Dear Christian friends who are looking for a better way -
I devoted much of my Lenten time absorbing a recently published book by John Dominic Crossan and Sarah Sexton Crossan, Resurrecting Easter. The reason this book is important to me and to any of us who are Metaphysical Christians is that we are coming to understand, as a human race, that God plays no favorites. The atonement is universal. As the graphic says, “Instead of arising alone, Christ raises all of Humanity with him.”
The images you see here depict the activity of Jesus during his three days in the tomb, which is something not found in the scriptures. During those three days, Jesus descends to hell, raises up humanity, represented as Adam and Eve, and leads them out to freedom. Resurrecting Easter is filled with such images and they show how artists were able to convey a truth that the theologians, at least the gospel writers and theologians in the west, failed to understand.
The central message of Resurrecting Easter is that western Christianity came to see the resurrection as the resurrection of one person, Jesus of Nazareth. But eastern Christianity came to see the resurrection as universal, not individual. As the title of Chapter 4 says, “He Did Not Rise Alone.” Rather, as was said, Jesus broke into hell, raised up Adam, Eve and all humanity and led them out to freedom. As Matthew records it, “The tombs were opened, and many who had fallen asleep were raised … they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many.”
If you are looking for a short, easy-to-read summary of Resurrecting Easter, I recommend a post found in Christian Century written by the Crossans in 2018: Rising Up With Christ.
I bring this up because the article in last week’s post, The Atonement of Jesus Christ, explains the work of Jesus as a universal atonement. Here is how it goes:
Mr. Fillmore explains our present limitations: [we] “know how states of consciousness are formed, and how tenacious a certain mental plane is after it has once become established in subconsciousness.” He continues: “We can readily see how a whole race might be caught in the meshes of its own thought emanations, and through the drowsy ignorance of the man ego, remain there throughout eternity, unless a break were somewhere made in the structure and the light of a higher way let in. This is exactly what took place with our race.”
Mr. Fillmore then explains how the atonement works: In our journey back to the Father’s house we got lost in our own thought emanations, and Jesus Christ broke through the crystallized thought strata and opened the way for all those who will follow him. By so doing, he made a connection between our state of consciousness and the more interior one of the Father. He united them, made them a unit—a one; hence the at-one-ment, or atonement, through him. And he stands in the breach today, ready to mentally pass over all who will accept his way. He died for us, in that he destroyed in his own consciousness all the mortal beliefs that hold us in bondage, such as sin, evil, sickness, fleshly lusts, and death. “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The “overcoming” accomplished by Jesus made a great rent in the sense consciousness and opened a way by which whoever desires may demonstrate easily and quickly.
And Mr. Fillmore explains where we are today: “It was the work of Jesus to establish in our race consciousness a spiritual center with which every one might mentally become associated, regardless of geographical location. He said to his disciples, ‘I go to prepare a place for you...that where I am there ye may be also.’ That place is a state of consciousness right here in our midst, and we can at any time connect ourselves with it by centering our minds upon Jesus and silently asking his help in our demonstrations.”
What does this mean for a believer today? How does Metaphysical Christianity differ from Catholic and Evangelical Christianity? It is important and it differentiates Metaphysical Christianity three ways:
First, in Metaphysical Christianity, the fundamental spiritual work to which we are called is in our mind. Mr. Fillmore talks about the stagnent thinking of negative people that leaves them “in a half-dead way for a few years and then go out with a splutter.” He writes, “We see this in certain social states among the people. No matter how miserable and degraded their state, people get so accustomed to their habitual environment that they do not aspire to anything higher.” When that happens, we die.
As an example (that may hit close to home) is the attachment people have to their habitual church environment. Leadership in many churches dig in their heels and resist change—to the point that they will sooner see the church die than to allow necessary change take place. Thom Rainer, author of Autopsy of a Dead Church and it’s sequel Anatomy of a Revived Church, writes that leaders of churches which die most often blame the worship style, the order of worship, the worship time, the staff, the minister, the building, the denomination, and most anything else before they take responsibility themselves. He concludes that leadership of dead churches “chose tradition over change, they chose comfort over change, they chose preferences over change [and], ultimately, they chose death over change.”
Second, in Metaphysical Christianity, our thoughts are not private. Mr. Fillmore has an entire section on the Incarnation of the Christ Mind (my edit) in which he speaks about what made Jesus more than a human being: Christ Consciousness. Christ Consciousness is not private. We are related to Jesus of Nazareth and to each other by a shared Christ mind. Mr. Fillmore writes, “Christ is the mind of God individualized, and whoever so loses his personality as to be swallowed up of God becomes Christ Jesus, or God-Man. ... So we cannot separate Jesus Christ from God, nor tell where man leaves off and God begins in him... Yet he attained no more than what is expected of every one of us. ‘That they may be one, even as we are’ (John 17:22), was his prayer.”
Third, in Metaphysical Christianity, our real church is not the building, but rather The Place Jesus Prepared for Us. Mr. Fillmore writes, "We all recognize the advantage of thought cooperation and how much easier it is to hold ourselves in the true consciousness when we are associated with those who think as we do. It was the work of Jesus to establish in our race consciousness a spiritual center with which every one might mentally become associated, regardless of geographical location. He said to his disciples, ‘I go to prepare a place for you, ... that where I am, there ye may be also’ (John 14:3). That place is a state of consciousness right here in our midst, and we can at any time connect ourselves with it by centering our minds upon Jesus and silently asking his help in our demonstrations.”
As I elaborated a few weeks ago: You and I, at this most difficult time, are called to function as a church individually. We are our own ministry. We are empowered to serve. Our ministry is not authorized by a minister, a church or a denomination. Our empowerment does not derive from credentials, education or social standing. Our service is to people who have unmet spiritual needs, regardless of membership or social attachment. So our job over these next several weeks or months is not to assemble, but rather to make God manifest, to “bring forth into actuality the oneness and the perfection which we have been an ideal.” In short, we are now and in a sense we have always been, spiritually on our own. We must come to understand and embrace our calling as individual faith centers.
Having said that, the salvation you and I proclaim is Universal. It is true that the work we are called to do is in the mind, hopefully the mind that is aligned and “One with the Christ-Mind of God.” But the mind is not private and the effects of our thinking are universal; they make an impact on everyone. That is to say that you and I are individually responsible for the collective, universal, race consciousness of the human race. Take another look at the pictures at the top of this post. You are not Adam and you are not Eve; rather you are Jesus, responsible for "lifting up and leading out to liberty" everyone with whom you interact. And the Universal salvation we proclaim in Metaphysical Christianity (Oneness with God, Wholeness for Humanity, Prosperity for all) is particularly well-suited today’s social media environment.
I do not for a moment believe that God has created the situation that we find ourselves in today. But I am quite confident that we are being called by God to transform what we are experiencing today into a greater good. Where will that transformative work occur?
Much of the transformative work of the church occurs in a building on Sunday morning. And it will continue to be so. But for many years we have been worshipping collectively in a building on Sunday while living individually the rest of the week in a social media milieu, pouring out our deepest thinking—mostly honorable but sometimes shameful—about how life is unfolding. Our Sunday morning spiritual work, to be universally transformative, needs to be with us collectively, on social media. That is to say, it just may be that one day we will see that getting kicked out of our houses of worship was a rich blessing.
Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020