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The Christ Is Bigger than Christianity

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Cosmic Christ: Week 1

The Christ Is Bigger than Christianity
Sunday, March 26, 2017

And in everything that I saw, I could perceive nothing except the presence of the power of God, and in a manner totally indescribable. And my soul in an excess of wonder cried out: This world is pregnant with God! —Angela of Foligno (1248-1309) [1]

Just as the Trinity is foundational to understanding the loving, inclusive, and participatory nature of God, a proper notion of the Cosmic Christ brings the mystery even closer to home. The health and survival of our planet and all its inhabitants may depend upon recognizing the inherent sacredness of all materiality. The God many Christians worship is far too small. God is not and never has been a “tribal” God, somewhere “out there,” belonging only to Judaism or Christianity. It’s no wonder so many educated, postmodern people have given up on such a God. This God is not nearly as big as science is discovering the universe itself to be. How could the Creator be smaller than the creation and less loving than most creatures?

The mystery of Christ is much bigger than Christianity. And if we don’t make that clear, we’re going to have little ability to make friends, build bridges, understand, or respect anybody other than ourselves—and finally not even understand ourselves. Jesus did not come to create an elite country club with an arbitrary list of requirements for who’s in and who’s out. Jesus came to reveal something that has always been true everywhere—for everyone—and for all time. Otherwise it is not “true”!

It seems to me that we’ve had more Jesus-ology than Christology. The first 2000 years of Christianity have largely dealt with Jesus—and even that not very well because we did not recognize his “corporate personality” (which Cynthia Bourgeault and I will try to explain over these next four weeks). Jesus came to reveal the larger mystery of the Christ; Paul “demonstrated that Jesus was the Christ” (Acts 9:22). For Paul that was the exact implication of the new Risen Presence that he perceived in creation itself (Romans 8:19-23), in humans (1 Corinthians 12:12-13), and even in elements symbolized by bread and wine (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). The resurrection of Jesus was the symbolic way of saying his presence was beyond any limits of physical space and time. Jesus was historically bound; the Christ is omnipresent.

Franciscan philosopher and theologian John Duns Scotus (1265/66–1308) taught that Christ was the very “first idea” in the mind of God. In other words, God wanted to manifest the Godself externally, so an eternal love affair could begin between matter and God who is spirit. This divine love affair, eventually called “the Christ,” has been unfolding and manifesting for about 14 billion years now. Jesus came as its personification a mere 2000 years ago, I guess when human consciousness was mature enough for a face-to-face encounter.

Gateway to Silence:
In the beginning . . . and the end.

[1] Angela of Foligno: Complete Works, trans. and intro. Paul Lachance, preface by Romana Guarnieri (Paulist Press: 1993), 169-170.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Christ, Cosmology, & Consciousness: A Reframing of How We See (CAC: 2010), MP3 download; and
The Cosmic Christ, disc 2 (CAC: 2009), CD, MP3 download.

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