The Cosmic Christ or the Universal Christ is a false concept of Christ being mystically in all things. It is supposedly based on Colossians 1:15–17, which states, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and Him all things hold together.” John 1:1–3 is also referenced in relation to this concept: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.”
Using these passages and others, advocates of the Cosmic Christ concept take a mystical view of the cosmos as showing the power, goodness, and concern of Christ for His creation. In light of its mystical and esoteric characteristics, a concise and clear definition of the Cosmic Christ or Universal Christ is hard to formulate. Generally, it seems the idea is that Christ is deeply concerned with the redemption and renewal of the cosmos and that this concern is equal to His concern for the glory of God and the salvation of mankind.
We can rightly assume that Jesus is very much involved in the sustaining and redemption of all of creation. Colossians 1:20 states that Christ will “reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” And Romans 8:22 says that “the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” Thus, we can agree that Christ is the Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer of the entire cosmos. Christ is deeply concerned with the entire creation.
However, it seems that advocates of the Cosmic Christ idea do not view the creation as being in bondage to brokenness and sin as a result of the fall (Genesis 3); rather, they believe that, in connecting with the Cosmic Christ, one will see the value and beauty in all things. Mankind itself is beautiful and wonderful because Christ is in all things. Embracing the Universal Christ concept leads to an over-emphasis on Christ sustaining and being in all things and to a de-emphasis of the brokenness of all things and the sin of mankind. Advocates of the Cosmic Christ see Christ as manifested in other religions, just in different terms and persons. Thus, the biblical gospel and the need for forgiveness are disregarded.
Another emphasis that comes from the Cosmic Christ concept is a deification of the cosmos. Rocks, trees, oceans, and all other parts of the cosmos are considered to be divine. In this way, the Cosmic Christ is close to pantheism, the idea that God is all things.
Despite being used as proof texts for the Cosmic Christ concept, Colossians 1 and John 1 are not emphasizing the oneness and beauty of all things in creation; rather, those passages teach the need of all things, starting with mankind, for redemption and renewal due to sin and brokenness. The idea that connecting with the Cosmic Christ will lead one to see the beauty and goodness inherent in all men runs counter to the teaching of the Bible (see Romans 3:10–18). In both John 1 and Colossians 1, the emphasis of Christ being the Creator and Sustainer of all things is to declare mankind’s accountability to Christ, not to lower Christ to the level of the cosmos. Jesus Christ is far above all things in the cosmos, as stated in Colossians 1:16–17.
In summary, the concept of the Cosmic or Universal Christ is a profound misunderstanding of the biblical view of Christ. It emphasizes the oneness of all things. The entire cosmos is good and beautiful. Sin and brokenness are not a problem. Christ is simply present and sustaining all things, but He is not the judge of all things and preeminent over all creation. Forgiveness is not needed. The man Jesus Christ is not the exclusive Savior, but Christ is present and working in all religions, just under different names.
The concept of the Cosmic Christ or Universal Christ is unbiblical and is in no sense compatible with a Christian worldview.