The term Christ consciousness has gained popularity in recent years as celebrities and public figures claim that they have “found truth” in this form of spirituality. Those championing this idea sometimes call themselves Christians; however, their definition of the word Christian is far different from the biblical meaning. The name of the Lord Jesus Christ is used as a means of normalizing a religion which is nothing more than rebranded Eastern mysticism.
The Center for Christ Consciousness’s website defines Christ consciousness as “the highest state of intellectual development and emotional maturity.” They go on to claim that “Jesus achieved this [higher state of being] in his human life, and was given this term [Christ] before his name as the recognition of his achievement of this spiritual status. This path is open to anyone regardless of their religious tradition if and when he or she is open to become a living vessel of love and truth on the planet and actively strives to attain it.” Another site defines it this way: “Christ consciousness is the state of awareness of our true nature, our higher self, and our birthright as children of God.” It does not take much research to uncover the ancient roots of this idea. It is the same man-centered philosophy that is behind most religions.
So-called “Christ consciousness” has been known by various names in history, such as Jainism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and most Eastern mystical religions. More recently, Deepak Chopra has popularized the “christianized” version of this same pseudo-spirituality. The danger in this latest version of mysticism is the use of Bible verses and Christian terms, which can easily lead astray those who don’t check the Scriptures for themselves.
The basic premise of mysticism is that man can, within himself, transcend physical existence and experience his own goodness as being “one” with the universe, being a god, or existing on whatever higher plane he chooses to believe in. The name of Jesus is merely used as a prop in this latest version of the same idea. Jesus is seen as the “leader” in showing us how to exalt our own inner goodness and, in doing so, make ourselves right with whatever deity we choose to acknowledge. Christ consciousness groups claim that Jesus earned the title “Christ” by perfectly channeling the divine consciousness we can all attain, and they attempt to attribute this philosophy to the Lord Jesus. Those championing this ideology are merely using the name of Jesus as a means of worshiping themselves. They desire to find absolution without repentance, confession of sin, or acknowledging Jesus’ substitutionary death and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3–4).
Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” This is true of the Christ consciousness movement. Self-designed salvation is merely repackaged under a different name, this time successfully duping those who desire parts of Christianity but not the whole. Invoking the name of Jesus soothes the consciences of those pricked by the truth of the Word of God. It allows followers to imagine they have achieved salvation by acknowledging Jesus in some way, while ignoring the parts of the gospel they find unappealing. People have always sought to pick and choose what they like from Jesus’ words, even when Jesus was upon the earth (see John 6:66).
So, is Christ consciousness a true form of Christianity? One site explains the Christ consciousness as “a level of awareness where you no longer see error in any action that you do or in any other human being, but see only the beauty and perfection in all things. For the Christ Consciousness does not judge, does not criticize, coerce, tempt[,] does not condone, does not react negatively.”
Is that what Jesus did and taught? The Scriptures are clear that Jesus was crucified precisely for criticizing and “reacting negatively” to the established religious system of His day (Mark 12:12; Luke 20:19–20). He did not see “the beauty and perfection in all things.” Instead, He rebuked the arrogant (Matthew 12:34), commanded the sinners to stop sinning (John 5:14; 8:11), and made it clear that not even those who thought they had achieved Christ consciousness would inherit eternal life (Matthew 7:21–23). He said that He had come to offer Himself as a sacrifice by which sinful man could be forgiven (Matthew 20:28; John 12:27). He did not float about in a cloud of transcendent euphoria. The Scriptures allow us to see Him grieving (John 12:27), sad (John 11:35), angry (John 2:15–17), and confrontational (Matthew 23:33).
Christ consciousness claims a belief in Jesus Christ, but it actually promotes faith in one’s own ability to make oneself pleasing to God through attitude changes and mystical experiences. Galatians 2:16 states that “a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ . . . that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.” Faith in Christ does not mean we strive to be like Him in our own strength. He did not present Himself as a great moral teacher. He was crucified because He claimed to be the “only begotten Son of God” (John 1: 14, 18; 3:15–18; 1 John 4:9). Becoming “conformed to the image of Christ” (Romans 8:29) comes through the power of the Holy Spirit, given to those who repent and receive Jesus as Savior and Lord (John 1:12; Mark 6:12; 2 Corinthians 5:5).
The only “Christ consciousness” the Bible teaches is found in Philippians 2:5–7, “Have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” First Corinthians 2:16 says that, as believers, we “have the mind of Christ.” But this is stated in the context of the spiritual man versus the natural man, who is unable to understand the things of the Spirit (verses 14–15). When we are born again (John 3:3), we receive the Holy Spirit as a gift (Luke 24:49; Acts 2:38). He enables us to comprehend spiritual things (1 Corinthians 2:14), serve Jesus from a heart of love (Mark 7:6; 1 Peter 4:11), and live righteously despite temptations (1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 John 3:8–10).
First John 4:1 gives us direction concerning philosophies such as Christ consciousness: “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” The consciousness that pleases Christ is for human beings to recognize that we are sinners (Romans 3:23), confess Jesus as Savior and Lord (Romans 10:8–9), and love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and our neighbor as ourselves (Luke 10:27).