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Who (What?) Is The Christ?


Yvonne
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Hey all,

 

I've noticed in several different threads that some of you refer to "Christ" as being someone (some thing?) other than or perhaps more than Jesus. What do you mean by that?

 

I've also read Marcus Borg and others refer to the "post-Easter Jesus". Is that the same as Christ? I have almost elminated Christ from my own Christianity because I can't find a place for him in my theology.

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Hi Yvonne,

 

"Christ", to me, is the mystical body, an ever-present reality. "Because Christ is the perfect Love, his life on earth can never become a life of the past. He remains present to all eternity" (Mother Maria of Normanby).

 

One way of seeing this is as the "self-emptying" of God, which is the mind of Christ. The emptiness of Christ is the fulness of God. Here we can speak of "Christ" in reference to Jesus, though not necessarily only in reference to Jesus. The emptiness of God is not separate from the particularity of actual beings and events (and are "beings" and "events" separate to begin with?). In fact when the self-emptying Christ is entered into fully, we can affirm that Jesus is fully the way, the truth, and the life without any remainder, and yet not deny that "Christ" extends beyond.

 

One Buddhist teacher said (in a very different context):

 

Thus a single act of penetrative understanding starting from a limited object may acquire such intensity, width, and depth as to either lead to, or effectively prepare for, liberating insight. This accords with what a great Buddhist thinker has said: "The understanding of the one single thing means the understanding of all; the voidness of one single thing is the voidness of all." -- Ven. Nyanaponika Thera, in Abdhidhamma Studies

 

This sentiment accords very well with the logic of the Incarnation: the self-emptying of God as one particular being (Christ Jesus) is the self-emptying of all. God's self-emptying is the divinization of the world. This is the mind of Christ which we all have within. The Mystery is always encountered here, now, concretely. Jesus, perhaps, can be seen as that single meditative 'object' through which one may enter into the 'insight' or wisdom of God.

 

Buddhist teacher Reggie Ray has a very interesting article called "On the Importance of Relating to Unseen Beings". In it he writes:

 

The deities are more properly said to be aspects of one’s own innate mind, or reflexes of one’s awareness. For example, the buddhas, although apparently objectively existing beings, are fundamentally nothing other than our own enlightened nature.

 

 

 

....

 

To say this is not, however, to discount their external and “objective” existence within the relative world of apparent duality...Thus to say that they are aspects of mind is not to deny their existence on the relative level. Nor does it obviate our responsibility to deal with them and relate to them on their own level and as they present themselves to us.

 

...

 

When Tibetans say that the spirits, gods and deities are aspects of mind and nothing other than mind, they mean it in this sense, that their fundamental nature—as indeed the nature of all phenomena—is nondual awareness.

 

I'm not sure how exactly how to apply this to Christian theology, but it seems a fertile soil for exploration.

 

Peace,

Mike

Edited by Mike
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Hey all,

 

I've noticed in several different threads that some of you refer to "Christ" as being someone (some thing?) other than or perhaps more than Jesus. What do you mean by that?

 

I've also read Marcus Borg and others refer to the "post-Easter Jesus". Is that the same as Christ? I have almost elminated Christ from my own Christianity because I can't find a place for him in my theology.

 

Christ is defined as anointed one, Jesus being one who was anointed. I'm one who believes that there have been several anointed among us throughout the ages. Jesus the Christ (anointed one) was one of several who were lights to the world because of being "anointed" by God (who is love).

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(snip)

I have almost elminated Christ from my own Christianity because I can't find a place for him in my theology.

 

Perhaps because Christ is not a him but more of an anointing. Paul is recorded writing " “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ"

Perhaps one can look at the word "Christ" as the connectedness commonly spoken of on this board with God and all others as One.

Joseph

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The Christ is one who saves. One who saves by way of his or her message that causes a sea-change in viewpoint.

 

In a very real way MLK is a christ . In large part due to his message we view things differently and not just race relations. We see that how we view our neighbors is a direct reflection on who we are. We see the roll of violence in society ... how you can't fight violence with violence or injustice with injustice. He saved all of us from the system of injustice just as Jesus did.

 

There are many others that are christs.

 

steve

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Christ is defined as anointed one, Jesus being one who was anointed. I'm one who believes that there have been several anointed among us throughout the ages. Jesus the Christ (anointed one) was one of several who were lights to the world because of being "anointed" by God (who is love).

 

I suppose the next question is .... who gets to do the anointing. Traditional Christianity would say GOD and only GOD. Even this assumes man will recognize it. I think most PC would say the anointing is hazy at best. I tend to think this anointment is the result of actions and largely limited to a subset of humanity.

