Many in the New Age movement speak of "The Christ". Is this Christ the same Jesus Christ of Nazareth spoken of in the Bible, or is he a Christ unique to the New Age? Who is the New Age Jesus?
Jesus in India
Many New Ager's believe in what is called "The Lost Years of Jesus". This is concerned with the gap in the record of Jesus' life in the New Testament. We have Jesus' birth and the one incident at the temple where he debated the Jewish scholars as a boy, the next thing we have is Jesus as a man beginning His ministry. The New Age believes it has the answer to Jesus' missing years in that Jesus travelled to Eastern countries such as India. This belief seemed to emerge in 1894 when a Russian writer, Nicholas Notovitch wrote a book entitled: The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ. In this book Notovitch centres on a supposed lost Tibetan text about a holy man called "Saint Issa", who he claims is actually the Jesus Christ of the New Testament. Other books followed such as: The Lost Years of Jesus by Elizabeth Clare Prophet, and Jesus Lived in India by Holger Kersten. New Age teacher, Shirely Maclaine, summarises the general belief: "A lot of people think that those eighteen missing years were spent travelling in and around India...There are all kinds of legends and stories about a man who sounds just like Christ..." (Shirely MacLaine, Out on a Limb, pp. 233-244).
Probably one of the most popular New Age books which declares that Jesus went to India, is Levi H. Dowling's channelled book: The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ. Levi claims that while Jesus was in the temple, debating the Jews, a Hindu priest, Ravanna, was there, who was so impressed with the words of Jesus that he invited Jesus to India to learn Hinduism and Buddhism. As well as India, Jesus is also said to have travelled to Tibet, Persia, Assyria, Greece, and Egypt (sections VI through to XI). It was in Egypt that Jesus passes through a mystical initiation ceremony whereby He earns the title of "The Christ" (Section XI).
It must be said however, that there is no historical evidence at all for such claims. In fact, when we look at the rest of the New Testament (after Jesus is supposed to have returned from His sojourn Eastward), we find that everything He says is rooted in a Jewish background, which is exactly what one would expect from someone who had grew up and remained in that culture. Jesus never spoke about Eastern belief's such as reincarnation, polytheism. Neither did He indicate that He had spent time with Buddhist's by declaring their view that belief in God is not relevant. There is also no indication that He spent time with, and was influenced by Hinduism's belief that God is an impersonal force. Instead, Jesus' preaching was based upon a Jewish background. He taught resurrection instead of reincarnation, monotheism instead of polytheism, and that God was personal rather than a mere force.
Not only does the New Testament make no mention of Jesus' journey to the East, it indicates that Jesus stayed in and around Nazareth throughout His early years. This is seen in Luke 4:16 which states: "And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up..." The Gospels also record that Jesus was identified as a local inhabitant to the area by people who were already familiar with Him. People identified Him as "the carpenter's son" in Matthew 13:55; and Mark 6:3; and "Joseph's son" in Luke 4:22.
Jesus is not Unique
New Ager's also believe that Jesus is not really unique and see Him as merely one of many in a long line of other great teachers. They will place Him along side others like Buddha, and Confucius etc. However, the Bible clearly states that He is indeed unique. He is the only way to God (John 14:6), He is the only mediator between man and God (1 Tim. 2:5), and there is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved (Acts 4:12).
"Jesus" and "The Christ" are Distinct
As noted earlier, Levi Downing's, The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, declares that Jesus became the Christ through a complicated mystical ceremony in Egypt (Aquarian Gospel, Section XI). The channelled New Age book, A Course in Miracles, states that Jesus became the Christ by seeing "the face of Christ in all His brothers." (p. 83). Both the Aquarian Gospel and the above statement in A Course in Miracles reveals a lot about the New Age. Firstly, they believe that Christ and Jesus are distinct in some way. They will often say that Jesus was the man in whom the Christ dwelt. The Christ, is said to be a kind of cosmic principle, obtainable by anyone who is enlightened. Despite modern New Age belief's the Bible makes no distinction at all between "Jesus" and "Christ". Furthermore, the clear testimony of the Bible is that Jesus never "became" the Christ, in some way, but rather that He was always the Christ (Matt. 2:4; Luke 2:11, 26).
Jesus' Second Coming
New Ager's do believe in a second coming of Christ, but not in the way Christians do. Also, different New Ager's view this event in different ways. Some see it as a mass realisation of humanity being aware of their Christ consciousness within, whereas other see it as the coming of an individual, although not the Person Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Those who hold to the view of the coming of an individual generally view this person as one called "Maitreya". It is believed that this individual has been living among us and is just waiting for the right opportunity to reveal himself. Benjamin Creme has travelled the world proclaiming the coming of this individual. In 1982 Creme put advertisements all round the world proclaiming "The Christ is now here", and predicted that the Christ would reveal himself to the world within two months to begin an age of peace and unity on earth. Of course, this did not happen, and it was stated that the Christ did not show up because of the apathy in the world regarding his coming. Again, in 1990 it was said that the Christ did indeed show up before a group of world leaders and press officials on 21-22 April in London, which has served as a foretaste to a more public coming. However, it should be noted that the location where the Christ was said to have appeared was not revealed, nor was there any press coverage of this in any newspapers.
However, despite the claims of people like Creme, Christ Himself plainly stated when He returns it will not be in secret, but visible to all: "So if anyone tells you, 'There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or 'Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man." (Matt. 24:26:27) Christ also warned us that false Christ's will come deceitfully masquerading as Christ: " At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ! or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. For false Christ's and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect - if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time." (Matt. 24:23-25)
It is certainly clear from the points above that the Christ of the New Age Movement is far different from the Jesus Christ of the Bible. The apostle Paul speaks of those who proclaim a different Jesus (2 Cor. 11:4). There were different Jesus' preached in Paul's day and there are still many today preaching a different Jesus, the New Age Jesus being one among many.
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