bring them all into a vital and real relationship with himself.
(3) The third assumption is that there is a distinct difference between Jesus and “the Christ.” Advocates of this viewpoint believe there was a certain point where Jesus, the human, received an awakening of the Christ nature. However, the angel announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds saying, “There is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11, emphasis by author) Notice the angel did not say he would become the Christ or that he was one of many Christs.
When the anointing of the Holy Spirit descended on him at his water baptism, Jesus did not ‘become’ the Christ. He was merely empowered to function ‘as’ the Christ. Even at his birth he was titled this way. Later when Jesus asked his disciples to identify who he was, Peter responded, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus did not correct Peter for identifying him as the singular and only Christ. Quite the contrary, he informed this soon-to-be apostle that he was a blessed individual, because this revelation had come to him from the Father. (See Matthew 16:16–18.)
The word “Christ” (Christos) is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew “Messiah” (Mashiyach) both of which mean “the Anointed One.” All true Christians receive an anointing from God, which is a specific application of the Holy Spirit to their lives in order to perform a certain God-ordained task. Thus, they become “the anointed of the Lord” (Heb. mashiyach, Gr. christianos) but only in a subordinate sense. (See 2 Corinthians 1:21, 1 John 2:27.)
Believers represent the Christ, they take on the nature of Christ, they become part of the body of Christ, but they never replace the Christ (Jesus) in his supreme position or match him in greatness. He is the “Anointed One” over a family of “anointed ones” who represent him in this world. If we yield our lives to Jesus’ Lordship we may receive of the “anointing” (the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish God’s purposes), but it all flows from Jesus to his followers. This gift is not available to seekers any other way. Neither is it a latent potential that can be awakened in anyone and everyone, regardless of whether or not there is a discipleship commitment to Jesus.
As writer, Kenneth L. Woodward, pointed out in a Newsweek article, this is an “unbridgeable difference” between the Buddhist and Christian worldview:
Jesus, the Christ, is the One who always has been and always will be—the eternal Word, the Son of the Living God, inseparably and infinitely a member of the Triune Godhead (a position no other human being could ever claim). The personality of Jesus and the personality of the Christ were not two different things. They are one and the same. We must be careful to identify him correctly. One writer warns, Faith in a counterfeit Christ will yield a counterfeit salvation.”6
1 Ernest Holmes, What Religious Science Teaches (Los Angeles, California: Science of Mind Publications, 1975) p. 12.
2 Ibid., p. 55.
3 Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind (New York: Mind (New York: R.M McBride and Co., 1938, New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putman, a member of Penguin Putnam Penguin Putnam, Inc., rev. and enl. ed., 1966) p. 359 (page citation is to reprint edition).
4 George Trevelyan, Operation Redemption: A Vision of Hope in an Age of Turmoil (Walpole, New Hampshire: Stillpoint, 1985) p. 37.
5 Kenneth L. Woodard, “The Other Jesus,” Newsweek Magazine (March 27, 2000) p. 60.
6 Ron Rhodes, The Counterfeit Christ of the New Age Movement, p. 168.
Copyright © 2003 Mike Shreve