Fr. Richard Rohr and the Bible
Are his teachings Christian?

This is Part 2 in this series.

Richard Rohr's Universal Christ vs Jesus the Saviour

Show an excerpt of an interview with Richard Rohr.

INTERVIEWER: "What is the difference between Jesus and the Christ and why is that so important a distinction to make?


It's such a paradigm shift for most people that they have a hard time making it [the distinction between Jesus and the Christ] because they grew up with "Jesus Christ" lumping the two realities together ... the Christ existed since the moment of the big bang as we call it now, the confluence of matter and spirit. Whenever matter and spirit operate as one we have the Christ Mystery. The incarnation if you will. So that solves the problem of God's interest in the world from the very beginning. He is not distant, she is not distant, God is not apart, but is in the unfolding of creation. St. Bonaventure, would be like the ….French Pierre Teilhard de Chardin theologian of the 13th century who's seeing it all evolving with the Christ energy at the centre of things. Jesus then, only 2000 years from now, is a personification of this universal mystery. Who makes it lovable, believable, credible, seeable, touchable as the first letter of John says. Some of the sermons in the Acts of the Apostles say "Jesus became the Christ" or "Jesus revealed the Christ" 

But because that is such a different way of thinking for all almost western Christians except historical Franciscans, we were the exception, our christology was based on the first chapter of Ephesians and the first chapter of Collosians, which started with the Christ, and out of the Christ Jesus was born. (20:35)

It's a broader notion that allows us to be much more interfaith with the other world religions because now we're not in competition. If all we have is Jesus … it's hard to move beyond Judaism, Israel ethnicity and 2000 years ago which is a blip on the screen of time.

Without Jesus the whole thing becomes abstruse theory. You can't fall in love with a force with an energy and an idea. And that is what much of the New Testament is saying.

Jesus is a huge shortcut that just summarizes the whole thing, like pressing a button on your computer. "There it is, there is the message."  

"Other people have access to the cosmic Christ. And if we don't say that we condemn 98% of the people who have lived on this planet to eternal loss that is a very stingy unloving God. If that is the way God created the universe. God is infinite love revealed in Jesus but that infinite love had to be available to native religions,  Hinduism, Buddhism, they use different symbols, we just have the short cut.

Most western spirituality has been climbing, achieving, proving yourself worthy to an always demanding God. Jesus is not revealing a spirit of ascent but a spirit of descent. Come to God through your mistakes rather than perfection… falling into reality as it is.

Richard Rohr's vision for the role of the Church (and all religion) is to enlighten humans to the Universal Christ and then get out of the way!

Richard Rhor's vision of Universal Christ

Richard Rohr says, the world and everything in it is God, and the only thing that is wrong is that we don't know it, and therefore we need "enlightenment".

The brilliance of Buddhism is that it put enlightenment front and centre, where as we [Christians] put ... salvation front and center, and its just messed up because Jesus was talking about enlightenment too, but we didn't let him do that ... (Richard Rohr)

Compare that to the Bible

While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent,   because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30)

The Bible asserts that other world religions were founded during a time of "human ignorance" before Jesus. That includes Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and indigenous religions. Paul says that God has "overlooked" these times, and called all humanity to the one God, Jesus, our Saviour. Jesus will judge the world.

For Richard Rohr, there was no Jesus before the day he was conceived, and perhaps more importantly, Jesus' role after his death is not as the Saviour whom we worship and surrender to, but rather as an example of how to live the message of the Universal Christ energy. He says:

"Other people [beside Jesus and his followers] have access to the cosmic Christ. And if we don't say that, we condemn 98% of the people who have lived on this planet to eternal loss. That is a very stingy unloving God, if that is the way God created the universe. God is infinite love revealed in Jesus but that infinite love had to be available to native religions,  Hinduism, Buddhism, they use different symbols, we just have the short cut. (Richard Rohr, source)

Absent from his narrative is that Jesus went down to Sheol and rescued the faithful souls of ages past in the 3 days after his crucification. Nor does he mention the Catholic concept of invincible ignorance, where Jesus offers salvation to those who have pursued Truth and followed their conscience to the best of their ability but have never had an authentic witness of Jesus. In those cases salvation still comes through Jesus, who is standing at the gate between life and death.

