Printer-friendly version

The Jesus of the Church Universal and Triumphant

The Jesus of the Church Universal and Triumphant

Is He the Jesus of History and the Bible?
By:
 

The Church Universal and Triumphant, headed by Elizabeth Clare Prophet espouses a world view that fits under the umbrella term "New Age." The New Age Movement (NAM) is usually characterized as a broad cultural trend that is impacting Western society with non-Christian (i.e., non-Biblical) philosophic and religious ideas of primarily Eastern origin.1 However, it is notable that this movement has not ignored the central figure of the Christian Faith. Indeed, Jesus Christ is given a prominent place — at least symbolically — in the messages of a number of major New Age leaders and authors, and some of these sources explicitly claim to be contemporary supernatural revelations from Jesus.2

"CUT fails in its attempts to establish a genuine historical link between its claimed contemporary Jesus revelations and the historical Jesus."

Given the dominant role of Christianity in shaping Western civilization, it is not surprising that some New Age leaders have found it desirable to establish a link between Jesus and their religious messages. However, this requires a radical departure from the traditional understanding of Jesus' teaching; such Old Testament concepts as monotheism and a Creator/creature distinction, usually thought of as fundamental to Jesus' first century, Jewish context, are replaced with pantheism and a monistic view of reality, and in some cases it is purported that Jesus taught a secret gnosis not recorded in the New Testament.

However, Jesus the religious symbol was also an historical person, whose life and message can be documented with some degree of accuracy from historical records (including, but not limited to the New Testament documents) surviving from antiquity. This raises important questions regarding the nature of the various New Age teachings attributed to Jesus, and the adequacy of the grounds adduced for making him a source of these ideas.

Are these questions worthy of serious investigation? Two factors indicate that they are: (1) The significant impact on our society of the NAM, and, specifically, the New Age Jesus revelations,3 and (2) the essentially ahistorical and often occultic nature of the New Age Jesus revelations, which conflict with the uniquely historical nature of biblical faith, and thus seriously confuse the message of Jesus and the early Christian community.4

Of the several prominent New Age religious groups and authors who explicitly claim a link between their message and Jesus, the Church Universal and Triumphant (hereafter, referred to as CUT) has probably most fully articulated a rationale for a New Age reinterpretation of the person and message of Jesus. Thus, this paper will examine CUT's views as a representative New Age interpretation of the historical Jesus. The thesis of the paper is that CUT fails in its attempts to establish a genuine historical link between its claimed contemporary Jesus revelations and the historical Jesus.

The paper begins with a survey of CUT's historical background and beliefs in order to provide a context for understanding its unusual ideas about Jesus. This is followed by an analysis of CUT's view of Jesus in four categories: (1) its sources of information about Jesus, and its understanding of (2) Jesus' person, (3) message, and (4) death. Next, a critique is provided with special attention to the grounds adduced for connecting CUT's message to the historical Jesus. And finally, conclusions are offered regarding CUT's claims in the light of this critique.

11
Survey of CUT's Historical Origins

Students of American religion trace CUT's genesis back to two currents of nineteenth century occultism, the "Psychic/New Age" tradition, especially, Theosophy, and New Thought.5 Theosophy was the more important of these two influences.

Theosophy itself developed out of nineteenth century Spiritualism and emerged as a distinct movement with the organization of the Theosophical Society in 1875. Spiritualism had sought to establish empirically and apart from organized religion (i.e., historic Christianity), its basic premise of the immortality of the soul. Its initial intellectual impetus was the ideas of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772). However, Spiritualism failed to provide an adequate intellectual framework to keep pace with the growing influence of scientific rationalism, especially Darwin's theory of evolution, and by the 1870's its attraction was waning. Theosophy was the response of an intellectual elite within the Spiritualist movement, who stepped forward to provide such an intellectual framework.10

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891), a Russian emigre, was the dominant personality and intellectual force in the transformation of Spiritualism into Theosophy. When she began attending the seances of a Vermont Spiritualist group from which the Theosophical Society soon emerged, the manifestations quickly changed from the provincial spirits of deceased relatives of participants, to such exotic cosmopolitan figures as a Kurdish warrior and a turbaned Hindu.6 Blavatsky, or H.P.B. as she preferred to be known, also replaced the idea of contact with the disembodied spirits of deceased humans with communion with a mysterious ancient Brotherhood of Adepts — individuals who had evolved supernatural powers through initiation into gnostic secrets traced back to ancient civilizations, especially Egypt. In her influential work Isis Unveiled, she developed an impressive, if eclectic case for a universal occult gnosis known to a brotherhood of initiates across all ages and civilizations. Isis conceived man as a downward emanation from the Universal Divine Spirit into matter; its soteriology was based on man's evolution back up to a higher spiritual level through gnosis, aided by contact with this secret brotherhood of adepts, who came to be designated as Ascended Masters or Mahatmas.7

Blavatsky moved to India in 1879 and her thinking soon reflected the integration of Hindu and Buddhist ideas with Western occultism that is the legacy of Theosophy.8 The soul's evolution was now conceived to take place through an upward spiral of reincarnation in multiple lifetimes; karma, the universal law of spiritual cause and effect, was the regulating principle. The Ascended Master doctrine was accordingly developed to represent a brotherhood of highly evolved individuals who had achieved superhuman status and powers through gnostic initiation over this cycle of many reincarnations. In Theosophy, great religious figures of the Bible and history, including the occult traditions, such as Melchizedek, Moses, Buddha, Zoroaster, Pythagoras, Jesus, and Comte de Saint Germain are seen as Ascended Masters. They have sometimes appeared on earth as incarnate world teachers or to teach occult wisdom, and these historical appearances are construed in the context of astrological dispensations. All these great teachers have brought one universal message; if they seem to disagree it's because their teachings were adapted to the historical and cultural contexts in which they appeared, or because their true doctrines have been corrupted. (In CUT's belief system Jesus is explicitly identified as one of these Ascended Masters; he is often referred to as the Piscean Master.) Blavatsky's occult synthesis of Eastern and Western ideas was expressed in her magnum opus, The Secret Doctrine (1888), the Bible of the Theosophical movement whose influence in occult circles has never been equaled.

A lesser but important contribution to CUT's belief system came from another nineteenth century American occult movement, New Thought. A key figure in the development of New Thought was psychic healer Phineas P. Quimby (1802-1866). Quimby was influenced by the practice of mesmeric healing developed by Austrian physician Franz Anton Mesmer (1733?-1815). Mesmer had discovered that by inducing a trance-like hypnotic state in his patients, some experienced the healing of physical symptoms. Quimby replaced Mesmer's theory that the healing was produced by a mysterious energy called "animal magnetism," with the idea that the mind had innate powers that could be tapped through hypnosis.9 Although he established no organization, Quimby's emphasis on the powers of the mind directly influenced Mary Baker Eddy and Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, who founded Christian Science (1879) and the Unity School of Christianity (1895), respectively. Within this New Thought tradition specific practices developed whereby the creative powers of the mind were used purportedly to both effect good and forestall evil. "Recognizing the mind as the junction of physical and spiritual reality, Quimby's followers used affirmations to realize in the physical realm what was held to be true in the mind."11 This is the genesis of the central CUT practice of "decreeing," verbal or mental repetition of affirmations or mantras to counter evil influences.

