The Logos Continuum: The Christ Spirit
The great Lutheran church historian and emeritus professor at Yale, Jaroslav Pelikan, talked about the embodiment of "Christ" in Jesus:
"By becoming incarnate in Jesus, the Logos had enabled human beings to transcend themselves and, in a pregnant phrase of the New Testament, 'to become partakers in the divine nature.' [2 Pet. 1:4]. The Logos of God has become human, so that you might learn from a human being how a human being may become divine."
Of course most of us know that the term "Christ" is the Greek word for the Jewish concept of the Messiah, the "anointed one." And this title has been attached to Jesus by traditional Christians. But I would like to take another approach, because there are other non-traditional interpreters who respect but view Jesus and the traditional interpretation of the "Christ" somewhat differently.
As most theologians and church historians know, some of the early Christian Fathers borrowed the pagan philosophers' long-held concept of the *Logos.* The Logos, basically, was not just the "Word" that Christians now so often think. Rather the Logos for the philosophers was the heart of the cosmic pattern and the source of existence. The Logos was an all-pervading Reason, which Heraclitus likened to divine fire or energy. The Logos--as the Universal Mind--was also reckoned as Universal Law. As David Fideler, a specialist in ancient religions and philosophies, put it:
"The Logos represents the first level of real manifestation or Being, for it encompasses within itself all the laws and relations which are later articulated in the phenomenal universe."
The Logos shines out, illuminating the darkness of matter! Early Christians believed that Jesus, as the incarnate Logos, was the great "Word" of God. Traditional Christians believe Jesus represented the one-and-only Incarnation or embodiment of the Logos. Hence Jesus was declared by others that he was the "Son of God." But being the "one-and-only" has been a sticking-point for some.
I return to Jaroslav Pelikan's idea that "you might learn from a human being how a human being may become divine." Some non-traditionalists wonder how you get around becoming a true son of God (as the earlier "Logos" philosophers had declared), if there's only one? Of course in some traditional teachings, there's this idea of "adopted sons." For others, that approach doesn't quite cut it.
Non-traditionalists who really honor Jesus, I suspect, do not always accept traditional ideas of the "divine nature" of Jesus. For example, not everyone accepts the idea of a "virgin birth" which, mythologically, corresponds with other virgin births of gods--some to be found in the Greek pantheon and some in Near-Eastern legends. Rather there are those non-traditionalists who look at Jesus' "divine nature" more in terms of his becoming conscious of, thus expressing strongly, the Christ Spirit (the Logos as Pneuma) within. They view that all of us have the potential, the ability to manifest this Christ Spirit within--to embody the "Christ."
It is when Jesus embodied the Christ Spirit within--at this flashpoint-- that some non-traditionalists consider that, yes, Jesus became *more* than just a man. For them Jesus' ministry was that of a Way of Be-ing rather than a religion. For these non-traditionalists, the power of *salvation* was not the focus on the cross or even a resurrection, but rather--as Rev. Margaret Stortz puts it--"seeing that the salvation lies in Jesus' life and teachings." Rev. Stortz, a Religious Science minister, puts the question about Jesus: "Was he exalting himself, or was he referring to the Christ presence within himself, the same presence [that] lies within you, awaiting your discovery?"
Rev. Stortz continued: "For some of us Jesus is an elder brother, a coinheritor of the divine Presence, and a loving teacher and demonstrator of the mystical Christ."
I think that Jesus became more and more aware of the Christ Spirit within--the Logos as Pneuma within him. Jesus didn't have to be born "divine" to develop this consciousness that dwelled within him, that dwells within you and me. Jesus was a man, who wept, who got angry, who expressed anxiety, and who loved greatly. Only as a human being could Jesus adequately be a "blueprint" for embodying the Christ. If he were otherwise, than we lesser beings could never hope to become even "greater than he."
Probably because of so many of our misconceptions over the centuries, we have actually cut ourselves off from becoming more true consciousness points of the Logos, of the Universal Spirit. Rather than becoming more fully ourselves, we try impossibly to be somebody else who lived his Christ Spirit out of his own experience and situation.
I should think one of our greatest challenges is recognizing the Christ Spirit within ourselves. Most of the time we focus on ethics and good works--which are fine as expressions of the Logos, or the Christ Spirit. But more than often we do them because of culturally generated religious education. This isn't all bad. Yet this kind of ethical expression, if it isn't recognized as *naturally* coming from the very depths of one's own being, is essentially a performance to please--to please authority, to please your peers, to please yourself.
Many of us still think of a "God" out there, one with whom we somehow have to *contact* through all sorts of spiritual practices. On the other hand, if we begin to think that the Christ Spirit is within--I wonder how these very same sort of spiritual practices may help us to become more aware, more conscious that we are literally aspects, manifest expressions of this great Universal Mind in Creation.
