March 22, 2015

Christ Explained

[First Installment]

by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby

I am often accused of making myself equal with Christ. When I ask what Christ is, I am told that Jesus Christ is one and the same. If I ask if Jesus, the man, was God, the answer is No, but God manifest in the flesh. Then can flesh and blood be God? No. Then what was that being that had flesh and blood who was crucified eighteen-hundred years ago? Jesus Christ. Is Christ God? Yes. Is God flesh and blood? No. Will you give me some idea of what that being was called Jesus Christ? Still the answer is, God manifest in the flesh. What do you mean by God manifest in the flesh? Why, that God took upon himself flesh and blood. Then what was that something that took upon itself flesh and blood? God. Is God a substance? No. Then can that which is not matter take matter upon itself? You ask too many questions, I am told. Well, if you cannot answer my questions, must I believe what you say without any proof? No, but we have the Bible and that says that Christ is God. Well, suppose it does and I ask you to explain Christ and you give me this answer, God manifest in the flesh. When I ask to have this explained you say, Why it is Christ. In all this you see, I get as intelligent answer—only an opinion of some person who knows no more than you do about it. Some think that words are all that is necessary, so they quibble about a certain word like this—the name Christ is said to be a Greek word meaning anointed. But what is that, I say. Does anointed throw any more light upon the Christ? Anointed is the name of something and this is what I want to have explained. To call it by this or that name is no explanation of the thing named. To call it Christ or Anointed or Messiah or Prince of Peace is only hopping from one name to another. I want to know what made that man Jesus who lived eighteen–hundred years ago different from other men. His birth I care nothing about nor is it of any consequence to this world why he was called Jesus Christ. If he was different from other men as I have no doubt he was, where was that difference and how was the world benefited by that difference? These are the questions. Now if you or any other man can prove to me that Jesus was not a man of flesh and blood, you make him a liar, for he says that he was flesh and blood; so now we have a man of flesh and blood just like any other man.

The difference between him and other men was called Christ. Now what did that difference consist in? In his life. What had his life to do with healing the sick? Has your life anything to do with healing a palsied limb? No. Then your good life cannot cure disease? No. Did Jesus’ life cure? Yes. Then you must not claim to be a good disciple of Jesus, for if you claim to be a good man and we see no proof of your goodness on others, your goodness is of this world and not of Christ. You say he had a power. Now what do you mean by a power? We call steam a power and electricity a power but no one ever associates wisdom with them. Do you mean that Jesus’ power was like the above or was it in what he said and did? It was in what he said and did. Well, what did he do? Did he not cure the sick? Yes. Well, how did he do it? Was it his power? Yes. How did he get it? It came from God. Did you not just say that Jesus was God? Yes. Then how could God come from one place when you and I both believe that God fills all space? Well, there is a mystery in the Godhead or Trinity that man cannot find out nor understand. Was not the Bible written for our understanding? Yes, but the mystery cannot be found out, so we have no right to penetrate the ways of God. There is enough in the Bible to learn and make us happy without searching into the hidden mysteries of another world. If the Bible was not for man’s benefit, what was it for? If we are to take it for the word of God, who is to explain it? It explains itself. Do you understand it? In a measure. What do I understand by your answer? Can you give me any more light on the subject than what you have? No. Then I am as ignorant as I was when I began. Give me your opinion of Jesus Christ. Well, if you will listen, I will tell you what I know of Christ and what I believe of the man, Jesus.

I believe that there was a man called Jesus, the same that was called by some the son of David and by others the Son of God and by quite a number of names. I believe that he was a very good man from all accounts of him, but to take his own story, he was not the man represented in our days. This man always admitted a wisdom superior to himself. Now if there was a power superior to himself, what was this power? It must be God. Now is God inferior to himself, for this man Jesus prayed to this wisdom. How do you reconcile that prayer where he says: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” This was the earthly man. Then the earthly man could pray like all other men? Yes, like earthly men. The ignorance of the people attributed to Jesus what he as a man never asked for or desired. On the contrary, he tried to prove to the people that there was a higher intelligence than they had ever acknowledged, except as a power without knowledge. This wisdom that Jesus had put him above the errors of the age.

The ignorance of the people could not understand and in their zeal to worship what they could not understand they confounded the man Jesus with his power as they called it and named it Jesus Christ. So now they worship the shadow of a substance called Christ. Christ is the name of something that the people applied to Jesus and in their ignorance they called it God manifest in the Flesh. This explanation is as clear as any part of their belief.

Everyone knows that there cannot be a shadow without a substance to reflect it. So when you speak of a thing, it shadows forth a form that has matter or substance. Now this world is made of matter and when we speak of anything that has form, the thing spoken of casts a shadow in the mind and the senses are attached to the shadow. For instance, if you speak of a man, you make a man in your mind; this is the shadow of your belief. Your senses are attached to the shadow of your belief, so if the shadow embraces a very bad man, the shadow is the same, and the effect on the body corresponds to the effect that the shadow produces.

Now when Christians speak of Jesus, they shadow forth a being with form and without form which is three persons, and only one that fills all space and yet is condensed into one person or being with all love, all hatred, and all power, but who will not use it, who knows all things and dictates all our acts so that not a sparrow can fall to the ground without his knowledge. Then they make another shadow of a man that fills some six and a half feet in height and contains all the power and wisdom of the above. This man they shadow in the mind as standing in one place calling persons to believe and they shall be saved. When asked, Saved from what? The answer is: From their sins. When I ask, What is sin? Everything wrong. If I ask if there is anything wrong of itself, I get no answer. So I come to this conclusion: that wrong is in ourselves and not in God and to act wrong is to do something that we have a feeling is not right. So if you agree that to injure another is wrong, you shadow forth your belief and the punishment attached to it, and your punishment is just according to your belief.

