This is Part 5 of Total Man. If you’ve not been following the series, please visit previous posts to read Parts 1 – 4.
There is no shortage of those who imagine themselves Jesus Christ. Wikipedia made a long list that dates back to 18th century. It’s a very partial list. Certain nations are not represented. There are claimants in Nigeria for instance. Some call themselves gurus.
That anyone will claim to be Jesus Christ would seem absurd, until you dig a little deep into church history. The claims are locatable in a heresy called Gnosticism. Jesus had hardly been buried when Gnosticism reared its ugly head. The New Age movement is one of its by-products. In New Age there’s what’s called “Christ consciousness.” The “Christ,” New Agers contend is not native to the historic personage called Jesus Christ, neither is it proprietary to him; nor is it his exclusive property.
New Agers claim the “Christ consciousness” alights on individuals who have attained “higher knowledge”; that Jesus went to Egypt to learn this “higher knowledge.” This they said took place in the “missing” period of his life – the period the Bible is silent about – those years before he started his ministry. Though why God would hide such an important information nobody has volunteered. If the Bible wrote that Joseph fled to Egypt with Mary and baby Jesus, why would God hide the fact Jesus returned to Egypt to learn stuff? It just doesn’t add up. There’s hardly much about his life we don’t know, including the fact his family didn’t believe in him at first, and that Joseph almost broke his engagement to Mary on suspicion of adultery. Why then would God hide the fact Jesus went to Egypt to learn, especially given the fact Gnostics say the stuff he learnt will help us attain higher spiritual status? Why will God hide the means from us?
New Agers incredibly believe that the “Christ consciousness” came upon Jesus at baptism but left just before crucifixion; and that the consciousness is still alighting on individuals. Are these latter day “Christs” saviours or what? The Christ is messiah. What are they saving us from? They don’t even qualify to save themselves. They’re not sinless. You can’t be a saviour and be sinful. You yourself need salvation! Such claims are inconsistent with scriptures, including the Prophets. And the Apostles wrote nothing of such. Where did this spurious information come from?
Apostle Paul had warned against this type of stuff. He called it “useless speculation.” In his letter to Timothy he told him to “instruct certain individuals not to teach any different doctrines, nor to pay attention to legends, fables and myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to useless speculation and meaningless arguments rather than advancing God’s program of instruction which is grounded in faith…” 1 Timothy 1:3,4. Strong words! And he warned further: “Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.” Colossians 2:8 NLT. In other words all that nonsense is coming from Satan’s lab. It’s counterintelligence. The Amplified Bible translation calls that kind of talk “empty deception – pseudo intellectual babble.” Colossians 2:8 AMP. There’s nothing new about New Age. It’s the same old deception stuff. Just new wrapping paper.
The Bible says Jesus is THE Christ, not that a “Christ consciousness” descended on him. He is the Christ because he’s deity. Christ means “anointed.” It’s his political appellation as Son of God. Apostle John rues those New Age lies. He said those who deny the deity of Jesus are liars: “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ – the Messiah, the Anointed? This is the antichrist – the enemy and antagonist of Christ, the one who denies and consistently refuses to acknowledge the Father and the Son.” 1 John 2:22 AMP. Jesus is THE Christ, he did not have a “Christ.” There’s nothing like a “Christ” or “Christ consciousness.” There’s no “Christ” descending on any “guru.” It’s all deception – the “guru” is deceived, his audience is deceived. And so the “rock of offence” as Peter would say, is the deity of Jesus. It is what makes Christianity incompatible with other religions. Unfortunately Christianity does not make shy claims. Even more unfortunately those claims don’t always go down well. Many have paid the capital price for insisting on the deity of Jesus. And it continues till this day.
You can’t fully understand the writings of the Apostles unless you understand the issues they battled. They battled philosophies and ideologies dating back to Plato, 400 years before Christ. Plato’s thinking resonated through the ages. Plato influenced Aristotle, Augustine, Cicero, Plutarch, Anselm, Descartes, Hobbes, Leibniz, Mill, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Russell – countless philosophers and theologians. The apostles didn’t write in vacuo, they wrote in response to definite issues. What we call “epistles” were actually epistles – letters. Those letters were responsorial. “Epistle” (from the Greek word “epistole”) doesn’t mean a holy book in the Bible; it simply means “letter,” or mail, or email. When the Apostles wrote those letters they were dealing with certain issues in the church – issues that arose. And so Apostle John tackled Gnosticism. Apostle Paul did the same. Peter and Jude did too. Since Gnosticism is the most persistent and most weaponised confrontation to Christianity, it is important you understand it.