In the first half of the twentieth century several groups took the basic Theosophical framework and shaped it into a specifically religious identity. One of the most prominent was the I AM Ascended Master movement begun by Guy W. Ballard (1878-1939). Ballard was familiar with Theosophical literature and its doctrine of Ascended Masters.12 In 1930 he made a trip to northern California where there were rumors of a mystic brotherhood of masters on the slopes of Mount Shasta. Ballard claimed to have had an encounter with Saint Germain, an eighteenth century European occult figure (Comte de Saint Germain), while hiking on the mountain.13 From this experience Ballard developed the message that, subsequent to his eighteenth century embodiment, Comte de Saint Germain had become an Ascended Master and had appeared on earth to initiate the "Seventh Golden Age of the eternal I AM Perfection on earth;" Ballard, his wife, and son Donald had been designated as the only accredited messengers of Saint Germain.14 The I AM Presence, which becomes a central concept of CUT's anthropology, is the individualized presence of divine life which emanates from the (apparently) impersonal Divine monad or "Central Sun."15 (The term "I AM" as used by Ballard and CUT has clearly been adapted from the Old Testament personal self-description of God (Exodus 3:14) and is an example of their frequent use of biblical terminology with meanings alien to the biblical context.) Ballard also added an emphasis on civic virtues and national pride. Through the 1930s this domesticated blend of Theosophy and civil religion gained a vastly larger public audience than Theosophical ideas had ever achieved.16 At one point Ballard was filling a 7,000 seat Los Angeles auditorium for his lectures.17

With Guy Ballard's death in 1939 the I AM Presence Ascended Master movement went through several splits. A pattern discernible in these splinter groups is that each new leader developed unique claims to represent the hierarchy of Ascended Masters. What today is known as CUT was organized by Mark L. Prophet in 1958 as the Summit Lighthouse and was a split from Ballard's movement. "Prophet claimed a divinely appointed mission corresponding to a new era of Ascended Master truth."18 He staked out his claim to leadership by establishing El Morya the apex of the hierarchy of Ascended Masters, with himself as the exclusive oracle of El Moryas revelations.19 When he died in 1973 his wife Elizabeth assumed full control of the organization which is now known as the Church Universal and Triumphant.

Analysis of CUT's View of Jesus

Sources of Information About Jesus. Current CUT leader Elizabeth Prophet and her late husband, Mark, have authored numerous books. However, two works The Lost Years of Jesus (1984) and The Lost Teachings of Jesus (1986, 4 vols.)20 include all CUT's major teachings about Jesus. Because they appear to be more targeted to the public at large than other CUT publications and explicitly aim to make a case for linking New Age teaching to the historical Jesus, the analysis in this paper is confined primarily to these works.

In these books, the Prophets suggest four sources of information about Jesus: (1) the Bible, (2) select early Christian and Gnostic Christian writings, (3) Legendary accounts of Jesus journeying to India, and (4) Ascended Master revelations.21 In a real sense items (2) and (3) appear to be largely a justification for the fourth, rather than independent sources of substantive information about Jesus. However, this point will be evaluated in the next section of this paper.

The Prophets' books recognize the Bible as an important source of information about Jesus. Their four volume Lost Teachings includes no less than 756 Old Testament and 2,182 New Testament citations.22 However, for CUT the Bible is by no means either a final or infallible source of information about Jesus. To the contrary, it is missing the most important parts of Jesus' teaching (the esoteric, in contrast to the exoteric):

... the Bible actually omits some of the most precious facts concerning the life and teaching of Jesus Christ and the patriarchs and the prophets as well, pivotal Truths necessary to the soul's advancement ...23

A second source of information about Jesus is select passages in early Christian writers, especially Origen, as well as some of the early Gnostic Christian literature, especially the Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Philip, the so-called Secret Gospel of Mark, and Pistis Sophia. From Origen, for instance, we supposedly find confirmation that doctrines such as reincarnation and karma were taught by Jesus,24 while Gnostic writings are said to support the idea that Jesus taught a secret doctrine, remained on earth for a number of years after his resurrection, and that he did not claim a unique relationship to God.25

A third source of information is legendary accounts of Jesus' travels to India and various points in the Far East during his young manhood (the so-called "lost years" or "silent years" between the ages of 12 and 30). In 1894 Russian journalist Nicolas Notovitch published an account of his claimed discovery of ancient records chronicling Jesus' travels to India and Tibet where he purportedly studied the Hindu and Buddhist scriptures; Notovitch's book (English translation, The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ) contains a translation of the ancient text he claimed to have seen, called "The Life of Saint Issa: the Best of the Sons of Men"; it includes specific teachings attributed to Jesus. Although no one claims to have a manuscript copy of this Tibetan Jesus story, in the twentieth century at least three people have traveled to Tibet and claimed in separate published accounts to have verified Notovitch's story; one of these accounts contains a second translation of the ancient Issa story. The two claimed translations inform us that Jesus (Issa) left Israel at age 13 and traveled to India with the conscious intention of studying the teachings of Buddha. He taught a religious universalism and on returning to Israel was killed not at the instigation of the Jews, but of the Romans, who viewed him as politically subversive.26 Needless to say, these claims will be scrutinized in the next section of this paper.

The fourth and most important source of information about Jesus for CUT is contemporary Ascended Master revelations. The Prophet's books are filled with their claims of personal revelations and conversations with the Ascended Master Jesus, for instance:

I remember one time in a talk I had with Jesus, we were discussing this statement: No man can see God and live. I said, Jesus, this is a statement that seems to close the door — that if a man gets enough spiritual development where he sees God, then he dies. Jesus said, That is not the complete statement. He said, Shall I give it to you? I said, Please do. And he went into the akashic records and he brought out from them something that tingled my spine — and I think it'll tingle yours. He said, No man can see God and live as man.27

CUT teaching rectifies many supposed errors and omissions in the Bible on the basis of such claimed contemporary revelations.

CUT Teaching on Jesus' Person. In light of the extreme divergence of CUT's teachings from orthodox Christianity, it is helpful in answering questions about their beliefs on a given point to begin by noting what they do not believe. Thus, in asking, Who is Jesus Christ?, the first answer is that, negatively, he is not the unique Son of God. Indeed, the orthodox doctrine on Jesus' person is explicitly and repeatedly repudiated:

Churches have changed it all around. They think of Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God without understanding that this is the matrix from which we were all made. Christ is the Universal Reality from which we all sprang.28

The Christ Self is the expression of the absolute love of God for all his children . . . . Otherwise, God would have had a favorite son, Jesus, and all the rest of us would have been defrauded of our sovereign right to his kingdom.29

Because he is not the unique Son of God, Jesus should not be an object of worship:

There's nothing wrong with Jesus. Don't get me wrong. He's the greatest Master I've ever met, but he expects all of us to fulfill the same role .... we're not going to become living Christs by just worshipping Jesus ...30

According to CUT teaching, it is important to understand that the name Jesus Christ, (or, as they prefer, Christ Jesus) does not designate a person in whom two natures — one Divine and one human — have been brought into permanent union: "We love Jesus with all our hearts [but] . . . we know that there is a difference between Jesus the man and Jesus the Christ" (emphasis in the original).31

