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The Image of God which was called Christ

The first followers of Jesus were not called Christians, they called themselves “the followers of the way,” as if Jesus was himself but part of their journey.

Whenever the term “Christ” is used it does not always refer to Jesus as the flesh-and-blood man who lived and died in Palestine. Christ has a way of inspiring so many different reinventions. The Christ of the Spanish conquerors at the beginning of the sixteen century, Christ the King of my Italian ancestors, the Christ of literalness in the Catechesis and the Christ of Liberation Theology are so different that if one loves the one, one hardly loves the other.

French Theologian Jacques Pohier says, “At the same period of history the Christ of half of Latin America, that of the doctrine of National Security, and the Christ of the other half, that of the liberation of the poor, are so different that people sometimes fight, even to the death, depending on whether they relate to the one or the other. The Christ of the Polish church, the Christ of an African church and the Christ of one or other nuance of American or French Catholicism are again very different.”

That is one reason that the earliest understanding of Christ was displaced by the modern subjective understand. But to define the Christ as entirely subjective is to say that we have, literally, no standards as to what count as the image of God and what does not.

Whereas the Hollywood version of Jesus Christ Superstar, the Christ of Communism and the Jesus of Thomas Jefferson seem shot with a-religiosity, their vision frankly wants to be secular and profane. That is why they denied the resurrection. But this denial was never appealing to me. Thus, the need for an immediate relationship to Jesus was so deeply rooted in my heart that I could not avoid setting up a certain distance between Jesus the Christ and everything in the Catholic system which functions as if they had a direct and immediate hold on him, though it is nevertheless thought very important that what it is said of Christ should have its roots in the life of Jesus.

 

Jesus as the Way
 

There is a rabbinic legend that the rock from which the Israelites drank in the desert followed them for ever after in their wanderings and was to them a continual source of refreshment. As Saint Paul saw it, “this rock was Christ.” The formula in Christ occurs one hundred and sixty-four times in his letters and it is really the characteristic expression of primitive Christianity. His Acts and Letters are both the preaching of what Christ is, and the preaching of the word of Christ: “We are all blind from our birth in a material body, until our eyes are opened and we realize what and who we really are: bearers of the Christ within.” And again, Saint Paul wrote to the Galatians about the desire for God and the question of what the death of the old self and new life in Christ really means: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” In Paul’s view, the presence of Christ is as certain and as clear as any radical change in the physical universe.

This unwritten saying of Jesus never found its way into any of the gospels but it rings true: “Raise the stone and you shall find me, cleave the wood and I am there.” Jesus the Christ brought to men knowledge of God which without him they could never have possessed or entered into. He saw the distracted and divided human race as the seed of one vast universal family, “where all beings are cherished,” said poet and novelist Andrew Harvey, “and known as extensions and manifestations of God and of the divine inner self, and honored accordingly.”

Now since God is in all things, being One by His own essence, the human mind must be his proper effect. Hence it must be that wholeness must be the goal of a Christian life. When God wishes to admit men to an intimate communion with himself, his presence must be the same in all men. Indeed, the God who appeared to Moses in fire had the power at least to become incarnate through human consciousness and in so doing enlarges life. Knowing God and staying on the transcendental plane, Jacob, third patriarch of Israel, lay down his head on a stone in the wilderness and saw a ladder with its feet set upon the earth and the top of it reaching to the heavens, and the angels of God were going up and down upon it. And he saw the Lord God standing there above it, and the Lord spoke to him and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac. The land on which you are lying, this will I give to you and to your children.” Such enlightenment is indeed the symbol of all consciousness: the ascent of human reason with the descent of divine truth.

 

Christian Relatedness

Thus in the beginning of the path, the soul has only the desire to receive for itself alone and is not yet capable of sharing or giving. In Verse 114 of the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus is reported as saying, “For every woman who will make herself male will enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Of female making male there is in Christian Gnosticism a different meaning and intent than they have in mundane terminology. Tau Malachi writes: “Female means receptivity and receiving, and male means sharing, imparting, or giving. Obviously the two are interdependent and interconnected to the extent that one cannot exist without the other. In fact, they represent two distinct operations of the same capacity.”
 

The poet Richard Howard gave expression in the midst of this evolution to his conviction that “you are a man, or become one, only by ceasing to be woman…even Jesus gave up his mother – he too was a man, of sorts…” Flowing out toward consciousness is a paternal symbol. Gerald H. Slusser observes that, “a basic fact of myth seems to be that consciousness is symbolized as masculine; also, it is apparent throughout patriarchal cultures that the masculine has been identified with consciousness and its growth. The unconscious, by contrast, is symbolized as maternal and feminine. Consciousness is born from the Mother unconscious.”
 

When Jung redefines Eros as “relatedness” or the ability to relate things and persons, this principle provides the attraction to things and people without which the psyche could not operate. That God is a Father as Saint John identifies Logos in Christ implies precisely the cognitive power of the mind, not only its metaphorical and symbolic power, but also the materialization of Divine Speech, which brings forth all Creation.
 

Notes

Which was called Christ – “The drama of the archetypal life of Christ describes in symbolic images the events in the conscious life – as well as in the life that transcends consciousness – of a man who has been transformed by his higher destiny.” – Carl Jung in The Psychology of religion East and West.

“The whole of humanity is gathered into the fullness of the divine life – the whole creation now becomes the body of Christ. Christ is the soul of that body and he reunites it in the Spirit, with God. It means that the whole creation is now filled with this power of the Spirit, through Christ who is himself that fullness, in whom “the fullness of the godhead dwelt bodily.” – Bede Griffiths in A New Vision of Reality, 1989, page 109.

Wholeness –“Everything is interconnected and has a story; everything is part of a great circle. In a way this circle is the ultimate community. Every created thing is part of the cosmic community in God.” – John C. Doherty in A Celtic Model of Ministry.

“The whole is greater than its parts, and the quest for the whole, for unity is a mystical quest par excellence. It is the quest of Einstein’s science, sometimes referred to as the “holographic universe,” meaning a living microcosm / macrocosm model.” – Matthew Fox in The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, pages 18-19.

Christ: 164 / Jesus: 10 –
“The term “Jesus” on its own appears only about ten times in the letters of Paul – excluding the inauthentic Hebrews, where it figures nine times – and is invariably connected with the only aspects of the earthy Jesus which were significant to Paul: his death and resurrection. Neither did Paul use the semantic title: “Messiah” encountered in John, although he was not averse to quoting Aramaic words from Christian prayers, for instance Abba “Father” (Romans 8: 15, Galatians 4: 6), or Maranatha, “The Lord has come” (1 Corinthians 16:22)” – Gene Vermes in The Changing Faces of Jesus, Great Britain, the Penguin Press, 2000, page 84.

Paternal Symbol – “This masculine principle that Carl Jung called Logos is found in both men and women. It is associated with consciousness, work, and achievement, especially with conscious understanding and discrimination.” – Gerald H. Slusser.

 

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