It was actually a guy named Cerinthus who started the heresy that “the Christ” came upon Jesus at baptism and left him prior to crucifixion. He was an early Gnostic, lived at the close of the first Christian century. He was known to Apostle John. Died about 100 AD. Cerinthus mixed paganism with Christianity in his teachings. And he was an influential teacher. He was educated in the wisdom of Egypt. (Now you know where the gist about Jesus going to learn stuff in Egypt came from). He taught that Jesus and the Christ are separate beings, that Jesus was a natural son of Joseph and Mary, though righteous, prudent and wiser than other men. Cerinthus also taught that the righteous would enjoy a paradise of sensual delights.
Gnosticism has spawned so many religions and teachings. It’s in literature, it’s in movies, it’s on cable, it’s on the net. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown is Gnostic teaching. Many of the programs about Jesus on Discovery Channel or National Geographic are Gnostic content. New Age is just one of many franchises. But where is Plato in all this?
Plato was born 428 BC. Died 348 BC. In trying to come up with a coherent cosmological theory, Plato introduced the term, “Demiurge.” According to Plato, the Demiurge is a subordinate god who fashions and arranges the physical world to make it conform to an ideal. The word “Demiurge” comes from the Greek “demiourgos,” meaning “artisan” or “craftsman.” The term was later adopted by Gnostics. They saw the Demiurge as one of the forces of evil. That’s because Gnostics despise the material world. It’s one of the reasons they separate Christ from Jesus. Jesus is the flesh. The flesh is evil. And they distinguish this creator of the material world from a “highest, unknowable alien God”. The Demiurge according to them is antagonistic to the will of that God having turned this world into a prison. You can see the collision with Christianity. In Christian faith Jesus is the creator of the universe. Colossians 1:16.
The theological contention about the deity of Jesus is centred around a word called “pleroma.” It’s a Greek word that has to do with filling or being full; or completing or being complete. Paul used the word in his writings. In the book of Colossians he used it twice in reference to Christ’s deity – Colossians 1:19 and 2:9: “For it pleased the Father for all the FULLNESS of deity—the sum total of His essence, all His perfection, powers, and attributes to dwell permanently in Him (Christ)…” Colossians 1:19 AMP. “For in Him (Jesus Christ) all the FULLNESS of Deity the Godhead dwells in bodily form, completely expressing the divine essence of God.” Colossians 2:9 AMP. When New Agers talk about “Christ consciousness” alighting and departing from Jesus, it is “pleroma” they’re referencing. Gnostics hope to experience the “pleroma” as they proceed in Gnostic teaching. And so when people talk about a dynamic “Christ consciousness” it’s actually an age old heresy being spouted. It’s been around since the time of the apostles.
The assertions of Paul on the deity of Jesus are very consistent with the words of Jesus himself. In his letter to Philippians Paul had written, “Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.” Philippians 2:5-8 MSG. This is consistent with the statement Jesus made when he healed a bedridden man near the pool of Bethesda. For healing that man on Sabbath he had a run in with the Pharisees. There should be no work on Sabbath they contended. But Jesus defended himself saying, “My Father is working straight through, even on the Sabbath. So am I.” That really set them off. They wanted to kill him for breaking the Sabbath and “calling God his own Father, putting himself on a level with God.” John 5:17-18 MSG. There was that other instance in which four guys broke through the roof to lower their paraplegic buddy down to Jesus to heal. The place was jam-packed. They were desperate. “Impressed by their bold belief, Jesus said to the paraplegic, “Son, I forgive your sins.” Mark 2:1-5 MSG. Oh my! He sure liked to tick off the Pharisees. They started whispering among themselves, “He can’t talk that way! That’s blasphemy! God and only God can forgive sins.” Mark 2:6-7 MSG. Indeed!
On another occasion Jesus was talking about Air BnB for the disciples in heaven – all that mansion talk. He was on the way to go and sort out their accommodation he said. He told his disciples they already knew the road he’s taking. To which Thomas asked, which road? In response Jesus made one of those incredible statements, the type that offers no apology: “I am the only Way to God and the real Truth and the real Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me… Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father… Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me.” John 14:6,9,11 NLT. And so we have the witness of Jesus as to his deity. And there were other statements. He might as well have been addressing the three Abrahamic religions when he said, “Before Abraham was born, I Am.” John 8:58-59 AMP. To which they picked up stones to kill him.
They would eventually kill him, on a stone – on the hill called Golgotha. The irony though is that people are still picking up stones to kill those who believe in his deity.
If you’ll like to receive Jesus into your life please pray this prayer: “Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus died for me, that you raised him from the dead. Father please forgive me. I accept Jesus today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.”
Theology Trivia: Who does Christianity say Jesus is? Who do you believe he is?
The e-version of my new book, The Genesis Project is now available for purchase and download at www.genesisprojectonline.com.
© Leke Alder | firstname.lastname@example.org.