The Jesus you didn’t know existed (because he doesn’t!)

We took an afternoon trip to Borders today and I briefly passed through the Religion section on my way to Computers and then on to the Business section.  A couple books in Religion caught my eye and this was one of them: Jesus: A Story of Enlightenment by Deepak Chopra.

One of the first things I noticed (as intended by the publisher) was a blurb on the front cover by Eckhart Tolle (I have no idea who he is) that reads:

A gripping tale of one man’s archetypal journey through confusion, doubt, and despair to self-annihilation and the realization of his true identity as the ‘light of the world.’

If you stop and ponder that for a moment or two, and assuming you’ve read at least one of the four Gospels in the New Testament, that should strike you as mildly disturbing.  “Journey through confusion, doubt, and despair?”  I will grant that Jesus grew in his understanding and comprehension of who he was, fueled largely by much time reading Scripture and in prayer, but still, he was and is God in human form.

If you read the first eight pages that Amazon makes available in their preview you’ll see that Chopra’s intent is far different than this kind of comprehension.  In this story Jesus goes on a journey while in his twenties and finds an Eastern “wise man” who apparently helps him discover who he really is.  This is bizarre stuff, though I will say that the way he writes is engaging and interesting, which adds to the “danger” factor in the end.

On the back cover there is a selection of quotes that are worth noting as they help to show the direction (orientation) of the book.  According to the publisher,

The New York Times bestselling author captures the untold story of Jesus in this surprising, soul-stirring, and inspiring novel.

Deepak himself says,

The Jesus who is left out of the New Testament turns out to be in many ways the most important Jesus for modern times.  His aspiration to find salvation vibrates in every heart.

If that doesn’t raise the theological hair on the back of your neck then you haven’t been reading your New Testament enough!

“The Jesus who is left out”?  Frankly, the Jesus who is “left out of the New Testament” is the Jesus who only exists in the imaginations of people like Deepak Chopra.  “His aspiration to find salvation”?  Jesus IS salvation, at least according to Jesus: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Kevin Costner?  Really?  Actually this is interesting because his parents live (or lived) in the same town I do.  Anyway, here’s what Kevin had to say about the book:

Sometimes it takes a person outside the protective circle of religion to articulate the very point that keeps those of faith inside it.  If as a Christian you are afraid of what is inside these pages, don’t be.  It’s both a creative and thoughtful look at over half the world’s chosen savior.  It quietly succeeded in restoring my faith in my own faith.

Every sentence in that quote is worth discussing, but I’ll settle for the final one.  “Faith in [our] own faith” in the end has zero value and it doesn’t save us from anything, especially the wrath of God.  Faith in Jesus Christ alone, and Jesus as the object of our faith, is really all that matters now and into eternity.  Granted, I think I know what he’s trying to say, but then again, I’ve had enough discussions with people over the years who have “faith in their faith” that this causes me to wonder.

Perhaps the most disturbing words on the book are at the top of the front cover: “The New York Times Bestseller.”  Many, many people will be forming their ideas about who Jesus is from this book, and other books like it (The Shack, for example), and those ideas, largely formed outside of the Bible are, for lack of a better word, wrong.

If you managed to read this far, accept my apology for the rant.  Sometimes I just have to blow a little theological steam when I find something like this.

5 comments on “The Jesus you didn’t know existed (because he doesn’t!)

  1. don says:

    I’ll tell you what’s disturbing. Believing as you are told that God is UNCONDITIONAL love, but if you don’t say (do something as a condition) Jesus come into my life, then this All loving God will burn you in hell for eternity.

    Now doesn’t that make perfect sense, don’t think so. But the word is think. If I tell you I am God, and then tell you to jump off a cliff you aren’t going to believe I’m God are you?

    So if I tell you that God is unconditional Love, then you have to do something or else. well, you decide.

    There is a real Jesus. And he is love. too bad the church in America doesn’t even know him.

    don
    spiritnewsdaily.com Free at last. free at last

    • Don,

      Thanks for reading my post and leaving a comment – I appreciate you taking the time to do so.

      I can see your point and from a human perspective it has some merit.

      The one thing you didn’t mention is the cross, and Jesus allowing himself to be crucified and killed on it. Why did this happen? He did it as a substitutionary (in our place) atonement for the wrath of God against sin and the sinners who sin (that’s you and me and everyone else). This is the core message of the gospel which is also the core message of the Bible.

      Believing that Jesus died in our place and appropriating it by faith in him is how we ‘escape’ from the wrath of God against us, and then experience his great love.

      God is a God of love (John 3:16), but he is also a God of wrath (Romans 1:18). Being God he alone is able to be completely and infinitely those things and many other qualities (attributes) all at the same time and forever, something that we as finite, limited human beings have a tough time comprehending sometimes.

      Thanks again for stopping by,

      John

  2. colin pickford says:

    I see from the item (rant) as you so rightly put it and by looking at the books you are reeding that you most certainly spend a lot of time with your nose in a book. I can understand the amount of books that you get through, after all we are all looking for knowledge, the knowledge of who we are.

    My dear friend you will not find the answer “OUT THERE”. You will not find it in a book. You will not find it in the future.

    Leave the likes of Deepak, Eckhart and the other enlightend souls in our midst and start looking in the only place that you can find your answers………As a famous Buddhist T-shirt suggests “Open for enlightenment………….ask within”.

    There is a wonderful example of doctrinated religious belife in the news today. In relation to the tragedy unfolding in Haiti a US “christian minister has felt it his duty to anonce to the world that it is all there own fault. It is gods punishment for them allowing the practice of Voodoo.

    And you think Deepak has it wrong??? EARTH CALLING JOHN………COME IN JOHN

    • Colin,

      Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

      I’m assuming the “christian minister” you’re referring to is Pat Robertson. For the record, there is very little that Pat has ever said that I would agree with. He absolutely does not speak for Christians or Christianity as a whole, no matter how “high profile” he may be.

      And you’re right, it is a “tragedy unfolding in Haiti,” and every person with a heart and a conscience should be doing what they can to help – whether they are Christians, Buddhists, or anything else. I just received an email this morning from one of the organizations that we support, Living Water International, that they are there now working to provide clean drinking water by repairing wells that were broken by the earthquake.

      But to answer your final question, do I think Deepak has it wrong? I do, and the standard of truth I am going by is the Bible.

      Thanks again Colin,

      John

  3. For the record, anytime someone publishes a book, a website, or even a blog like this one, they are opening themselves up to the possibility of being critiqued, challenged, and disagreed with. It doesn’t have to be a personal attack, and often it isn’t.

    This blog post was not intended to be a personal attack against Deepak. I’m guessing that he is a nice person and would probably be very interesting to talk with.

    And that’s what we’re doing here, in one sense, talking. Having a discussion. Feel free to join in and share your thoughts.

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