Instead, Jesus the Christ is a man whose human nature was transformed to Godhood; Jesus realized his True Self, the individualized I AM Presence, a Light-emanation from the Central Sun.32 This union was achieved through self-purification and the application of secret gnosis over numerous lifetimes (one of his previous embodiments was as King David)33 and is the potential of every individual:

And that attainment on earth . . . had been Jesus' goal during a series of embodiments in which he exercised various aspects of the Law of initiatic Christhood.34

Jesus is thus the great Exemplar. He shows us how through self-mastery and gnostic initiation into the science of Being that we too can achieve personal Godhood and exercise the superhuman psychic healing powers that Jesus displayed ("You can be a Master like Jesus or El Morya or Saint Germain, every one of you . . .").35 Jesus' realization of Christhood is not unique as to the transformation of his nature. However, it could be considered unique in the office he was chosen to fill for a particular astrological dispensation; he served as a world teacher, to "embody the Christ on earth as the avatar, the exemplar for all to follow for the two-thousand-year Piscean cycle."36

CUT Teaching on Jesus' Message. When the question is posed, What was the message of Jesus according to CUT?, again, it is helpful to begin by describing what they do not believe. CUT rejects the orthodox Christian understanding that Jesus was (1) the unique revealer of God, (2) that he taught that man's problem is the condition of his heart, which is sinful, (3) that man is thus separated from God by a moral gulf of sin, and (4) that Jesus presented himself as man's Savior, who would rectify man's sin problem by giving himself as a ransom. Instead, CUT begins with the idea that in reality Jesus had two messages, one general and public (exoteric) and the other secret and for initiates only (esoteric).37 Jesus' public message was that each individual has a holy Christ self within; the Kingdom of God is not external, but is within each individual (Lk. 17:21). Jesus' teaching in Matthew 5:14 that his disciples were to be the light of the world is properly understood to teach this truth: "Ye are the Light of the world. A city [citadel of Christ consciousness] that is set on a hill [of attainment] cannot be hid" (bracketed words in the original).38

By implication, in the story of healing of the man born blind in John 9:1ff Jesus is said to have taught the truths of reincarnation and karma;39 and karma was part of the exoteric teaching of his initiate and apostle, Paul, who expressed this spiritual law in (Gal. 6:7b — "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap").40 In a real sense, though, it was the model of Jesus' life that constituted his public message; the fact that he had realized his True Self, his Godhood, and lived in this light: "Jesus came to teach us by his example that every child of God has a Holy Christ self."41

Privately, Jesus taught a specific occult gnosis and techniques for realization of personal Godhood, according to CUT. Most individuals are not spiritually attuned to receive this teaching; thus Jesus taught in parables to preserve the sanctity of this knowledge for an inner circle of initiates:

And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it. But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples [Mk. 4:33-34].42

This gnosis is hinted at in the New Testament but not contained there. It can be described as a "science of Being."43 The apostle Paul is cited as an example of one who was initiated by the post-resurrection Christ Jesus.

CUT Teaching on Jesus' Death. Does Jesus' death have a special significance for reconciling sinful people to God? CUT teaching strongly opposes this basic doctrine of orthodoxy soteriology: "God does not require propitiation through human sacrifice, that one soul passing through the crucifixion may bear for another the burden that is solely his own."44

Such a view of Jesus' death is degrading and ridiculous, according to CUT:

They [orthodox Christians] have deluded us into their idolatrous dogma of the exclusivity of Jesus in his mission that [sic] they get us to weep and wail over Jesus' crucifixion ...45

The real meaning of Jesus' death was rather an occult crucifixion to transmute world karma. Jesus as the Christ is said to have "[shed] his essential Light for the transmutation of the sins of the whole world."46 Thus it was not the shedding of Jesus' physical life blood, but of his Christ-glory that had a spiritual significance:

... because his Light Body, the universal Corpus Christi, was fragmented — like the infinite drops of the infinite ocean — so that you could experience the Person of Christ in your very own being.47

As with Jesus Christ's Person, His death is given a qualified uniqueness for those who live in the Piscean dispensation. However, Jesus' death is still at best an aid to salvation, not an essential remedy.

Critique of CUT's Connections to the Historical Jesus

The New Testament and Early Christian Literature Do Not Support CUT's Assertion That Jesus Taught a Secret Gnosis. The Prophets and CUT argue that the books of the canonical New Testament are a flawed and incomplete record of the life and teaching of Jesus. Specifically, they assert that Jesus taught a secret doctrine which is missing from the canonical New Testament either by accident or intentional supression. However, they claim that this esoteric gnosis can be reconstructed from other available sources, including early Gnostic Christian literature, legendary material from Tibet, and Ascended Master revelations. Nor is this simply superfluous information to satisfy curiosity or clear up minor confusion. Rather it is characterized as "vitally important," and matters that will "edify greatly;"48 in other words, the heart of Jesus' message.

CUT builds its case for a missing body of secret teaching on two kinds of evidence: (1) supposed internal indications in the New Testament records that Jesus had a body of secret teaching, and (2) a variety of external evidences which could be interpreted as supporting the idea of secret doctrines which Jesus shared with an inner circle of followers.The Prophets find a number of details in the New Testament which they believe point to the conclusion that Jesus taught a secret doctrine. They note that the Gospels mention many pre-Easter teaching episodes for which none or only a few of Jesus' words are recorded. Matthew 9:35 is representative:

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness (NIV here, and where not citing from CUT books).49

Because the Gospel writers do not always record the actual words of Jesus, the Prophets and CUT imply that there are important teachings missing. But surely this is essentially frivolous speculation. First, because it is an argument from silence. But beyond that, because there are many passages which record sustained portions of Jesus' teaching on the "good news of the kingdom" and many other other subjects (e.g., Mattew 5-7; 13; 15:1-20; 16-20:17; 21:23-25:46; Mark 4:1-33; 7:1-23; 8:31-38; 9:36-10:52; 12:1-13:37; Luke 6:17-49; 8:1-18; 9:57-10:37; 11:1-18:34; 19:11-27; 20:1-21:37; John 3:1-12; 5:16-47; 6:26-59; 7:14-43; 8:12-59; 10:1-41; 13:7-20; 14:1-17:26). It is obvious that the Gospel writers cannot tell us everything Jesus said and did on every occasion (Jn. 20:30,31); it is unreasonable to ask them to do so. But lacking specific grounds for suspicion, it is reasonable to assume that they have given us a representative sampling of at least the most important teachings and meaningful events.50 It surely would require overwhelming evidence to reasonably reach the conclusion that the very heart of Jesus' message was lost or suppressed by the early Christian community, and such evidence is not forthcoming in the Prophets' books.