 

steve

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I suppose the next question is .... who gets to do the anointing. Traditional Christianity would say GOD and only GOD. Even this assumes man will recognize it. I think most PC would say the anointing is hazy at best. I tend to think this anointment is the result of actions and largely limited to a subset of humanity.

 

steve

 

 

MLK, Gandhi, Jesus, Mother Teresa and a host of other "lights" all have their share of the anointing (IMO). I don't view being anointed as a supernatural thing, but rather something all humanity can partake of. To me, Jesus was a man who loved humanity deeply. It's about allowing this Spirit to rule in our hearts whereby we ourselves become lights and can be called children of God.

 

 

Without the anointing of love, we are likely to live destructive lives. Love is our life force; it is our path and tree of life through which we are reconciled (brought in harmony) with Gods will for us. Jesus, MLK, Mother Teresa, Gandhi all walked this path of life. The anointing is for all mankind, but not all mankind desires to walk this narrow path. It's not a thing that is done; it is a way of life that all humanity is capable of living if they so desired. It is about being at one with God's will for humanity (at-one-ment)

Edited by Jagged Zen Monkey
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Yvonne, consider this, in description, explanaion, of who/what Jesus, the Christ, was, from Acts

Ch 7:38 This is he, that was in the church in the WILDERNESS with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:

If Christ is he that was also in the church in the wilderness with the angel that spoke to Moses, then Christ's "eternal" existence is not limited to the Earthly span of life of the mere physical man called Jesus.

 

Jesus, as the eternal Christ, as also expressed, pretty clearly I think, in John, espcially clearly in Ch. 1.

 

Jenell

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That's a good observation. The New Testament itself identifies Christ with the eternal 'word' or 'wisdom' of God. I think that that is a very succinct expression of Christian spirituality. Christ is transcendent Wisdom incarnate.

 

 

Peace,

Mike

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The New Testament itself identifies Christ with the eternal 'word' or 'wisdom' of God. I think that that is a very succinct expression of Christian spirituality. Christ is transcendent Wisdom incarnate.

Mike,

 

FWIW, Robert Wright in The Evolution of God suggests that 'word' is an inadequate translation of the Greek logos. He says that in Greek philosophy logos had a number of meanings including 'reason' and 'order.'

 

George

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As I understand it, in the Greek, there was "logos" for ordinary usage, and then there was "The Logos", or "The Divine Logos", the latter as which is used in referring to the eternal Christ. I found the complicated meanings of logos extremely difficult to understand and translate correctly in that Greek course. But then, I found a lot in that course difficult, lol. It was the only course in my entire college effort toward my bachelor's that I had to take an "I" in and repeat the course the next semester to pass it. So I'd not present myself as an expert, lol.

 

That the 'language' of reason is called "logic" is also I think quite relevant to understanding logos.

 

The Logos, translated in the NT as The Word, encompasses elements of reason and order, but also process, on a cosmic scale. Or, as it might be stated, "Divine process", through with all creation came into existence and continues to exist. This idea has been useful to me, at least, in reconciling the theory of evolution and other 'old Earth' theories to Creation. Evolutionary theory represents an attempt to understand something of that process through which all that we know came into existence. The process itself, or more accurately, whatever 'drives' that process, is The Logos, The Divine Logos, The Word.

Jenell

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Yvonne,

 

Christ is just a word that points to something. It is not that something. It can be as simple or as complicated as one wishes to make it but it is only a word pointing to an experience. Christ is truly understood only by realization or being subjectively experienced.

The Greek word for Christ = anointed it may be translated to different words by translators but if you look it up i think you will find it literally means to smear or rub with oil. In the context of its use, it means to be rubbed or smeared together with God.

 

In my view and experience, you are already rubbed / smeared together with God. You may not be conscious of this or be in realization of this at this moment, nor may it be perceived by others but never-the-less, in my experience, it is not possible to exist without.

 

Christ is that interconnectedness (as in being smeared together) with God, the Divinity within you, and that by which your life is made possible. That anointing (Christ) is hidden from view but is your very life and in it is hid all knowledge.

 

Joseph

 

PS. Flesh and Blood cannot reveal Christ according to Jesus's teaching to Peter.

Edited by JosephM
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Yvonne, while its possible there is a book or are books presenting a wide view of Christology, I've not encountered any and tend to think it probably isn't possible to really write one, in the sense of presenting a single, unified concept of Christ. Any book on Christology is most likely going to be presenting one author's one group's particular view on the matter.

 

This isn't unique to books on Christology, but pretty much any element of faith. One of the difficulties we encounter, whether as Progressive Christians oras mystics, coming out of tradotions, as many of us have, in which everything was 'authoritativly spelled out' and 'set into' the dogmas and doctrines of any particular branch of the church, is that we can find it hard to let go of that expectation. Someone coming out of Catholicism, for example, and going into a Baptist church, expects and finds a new set of doctrines and dogmas set before them, that 'guides' them into becoming a Baptist believer. Not so when you are walking away from the very idea of organized, authoritative religion itself. You are walking into a new world of faith, when you enter upon "The Way" you have turned away from human authority (religion) where you are truly guided by your inner spirit.