Compare this to the Bible:

10 let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,[d] whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. 11 This Jesus is‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.’ 12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.” (Act 10-12)

Repent and be saved. (Mk 1:15)
I am The Way, the Life and the Truth, no one comes to the Father except through me. (Jn 14:6)

It is not an etherial universal Christ energy that Paul was talking about, but rather Jesus, the man/God who died and rose again.

30 While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent,  31 because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” Acts 17:30

The other world religions were founded during a time of "human ignorance", before Jesus. That includes Hinduism, Budhism, Confusionism, Toaism, and indiginous religions. Paul says that God has overlooked these ignorant pursuits, and called all humanity to the one God, Jesus, our saviour. Jesus will judge the world.

This is a very diffent message than Richard Rohr's attempts to diminish Jesus' role, for the sake of universalism.

Dualism and non-Dualism are not indicators of spiritual maturity

The main thesis Fr. Rohr's book "Falling Forward" is that in the first part of life human beings identify themselves as a container separate from others. (I am Catholic, I am white, I am male, I am Canadian, etc.) and individuals separate themselves into categories, tribes, and adopt an us vs. them survival mentality. Then he says in the second half of life, if we mature then we see there are no distinctions between people, and in fact, if we are really mature we see no distinction between us, other humans, and all of creation, the rocks, the animals, etc.

Never mind those pesky binary concepts in the Bible like

"woe to those who call what is good, evil, and what is evil good." (Isaiah 5:20)

Love is a sign of maturity and that is distinct from non-duality

Richard Rohr claims that people mature spiritually from duality to non-duality ignoring that Jesus is dualistic at the height of his "spiritual maturity" after his Resurrection. (Rev. 22:14-15). Christian maturity is growing in love and that is distinct from non-duality. Love doesn't say "yes" to sin or falsity, which is what Rohr's non-duality does.

... 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.  12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly,[b] but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.  13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor 13:11-13)

Examples of dualism in the Bible

51 Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other! 52 From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of me, and two against—or two in favor and three against.

53 ‘Father will be divided against son
    and son against father;
mother against daughter
    and daughter against mother;
and mother-in-law against daughter-in-law
    and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’"(Lk 12:51-53)

... he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. Mat 25:32-34

"They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised." (Romans 1:25)

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! (Galatians 1:8)

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” 6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’(Lk 13:3)
He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ 26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’ (Lk 13:22)

"tell them the good news of my salvation and if they don't accept it shake the dust from your shoes." (Matthew 10:14)

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; 9 and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” (Mat. 4:10)
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! (Galatians 1:8)

The risen Jesus is as "spiritually mature" as you can get. Jesus says from Heaven:

12 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. 14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. Revelation 16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony.... (Revelation 22)

Jesus never "matures" into "non-dualistic thinking". This is as binary as can be.

Fr. Rohr says Paul isn't talking about Jesus

Paul never met the historical Jesus and hardly ever quotes Jesus directly ... he is talking about the Eternal Christ Mystery, rather than Jesus of Nazareth. .. (Fr. Rohr, source)

It is weird that he is referencing Paul when he has such a hard time with Paul's position on women and sexual immorality. But no matter, let's look at what the Bible says:

 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 5 He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. NRSV

The Hebrew word in the Bible is Ihsouj a personal noun for "Jesus", not the Universal Christ energy. When this is pointed out, Richard Rohr turns 180 degrees and says:

It is this Christ who meets Paul on the road to Damascus. ... Jesus ... is also the eternal Christ. (Fr. Rohr, source)

This is one of those many head spinning "huh?" moments where Fr. Rohr bounces back to orthodoxy just long enough to say "free home" before he bounces off to another theory, and hopes you didn't notice how illogical that position is.

Paul says to his Pagan jailer:

29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” (Cor 16:29-31)

It is "Jesus" who saves. If God wanted the Bible to teach us that Jesus is distinct from the Universal Christ energy, and Paul was knocked off his horse by this Universal Christ energy, one would think the Bible would not say "I am Jesus who you are persecuting". But that's OK, anywhere Richard Rohr disagrees with the Bible he just says its not divinely inspired.