CUT also points out that the New Testament records relate no details of Jesus' young manhood — the so-called "silent years" between the ages of twelve and thirty.51 The Prophets propose a theory popular in the New Age movement that Jesus spent these years in India and Tibet where he studied Hindu and Buddhist scriptures and became steeped in the practices of Eastern mysticism.52 They see this as supplying the source of Jesus' supposed esoteric teaching, and they find biblical support for this view in Matt. 24:27:

We are reminded of his [Jesus'] own timeless prophecy of his return to Palestine after his sojourn in India and Tibet: 'As the lightening cometh out of the East and shineth even unto the West, so shall also the coming of the son of man be.'53

This interpretation of Jesus' words is open to two criticisms: (1) there is a complete absence of corroborating evidence anywhere in the New Testament or early extra-biblical sources for Jesus making such a journey (and adapting an Eastern, pantheistic view of God), and (2) the context of Jesus' statement which occurs in the middle of a lengthy eschatological passage (Matt. 27:1-51) and clearly demands a reference to a future coming of Jesus "in the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory" (v. 30). And quite apart from the rejection of their interpretation of Matt. 24:27, the implication of CUT's argument regarding the "lost years" is that we are seriously disadvantaged in trying to understand Jesus' life and message by this supposed omission. However, this is simply another argument from silence and can support little weight. Clearly, we are at the mercy of those who write historical records for our knowledge of any historical subject, including that of Jesus. However, we have no reason to suspect that either by design or accident such a momentous event as Jesus spending seventeen years in the Far East studying Hindu and Buddhist scriptures and then returning to his monotheistic Jewish kinsmen with a message of religious pantheism has been excluded from the New Testament. Edgar J. Goodspeed observed that one could well spend ten years immersed in the study of the Hebrew Bible without acquiring a knowledge of it as profound as Jesus exhibited. If Jesus is thought to have spent the entire period from age thirteen to twenty-nine studying the Eastern scriptures, this does not allow for his demonstrated mastery of the Old Testament.54 The nearly exclusive emphasis on Jesus' public ministry in the New Testament canonical writings, and the heavily disproportionate emphasis on the events of the week of his crucifixion, is evidently part of their estimation of the meaning of his life. Meanwhile, CUT provides no convincing grounds for concluding that missing details are crucial to understanding Jesus' message, or more specifically, that missing information would support the radical interpretation of Jesus' message which they propose.

The Prophets also cite as New Testament internal evidence several passages in the Synoptic Gospels and the epistles of Paul which they think indicate that Jesus and Paul had secret doctrines which they shared with only an inner circle of initiates. They cite Mark 4:33,34 and 1 Corinthians 2:6-9 as examples.55 The Mark passage says that,

With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.

While superficially this passage could be understood to say that Jesus reserved secret doctrines for an inner circle, a much better understanding lies readily at hand. A parallel Synoptic passage, Luke 8:1-15, shows clearly that the content of these supposed secret teaching sessions is fully disclosed in the canonical gospels and has nothing whatever to do with the an occult gnosis as the Prophets propose. After telling the parable of the sower (Luke 8:1-8/Mark 4:1-8), Jesus' disciples remain behind to ask for an explanation:

His disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom os God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables so that, "though seeing, they may not see; though hearing they may not understand." This is the meaning of the parable . . .(Luke 8:9ff)

Jesus' disciples were no more intellectually or spiritually adept at discerning the meaning of the parable than others in the crowd to whom it was delivered. They were different only in having a greater spiritual hunger, which prompted them to remain behind to request an explanation. Nor did anything (except the lack of spiritual hunger) apparently prevent others in the crowd from also staying to seek Jesus' explanation. And most importantly, Jesus' explanation is recorded in Luke 8:9-15 for all to read and it is anything but an occult gnosis.

Finally, the Prophets ignore Jesus' explicit denial, recorded in John 18:20, that he taught any secret doctrines. During the interrogation by the Sanhedrin which preceded his trial before Pilate, Jesus stated:

'I have spoken openly to the world,' Jesus replied. 'I always taught in synogogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.'

The theory that Jesus taught a secret doctrine has already been raised and answered definitively in the negative, from Jesus' own mouth, in the books of the New Testament canon.

Likewise, in 1 Corinthians 2:6-9 Paul indeed mentions a "message of wisdom " which he "speaks among the mature" (teleios, v. 6). However, a few verses latter he shows that maturity is a moral, not an intellectual description, and the contrast is carnal babes in Christ who exhibit petty jealousy and quarreling (1 Corinthians 3:1ff.). As with Jesus' supposed secret gnosis, Paul's mysteries are fully spelled out in his epistles:

Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel, and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him (Romans 16:25,26).

Paul's "mystery" is not some body of occult knowledge to be reserved for an elite, but the grace of God in Christ now revealed in greater fulness; it is intended for the widest possible dissemination and is thus fully elaborated in his epistles for all to read (cf. also Ephesians 3:4-6; 1 Timothy 3:16). The premise of lost teaching is misguided and unnecessary since the New Testament records themselves provide quite reasonable explanations for the passages cited by CUT.

CUT's case for supplementing the New Testament records also points to certain external evidences that Jesus taught a secret gnosis that has been lost. The Prophets cite several passages in the Church fathers which they think suggest that the resurrected Jesus continued to appear to his disciples for perhaps as much as twenty years. However, upon careful examination it is clear that they have simply misconstrued the passages in question. They claim to find in the Church father Irenaeus, for example, evidence for a tradition of a ten to twenty year period of post-resurrection appearances, needed to "make room for the imparting of secret instruction."56 In the passage cited (Against Heresies, 2.22.5) Irenaeus, writing in the late second century, is refuting Gnostic Christians who apparently reject the reality of Jesus' physical body and so minimize the duration of his earthly ministry. In his zeal to refute what he regards as dangerous Docetic teaching, Irenaeus constructs the argument that Jesus went through all the stages of life — childhood, manhood, and old age — so that he could fully represent all men. He seizes on the words of the Jews in John 8:53ff where Jesus links himself to Abraham's day, and the Jews respond, "you are not yet fifty years old" (v. 57). Irenaeus argues that Jesus' ministry, which began when he was about thirty (Luke 3:23), must have lasted longer than one year, as the Gnostics are apparently saying, since otherwise the Jews would not have made such a statement; they would not make an estimate of his age so wide of the mark. Irenaeus' line of reasoning is admittedly ill-founded. However, it is plain that his intention is not to argue for a lengthy post-resurrection ministry, as the Prophets suggest. A further external evidence suggested by the Prophets is a statement attributed to Clement of Alexandria by Eusebius, which they suggest shows that Jesus entrusted to an inner circle of disciples — James, John, and Peter — secret knowledge to be dispensed to initiates. The Prophets cite a translation of the passage by Williamson that reads: "James the Righteous, John, and Peter were entrusted by the Lord after his resurrection with the higher knowledge." (Church History, 2.2.14).57

However, McGiffert's translation of the passage omits the adjective "higher," and reading a fuller context sheds a good deal of light on the supposed mystery: "The Lord after his resurrection imparted knowledge to James the Just and to John and Peter, and they imparted it to the rest of the apostles, and the rest of the apostles to the seventy ..."58

Again, the CUT case produces a problem where a reasonable explanation lies close at hand. The supposed "secret knowledge" turns out to be in reality the common gospel that was preached to all.

