The New Religions and the Deity of Jesus Christ
By: The John Ankerberg Show
|By: Dr. John Weldon; ©2013|
|Virtually every religion in the world claims to truly honor Jesus Christ; unfortunately this is not the case, as the 50 citations below illustrate.|
The New Religions and the Deity of Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ not only changed Western history, He changed the entire world. There has never, ever been anyone remotely similar to Him and there never will be, as the Gospels prove. In spite of the critical importance and centrality of Jesus Christ for human history and welfare, and for each of us individually, sadly, apart from biblical Christianity all the world’s religions, ideologies and philosophies, large and small, reject Him. Biblically, not one of them collectively accepts His prophesied Messiahship; virgin birth/incarnation; deity; atoning death on the Cross; nature as unique and only Savior; ascension and physical return to earth. At best a few religions might accept merely one of these.
Ironically, almost every religion on earth claims to “believe in” Jesus Christ in some manner and virtually all of them claim to honor Him. For example, they may declare him to be a great teacher, a revered prophet, a loving and inspired leader, a unique humanitarian, etc. New Age religions typically distinguish “Jesus” (the man) “and “the Christ” (higher consciousness), but biblically “Jesus is the Christ” and was born the Christ; he never became the Christ (Luke 2:11; 1 John 2:22).
Regardless, as CS Lewis pointed out, saying such things is the one thing we must never do. Historical facts such as messianic prophecy and Christ’s physical resurrection from the dead allow only one logical possibility: Jesus Christ was who he said He was, God incarnate and the atoning Savior of the world. To argue that Jesus was anything less than God is blasphemous. Logically, in light of historical facts, such arguments become not just untenable but impossible. There isn’t the slightest historical or other evidence that Jesus ever lied about his own nature, or that he was invented by the disciples as some “faith-building” legend, or that he was mad or otherwise incapacitated. These myths are far more difficult to accept that Christ’s deity. Jesus was either God (which messianic prophecy, Jesus Himself and the rest of the New Testament demonstrate), or there is no logical explanation for Jesus at all. But, after 2000 years of intense study, no one can honestly believe that.
Major Religions & Philosophies
Some 4-5 billion people in the world accept at least one of four dominant beliefs on earth: (respectively, in all their forms) materialism, Marxism, monism, or the Muslim faith.
In materialism, Jesus Christ is seen as a common product of naturalistic evolution and therefore as having no inherent special nature or status. He was only a man and couldn’t possibly be anything else.
In Marxism, belief in Jesus Christ is viewed as a falsehood that has deceived millions of people with a religious opiate. Around the world Marxist governments (North Korea, China, Cuba, etc.) have done all they can to oppress or destroy those who believe in Jesus Christ, since believers are perceived as enemies of the dialectical advance of history.
In monism, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, the Person of Jesus Christ, like everyone, is finally an illusion of the deceptive or impermanent material world of duality/nothingness (maya in Hinduism; sunyata, nishvabhava or anicca in Buddhism). Therefore Jesus Himself is an illusion and of no lasting or permanent value.
In the Muslim faith (Islam), Jesus Christ is merely one of the many prophets of Allah. Although he is believed to be virgin born, he is nevertheless superseded in importance by Mohammed, the seal of the prophets, the final, authoritative prophet of Allah. Anything Jesus teaches that denies what Mohammed taught is false by definition. Further, it is considered an unforgivable and eternal sin (shirk) to accept the deity of Jesus Christ – presumably illustrating one reason why the death penalty is required for any Muslim who converts to Christianity. Further, as in Marxism, Christians are almost universally persecuted in Muslim nations where sharia law is dominant. In fact, according to one or more global persecution indices, Islam is the leading persecutor of Christianity in the world. Nevertheless, a principal tenet of the Muslim faith is that Jesus Christ is not God and cannot possibly be the Son of God, let alone atoning Savior. Since it is unthinkable that Allah would let one of his prophets be crucified, Islam rejects the biblical teaching that Christ died on the Cross for our sins. Muslims believe that Allah would never condescend to become a man, let alone die on a cross for people’s sins. As the Koran declares of Jesus, “They did not slay him, neither crucified him,” and, “The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary was only a Messenger of God,” and, “They are unbelievers who say, ‘God is the Messiah, Mary’s son.'”
The Deity of Christ
The Christian Church has taught the deity of Jesus Christ in all major branches for 2,000 years for one simple reason: the biblical teaching is logically undeniable and unassailable. (For an in-depth treatment, please see other articles under the major category, Jesus Christ.) For example, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God…. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth…. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known” (John 1:1, 14, 18); “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” (Colossians 2:9); “our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13); “our God and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1). “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:58). Jesus enemies, the Jewish leaders, understood Jesus’ claims to deity all too well: “For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” (John 5:18). “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” (John 10:33).
