Recovering the Cosmic Christ -Time to put the Nicene Creed on the shelf

“The Enlightenment deposed the Cosmic Christ and made the quest for the historical Jesus necessary”.

Recovering the Cosmic Christ -Time to put the Nicene Creed on the shelf

Jaroslav Pelikan, a church historian who is part Orthodox and part Lutheran says: “The Enlightenment deposed the Cosmic Christ and made the quest for the historical Jesus necessary”, Matthew Fox tells us.

Matthew Fox says that the Cosmic Christ archetype, is not so much a dogma as an experience, it lies at the heart of pre-modern Christianity. It derives from putting the experience of the Divine before the building of empires.

Teilhard de Chardin complained that he couldn’t find anyone—lay person or theologian—who wanted to talk about the Cosmic Christ. He also talked of what happens when the Cosmic Christ is forgotten. “Because it is not exalted by a sufficiently passionate admiration of the universe, our religion is becoming enfeebled.”

The “enfeeblement of our religion”—is that not where we are at today? asks Matthew.

Matthew proposes putting the Nicene Creed on the shelf for a while, a creed put together by an Emperor and Bishops of the fourth century in very Greek philophical concepts at the time of Christian empire building.

The Creed is not from the time of Jesus whereas the Cosmic Christ is—indeed all the great stories of Jesus’ life are set in a cosmic context. The earliest Christian sources—Paul and the Gospel of Thomas– teach about the Cosmic Christ. It is a scandal, Matthew asserts, that these primary sources have been ignored especially in the modern era. (Medieval or pre-modern Christian writers like Hildegard of Bingen, Thomas Aquinas, Meister Eckhart, Nicolas of Cusa and more very often speak of a Cosmic Christ.)


1 On 16/07/2019 Moya Swaby wrote:

Could do with some enlightenment as to who/what the ’ Cosmic Christ’ is about..

2 On 17/07/2019 Peter Bellenes wrote:

The second person of the Trinity, made man, seen as the origin or beginning and end or purpose of creation. This concept of a “world-Christ,” that some have mistakenly understood in a pantheistic sense, is a favored theme of St. Paul. He describes Christ as “the image of the unseen God and the first-born of all creation, for in Him were created all things in heaven and on earth: everything visible and invisible, Thrones, Dominations, Sovereignties, Powers—all things were created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:12-14). The “Cosmic Christ” is sometimes distinguished from the “Redemptive Christ,” and understood in the sense that God would have become man even though man had not sinned, out of sheer love of man and for the perfection of the universe.
The term was used by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), according to whom the whole universe, with Christ as Ruler, is the true fullness of Christianity. As a result, all things are already permeated with a special presence of God, and correspondingly the whole world shares in the fruits of salvation. (Etym. Greek kosmos, order; the world, universe.)

3 On 17/07/2019 Moya Swaby wrote:

Thank you for taking the time to give an explanation. I also sought help from Richard Rohr and found the explanation of ‘unification of all things’ helpful.

4 On 05/08/2019 edward Conder wrote:

Are we really still believing in the trinitarian formula dreamt up at Nicea to placate the warring bishops?  Do we really see Christ as a spiritual entity rather than a true man that we could emulate, if we dared to?  Have we followed St Paul (and seemingly Pierre Teilhard) in putting the teaching of Christ aside;  in replacing the example we could follow by a divinity we should worship?
If Jesus was man, I can follow him and the stories about him impact my life.  If he is seen as divine, his example was meaningless, since beyond my reach, and his reality suspect until we can come to find the true nature of divinity.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

Back to Blogs