The Prophets also cite Elaine Pagel's thesis in her book The Gnostic Gospels, that the canonization process was an arbitrary one that unfairly excluded Gnostic Christian records of Jesus' life because the political implications of their theology were an unacceptable challenge to apostolic authority.59 According to CUT, the Gnostic Christian gospels provide evidence that Jesus did not claim a unique relationship to God, but came to show how all men can achieve Godhood:

The Gnostic Gospel of Philip describes the follower of Jesus who walks fully in his footsteps as no longer a Christian but a Christ. In the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, Jesus says, "I am not your Master . . . . He who will drink from my mouth will become as I am: I myself shall become he."60

However, it is clear CUT's desire to use Pagel's views as an argument for a radical reinterpretation of the historical Jesus goes well beyond what the consensus of opinion among New Testament scholars will allow. A recent anthology by a group of Nag Hammadi scholars who are among the most committed to the value of the earlier Gnostic Christian literature, suggests that they do not see works such as the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Philip as challenging the basic understanding of Jesus' person presented in the canonical New Testament. The late James M. Robinson writes, for instance:

In the strictly positivistic sense, the discovery (1945) and publication (1956-77) of the Nag Hammadi Codices have not increased or altered appreciably our information about, or understanding of, the historical Jesus.61

In the same publication Helmut Koester of Harvard, one of the most ardent defenders of the early origin and importance of the Gospel of Thomas, is clearly not prepared to reinterpret the meaning and message of Jesus based on the Gnostic literature discovered at Nag Hammadi. He concludes of the few logia in the Gospel of Thomas which he thinks may be genuine extra-canonical words of Jesus: "... these few probably authentic extra-canonical sayings of Jesus add little to our understanding of the preaching of Jesus."62

Other scholars take a much dimmer view of the idea that the Nag Hammadi literature in any way supplants the value of the canonical New Testament for our understanding of Jesus. Bruce M. Metzger, for instance, writes:

... [concerning the books] in the Nag Hammadi library, one can say with even greater assurance than before that no books or collection of books from the ancient Church may be compared with the New Testament in importance for Christian history and doctrine. The knowledge that our New Testament contains the best sources for the history of Jesus is the most valuable knowledge that can be obtained from the study of the early history of the canon.63

On the more general point that the early Church used no objective criteria in establishing the New Testament canon Metzger is very direct. He says that the judgment of scholars such as Pagels and others who describe the process by which Gnostic works were excluded from the canon as "arbitrary," has a, "philosophical rather than historical basis."64 The Prophets characterize the process of fixing the canon of the New Testament as the highly politicized work of the post-Constantinian Church and they claim that the earliest list of New Testament canonical books dates to A.D. 367.65 However, this date is highly misleading because it represents only the official, counciliar process, whereas the epistles of Paul and the four Gospels were widely recognized as inspired, apostolic Scripture already in the second century. Robert M. Grant notes of the Synoptic Gospels in The Cambridge History of the Bible that they, "were undoubtedly widely accepted in the second century as the rival gospels (According to the Hebrews, According to the Egyptians, According to Thomas, etc.) were not."66

Thus, a judgement favoring the historical and spiritual value of our New Testament Gospels in preserving the message of Jesus over against Gnostic Christian works such as the Gospel of Thomas, had essentially already been rendered by Christians living in the shadow of the apostolic age. Concerning this judgment of the early Church in preferring as authentic the books making up the canon of the New Testament and excluding or ignoring the various Gnostic Christian works to which CUT wishes to appeal, Metzger concludes:

There are, in fact, no historical data that prevent one from acquiescing in the conviction held by the Church Universal that, despite the very human factors (the confusio hominum) in the production, preservation, and collection of the books of the New Testament, the whole process can also be rightly characterized as the result of divine overruling in the providentia Dei.67

It must be concluded that the Prophets fail to establish solid grounds from the New Testament or early Christian literature for their theory that Jesus taught a secret gnosis not present in the New Testament.

The Legendary Accounts and Contemporary Revelations Are Not Credible. Though there appear to be no adequate historical grounds in the early Christian literature to suggest a missing body of secret knowledge, CUT does insist that Jesus taught such gnostic secrets. They offer two sources for recovering this supposed lost knowledge: (1) legendary accounts from Tibet which purport that Jesus traveled to India and Tibet as a young man, where he studied the Hindu and Buddhist scriptures, and (2) contemporary revelations from the Ascended Master Jesus.

In her book The Lost Years of Jesus, Elizabeth Prophet gathers together the accounts of four individuals who claim that while visiting a Buddhist monastery in the mountains of Tibet they heard from monks there and/or examined ancient manuscripts containing accounts of a "Saint Issa," who was said to have come to India from Israel in ancient times. The first person to report the Tibetan Issa legend was Russian journalist Nicolas Notovitch who published an account of his discovery in English in 1894 under the title, The Unknown Life of Jesus. Notovitch claimed that while traveling in Tibet he heard rumors of a mysterious Saint Issa who had come to India from Israel in ancient times. He decided to investigate this legend and eventually discovered manuscripts at the Himis monastery which told the story of Saint Issa. The chief lama at Himis agreed to read to him from the ancient documents, and through an interpreter Notovitch took the notes from which he published his account. His book includes a translation of the purported Issa story and titled, "Life of Saint Issa, Best of the Sons of Men."68

Some years later an Indian man, Swami Abhedananda, read Notovitch's account and in 1922 he purportedly traveled to the Himis monastery to attempt to verify the existence of the Issa manuscripts. In 1929 Abhedananda published an account of his journey to Himis under the title, Kashmir O Tibbate. He claimed to have personally handled the ancient manuscripts and produced his own translation, which was included in the aforementioned book.69

In 1925 a third person, Russian artist Nicholas Roerich also reported visiting the Himis monastery and verifying the Issa story, though he did not claim to see the manuscripts. Roerich commented on his experiences concerning the Issa legend in three different books: Altai-Himalaya, Heart of Asia, and Himalaya.70

Finally, a Swiss woman, Elisabeth Caspari, who now lives in America and works for CUT, reports that she visited the Himis monastery in 1939 where lamas showed her ancient manuscripts and announced, "these books say your Jesus was here."71

A careful examination reveals that each of the four accounts fails almost completely to establish a nominal standard of evidential credibility. This is so on three counts: (1) there is no extant manuscript evidence for the claimed Issa manuscripts; no copies or pictures by which to establish verification of the existence of ancient documents containing the substance reported by the witnesses described above, (2) the two purported translations of Tibetan Issa manuscripts have numerous internal inconsistencies that suggest they are fraudulent, and (3) there are notable conflicts and discrepancies in the testimony and/or motives of each of the four witnesses that seriously undermine their credibility.

The testimony of Notovitch is considered first. Notovitch acknowledges that he could produce no manuscript evidence for the purported translation he published. He acknowledges that he did have a camera with him when he visited Himis. Although he never specifically says that he took pictures of the Issa manuscripts, he mentions in passing that a hired hand accidentally exposed film taken on the trip.72 Notovitch indicates that he is aware of the remarkable implications of the purported manuscript, yet he seems to have taken no specific provisions to document the discovery. This is difficult to explain. The standard of internal inconsistencies in Notovitch's purported translation of the Issa manuscript also weighs heavily against him. The late University of Chicago New Testament scholar Edgar J. Goodspeed provides a critique of Notovitch's work in his book, Famous Biblical Hoaxes. Among the more notable inconsistencies pointed out by Goodspeed is Notovitch's testimony that the ancient record had been written from eyewitness testimony only 3-4 years after Issas' execution, and that the disciples had already set out to evangelize the world. Even without allowing time for the eyewitnesses to travel from Palestine back to India, this chronology conflicts with New Testament chronology.73 Goodspeed also notices that Notovitch claimed translation accidentally applies to Jesus the description of John the Baptist ("And the child grew and became strong in the spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel" — Luke 1:80), which is made the basis for Jesus' absence from Israel during the sojourn in India.74 There are also striking coincidences between Notovitch's personal religious views and his purported translation. For instance, it is interesting that as a Russian Jew, Notovitch's story makes the Romans solely responsible for Jesus' execution, while the Jewish religious leaders strongly approve of his teaching and character,75 completely contradicting the New Testament and other first century sources. However, perhaps the most damaging count against Notovitch comes in a published rebuttal to his testimony by Prof. J. Archibald Douglas of Agra which appeared in the June 1895 issue of a publication called The Nineteenth Century. Douglas had visited the Himis monastery in 1895 and spoke to the chief lama about the claims in Notovitch's book. While Notovitch's purported visit there was some eight years earlier, in 1887, this was well within the memory of the chief lama interviewed by Douglas. According to Douglas the chief lama of Himis totally repudiated Notovitch's story. "He stated with emphasis that no such work as the Life of Issa was known in Tibet."76 When Douglas read him Notovitch's book, the lama responded vehemently, "Lies, lies, lies, nothing but lies!"77

