A Book Recommendation by Peter Traben Haas
Bernadette Roberts’ new book The Real Christ is the single most significant and important work of spiritual/mystical theology ever written in the history of humankind.
Whatever credibility a dual Bachelor’s degree in Bible and Theology from Moody Bible Institute gives, and a Master’s of Divinity degree from Princeton Seminary and a Doctorate from Austin Theological Seminary provide; whatever knowledge reading virtually every scholarly book on the Trinity available in English over the last 20 years enables; whatever spiritual insights gained through 15 years as an Ordained full-time pastor in the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., and whatever spiritual maturing has occurred as a writer, student of the Work of Inner Christianity, and a daily practioner of Centering Prayer, it is from within these “credentials” that I gratefully conclude and recognize the following:
The Real Christ is simply the E=MC2 of theology, unfolding the deepest mysteries of the Trinity with such profound clarity that every question I have ever had regarding the nature, history and purpose of the Trinity and Christ was answered.
We’ve needed this work of enlightened theological reasoning for centuries and we’re the blessed ones to be around to finally receive it. Perhaps we weren’t ready for it until now. Perhaps our cultural context of increasing religious diversity and our decreasing dependence on the patriarchal worldview, along with the vast positive insights into the quantum level of reality, biology, and cosmology to name a few disciplines, provides the larger story in which Bernadette’s theological narrative was able to be unveiled and understood.
Like other “Einstein’s” of our intellectual heritage, Bernadette has a way of solving the most perplexing theological problems with elegance and simplicity. While there is hardly anything new or unorthodox in what Bernadette has written, it will be evident to anyone with a basic theological background, that a novel, deepened, more honest understanding of the Trinity is revealed through Bernadette’s teaching.
No doubt there will be intense detractors and persistent difficulties with this text. For example, Bernadette’s tone is sometimes overly harsh and her style of writing repetitive and non-scholarly (e.g. missing citations). Her opening “warning” also doesn’t set the most welcoming mood and probably is a bit too polemic for the “average” reader, although having personally encountered criticism and attacks from “bible-only” only Christians, I do understand the intent of such a warning. The truth is that despite the warning, there is nothing in The Real Christ to fear. Nevertheless, bearing through such peculiarities – even quirkiness – of the work will undoubtedly reward the reader with endless AhHa! Moments that, at least for me, brought tears of sheer joy and gratitude, often whispering underneath my breath – Yes! I have known this all my life but never knew how to put it together like this! Nevertheless, my prediction is that The Real Christ will change ecclesiastical history; perhaps on par with Augustine’s Confessions and Aquinas’ Summa. Enduring, The Real Christ, will stand as a monument of light in the shadows of this confounding Kairos moment we face as a species in the early decades of this third millennium of Christian faith.
Regarding such theological confusion, I suspect it’s this way for others too: while the Trinity has been like a profound and bedazzling magic trick that has left me dumbfounded and perplexed, The Real Christ is like the magician taking me behind the stage and revealing how the big trick works – theoretically and experientially. Please don’t let the analogy distract from the importance of what I’m trying to say. The truth is, having read this book, and having participated in a three-day intensive retreat on the subject with Bernadette and 12 other friends, I am more in awe, more in love, more in delight, more devoted and resolved to continue on in the Christian spiritual journey than ever before. This is the book I’ve needed all my life. I am eternally grateful to Bernadette for putting such a fine point to the massive majesty that is the Trinity and the revelation of Christ.
By the way, beginning to understand more deeply and accurately how the “trick of the Trinity” works didn’t spoil God for me, and it won’t for you either. It swept me away deeper in love, amazement and wonder, inspiring me to integrate and share these world-changing and life-transforming ideas as widely and lucidly as possible.
This is a must read book for anyone who has struggled with remaining a Christian or grown frustrated with the banality of what seems to be the “Jesus Industry” of corporate Christianity. Please prayerfully and slowly read The Real Christ. It is full of some of the most liberating and transforming ideas currently available to humankind. It is what Christianity was meant to be and, quite truthfully, must still become. The famous song is true. It’s all amazing grace. The real message of Christianity was lost, but through Bernadette Roberts’ life and writings, it’s been found.
I can’t imagine the price it cost her. Bernadette has said on various occasions that writing this book cost her physical health. Reading it, I can understand why. She even admits in the book that if you think reading it is difficult, you should try writing it. Thankfully, it’s been done and we, the church, we the meandering, musing, mysterious and precarious people of the earth have been given a disruptive grace. We are urged to take up and read, and consider again the complete superstructure that is Christianity so to really discover and really become Christ.
If you have not yet read any of Bernadette’s writing, you may want to begin with her earlier books such as What Is Self or The Experience of No-Self.
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