In the Old Testament Jesus is God (Micah 5:2; Isaiah 9:6); in the New Testament Jesus declared He is God; He claimed the attributes of God, He performed the deeds of God; descriptions of God in the Old Testament are applied to Him. Not surprisingly, after his resurrection, Jesus was recognized as God by his followers (despite the difficulty for monotheistic Jews), and much additional evidence can be provided to prove Jesus Christ is God. As such, He is both our Lord and Savior and we reject Him at our eternal peril.
How important is this? Jesus Himself told us that unless we believed in who He truly was, in who He claimed to be, that we would die in our sins: “That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I Am who I claim to be, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).
So, is it really true that other religions, ideologies and philosophies honor Jesus Christ when they deny Him by rejecting His own claims and nature? Below we present 50 alphabetical examples illustrating that such claims cannot be true since, long after the fact, they deny what both Jesus Christ Himself and the Bible have taught for 2,000 years, and which have been clearly established as historical facts. (Indeed, even the world’s preeminent skeptics despite valiant efforts, have, over the millennia, been unable to logically refute these historical facts.)
The False Claims of the New Religions
The following list illustrates the beliefs of many new religions which claim to believe in Jesus but simultaneously reject and deny His nature. In the New Testament, Jesus Himself warned that false prophets and false Christs would arrive (Matthew 24:4-5, 24) and mislead many. The Apostle Paul warned that there were false Christs and false gospels (2 Corinthians 11:3-5). The Apostle Peter cautioned against false teachers who would be active even within the Church and who would “secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Sovereign Lord who bought them” (2 Peter 2:1).
Perhaps the world’s denial of Jesus Christ illustrates the difficulty it will face when Christ returns in judgment to the very world He made and lovingly gave His life for:
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God …. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. (John 1:10-12, 3:17-19).
The following individuals are the founders or current leaders of the group specified. If a citation is occasionally not by the individual founder or current leader listed, it is excerpted from the group’s authoritative literature. If you take the time to read this list you will have an idea of why Jesus referred to the unbelieving world when he said that “it hates me because I testify that its works are evil” (John 7:7 sea. 15:18).
- Anthroposophy (Rudolf Steiner). “[Jesus] … must be designated in the truest sense of the word as a ‘mere man.’”
- Association for Research and Enlightenment (Edgar Cayce). “He [Jesus] is an example for man, and only as a man, for He lived only as a man, He died as man.”
- Astara (Earlyne Chaney). Jesus is “the Master Mystic of all time” who realized the Christ, a state of higher consciousness. Jesus is not the Savior from sin and only incarnation of God.
- The Baha’i Faith (The Bab; Baha’u’llah). “Jesus was not the only-begotten Son of God come down from Heaven, crucified and resurrected, nor the unique Saviour.”
- The Christadelphians (John Thomas). “Jesus Christ did not exist as a person from eternity as one of the triune Godhead. … He did not actually come into being until He was begotten of the Holy Spirit and born in Bethlehem.”
- Christian Science (Mary Baker Eddy). “Jesus Christ is not God, as Jesus Himself declared, but is the Son of God.”
- The Christian Spiritual Alliance (Roy Eugene Davis). “… Jesus was not the only begotten.”
- Church of the New Jerusalem (Emanuel Swedenborg). “This [belief in the Trinity] is the source and only source from which have sprung monstrous heresies concerning God … [and] introduced into the church … death as well.”
- Church Universal and Triumphant (Elizabeth Claire Prophet). “God the Father did not require the sacrifice of His son Christ Jesus or of any other incarnation of the Christ, as atonement for the sins of the world.”
- The Divine Life Society/Integral Yoga Institute (Sivananda, Satchidananda). “Remember that Christ is not a person. It’s an experience–Christhood. Like Nirvana or Buddha. It’s an experience.”
- Divine Science (Nona Brooks). “Someone has said that the greatest discovery of the nineteenth century was Jesus Christ. He was rediscovered and rescued from the superstitious misconceptions regarding him, in which he was thought of as a superman of extraordinary powers which were and ever would be beyond the rank and file of the race.”
- Eckankar (Paul. Twitchell). “…do not put Him [Jesus] in a special category, for all saviours and prophets who came to earth to help mankind did their part and passed on to the glory of the heavenly kingdom.”
- The Foundation of Human Understanding (Roy Masters). “You must not have any concepts of what Christ is like or God is like. It all must be an inward revelation process.”