Swami Abhedananda's testimony regarding the Himis Issa manuscripts is equally fraught with inconsistencies and conflicts. Though he claimed to have handled the manuscripts and produced his own translation, he neither photographed the manuscripts nor made any attempts to bring copies back, despite the fact that his stated purpose for making the arduous journey to Himis was to verify Notovitch's story.78 Abhedanandas' translation diverges from that of Notovitch on several notable points. Whereas in the translation of the Jewish Notovitch Issa condemns the idolatry he encounters among the Hindus and repudiates the Hindu Vedas,79 in the account of the Hindu Swami Abhedananda, this rejection of the Vedas is not mentioned. It is difficult to avoid questioning the credibility of Notovitch and Abhedananda when their translations of an ancient document so remarkably mirror their own prejudices. Abhedananda's account also closes with the comment from the Himis chief lama that the story was written "three or four years after he [Jesus] left his body. . . ,"80 which produces the serious chronological conflict noted above.

Concerning Roerich's testimony it can simply be noted that he saw no manuscripts but only relates encountering the legend of Saint Issa conversationally. He and his wife were members of the Theosophical Society and were certainly not disinterested witnesses. He also indicates religious prejudice in a puzzling remark disparaging the canon of Scripture: "Who can fail to recognize that the so-called Apocrypha are far more basically true than many official documents."81 It is difficult to see much value in Roerich's testimony.

The testimony of the final witness, Elisabeth Caspari, likewise appears to have little value. While visiting the Himis monastery, Caspari was shown several books briefly and told by two lamas, "these books say your Jesus was here."82 The books were not read to her, she was told nothing specific about of their contents and had no means of evaluating the statement of the lamas in any way. Caspari never told her story to anyone until years later when she became an employee of CUT. Thus she can hardly be considered a disinterested witness. Placing together the testimony of all four witnesses to the purported Issa legends one must conclude that these accounts have little evidential value. All but Caspari tell us that they made the arduous journey to the Himis monastery expressly to verify the Issa Legend, yet none can produce any solid evidence, and there are damaging contradictions in the testimony of Notovitch and Abhedananda. The supposed Tibetan Issa manuscripts must be judged problematic and of no value in establishing any historical grounds for a revised estimate of the historical Jesus.

CUT's three-legged stool of support for a New Age reinterpretation of the historical Jesus is made up of (1) evidence in the New Testament and the early Church that Jesus taught a secret doctrine of pantheistic monism and human evolution to Godhood, (2) legendary accounts of Jesus' so-called lost years in India where he is presumed to have developed these beliefs, and finally (3) their claimed modern day revelations from the Ascended Master Jesus. However, the first two legs have been shown to be untrustworthy. In part II, the dramatic differences between the views of CUT and historic Christianity on Jesus' person, message, and death were considered. Since the first two legs of the stool are faulty, the entire weight of CUT's case for a New Age Jesus must rest on the contemporary revelations. How sound is this third leg?

Apart from their serious conflicts with Scripture, there are at least two further serious problems with claimed-Ascended Master revelations as a source of authentic information about Jesus: (1) CUT revelations conflict with other claimed New Age revelations from Jesus, and (2) many of the CUT revelations appear to be gratuitous, and thus further suspect.

Regarding point one, consider just a few examples. The Prophets tell us that Jesus journeyed to India at age thirteen and apparently arrived back in Palestine from the East at age twenty-nine.83 However, other New Age revelations purporting to come from Jesus give conflicting accounts of where Jesus spent the "lost years." According to the well-credentialed Annie Besant, former president of the Theosophical Society, Jesus lived the entire period in an Essene community in Egypt.84 The Urantia Book asserts by revelation that he first toured the Mediterranean before journeying to India.85 J. Z. Knight says he made the journey to the East in the company of John the Baptist86 about which the Prophets are silent. There are other kinds of conflicts as well. The Prophets call Jesus the "Piscean Master" and everywhere praise astrology, while The Urantia Book castigates astrology.87 How are we to sort out these conflicting claims? What grounds does CUT have for recommending its revelations above these other claimed New Age Jesus revelations? There appear to be no notable features which distinguish CUT's revelations as more credible than the others.

The Ascended Master revelations of Mark and Elizabeth Prophet often appear to be gratuitous which further undermines their credibility. Consider the Prophets' remarkable past life pedigrees. Mark Prophet is traced back as far as Mark the evangelist, traditional companion of the apostle Peter.88 The early Alexandrian Church father Origen is frequently singled out for praise in the Prophets' books, and Origen also is revealed to be a past embodiment of Mark Prophet.89 Lest Elizabeth Prophet be slighted, we learn in the same revelation that she was St. Catherine of Siena in a past embodiment.90 And Elizabeth's childhood interest in Christian Science is explained by a revelation that Mary the sister of Lazarus who chose to sit at Jesus' feet was a past embodiment of Mary Baker Eddy.91

Ironically, the only area in which the various claimed New Age Jesus revelations consistently agree is in their repudiation of the tenets of orthodox Christianity. Surely this is a puzzling and disturbing coincidence. Can the issues of discernment and possible deception be avoided in light of these circumstances?

Conclusions

CUT's claimed New Age Jesus revelations place their adherents in a catch-22 situation. In order to accept any of these revelations as authentic, one must acknowledge what they are premised on, viz., the reality of the historical Jesus and his deep significance as a source of spiritual truth, hope, and salvation. Yet, as this examination of the foundation and content of CUT views of Jesus has shown, the revelations stand fundamentally opposed to what reliable historical information reveals about Jesus. This problem is not resolved by simply rejecting the New Testament records, for remember that it is the historical Jesus we are interested in, and we have good reason to believe that it is the historical Jesus which the New Testament records describe. To accept the historical Jesus described in the New Testament is to demolish CUT's Jesus; however, to reject the New Testament is essentially to erase Jesus as a historical reference point for faith. Thus both the acceptance and the rejection of the New Testament destroy CUT's Jesus — a classic catch-22.

CUT's New Age Jesus revelations are both a "flight from history"92 and a flight from reason. They are a flight from history because they ignore the witness of history and build instead on contemporary subjective experience. They are a flight from reason because they can be accepted as authentic only by ignoring this blatant contradiction. Evaluated by the only truth test for cross-checking their authenticity, the CUT Jesus must be judged "another Jesus" (2 Cor. 11:4), and hence a false Jesus.
 