Richard Rohr's theory is the New Age narrative that "Jesus is an Ascended Master who achieved Christ Consciousness." He stops short of adopting the full New Age line that Jesus travelled to India and learned from Yoga gurus". But he is clear that Jesus "became the Christ". For Richard Rohr, Jesus makes the Christ mystery "lovable, believable, credible, seeable, touchable". So for him Jesus is a great manifestation of the message, but He is not The Saviour, so don't bother repenting or surrendering to him.

Richard Rohr claims, after the Resurrection, Jesus is not Jesus of Nazareth anymore but he's the Universal Christ

This means that Jesus has entered into The Great Ohhhhm (Buddhism) or Brahman (Hindu). Richard Rohr claims the Universal Christ is another name for these things.

This is an unsustainable proposition. Jesus remained an individual entity, the 3rd person of the Trinity. After his Resurrection, Jesus ate fish, asked Peter to lead the flock, asked Thomas to put his finger in his side. In the Book of Revelation he speaks as dualistically as can be, which Richard Rohr asserts is immature (Rev. 22:14-15). Is Richard Rohr going to say that is the "Universal Christ"?

Biblical evidence that the Bible is not talking about universal Christ energy

This concept that the Christ is Universal ethereal energy distinct from Jesus is nowhere affirmed in Scripture. It is simple unsustainable.

His proposal is that for 2000 years the Bible, the Fathers of the Church, the Magisterium, the councils and the saints were silent on the Universal Christ. Then suddenly, Richard Rohr comes on the scene on a white stallion to save humanity from ignorance.

He calls his book:

The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For and Believe

Notice the strident title "a forgotten reality". Nothing has been forgotten. There is no orthodox source for his theory anywhere in the nearly 4000 year Judeo-Christian tradition. We have to go to the teachings of Hinduism, Buddhism, and New Age transmediums for the source of the Universal Christ.

This probably explains why he feels the need to provide spurious references from orthodox sources and why we've never seen a debate between Richard Rohr and a scholar.

Here is some more evidence that the Bible is talking about Jesus as the saviour:

  • There are over 500 references to "Christ" in the Bible and not one of them is a reference to an abstract universal energy. They are in the singular personal form either as the coming Messiah, or as Jesus.
  • Seven times in the Bible it says "Christ died". A universal spirit cannot die. (i.e, 1 Corinth  15:3)  
  • Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve.

    This is talking about Jesus Christ. Richard Rohr says "Jesus is the 'particular', Christ is the 'universal'". This is an untenable interpretation of Scripture. The noun Christ is only used as the singular Messiah, who is the coming Saviour or the singular Jesus Christ, the realized Saviour. It's never used as an energy that anyone can tap into independent of Jesus.

  • Richard Rohr says we are all the Universal Christ. John Baptist said "I am not Christ". He was the "greatest of those born of women" (Mat 11:11) If he is not Christ how can the rest of the humans in the world be Christ.
  • In the parable of the Good Shepherd (Jn 10), Jesus explains that he is the Gate. He did not say "I will show you the gate. "

    10 “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers...

    7 So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

    11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. (John 10: 1-12)

  • Jesus warned us that a deceiver would use the Christ as referring to something besides Jesus.
  • "many will come in my name saying I am the Christ and will lead many astray." Mat 25:5
  • Jesus references the Old Testament law from Deut 17:6 requiring two witnesses. If he was just universal energy he could not make that claim and refer to that law.

17 In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. 18 I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.” Jn 8:17-18

All through scripture the Bible makes no distinction between Jesus and Christ. The author John is extremely articulate on the nature of Jesus Christ but makes no distinction between Jesus and the Universal Christ.

After the Resurrection, the Bible say says:

Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” John 20:17

The entire message of the Bible is that Jesus repairs the separation that was a result of the fall

This by nature is dualistic. Richard Rohr can argue that he doesn't agree with the Bible or the Church, in which case one would wonder why he is Catholic priest, but it is disingenuous to argue that this is not what the Bible is all about. Richard Rohr actually said the Church obsessed around the fall of Adam and Eve and made Catholicism all about "sin management" in order to control people ond give them opressive rules. This is a variation of New Age pioneer Helena Petrovna Blavatsky who said "Satan was the liberator of Adam and Eve in the Garden, because he freed them from the oppressive rules of God."

