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Joseph Wolpert: Classical Christianity and Unity


"We have been taught that Jesus died for us - as an atonement for our sins. By human sense this belief has been materialized into a flesh-and-blood process, in which the death of the body on the Cross played the important part. Here in has the sense consciousness led us astray. That spiritual things must be spiritually discerned seems to have escaped notice informing the scheme of atonement...

Jesus of Nazareth played an important part in opening the way for every one of us into the Father's kingdom. However, that way was not through His death on the Cross, but through His overcoming death." (Ibid., pp 318-319)

The apostle Paul said "The last enemy to be destroyed is death." (I Cor. 15:26) According to Charles Fillmore's earlier statement regarding "race consciousness", we can see that in his view, at least, that it was a fallen human race that brought death into existence along with innumerable human-formed laws that produce sickness, disease, and various forms of difficulties. God was not and is not responsible for this. In fact, God has nothing to do with it. It was the result of human sin and we are not punished for our sins but by them!

The overcoming of death that Jesus demonstrated on the Cross is neither a ransom to the Devil or a payment to God. The importance of this overcoming and demonstration is the effect it had and still has on race consciousness.

There are a couple of citations in the Gospel of John which are important to the understanding of the concept involved in this discussion. The first citation is found in John 3:14-15 where Jesus is recorded as saying (in anticipation of the crucifixion) "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life." The second citation is found in John 12:32 "...and, I, when lam lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."

The reference to Moses and the serpent in the wilderness is a reference to an episode in the Book of Numbers. In chapter 21, beginning with verse 7 we are told:

"And the people came to Moses, and said, 'We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you, pray to the Lord that he take away the serpents from us.' So Moses prayed for the people.8 And the Lord said to Moses, 'Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.9 So Moses made a bronze serpent, and set it on a pole; and if a serpent bit any man, he would look at the bronze serpent and live."

This passage is significant because the Israelites understood that there was no power in the serpent. The power was God working through the serpent.

Jesus (the man) is saying that there is no power in the human. It was the divine that was working through him. And it was the divine that he was bearing witness to and was trying to bring to those who had "ears to hear" and "eyes to see".

The second citation from John chapter 12 verse 31 speaks of "drawing all men to myself'. The role that race consciousness plays in human affairs cannot be underestimated here.

It was Charles Fillmore's belief that Jesus' great contribution to humankind in his overcoming of death on the cross was that he broke a hole in the wall of race consciousness (metaphorically) so that others might follow him and become what he was.

To illustrate this notion, we might recall young Roger Bannister who astonished the running community by completing the mile in four minutes. Prior to this unique and record breaking accomplishment, it was believed that this was an impossibility. It was an impossibility because no one had done it before and the prevalent "race consciousness" said that it couldn't be done.

The remarkable thing, was that after young Bannister broke the speed record for the mile he also apparently broke up the notion in race consciousness that it couldn't be done because since that time there have been many one mile races run in four minutes or even a little less. It is not unusual to have more than one person in the same race today run the mile in four minutes or less.

It is in this context that Charles Fillmore understood the work of Jesus Christ.

This did not mean that the followers of Jesus were do to nothing, however. For Mr. Fillmore, following Jesus was to become like him.

Also, Mr. Fillmore's mysticism and his understanding of the true "oneness" of all life led him to insist that Jesus Christ was always present and that anyone who had faith in him and who would contemplate the presence of Jesus would connect with Jesus' consciousness in prayer and would be lifted up in consciousness and know the Father as Jesus knew him.

"Salvation" then for Charles Fillmore was

"The restitution of man to his spiritual birthright; regaining conscious possession of his God-given attributes. It comes as the result of redemption; the change from sin to righteousness. Salvation comes to man as a free gift from God. It embodies a knowledge of God that frees one from all limitations and points the way by which mind and body may be lifted up to the spiritual place ofconsciousness.

The belief that Jesus in an outer way atoned for our sins is not salvation. Salvation is based solely on an inner overcoming, a change in consciousness..." (RW, p 173)

So, Mr. Fillmore advocated somewhat of a "divinization" process whereby the individual would consciously experience themselves as a divine being.

The overcoming death of Jesus Christ made all of this possible by breaking through the wall of race consciousness. Jesus could and does help with individual salvation but He doesn't do it FOR us by just having faith in him (at least not in this incarnation).

However, Mr. Fillmore was not advocating a theology of works. It was by the grace of God acting in and through Jesus Christ that makes this possible.

Perhaps the most definitive statement that Mr. Fillmore made on this subject is contained in a personal letter written on June 2, 1936 to Georgiana Tree West. At that time Reverend West was the minister of the Unity Center of Practical Christianity in New York City. This correspondence is significant because it reflects Mr. Fillmore's views at the height of his theological maturity. Mr. Fillmore wrote:

"The relation which Jesus Christ bears to the human family on this planet is somewhat complex and involved, in even a metaphysical explanation, but when we admit that He was one step ahead of us in His race evolution we have a key that clears up many seeming contradictions.

The Soul that incarnated in Jesus had attained the glory of the Son of God consciousness aeons of ages previously in another universe evolution, in which He had attained creative power.

'Glorify thou me with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.' When the present universe was created, Christ was given the bringing forth of the planetary people to which we belong. As taught in the Scripture, 'We are his offspring.'

According to the Generic allegory, all went well with us until the soul (Eve) became involved in the pleasure of sensation (serpent) and sought other sources of guidance than the Jehovah or Christ Mind. Here began the gradual degeneration of the whole human family until they were nearly extinct. Something had to be done to save them from utter annihilation in the murky darkness of their own sense thoughts. Christ then began a series of physical incarnations beginning prehistorically and ending with His incarnation as Jesus. To lift the race out of sense, He was compelled by the necessity of soul sympathy to become an intimate associate of the people He sought to help. As Paul says, 'He was tempted in all points as we are, but without sin.'

Then, as a final and very mystical process, He diffused the units of His ascended body into our race ether, to the end that we may be inoculated in both mind and body with those propensities of Being that will restore us to our divine estate...

Jesus had to endure all the evils of materiality as we endure them, but He overcame them without going down under the impact, and the glory of associating with Him is that He shows us how He did it, and how with Him, we can do the same...

The Christ in Jesus was and is our Father and we are joint heirs with Him to all the possibilities of Being." (Fillmore, Archives, see note)

Mr. Fillmore took quite literally the statement of Jesus when he said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who belives in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father." (John 14:12)

It was only from the standpoint of "Being" that this would be possible. In "Truth" all of humanity must be divine for this to come true. Mr. Fillmore argued that children share in the nature of the parent. God being divine - so are His children.

The problem is belief in false separation from God. The solution is the realization of Oneness with God. Jesus made this possible by knocking a hole in race consciousness.