 Endnotes

1. The term "New Age" encompasses a broad spectrum of contemporary quasi-religious groups. However, these diverse groups are invariably characterized by all or most of the following cluster of themes: a monistic view of reality, a pantheistic, non-personal view of God, a view of man qualified by the ideas of karma and reincarnation, a high level of interest in psychic phenomena and the paranormal, astrology, and Eastern mysticism. As James W. Sire points out, the New Age Movement adapts Eastern pantheistic monism to Western cultural sensibilities by maintaining the importance of the individual person. Eastern mysticism says "Atman is Brahman," placing the emphasis on ultimate metaphysical unity, while the Western New Age movement places the emphasis on the identity of individual consciousness with universal Spirit, "Atman is Brahman." (The Universe Next Door, 2nd ed., Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988, pp. 166-168).

2. Notable contemporary sources include A Course in Miracles (Teachers Manual) (Tibron, CA: Foundation for Inner Peace, 1975), p. 56; J. Z. Knight, Tape recordings: "Jesus Speaks" and "The Story of Jesus," Vols. A #3, A #13, Copyright 1981, 1982 by J. Z. Knight, Yelms, Washington; Benjamin Creme, The Reappearance of the Christ and the Masters of Wisdom (Los Angeles: Tara Center, 1980), p. 14; Mark L. and Elizabeth Clare Prophet, The Lost Teachings of Jesus (Summit University Press, 1986), Vol. 1, pp. 34, 46, 111, Vol. 2, pp. 121, Vol. 3, pp. 14, 15, 55, 111, Vol. 4, p. 41; David Spangler, Revelation: The Birth of a New Age (San Francisco: The Rainbow Bridge, 1976), pp. 16,17,20,21,46-52; The Urantia Book (Chicago: The Urantia Foundation, 1955), pp. 1, 1341-1344. Important older sources that are historically related to the modern New Age movement include Annie Besant, Esoteric Christianity (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1901, 1987), p. 87, and Levi H. Dowling, The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus Christ (Los Angeles: L. N. Fowler and Co., 1907, 1930), pp. 10,11.

3. By several measures the NAM in general and the New Age Jesus revelations in particular are having a major impact on the religious beliefs and sensibilities of people in our society. Catholic sociologist Andrew Greeley, who is associated with the University of Chicago's National Opinions Research Council (NORC), provides evidence for this cultural shift in a 1987 article aptly titled, "The Impossible: It's Happening." Greeley reports that between 1973 and 1984 interest in psychic and paranormal phenomena closely associated with the NAM increased dramatically. For instance, in that period the number of Americans who believe in contact with the dead grew from 27% to 42%, and a Gallup poll found that nearly a quarter of Americans believe in reincarnation (Noetic Sciences Review, No. 2, Spring 1987, pp. 7,8). Skyrocketing sales of New Age books also tell a story. Bantam Books has printed four million copies of Shirley McLaine's trendy New Age autobiography, Out on a Limb, and sales of books in the general New Age category have grown by one thousand percent in the last ten years, according to Time-Life Books marketing director, Mary Donahoe (Lillie Wilson, "The Aging of Aquarius," in American Demographics, September 1988, p. 36) The three most prominent New Age Jesus revelations — The Lost Teachings of Jesus, A Course in Miracles, and The Urantia Book — have had estimated combined sales of nearly a million copies, the later two books without advertising.

4. "The Christian faith is more closely bound to the person of its founder than any other faith living or dead . . . the actual person of Jesus of Nazareth, its historical founder, is more central to the Christian confession of faith than is the founder of any other religion to its formulated confessions." James P. Mackey in Jesus the Man and the Myth (London, 1979, 1985) as cited by James H. Charlesworth, Jesus Within Judaism: New Light on Exciting Archaeological Discoveries (New York: Doubleday, 1988), p. 21.

5. Rick Berchiolli, "Civil Religion in the Age of Aquarius: A Sociological Analysis of the Church Universal and Triumphant," unpublished paper (Westmont College, 1988), pp. 8,9; Robert S. Elwood, "Occult Movements in America," in Charles H. Lippy and Peter W. Williams (eds.), Encyclopedia of the American Religious Experience, Vol. 2 (New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1988), p. 719; J. Gordon Melton, The Encyclopedia of American Religions, Vol. 2 (Wilmington, NC: McGrath Publishing Co., 1978), p.vii ff. .

6. Elwood, p. 718.

7. Bruce F. Campbell, Ancient Wisdom Revived: A History of the Theosophical Movement (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1980), p. 21.

8. Ibid., p. 56.

9. Ibid., pp. 36-38, 165. Campbell writes, quoting Charles Braden, "No movement in America has been more influential in introducing Oriental thought."

10. Melton, Encyclopedia, pp. 51, 52.

11. Berchiolli, p. 10.

12. J. Gordon Melton, Biographical Dictionary of American Cult and Sect Leaders (New York: Garland Publishing, 1986), pp. 24.

13. Ibid.

14. Ibid., p. 24, 25.

15. Ibid.

16. Berchiolli, p. 13.

17. Melton, Biographical Dictionary, p. 25.

18. Berchiolii, p. 14.

19. Ibid., p. 15 — Berchiolli notes that El Morya was an established Ascended Master identity from earlier Theosophical history. Helena Roerich's book, Leaves of Moryas Garden, was apparently the source of much of Mark Prophet's synthesis and he at one time tried to merge with Nicholas Roerich's Agni Yoga Society, but was rebuffed, p. 15. The competing claims of the various I AM movement leaders to exclusive representation of Ascended Masters has apologetic importance in stripping away the mystique which is important to the influence of New Age leaders like Mark and Elizabeth Prophet.

20. We should note that the The Lost Teachings of Jesus is a collection of revelations by Mark and Elizabeth from various Ascended Masters, including Jesus, El Morya, St. Germain, Kuthumi, and others, so that in this sense the title is somewhat misleading.

21. A sustained description of CUT's sources for Jesus is found in the Mark L. and Elizabeth Clare Prophet, The Lost Teachings of Jesus, Vol. 1, pp. xxvii-lx, and Elizabeth Clare Prophet, The Lost Years of Jesus (Summit University Press, 1984), pp. 3-64.

22. Compiled from Scripture indexes provided at the back of each volume.

23. Lost Teachings, Vol. 3, pp. 17,18; cf. also, Vol. 1, p. 55; Vol. 2, p. 121; Vol. 3, pp. 4, 24-25, 55.

24. Ibid., Vol. 1, pp. 38-40.

25. Ibid., Vo1. 2, pp. l-li, 91-94; Vol. 3, p. 24; Lost Years, pp. 8-9; "Profile: Elizabeth Clare Prophet" (Church Universal and Triumphant promotional brochure) (Summit University Press, 1989), p. 8 — A statement from the Gospel of Philip is cited, for instance, in which Jesus is reported to say that the disciple who walks in his footsteps is, "no longer a Christian, but a Christ." In a similar vein, a logia in the Gospel of Thomas reads, "I am not your Master . . . He who will drink from my mouth will become as I am: I myself shall become as he."