Let's say 100 people were in a burning building and one of them dug with their hands below the foundation and saw a rescue worker on the other side who said:

Come out through this way, its the only way out, and tell the others to come this way also. There is no other safe exit...

would it make sense to say

No, I'm tolerant and inclusive of their ideas on how to escape. My ideas are no better than theirs. I don't want to act superior? It would interfere with our unity.

The courageous and mature person would go and tell them what she found, even if they laughed at her, or killed her. That is the definition of a martyr. It is the ultimate in spiritual maturity.

For 40 years Richard Rohr has used his influence as a priest to publicly teach against Christianity's simple message, which is

"I am the way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to Father, except through me." (Jn 14:6)

This was not the cosmic Christ he was talking about. He was talking about himself, Jesus.

Richard Rohr doesn't believe in the second coming of Jesus

For Fr. Rohr,

  1. the first incarnation was when God made the earth, he became it.
  2. The second incarnation was when Jesus "got the Universal Christ energy" (not when he was born), and
  3. The third incarnation is the realization of the presence of the Universal Christ in all (i.e., when we individually tap into that energy.)

For him Christ the King is a medieval invention, and Jesus will not come again victoriously in majesty and might. Jesus' role was over when he died, except for his exceptional example. Jesus is a sideline coach. The Bible has a different story:

7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. (Revelation 1:7)

Richard Rohr and the muted Jesus

Richard Rohr says:

Christianity dared to think that God became visible not just in creation [of the universe] which we ignored ... but we put all our emphasis upon God becoming a person Jesus. We were so infatuated and excited by the notion of the incarnation of God in one human body, Jesus, that we jumped over 13.6 billion years of geological time. (Richard Rohr, source)

Let's unpack that statement. He's saying that a rock is every bit as incarnational is Jesus.

The theological concept of "God became visible in Jesus" is only relevant to humans. This is salvation history. Of course God created everything, but he did not "become it" as Rohr asserts. Yes, we put all our emphasis upon God becoming a person. It is after all "the Good News". Richard Rohr says:

God is not bound by our commonly held presumption that humans are the center of everything. Creation did not actually demand or need Jesus (or us, for that matter) to confer additional sacredness upon it. From the first moment of the Big Bang, nature was revealing the glory and goodness of the Divine Presence; it must be seen as a gratuitous gift. Jesus came to live in its midst, and enjoy life in all its natural variations, and thus be our model and exemplar. (Richard Rohr, source)

Did Fr. Rohr just say Jesus' role is to be a model and an example, not our Saviour? Yes he did.

What you will not find in any of Richard Rohr's writings is "surrender your life to Jesus", and "Let Jesus run your life" because for Fr. Rohr, Jesus is just a man who "was an honest and wise teacher."

Richard Rohr doesn't believe there is a devil, or that there is evil in the spiritual realm

He has adopted a version of the Buddhist and New Age idea that all human evil is a result of ignorance, not of any diabolical activity behind the scenes in the spiritual realm.

I think modern postmodern people are actually somewhat embarrassed by how much of Jesus ministry is driving out Devils and we all know they don't exist and we're sort of embarrassed by the thoughts and so why do we have to read these silly useless accounts and the fact that they are so common in the Gospels. ... I am convinced that the driving out of the devil was an early very straightforward metaphor and symbol and reality for the dealing with what we now call addiction. (Richard Rohr, source)

So somehow Jesus didn't understand addiction? Was Job fighting addiction? (Job 1:1) Anyway, the bottom line is Richard Rohr doesn't believe in the devil. Can you imagine him saying that to Padre Pio, Sr. Faustina or Jean Vianny who all had first hand experience with the devil?

His overall narrative is that people who don't agree with him are immature spiritually. We would say it is the other way around. It is naive and immature for a "mystic" who claims to spend a lot of time in the spiritual realm to not have any experience with demons.

