Jesus and Christ

Q. What is the difference between Jesus and Christ?

A. Jesus is the name of a man. Christ means the Universal Principle of divine Sonship – the generic human, the Divine Pattern, the ideal toward which humanity evolves, the apex of individual evolution, the conscious union of the person with God. Jesus embodied the Christ. Jesus increasingly became the Christ as his mentality increasingly perceived the relationship of the human Jesus to the Christ principle, which is inherent in all people. This Christ has come in a certain measure of power throughout the ages to different individuals, and still does come, and is ever inherent within each of us.

(Ernest Holmes, Questions and Answers on the Science of Mind, 2011)

Holmes was a prominent figure in the New Thought movement, which started in the 19th century in the United States and reached a significant level of prominence. I first heard of it tangentially through William James. What I didn’t realize is that much of the New Thought writing was explicitly Christian, and in particular formed a new Early Christianity movement – the idea that they were recovering something in early Christianity that had come to be downplayed or misinterpreted through centuries of theological and political ossification.

The above characterization of Jesus Christ has some similarities to the Mormon view – another Early Christianity movement that started in the 19th century. Mormons take God the Son (Jesus Christ) and God the Father to be one God in the sense that they were united in mind and purpose, although separate beings.

Contrast this with the more orthodox view of the trinity in Christianity – God the Son and God the Father are separate ‘persons’ but the same ‘essence’. Although the view of Holmes, and the Mormon view, makes some sense to me, I am unable to make much sense of the more orthodox view, unless it is translated along the lines of something like the view of Holmes or Mormonism. It becomes a mere verbalism – God the Son is God and God the Father is God, but God the Son is not God the Father. It doesn’t make much sense, and is probably the result of too much theologizing – exactly the concern of Early Christianity movements.

Something like the Holmesian view makes sense of certain Gospel passages – for examples, Jesus ‘grows in wisdom’, talks about himself and God the Father as different in certain respects, talks of God the Father knowing something that Jesus does not, and so on.

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