- The Free Communion Church (Da Free John). “The conventional cultic and exoteric interpretation of the life and person of Jesus considers him to be an exclusive manifestation of God, representing a history, a way of life, and a destiny that no one else can enjoy or duplicate. … Such was absolutely not the point of view of Jesus himself.”
- The Gurdjieff Foundation (Gurdjieff). “[In a conversation] Gurdjieff said: ‘I hate your Jesus, poor Jewish boy’—the emphasis being on ‘your.’”
- The Hanuman Foundation (Ram Dass). “I have a relative [a brother] who is in a mental hospital. He thinks he is Christ. Well, that’s groovy. I am Christ also … as far as I’m concerned we are all God.”
- The Himalayan Institute (Swami Rama). “The Christ is your Soul and you should learn to see Him in all beings.”
- The Holy Order of Mans (Paul Blighton). “The Master Jesus never made any claims for himself. [He] was a man, and through discipline and striving became receptive enough for the Christ force to enter and change him.”
- Integral Yoga (Sri Aurobindo). “If Jesus returned today, He would not recognize in Christianity what He Himself taught”
- International Society for Krishna Consciousness (A. C. Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada). “Christ’s claim to be the only son of God is often misunderstood. … When Jesus Christ taught His doctrine in the Middle East, he appeared to be God’s only son, or pure devotee. … [But] why should God have only one son? … God can have billions and trillions of sons and … each and every one can be His ‘only’ son.”
- Jehovah’s Witnesses (Charles Taze Russell). “The incarnation is scripturally erroneous. Indeed, if he (Christ) had been an incarnate being, he could never have redeemed mankind.”
- Love Family/The Children of God (David Berg). “[There is] no reason why He [Jesus] shouldn’t enjoy the sexual fellowship of Mary and Martha! AND HE DID BECAUSE I SAW MARY MAKING LOVE TO HIM in a vision.”
- Lucis Trust (Alice Bailey). The Incarnation, which is for popular Christianity synonymous with the historical birth and earthly life of Christ, is for the mystic not only this but also a perpetual cosmic and personal process.”
- The Masonic Lodge. Masonry has had a significant impact within the Church, especially in the southern US (particularly the Southern Baptists) because it falsely claims it is not a religion, or that it is incompatible with the Christian faith and sometimes even that it is compatible with biblical faith. But the important Masonic ritual called the Maundy Thursday Ritual of the Chapter of Rose Croix declares in the official ceremony, “We meet this day to commemorate the death [of Jesus], not as inspired or divine, for this is not for us to decide”, and former 33rd degree Mason Jim Shaw observes that according to Masonry, “Jesus was just a man.” Another former Mason reports, “Freemasonry ‘carefully excludes’ the Lord Jesus Christ from the lodge and chapter, repudiates His mediatorship, rejects His atonement, denies and disowns His Gospel, frowns upon His religion and His church, ignores the Holy Spirit… .” (For further documentation see John Ankerberg, John Weldon, The Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge, 126-39.)
- Mighty I AM (Guy Ballard, pen name Godfre Ray King). “I [a spirit claiming to be Jesus is speaking] wish it distinctly understood by all who may receive this or ever contact it, that I am not and never was a Special Being created of God different from the rest of humanity!”
- Mormonism (Joseph Smith). “Christ is the firstborn spirit Son in the eternal family, and while yet in preexistence he advanced and progressed and became like the Father in power and intelligence; that is, he became a God.”
- New Thought. “We revere Jesus the man … as one who exemplified … the great Principle of perfection and wholeness. Jesus was a Way-Shower—the Savior—in the sense that He drew us out of our limitations.”
- Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism (Daisaku Ikeda). “The doctrines of the divinity and the resurrection of Christ are outside the province of rational thought. … Christians are schizophrenic.”
- Radhasoami/Radhaswami/Radha Soami (Charan Singh; Sawan Singh Ji). “Actually there is no statement in the New Testament, except possibly one or two interpolations, in which Jesus makes any claim to an exclusive divine sonship. This idea was not incorporated into the Christian religion until long after his death.”
- Rajneesh Foundation International (Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh). “To tell you the truth, Jesus is a mental case. … He is a fanatic. He carries the same kind of mind as Adolf Hitler. He is a fascist. He thinks that only those who follow him will be saved.”
- Rosicrucianism/AMORC (H. Spencer Lewis). “Nowhere in the teachings and practices of Jesus can we find the least intimation that His great system was intended to bring salvation to the physical body of man. Even the salvation of the soul was not taught by Jesus, and all references in the Christian Bible to the salvation of the soul constitute a misinterpretation, a misunderstanding, of the secret [Rosicrucianism] principle that Jesus taught.”
