The True Story of Jesus Part 2
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The Christ of the New Age Movement
"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 planet earth 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
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
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
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
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
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 19
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.
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
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
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
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 for the Ascended
Masters. Saint Germain also taught Guy about the "Great Creative Word"
(I AM). The "I AM Presence
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
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
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
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.
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
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 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 wido
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
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
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
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
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.
Go To Part 3 of the True Story of Jesus