 

Jenell

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The Greek word for Christ = anointed it may be translated to different words by translators but if you look it up i think you will find it literally means to smear or rub with oil. In the context of its use, it means to be rubbed or smeared together with God.

Joseph,

 

Yes, it does literally mean 'anointed.' However in the Biblical sense a messiah or christ (in Greek) is according to Harris and Platzner (The Old Testament), a term "designating a king or priest of ancient Israel who had been consecrated by having his head rubbed with holy oil, marking him as set apart for a special role." Messiahs were (they believed) specifically chosen by God for a special role or task. They were not people who necessarily had any special piety, righteousness or closeness to God. As an example, Cyrus the Great was a messiah and he wasn't even a Jew.

 

George

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George,

 

Perhaps so, but in context of being in Christ and the NT speaking of the body of Christ and that Christ is the true light that lighhted every man (woman) that comes into the world, it seems plain to me that Christ (that anointing) is not necessarily meant to be a King or Priest in the earthly sense of the word. Christ is not anointing to the Jews or Greeks alone, therefore, it seems to me, the word has deeper spiritual meaning and is applicable to all. Besides. even Jesus is recorded saying that his kingdom (speaking as Christ) is not of this world. And also "That which is flesh is flesh and that which is Spirit is Spirit". The Jews may have been looking for an anointing or anointed one in the flesh but to the Christian (imo) Christ is hidden and revealed within and without of us by God alone. Perhaps because Christ is a spiritual anointing rather than earthly anointing with oil?

 

Joseph

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I appreciate all your comments, but I'm more confused than ever. Can anyone recommend a good book (no pun intended) on christology?

 

Karl Barth. Evangelical Theology.

The main disclaimer is this is not a general survey of christology, but rather the theology of 1 major Reformed theologian.

That said, Barth is an incredibly influential thinker who gets cited, praised, and criticized from all corners. Also, one of the defining characteristics of Barth is that his theology is fundamentally christocentric: we know God through the acts of Jesus as the son of God, and everything else flows from there. Another plus is that it's on Kindle now.

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George,

 

Perhaps so, but in context of being in Christ and the NT speaking of the body of Christ and that Christ is the true light that lighhted every man (woman) that comes into the world, it seems plain to me that Christ (that anointing) is not necessarily meant to be a King or Priest in the earthly sense of the word. Christ is not anointing to the Jews or Greeks alone, therefore, it seems to me, the word has deeper spiritual meaning and is applicable to all. Besides. even Jesus is recorded saying that his kingdom (speaking as Christ) is not of this world. And also "That which is flesh is flesh and that which is Spirit is Spirit". The Jews may have been looking for an anointing or anointed one in the flesh but to the Christian (imo) Christ is hidden and revealed within and without of us by God alone. Perhaps because Christ is a spiritual anointing rather than earthly anointing with oil?

 

Joseph

 

That sounds awfully similar to the baptism by water vs baptism by the holy spirit.

 

Also, this conversation just highlights for me the irony of the incarnation: humanity expects the savior to be a warrior who vanquishes evil, conquers the world, and reclaims it for god. Instead, they got a mystic trickster who rejected temporal power, spoke in riddles, and who embodied undeserved grace.

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That sounds awfully similar to the baptism by water vs baptism by the holy spirit.

 

Also, this conversation just highlights for me the irony of the incarnation: humanity expects the savior to be a warrior who vanquishes evil, conquers the world, and reclaims it for god. Instead, they got a mystic trickster who rejected temporal power, spoke in riddles, and who embodied undeserved grace.

 

Yes, it does sound similar.

 

Yes, that's what they got . And i find that most refreshing. :D

 

Joseph

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey all -

 

Very interesting topic and discussion.

 

This is a hard question for me, as my beliefs are always evolving and they've been doing that more so than ever before in my life.

 

As of now, I guess my answer would be that Jesus, the historical man, is God incarnate. However, he was human as well. I think that he was powerfully (and completely) filled with God's spirit. For me, this means whatever he did was in perfect concordance with the will of God, and it seems to me that will of God is to constantly improve upon the love of God, neighbor, and self. I tend to believe that our definition of "sin" ought to be defined in such a way: being "sinful" has nothing to do with being or having a correct interpretation or knowledge of some thing, being the "perfect" expression of the divine spirit, but rather doing and being what it right for you to do at a given time, given your circumstances. In this way, I do not believe that Jesus was "perfect" according to a definition of "sin" which says to be "wrong" is sin" or to not be the "best" you, it is rather being a holy expression of the divine image you are, where you are at in your journey. I say all that in an attempt to convey that I do believe Jesus Christ to be the "son" of the "father", but not that he is "sinless" in the way many think. He did learn more and more as he matured, he was not to be at fault for learning through experiences and questions.