26. Lost Years, esp. pp. 191-237.

27. Lost Teachings, Vol. 2, p. 121; cf. also, Vol. 1, pp. 34, 46, 111; Vol. 3, pp. 14-15, 55, 111; Vol. 4, p. 41.

28. Ibid., Vol. 1, p. 67.

29. Ibid., p. 242.

30. Ibid., Vol. 4, p. 80.

31. Ibid., Vol. 3, p. 70; Vol. 2, p. 133.

32. Ibid., Vol. 1, pp. 58-59, 83, 217-221.

33. Ibid., Vol. 2, p. 133.

34. Ibid., Vol. 1, p. 240.

35. Ibid., pp. 52, 241.

36. Ibid., Vol. 2, p. 87.

37. Ibid., Vol. 1, pp. xliv, 54-55. .

38. Ibid., Vol. 2, p. 257.

39. Ibid., Vol. 3, p. 53.

40. Ibid., p. 45.

41. Ibid., p. 242.

42. Ibid., Vol. 1, p. 54 — Cited with this explanation. .

43. Ibid., p. 54f.

44. Ibid., Vol. 1, p. 83.

45. Ibid., Vol. 2, p. 256; cf. also Vol. 4, p. 75. .

46. Ibid., Vol. 1. p. 84.

47. Ibid., p. 86.

48. Ibid., p. xxvii.

49. Ibid., p. xxvii-xxix. Matthew 9:35 is representative of the following passages which are listed in note 7 by the Prophets, and which show Jesus' teaching but do not record his word: Matthew 9:35 (Mark 6:6); Matthew 13:54 (Mk. 6:2); Matt. 16:21, (Mk. 8:31); Mk. 1:21, (Lk. 4:31); Mk. 1:39, (Lk. 4:44); Mk. 2:2, (Lk. 5:17; Mk. 2:13; Lk. 2:46,47; 4:15; 5:32; 6:6; Jn. 4:40-42. The Prophets list the following passages in note 8, in which the Gospels recount some but not all of Jesus' words as he taught: Matt. 4:17, (Mk. 1:14,15); Matt. 4:23ff.; 10:27; 21:23ff, (Lk. 20:1ff); Mk. 4:33, 34; 10:1ff.; Lk. 13:10-21; 13:22-35; Jn. 7:14ff; 8:2. .

50. Prof. James H. Charlesworth in his book, Jesus Within Judaism, describes a trend among some top New Testament scholars of moving away from a position of extreme scepticism toward (1) the possibility of objective knowledge about the historical Jesus, and (2) the supposedly subjective, creative role of the early Church in producing the canonical Gospels. He says, for instance, "... among many New Testament specialists I am now observing a growing awareness that there was some historical interest among the members of the Palestinian Jesus Movement .... The sheer existence of the Gospels — which include the celebration of the life and teachings of the pre-Easter Jesus — proves that from the earliest decades ... there must have been some historical interest in Jesus," p. 13; "We are confronted with certain traditions that cannot have been devised out of nothing (ex nihilo) by Jesus' followers," p. 14; and, "The Church ultimately derives from Jesus' conviction and proclamation that in his time and place God was calling into being a special group of people," p. 16. Charlesworth calls for greater respect for the basic framework of Jesus' life and message as presented in the canonical Gospels. (In this context, one is reminded of the quip attributed to Samuel Clemens, to the effect that "It's not what I don't know about the Bible that worries me but what I already know and don't do.")

51. Ibid, p. xxx; Lost Years, pp. 9ff. .

52. Examples of other New Age sources which espouse the idea of Jesus spending his youth in India include, Janet Westin Bock, The Jesus Mystery (Los Angeles: Aura Books, 1980); J.Z. Knight, Tape recording: "Story of Jesus" (Ramtha Dialogues), Vol. A #13, Copyright 1982 J.Z. Knight, Yelm, Washington; The Urantia Book, pp. 1422ff.

53. Lost Teachings, Vol. 2, pp. 83-84. .

54. Edgar J. Goodspeed, Famous Biblical Hoaxes (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1931, 1956), p. 7. .

55. Lost Teachings, Vol. 1, pp. xlivff. .

56. Ibid., Vol. 1, p. 335, n. 13.

57. Ibid., p. xlix.

58. Eusebius, Church History (trans. McGiffert) in Phillip Schaff and Henry Wade, eds. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982), p. 104. .

59. Lost Teachings, Vol. 1, pp. lviiif; cf. also, Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels (New York: Vintage Books, 1979), pp. 33-56. .

60. "Profile: Elizabeth Clare Prophet" (CUT promotioinal brochure, 1989), p. 8.

61. James M. Robinson, "The Study of the Historical Jesus After Nag Hammadi," Semeia 44 (1988), p. 45. .

62. Helmut Koester, "The Extracanonical Sayings of the Lord," Semeia 44 (1988), p. 57,58. .

63. Bruce M. Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), p. 287. .

64. Ibid., p. 285.

65. Lost Teachings, Vol. 1, p. lvii. .

66. R. M. Grant, "The New Testament Canon," in The Cambridge History of the Bible, Vol. 1, p. 285; cf. also M. R. James, The Apocryphal New Testament (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1924, 1986), pp. xi-xii. He says regarding those who make cavalier declarations about the arbitrary rejection of Gnostic Christian and other apocryphal works, "The best answer to such loose talk has always been, and is now, to produce the writings and let them tell their own story. It will quickly be seen that there is no question of any ones having excluded them from the New Testament: they have done that for themselves." .

67. Metzger, p. 285.

68. Notovitch's book is found in Lost Years, pp. 109-222. The purported translation of the Issa legend is found on pp. 191-221. .

69. Abhedananda's translation of the Issa scrolls is found in Lost Years, pp. 227-237.

70. Excerpts are found in Lost Years, pp. 241-280. .

71. Caspari's account is found in Lost Years, pp. 281-323. .

72. Ibid., p. 107.

73. Goodspeed, p. 8.

74. Ibid., pp. 8,9.

75. Lost Years, p. 217.

76. Goodspeed, p. 13

77. Ibid. .

78. Lost Years, p. 230.

79. Ibid., p. 198 — "Issa denied the divine origin of the Vedas and the Puranas. For, taught he his followers, a law has already been given to man to guide him in this actions." It is interesting to note that the Elizabeth Prophet inserts a the following disclaimer at this point in Notovitch's translation: "Inasmuch as Jesus' closest disciple, John, begins his gospel with a quote from the Vedas, In the beginning was the Word ..., the authenticity of this passage may be questioned."[!]

80. Ibid., p. 237.

81. Ibid., p. 265.

82. Ibid., p. 317.

83. Lost Teachings, Vol. 1, p. 126; Vol. 2, p. 83, 140, 515; Vol. 3, pp. 9, 79; Vol. 4, p. 272. .

84. Besant, Esoteric Christianity, p. 89. .

85. The Urantia Book, pp. 1422ff.

86. J. Z. Knight, Tape recording: "The Story of Jesus" Vol. A #13 (J. Z. Knight, 1982).

87. The Urantia Book, pp. 988, 990, 1680. .

88. Mark L. and Elizabeth Clare Prophet, Prayer and Meditation (Summit University Press, 1968, 1978), p. 247. .

89. Lost Teachings, Vol. 3, p. 206. .

90. Ibid. .

91. Ibid. .

92. Carl A. Raschke, The Interruption of Eternity (Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1980), pp. 23ff.