Thursday, March 20, 2008

Deepak Chopra's Jesus

Deepak Chopra, that Oprah-crowned guru of modern spirituality, thinks he has something to say about the historical Jesus. In his article, he decries what he believes are people making Jesus in their own image, and then proceeds to do the same thing.

Deepak seems to think himself a Biblical scholar when he writes: "The legacy of love found in the New Testament has been tainted with the worst sort of intolerance and prejudice that would have appalled Jesus in life." Chopra is not lamenting the actions of evil doers, rather he is actually describing how he views Scripture.
The first Jesus is less than consistent, as a closer reading of the gospels will show. If Jesus was perfectly peaceful, why did he declare, "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword"? (Matthew 10:34) If he was perfectly loving, why did he say, "Throw out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth"? (Matthew 25:30) (Sometimes the translation is even harsher, and Jesus commands "the worthless slave" to be consigned to hell.) If Jesus was humble, why did he claim to rule the earth beyond the power of any king? At the very least, the living Jesus was a man of baffling contradictions.
If Deepak was graced by God to understand the words of Christ as provided in Scripture, he'd realize that these are not "baffling contradictions" but rather consistent statements of God incarnate. Deepak, of course, has no interest in the consistent Jesus of Scripture and thus these threatening words of the Sovereign God who has foreordained Chopra's destiny cannot fit into his worldview. (One should compare Chopra's words to those of John MacArthur on the Larry King program a few years back. Peaceful little Chopra got very angry on that show.)

Chopra doesn't even understand Christian theology which he now seeks to contradict, in his article he writes:
"Millions of people worship another Jesus, however, who never existed, who doesn't even lay claim to the fleeting substance of the first Jesus. This is the Jesus built up over thousands of years by theologians and other scholars. He is the Holy Ghost, the Three-in-One Christ, the source of sacraments and prayers that were unknown to the rabbi Jesus when he walked the earth. He is also the Prince of Peace over whom bloody wars have been fought. This second Jesus cannot be embraced without embracing theology first. Theology shifts with the tide of human affairs. Metaphysics itself is so complex that it contradicts the simplicity of Jesus's words. Would he have argued with learned divines over the meaning of the Eucharist? Would he have espoused a doctrine declaring that babies are damned until they are baptized?"

...Isn't it a direct contradiction to hold that Jesus was a unique creation—the one and only incarnation of God—while at the same time claiming to be able to read his mind on current events?...
Notice Chopra's faulty understanding of our faith. He combines the Son with the Holy Spirit, and declares Him a "three-in-one Christ". If Chopra was really wanting to discuss who Christ was, he might at least declare what we believe rightly. He declares the sacraments to be "unknown to the rabbi Jesus", but who is Chopra to dismiss the words of Scripture (which he will later embrace in certain ways)? Chopra cannot imagine a God who would willingly suffer and die to save His creations, a God who would give His own flesh and blood to sustain and save.

Notice his misunderstanding of the incarnation, he states: "Jesus was a unique creation—the one and only incarnation of God" No orthodox Christian can claim Jesus was "a unique creation", for he is the uncreated, God incarnate. The contradictions Chopra decries are based not on the text of Scripture, nor any real claim of metaphysics, but Chopra's worldview.

Who made Deepak Chopra a textual critic schooled in understanding ancient texts? On what basis can he dismiss the words of Christ in the Scriptures in order to declare that Jesus didn't know "the sacraments"? How can a man so many look to for "spiritual" advice be so ignorant when it comes to Christianity?

Deepak just acknowledged previously that Scripture states that Jesus said: "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword...", so why does it suprise him that "He is also the Prince of Peace over whom bloody wars have been fought"? The inconsistency here lies not with Scripture, or Jesus, but within the evil pagan mind of Deepak Chopra.

So when Chopra says "Millions of people worship another Jesus, however, who never existed", he does so only on the basis of his belief structure, not upon any basis in fact, or in the eyewitness testimony of the Apostles and writers of the documentation closest to the events that occurred. When Chopra says we know next to nothing about the historical Jesus, he does with the presupposition that the text of Scripture is unreliable (as he's already expressed.) Deepak gives us no reason, apart from his feelings, and commitment to his pagan religion.