 

But, as others, have mentioned, "Christ" has many different senses. For me, Christ is the positive, loving community in this world, an expression of the divine within the physical realm. To speak of Christ is also, then, is to speak of being what humanity, individually and communally, is called to be by God. To be Christ is to help "the least of these", whereby we come into profound connection to Christ (God), as in so doing we do unto Christ Godself.

 

I could go on and on as I attempt to describe what I believe I'm coming to believe (though that will be simply a stop at an inn along the journey to love and grace).

 

God Blessings Be With You All,

Derek

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The concept of Jesus as "sinless" has been a challenge for me also. Raised in the kind of Christianity where Anselm's "substitutionary atonement" held sway, I understood that Jesus had to be the "spotless lamb" in order to be the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world. Understood this way, Jesus never did anything wrong in order to maintain God's favor in order to be our substitute (a very OT way of understanding atonement).

 

But like you, Derek, my beliefs have been and continue to be in transistion. I think it's interesting that, to the best of my knowledge, the scriptures say that Jesus was without "sin" (singular), not "sins" (plural). So I began to wonder if something more, something deeper, was being hinted at rather than just a statement that Jesus never messed up. :)

 

As I thought on this, I came to see that one of the main thrusts of Jesus' teachings was on getting people to see God and themselves in relation to God clearer. In fact, going against the notions of Anselm that focused on God's purity and a required moral perfection, Jesus seemed to enjoy being around "sinners" and was called a "friend of sinners." Though he didn't condone their sins, he tried to get them to listen to his vision of God and God's kingdom, to have eyes to see and ears to hear. So I suspect his main goal, rather than seeing himself as a "spotless lamb", was to dispel false perceptions of God and of ourselves.

 

This, it seems to me now, it what "sin" really is. It is not necessarily all the things we do wrong or the right things that we should have done. Rather, it is the false perceptions of God and of our relatedness to one another that Jesus sought to dispel through his life and teachings. In other words, he saw and experienced God and our relatedness to God and one another on a higher level, on a more "true" level that reflects the reality of God and the oneness of creation.

 

If this is true, then, imo, it makes sense to call Jesus "sinless", not because he never did anything wrong, but because he was more "enlightened" than many of us. He saw what was really Real, and lived out of that Reality, which resulted in compassion. I suspect that if we followed him in doing so, then we, too, would stop referring to ourselves as "sinners saved by grace" and start affirming that we are saints who sometimes limp. ;)

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Hey there. Thanks for your thoughts!

 

I too was raised in a context which demanded Christ be perfect so God could pay for sins. Oh, and glad I'm not the only one in transition =) .

 

Interesting point about without "sin" rather than sins. I do agree that one of the primary goals was to help people put themselves on a path to right living and right relationship with God, self, and neighbor. To be honest, though, I'm not sure what I think about his "main goal" being to rid humanity of false perceptions. I guess, for me, my thought on the subject would be heavily influenced by how you define "false perceptions." I think that while Christ may be the good and wisdom behind different paths, those paths are vehicles through which God leads people to Godself, just as we are vessels through which the Spirit works. In that sense, "non-Christian" systems and people, regardless of their "other," I tend to hold that it is not sinful to have the "imperfect" understanding of God. I think what God would like most is a willingness to be open, humble, and loving to all existence; personally, the thought of believing Jesus urged doctrinal correctness reminds me of the faith of my background and cause be to be nervous about becoming a bit like the Pharisees. But they may not be rational, after all, I do believe that a life of grace and love in service is the most divine that we can do and that is a belief or perception.

 

Agreed: whether or not Jesus was without "sin" is not, perhaps, properly thought of as significant when discussing God's desires for us and the nature and force of Christ. And he was quite enlightened. We do well to consider the beliefs of those theologians and persons who do have the right goal, to express and build upon the triple love of God, neighbor, and self, What matters, I suppose, is that he had much understanding of right living, God, and asking many questions.

 

Given my background, it is hard for me to stop saying we are "sinners saved by grace." To do so makes be feeling as if I am letting go of Grace. Grace, for me, is the belief that it is by God's working that I am able to emulate God specifically and having blessings in general resonates with my heart, spirit, and experiences. It is also the idea that only through God's working and by virtue of being images of God Godself are we good in any sense.

 

Anyway, I am quite tired, so I apologize for gross incomprehensible bits, etc. May the God incarnate in Christ, in those around us, and even within ourselves give us peace,and wisdom. Amen.

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