Now the truth is we believe in two powers: one wisdom called God, and the other, the devil. These were the names of these two powers in the days of Jesus. He acknowledged these two powers and tried to explain them. The true power was called Christ or God or by some other name. These powers have always been a mystery to the world. For when they hear the same person speaking through the same organs, it is very hard to believe and give the credit to another power. So when the people heard the man Jesus speak of himself and then of what he called God, it was a mystery to them. Therefore they in their ignorance put God in the man Jesus and called him Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Now if the people had understood Jesus they never would have associated the Christ with him, any more than they would the science of mathematics with a man. Jesus was a man of flesh and blood as you or I, and he never intimated that he was anything more but always gave to Science or God the credit of all the impressions which he felt and which the natural man could not. Now this to you is a mystery, that one person can be two. But when you understand what the two means it will be plain enough to see what Jesus was trying to make the people understand. The people had no idea of Science, but thought that everything that happened which they could not account for was a mystery. So when they saw a phenomenon, they attached it to some invisible power. Their superstition put every phenomenon in some mysterious being. They were looking for some power to be developed that would put them in possession of some wisdom from heaven. So all that Jesus could say was of no force. The people would make him more than he wanted them to.

Jesus wanted to teach them a science that would make them better and happier but their superstition would not permit his explanation. They would rather believe in a power than learn a science. So they put false constructions on his acts and you cannot get Jesus’ explanation of himself nor of this power called Christ. Now there must be some way to get at the meaning of this power or Christ. If we can settle down on a true explanation of that, then we have the same rock that Jesus had. He had the same trouble in his days. All the people admitted a power, even the Scribes and Pharisees, but they thought it was like the others that had appeared so they attributed it to the devil, for the belief in the power of the devil was common. Thus they classed Jesus among the sorcerers of his day, and had he been willing to be classed with them, he would not have met with the opposition that he did. But to explain what was never thought could be explained brought him in contact with all the learned men of his time. And as they were well, it was very hard to explain to them the feelings of the sick. Therefore Jesus said, “Those that are well need no physician,” and as the standard of the well is applied to the sick, the sick had to be judged by the well. Thus you see the sick have no voice in correcting the evils that the well bind upon them.

Jesus could not sympathize with the well for they opposed him because he exposed their craft by which they held the sick in bondage. Now as every substance throws forth a shadow, the well throw forth one. This to the world is not frightful and does not produce any fear. Now all shadows that affect a person arise from a belief based on error and not wisdom, for true wisdom casts no shadow, neither does entire ignorance. Shadows come from error, so the fool knows no fear. And if a person was entirely wise he would know no error, for all would be light. So the light of God or Science is in the darkness or ignorance, but ignorance knows it not. Error sees the shadow of the light in the darkness of its mind and takes the shadow for the substance. Not knowing that it is a shadow, it reasons about the shadow as one man reasons with another not knowing that he is talking to himself but thinking that he is talking to some invisible being. So he is a man beside himself. All this is the effect of the natural man. In all this I embrace the religious man, the superstitious man, the infidel, the atheist and the deist. All the above are standing, reasoning about the shadow of their own belief, some denying it in toto, others believing it in full, but all affected by their own belief. Here on this platform stands all classes looking for the Messiah or Wisdom to explain the mystery of their belief. Yet the world is just as ignorant of the phenomena as though they all settled down on one belief, for there is no knowledge of science in their belief.

I will make a comparison to show this. Suppose Mr. A is ignorant of shadows and by chance sees himself on the wall by a lamp that he holds in his hand. The lamp makes the shadow. The error puts the fear of his belief in the shadow, so he calls on Mr. B, the skeptic, to explain the phenomenon. As darkness or ignorance is necessary to produce a phenomenon, they enter a room or state of mind about as dark as a room that cannot produce a shadow. So while waiting for the spirits, they kindle up a fire or error like a light. So the medium holds the lamp lit up and a shadow appears on the wall. The skeptic starts, his faith is shaken in ignorance, for wisdom he never had. Mr. A says, “Do you see that?” “Yes but it is not a spirit.” “Then what is it?” “Oh, your imagination.” “Don't you see it?” “Yes, I see something but I cannot make out what it is, but this I know, it is not a spirit.” “If it is not a spirit, what is it?” “Oh, you get nervous and imagine anything.” “Well, take this lamp and go up to it yourself.” Mr. B takes the lamp and approaches the shadow and it is gone, so he believes.

[To be concluded next week.]

Quotation by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby


Daily Quotation of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby for Sunday, March 22, 2015

Love is a substance like food that comes from heaven to feed the soul. Error is matter and contains reason and all the faculties. Love is the true answer to our desire; in our desire is our hope, and when we get that which we hope for, it contains nothing but true knowledge or love—no sorrow, nor pain, nor grief, nor shame, nor fear.” ~Phineas Parkhurst Quimby

Article: Love

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Editor’s Corner

We are continuing our exploration of Phineas Quimby’s Christology. What was his interpretation of the work and person of Jesus Christ in his own words?

Today’s featured article, Christ Explained, begins on page 161 of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond. This composition is rather lengthy, so I have broken it into two installments. The conclusion will appear in next week’s newsletter.

In Wisdom, Love, and Light,
Ron Hughes

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