ASK AUGUSTINE

Christ is often referred to as the Logos or the Word – but contemporary New Age teachings say we are all logos. Are they correct? For example, the NY Times bestselling author Reza Aslan’s recent book, “God; A human History” is a clear indication that Arianism and Sebellianism are still alive and well as he concludes with the words, “You are God.”

Before I answer your question, let me briefly define the two heretical views you mention. Arianism holds that Christ was not eternally begotten by the Father. Sebellianism says that Christ is not one person of the Trinity but one three modes in which God reveals Himself.

In Christian theology, the Logos or the Word is the name given to the pre-existent Christ, the second person of the Trinity. According to the creeds established during the period of the Church or Apostolic Fathers, the pre-existent Christ or Logos was generated eternally out of the substance of God the Father and is true God of true God. It is this eternally generated Logos, this pre-existent heavenly Christ, of whom the Logos was made flesh (Jesus) and born among men.

The name Logos was applied to Jesus Christ in the first chapter of the Gospel of John. Drawing on the philosophy of Philo, John used the term Logos or Wisdom as a designation of a pre-existent mind which primarily contained the intelligible world of ideas and secondarily, from Jewish thought, as a designation of the pre-existent Law.

The conception of a pre-existent Christ is derived from the Jewish teaching of a pre-existent Messiah. Paul called the pre-existent Christ, “Wisdom” or “Logos.” Logos is a term in Judaism that applies to pre-existent Law. Paul thus combined the Jewish conceptions of the pre-existent Messiah and pre-existent Law.

Although Paul describes the pre-existent Christ as “God’s own Son being equal with God,” and John describes the Logos as “the only begotten Son of God being God,” there was no certainty whether these descriptions were literal or were an indication of the manner in which the pre-existent Christ (Logos) came into existence until the earliest Church Fathers took these descriptions literally. That is, they said the Logos was generated out of the substance of God and not created by Him out of nothing, as was the case when God created the world. They logically concluded that the pre-existent Christ was generated out of the substance of God as they reasoned that which is generated must be of the same substance as that which generates.

But the view that such was an eternal process was not introduced until about 200 AD by Irenaeus and Origen. Before then, the early Church Fathers said that the Logos existed from eternity in God Himself, and only prior to the creation of the world was Christ created out of the substance of God as a real personal being.

This view of two-fold stage in the existence of the Logos has virtually disappeared, but to my knowledge it was never formally denounced by any of the church councils. Interestingly, the principal of the eternity of the process of the generation is not explicitly expressed in the creeds.

In opposition to this eternal view of the Logos there appeared, during the period of the Church Fathers, two heretical views. First was the Arian view that the Logos was created out of nothing and consequently was not God. This view was condemned at the Council of Nicaea in 325 but it is still held by some non-Trinitarians and most in the New Age movements.

Second was the Sebellian view that the Logos was not a real personal being but merely “a power or a mode of God.” This view was condemned at the Council of Constantinople in 381. It too is held by some non-Trinitarians as well as by those who preach the “prosperity, name it and claim it gospel.”

This Sebellian view is also championed by most popular nonsensical New Age spiritual teachers. One can read of it in Rhonda Byrne’s esoteric book, “The Secret” which deals with Law of Attraction. It appears throughout Eckhart Tolle’s mumbo-jumbo book, “The New Earth” which states that “Man made God in his own image” (p. 15). Tolle calls for us to transcend our state of consciousness into a new awakening, which has been referred to by Oprah Winfrey as a Kabbalah (a mystical receiving or accepting); as well as in Reza Aslan’s book (that you note in your question) where he concludes with these three words, “We are god.” Thus, according to Tolle, Winfrey and Aslan we are the logos; and therein do we currently find these ancient heretical teachings alive and well in contemporary times.

All of these authors teach pantheistic monism; the view that God is all, all is God, all is one and there is neither good nor evil. They also believe the universe operates under the law of karma and its corollary doctrine of reincarnation. These new age authors visualize a coming “age of Aquarius” marked by global peace, prosperity and material transformations.

The goal of New Age teaching is to stamp our the “self,” find truth and become one with the universe; while the goal of Christians is to center one’s self on God and on His Son, Jesus Christ. In Christianity, the Truth finds us and Jesus is that Truth.

That Jesus is the Son of God can be proven by hundreds of biblical prophecies (most of them made before His time and beyond the control of His “human nature”), His life, His miracles and His resurrection from the dead – the most proven fact in history of mankind. No other religion or religious leader offers such factual evidence.