There are plenty of healthy 12 step members with many years of recovery who would completely disagree with this reversed description of addiction. The devil works through addiction, its not the other way around. It's also interesting that 12 step members who surrender to Jesus as their "Higher Power" have much greater success and long term recovery, than other members. They have Jesus' protection from the devil.

It would be great if there was no devil and all evil could be explained away by human "ignorance". If we wish a bad neighborhood was safe and tell ourselves it is safe, that won't help our chances if we decide to go there at night.

Richard Rohr describes the story of Adam and Eve as fiction, doesn't believe in original sin, or any sin

He says:

we got obsessed with someone eating an apple between the Tigris and Euphrates River somewhere 4,000 years ago and let the whole storyline of the cosmos which had already existed thirteen point six billion years now depend upon an apple... this is silly this won't work and you young Millennials are having the honesty to see that ... so we had meaning beauty goodness from the beginning and yet we took our eyes off of that and obsessed about Adam and Eve and created a word that wasn't even in the Bible. We Catholics did that, original sin and the whole agenda around how do we get rid of this original sin that was passed on passed on ... the problem was solved at the beginning [Gen1] so much so that there was no problem.

(Richard Rohr, source)

Which is why he sees no need for Jesus' salvation. For him, we have no sin, why would we need Jesus' redemption from sin.

Richard Rohr doesn't believe in Hell

For Richard Rohr Hell does not exist. It's a tool to scare people into obedience.

Unfortunately, it’s much easier to organize people around fear and hatred than around love. Powerful people prefer this worldview because it validates their use of intimidation—which is quite effective in the short run! (source)

For Rohr, hell is a byproduct of "dualistic thinking" of Heaven and Hell. It would be great if Richard Rohr were right and there was no hell and no devil, but closing our eyes and whistling in the dark will not make this reality go away. He says

"Hell is never used in the Old Testament"

This is another strident, coarse, imprecise sound bite. Sheol and Hades are both used interchangeably with Hell.

diagram of Hell which consisted of Hades (unjust) & Gehenna (just)

We have a full discussion of hell here.

Richard Rohr and Pantheism

Richard Rohr says:

Don't start trying to love God or even people. Love rocks and elements first, then
move to trees, then animals, then humans. Angels will soon become real possibility and God is then just a short leap away. Richard Rohr

He's flipped the order of love on its head. Jesus said the two greatest commandments are "Love the lord your god love your heart, soul and mind strength, and love your neighbor it's yourself" (Mark 12:30-31).

He says

"God loved creation so much that he became it." (Richard Rohr)

It's hard not to map that to Pantheism.

He says :

The proof that you are a Christian is that you can see Christ everywhere. When you really have this heart awakening then you're going to have this universal understanding hit your spiritual mind ... the Christ image includes all of us and everything. This is not heresy it's not universalism or a cheap version of unitarianism. (Richard Rohr)

Notice the assertion that it is not heresy, or universalism. If there is no sin, then we all go to Heaven. And that is universalism, plain and simple.

The Bible says:

"They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised." (Romans 1:25)

Bible verses that humans are not God by nature

Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit. (Is 31:3)

Because your heart is proud
    and you have said, “I am a god ... ”
yet you are but a mortal, and no god,
    though you compare your mind (Ez 28:2)

The first sin that man fell for was the promise that we would be like God (Gen 3:3). Rohr is offering special special self knowledge, the metaphysics of reality. The devil deceived our first parents.

The Devil to Eve Richard Rohr to us
"You will be like God" "You are already God"
"knowledge of good and evil" "knowledge of the Universal Christ"


It's the same bait that satan gave to Eve. It's the allure of self-divinity. It takes satan's promise in the Garden to the next level.

"You can become as god" ontologically now it's taken one step further "you ARE ontologically god by nature. Here's how you can discover it."

The Bible offers multiple examples showing God is distinct from his creation

2 Never be rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be quick to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven, and you upon earth; therefore let your words be few. Ecclesiastes 5:2

The Lord is in his holy temple;
    the Lord is on his heavenly throne.
He observes everyone on earth;
    his eyes examine them. Ps 11:4

Who is like the Lord our God,
    who is seated on high,
6 who looks far down
    on the heavens and the earth? Ps 113:5-6

To you I lift up my eyes,
    O you who are enthroned in the heavens! Ps 123:1

God is present everywhere and in everything. But he is also distinct from his creation which Rohr doesn't acknowledge.