- Rudratianda Foundation (Swami Rudrananda; Rudi). In Spiritual Cannibalism Jesus is described as “a god,” a “realized” man, like Buddha and other teachers.
- Ruhani Satsang (Kirpal Singh). “Everyone is under the impression that Jesus Christ remains forever. The Christ Power remains forever [not Jesus]; but they [Christians] identify Christ with Jesus, the [solely] human pole, which is not right.”
- Sai Baba Society (Sathya Sai Baba). “The inner mystery of the Incarnation [is] God incarnating in all. All are One; the One is All.”
- Science of Mind (Ernest Holmes). “Jesus is the name of a man. Christ means the Universal Principle of Divine Sonship.”
- Scientology (L. Ron Hubbard). “Neither Lord Buddha nor Jesus Christ were OTs [Operation Thetans, enlightened beings] according to the evidence. They were just a shade above clear [relatively low on the Scientology scale of spiritual advancement].
- Self-Realization Fellowship (Paramahansa Yogananda). “In Christian Scriptures it [Christ] is called the ‘only begotten son.’ … It is the universal consciousness, oneness with God, manifested by Jesus, Krishna, and other avatars.”
- 3HO (Happy, Healthy, Holy) Sikhism (Yogi Bhajan). Jesus was a man of God only, who had to become qualified for his spiritual role. He didn’t know if Joseph was his father, and his mother created “her son to really be a Christ [enlightened],” but not a savior.
- Sri Chinmoy Centers (Sri Chinmoy). “[To] say that Christ is the Savior and the only way to salvation is a mistake…. He laughs when His followers say He is the only Savior….”
- Tibetan Buddhism (Chogyam Trungpa). “Any kind of savior notion will not function a hundred percent….” Worshipping a “deity of any kind” is “the wrong way,” and taking refuge in a Father God “is truly self-defeating.”
- Theosophy (H. P. Blavatsky). “Nowhere throughout the New Testament is Jesus found calling himself God, or anything higher than ‘a son of God,’ the son of a ‘Father,’ common to all.”
- Transcendental Meditation (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi). “[When] Christ said, ‘Be still and know that I am God,’ [He also meant] ‘Be still and know that you are God.” “I don’t think Christ ever suffered [on the Cross]…Those who count upon the suffering, it is a wrong interpretation of the life of Christ and the message of Christ. It is wrong.”
- The Unification Church (Sun Myung Moon). “It is a great error to think Jesus was God Himself. Jesus is no different from other men.”
- Unitarian/Universalism. Unitarian Universalist minister Waldemar Argow teaches: “They [Unitarian/Universalists] do not regard him as a supernatural creature, the literal son of God who was miraculously sent to earth as part of an involved plan for the salvation of human souls.”
- Unity School of Christianity (Charles Fillmore). “Most of our religious beliefs are based on the [erroneous] idea that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God.”
- Vedanta. Swami Prabhavananda alleges that we “cannot accept Christ as the only Son of God. Those who insist on regarding the life and teachings of Jesus as unique are bound to have great difficulty in understanding them.”
- The Walk (John Robert Stevens and the Church of the Living Word). “The Lord puts you through a process that will bring you into sonship, into deity. … God becoming man means nothing unless we become God, unless we become lost in Him.”
- The Way International (Victor Paul Wierwile). “Trinitarian dogma placing Jesus Christ on God’s level degrades God and leaves man UNREDEEMED!” (advertisement for Wierwille’s book, Jesus Christ Is Not God). “Our very redemption … is dependent on Jesus Christ’s being a man and not God.”
- The Yoga Fellowship (Swami Kriyananda). “What is Christ? St. Simeon the new theologian wrote, ‘I move my hand, and Christ moves, who is my hand.'”
- Zen Buddhism. The Gospel According to Zen quotes Meister Eckhart: “Who is Jesus? He has no name,” and “Jesus” declares, “Split wood: I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there.”
Almost all of the preceding groups claim that they accept and honor Jesus Christ. But in light of what we have just read, this is impossible. In fact, such groups (there are hundreds more) completely disregard the biblical Jesus Christ. Instead, they reinvent a false Jesus only to make Him support their own beliefs, in the process making a false god and committing idolatry. Indeed, only overwhelming evidence in favor of Christ’s deity would have convinced skeptical, staunchly monotheistic and initially frightened Jews to proclaim Christ’s deity to a hostile Jerusalem and later to the world.