Whether traditionalist or non-traditionalist, we often in the same breath talk of God, the Christ Spirit, as the "Creative Principle." So let's look at this business of "Creation." What really does this mean? Different disciplines lump Creation into various categories, such as that which can be empirically recognized, or as the world of matter, and even as God's body! But what if Creation is the milieu for God's *creativity*? Where would such a question take us in regards embodying the Christ Spirit?
What's the point of the Christ Spirit? Simply for us to do good, be pious, die, leave the world, and maybe go to heaven? Or could the point be something else?
If we are "individualizations" of the Christ Spirit, the Logos as Pneuma, than we are all connected not only with the Spirit but with each other, with all of Life, with all of Creation. We are in a *communion* that is indissoluble!
To my mind this does not mean merging into some vague, lumpy One-ness; but, rather, we are manifestations, expressions of God's creativity in the building of Creation. At our level of consciousness we cannot say "why" God has chosen the milieu of Creation for his expressive creativity--but we do know that Creation is where all the action is. (It's not "out there," somewhere else.....)
Now how can we better manifest the Christ Spirit within? Mostly, at our level of consciousness, we still think only of ourselves. We embark on all sorts of undertakings to make ourselves better, more "perfect." That's fine up to a point. We make greater strides when we recognize "Jesus" in every man. This is that very real sense of *communion*--that we all are the same "life stuff." And beyond this, something that religious communities have rightly propagated, is the idea of "God's Laws."
We are discovering slowly that ours is a lawful universe, otherwise it could not hold together--much less spawn life. Non-traditionalists are beginning to translate those "Laws" we have received from revelation--beginning to see them as "Universal Laws," in the sense (as David Fideler put it) of "The Logos...encompassing within itself all the laws and relations which are later articulated in the phenomenal universe."
So in order to become more conscious of the Christ Spirit, we need to engage in ever greater self-discovery. And in order to express the Creativity of the Spirit in the world, we need to comprehend more deeply the Laws of the Universe, living well and being content within their parameters. God's Laws are immutable!
And what might be the purpose of this Great Exercise, the expression of God's creativity in Creation? We don't know yet, though through the ages we have *intuited* what might be coming: Transformation.
Looking about our universe, and closer to home--our world, there's the cycle of birth, death, and being born anew. Jesus talked of those seeds that have to die before they can resprout into new being. Transformation is about New Being, into something far greater than what we are, what we know now. Our species, many future species of consciousness points, may come and go, but always something more comes forth from that which has gone before. I'm inclined to wonder whether we might re-think, take more seriously Teilhard's idea of the "Omega Point." In his terms, in some non-traditionalist terms, we are *indeed* embodying a "Cosmic Christ," an universal apex, whilst heading towards Omega!
I have alluded to Teilhard's "Omega Point," but that is perhaps the culminating Reality of a far, far future--at least for us. Still we are moving towards Omega, whenever we work towards transforming ourselves, our societies, our culture, our world. And, really, when one investigates these acts towards transformation, they do involve a creative process!
For example, when a person engages in renunciation, in spiritual efforts to become more aware, in changing his or her attitude, all of these could fall under the category of behavior modification. Why do we renounce something or renounce a behavior? Why do we try to become more aware? Or why do we work hard to change our responses towards a particular person? We are modifying our behavior! For what purpose? To be better in our own eyes? To improve our situation? All of this, regardless the religious or spiritual circumstance, is about transforming ourselves into a better, more satisfied, more complete person.
In turn, transforming is about creative activity--which is transforming potentiality into actuality. And there's nothing wrong in being satisfied, either. To truly be creative is to *enjoy* the process of transformation. And what of these larger-scale transformations? The Universal Spirit works through its microcosms, its consciousness points, to create Beauty, Love, and Wisdom--those eternal values of all great civilizations!
Beyond our own self-working, sculpting our own lives towards a more satisfying unity, we create beauty for others as artists, as architects, as litterati, as landscapists, as musicians, as builders--in so many unforeseen ways. Through love we create warmth and acceptance and opportunity for others. And through wisdom we create more stability and security and understanding in this, our relational world of the other(s).
It's just a matter of *see-ing* that we are part of the unfoldment of a Universal Creativity that necessarily begins with our recognizing the Christ Spirit within, moving forward in more concrete expressions to create *more* of ourselves, and then reaching on outward to others in a manifold of transformative creativity that has built our cultures and civilizations upon the basis of a greater consciousness and cooperation.
We still see through that "glass darkly," and thus there's still lots of darkness in our lives and in our world. But, in due course, the Christ Spirit, the Logos as Pneuma, will prevail--it simply cannot be otherwise.
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