Richard Rohr says Jesus didn't exist before he was conceived

The bible is clear that Jesus did indeed exist as a "person" before he was born. He was the 2nd person of the Trinity.

5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,[b] 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[c] being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil 2:5-8)

... 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. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming ... (1 Jn 4:1-3)

If Jesus "came" in the flesh, it meant he existed before he was conceived, which Richard Rohr denies. Further, the passage warns us about the type of denial Rohr makes of the Bible's central message.

Richard Rohr says Jesus disagrees with the Old Testament

Not only did Jesus agree with the Old Testament. He's the God of it. The Bible says "worship God alone". Jesus is worshiped while on earth.

  • Jesus was called "Lord" before calming the storm (Mat 8:23)
  • Jesus was worshiped by the disciples post-resurrection (Mat 28:17)
  • Jesus was worshiped before ascending to Heaven. (Lk 24:52) 
  • The healed blind man worshiped Jesus
  • Thomas sees Jesus and falls on his knees saying "my Lord and my God". Jesus doesn't correct them like the angels do to the disciples. People would fall at the feet of Paul and Peter who said "get up I'm a mere man like you there's nothing really special about me" The Angels say to get up worship God alone.

He makes fun of the Ascension

... He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. (Acts 1:9) While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. (Lk 24:51)

Richard Roh says:

If we just look at the picture of this feast, its like rocket ship Jesus heading upward. But of course that can't really be the message because God is not up there. Remember when the Russians went up in the Sputnik into outer space and they said "well you see God isn't here". (source)

This is a common strategy where he makes fun of the clear witness of the Bible. Obviously, God is everywhere, but that distinct from his attempt to ridicule and undermine the eyewitness accounts of how God chose to have Jesus depart from this world, which was much like Elijah.

... suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.... And Elisha saw him no more. (2 Kg 2:11)

When we have an authentic conversion with Jesus, we want to study the Bible, not argue with it

I had no religion in my childhood. I met Jesus alone as an adult and he rescued me from evil in the spiritual realm that I encountered via the New Age, and Jesus loved me back to health. He drew me Jesus against the tide of the anti-Christian culture. He is amazing, alive, and ready to help.

The difference for me was Jesus. The Bible says "you'll know a tree by its fruit" (Mat 7:15) I've met others who have had this life changing encounter with Jesus and there are common characteristics:

  • We love the Bible. The words leap off the page and we want to conform our lives to it. We don't want to argue with it, minimize it, or make it fit our previous world view.
  • We find ourselves attracted to chastity and want to reconcile our gender expression with the gender that God gave us at our conception.
  • We want to orient our sexual expression to the teachings of the Bible. We don't want to change the Bible to fit our previous expression.
  • We are less attracted to navel gazing on our neuroses and we find ourselves thinking about how we can help others.
  • We love Jesus and want to evangelize, not because we need people to agree with us, but rather because we have been changed by him, and we want others to be free.

Richard Rohr would not value any of these indicators of an authentic spiritual experience. He's constantly undermining the Bible, telling people to sexually express themselves as they see fit, fighting the Church on just about every sexual and doctrinal issues, he calls our love of the Church "tribal", and he advises people to let their subconscious drivers run the show. He advises Christians to not evangelize when talking to non Christians.

One one hand, my experience is that everything good comes from Jesus. On the other hand Richard Rohr is saying something like:

I'll give you fruits from all the religions of the world, just don't pay too much attention to Jesus. Instead seek the energy that he tapped into so you can have it for yourself. You can use him as an example on your journey if you like.

The Bible gives us a perfect examples of how we should respond:

 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; 9 and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” (Mat. 4:10)

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! (Galatians 1:8)

Wow! that is pretty dualistic!

Additional Credits

Some of the quotes and ideas in this article can be found in the YouTube video Ex New Age Guru debunks the Universal Christ.

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