Deepak's agenda is evident:
One Jesus is historical, and we know next to nothing about him. Another Jesus is the one appropriated by Christianity. He was created by the Church to fulfill its agenda. The third Jesus, the one this book is about, is as yet so unknown that even the most devout Christians don't suspect that he exists...
... the Jesus who taught his followers how to reach God-consciousness. I want to offer the possibility that Jesus was truly, as he proclaimed, a savior. Not the savior, not the one and only Son of God. Rather, Jesus embodied the highest level of enlightenment... Jesus intended to save the world by showing others the path to God-consciousness.

What kind of "savior" is Deepak going to offer us? What will this savior save us from? Notice Deepak's "Jesus" is a powerless man, who is merely "showing others the path" to some "God-consciousness". This is really nothing more than the gnostic heresies revisited in a pagan wrapper. This is not a savior who will save us from the wrath of God (doubtful that Deepak believes in God or that God is wrathful against sin), no this is a savior who will make us more... what? Enlightened? (Imagine the enlightenment Chopra will experience when he stands before the Judge of the universe whom he told lies about.)

Depak's savior cannot save, he can only "point the way", he cannot provide truth, only offer suggestions, he is not the Sovereign Lord of Glory who's coming to judge the quick and the dead, merely another self-sufficient man, like Chopra, worshiping and serving the creation rather than the creator. Chopra molds Jesus into his own image.

Chopra mocks the hope of believers, that their Deliverer is coming, he declares Christ's promise to return as "destructive" to Christ's intentions.
The idea of the Second Coming has been especially destructive to Jesus's intentions, because it postpones what needs to happen now.
Doesn't THIS sound familiar?
2 Peter 2:3-9
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation."
For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.
But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

Here is Chopra, the ungodly man of whom God's is reserving judgment and wrath for. Chopra is the mocker, the charlatan... a true witch and sorcerer misleading many.

Later, we find Chopra quoting the Bible selectively:
He promises that God loves you, a statement he makes directly, without asking you to follow the duties of your sect or to respect the ancient, complex laws of the prophets. Further, he says that God loves you best. In the world to come, you and your kind will get the richest rewards, everything you have been denied in this world.

The words sound idealistic to the point of lunacy—if God loved you so much, why did he saddle you with cruel Roman conquerors? Why did he allow you to be enslaved and forced to toil until the day you die? The priests in Jerusalem have explained this many times: As the son of Adam, your sins have brought you a wretched existence, full of misery and endless toil. But Jesus doesn't mention sin. He expands God's love to unbelievable lengths. Did you really hear him right?... And yet how beautifully Jesus wove the spell...

Jesus doesn't mention sin? Maybe on Chopra's own little planet, the Jesus of history however is the one who declares "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil...", Chopra selectively quotes what appeals to him, but yet he still accuses Christ of evil.

Chopra's "Jesus"teaches non-violence, but cannot save, teaches God-consciousness but is not God, teaches peacefulness without providing the peace that surpasses understanding.

Time hasn't altered this mixture of hope and puzzlement. I had an experience that centers around one of Jesus's most baffling teachings: "Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also." (Luke 6:29)... Jesus wasn't preaching masochism or martyrdom. He was speaking of a quality of consciousness that is known in Sanskrit as Ahimsa. The word is usually translated as "harmlessness" or "nonviolence," and in modern times it became the watchword of Gandhi's movement of peaceful resistance....Without these conditions, Ahimsa isn't spiritual or even effective. If someone full of desire for retaliation turns the other cheek to someone equally enraged, the only thing that will occur is more violence. Playing the part of a saint won't make a difference. But if a person in God-consciousness turns the other cheek, his enemy will be disarmed.

So Chopra's "Jesus" is only showing the way to pagan non-violence techniques. The reason for non-violence, the rationale for doing unto others, the engine that truly provides this is missing from Chopra's venom. No Spirit, no God, no salvation... no peace.

The Bible's version of peace with others starts with our peace with God, through the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross. We love, because He first loved us. Our peaceful actions towards our neighbors must be rooted in that fact and in the engine, the indwelling Holy Spirit, who graciously conforms us to the image of Christ day-by-day.

So let me provide you, and Chopra with an alternative Jesus, the REAL Jesus of whom the Scriptures clearly declare without contradiction and without pagan interpretation.
Phil 2:3-11
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Here is a true Savior, the God-Man who paid my debt to God on the cross that I might be reconciled to God and my fellow man through Him, not because I was able to achieve or find in-and-of myself some "god-consciousness, rather that I was able to find a truly loving Savior, outside of myself, who would graciously save me, not on the basis of works I'd done in righteousness, but on the basis of grace through faith in Him.

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