Book Review: The Third Jesus: The Christ We Cannot Ignore by Deepak Chopra
In his book, The Third Jesus, Deepak Chopra attempts to show that Jesus Christ was teaching what is now known as Buddhism/Eastern Mysticism. This claim can only be accomplished by twisting and/or redefining what Jesus said. Mr. Chopra takes this one step further by questioning whether or not Jesus Christ said anything that is recorded in the New Testament, and draws from Gnostic writings for support as to what He supposedly said. He needs to appeal to these extra-biblical documents to help prop up his theology, because if the author doesn't use those documents his argument will be even weaker, if not collapse completely. By doing so Mr. Chopra is clearly displaying an unhealthy dichotomy, by questioning whether or not the New Testament accurately records Jesus' life and words, and yet quoting apocryphal works as if they have more authority. What Mr. Chopra and others like him fail to understand is that their claims that Jesus Christ was actually teaching or espousing Buddhism/Eastern Mysticism originated outside the fold of Christianity. Such teaching has never emanated from within. In reading his book it becomes clear that the author is using the life, works and words of Jesus Christ as a compendium to promote his own theology.
In his book Mr. Chopra engages in a number of factual inaccuracies, some of which are as follows:
- On p. 11 the author states, "But Jesus doesn't mention sin." Anyone with a biblical concordance can and will easily refute this assertion. Some references to where He does can be found in Matthew 12:31; John 8:7, 34; 16: 8,9 and many more. On p. 15 the author wrote, "Jesus calls himself the New Adam." There is no record in the Bible that Jesus Christ actually said this. Clearly if Jesus had indeed uttered these words then Mr. Chopra would have included a reference as to where to find this quote as he does when he so precipitously quotes Jesus throughout his book. However the problem with the quote doesn't stop there. On p. 226 the author writes that the "early Christians declared Christ the New Adam." Clearly the author is exhibiting at the very least confusion and at the most contradiction. But the fear of contradiction need not be a concern to Mr. Chopra since he quotes "one famous Indian spiritual teacher" as having said, "The measure of enlightenment is how comfortable you feel with your own contradictions" (p. 9). Yet on p. 113 the author writes about resolving contradictions. The subject of enlightenment occupies a significant portion of his book.
- On p. 134 Mr. Chopra wrote, "What proof do we have that most of what we call history is authentic?" I would like to respond with the words of the eminent historian Sir Martin Gilbert, "I believe that there is such a thing as 'true history'." Sir Martin believes we can know whether history is authentic, while Mr. Chopra - who is certainly no historian - does not think so. Who is right? The answer to that should be rather obvious.
- On p. 139 the author wrote, "The salvation Jesus offered was the same as Buddha's…" The salvation supposedly offered by Buddha cannot possibly be the same as that offered by Jesus Christ, since Jesus Christ said that He was the only way to God, not Buddha (John 14:6). In addition, the apostle Peter stated "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Salvation is only possible through Jesus Christ, which the above clearly states. There is no biblical warrant for believing that this has been or will be amended.
Who is Jesus Christ?
What does the author himself believe regarding Jesus Christ? He writes, "One Jesus is historical, and we know next to nothing about him. Another Jesus is the one appropriated by Christianity. He was created by the Church to fulfill its agenda" (p. 7 & 8). A Jesus whom millions worship, was built up over thousands of years by theologians and other scholars, but never existed (p. 9). He claims that the writers of the gospels "almost certainly exaggerated events, invented miracles and put words into Jesus' mouth" (p.133), and that "this great text is ambiguous and confusing." Mr. Chopra also claims that Jesus' teachings "have been muddled, obscured, altered, corrupted, and lost over the centuries" (p. 221 & 222). One cannot help thinking that Mr. Chopra believes that Christian scholars and theologians are guilty of perpetrating a fraud and are complicit in a massive conspiracy. This "Third Jesus" that Mr. Chopra believes or confesses is nothing more than an "enlightened master" (p. 154) and "a simple teacher" (p. 186). With the author doubting so much - if not all - of the Scriptures one has to wonder why the he utilizes a significant portion of it to try and prove his case for this "Third Jesus?" The question must be asked as to why would the author be willing to promote this "Third Jesus" from a source he considers unreliable?
Does Mr. Chopra believe that Jesus Christ actually rose from the dead? The author informs us that, "With the resurrection a flesh-and-blood man was transformed into completely divine substance-the Holy Spirit" (p. 136). What the author is saying is that Jesus Christ rose spiritually, but not physically. However the Bible fails to support such a supposition. The case for a physical resurrection must be considered overwhelming given that after the Resurrection Jesus Christ stood before His disciples as a person and not as a spirit: "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have" (Luke 24:39). Jesus could not have remained in the grave else His body would have decayed and Scripture states this did not occur (Acts 13:35-37)! Given this evidence, how can one maintain that the Resurrection was anything but physical?
Mr. Chopra not only demonstrates his antipathy towards Christian fundamentalism, but presents a very narrow definition of it as well. The most obvious and frightening example is given on p. 229 where he refers to a television news feature about the ideology of a Christian woman just graduated from a Christian law school, who is quoted as having said, "I believe in absolute truth" among other things. He notes that she closely echoes the ideology of the jihadists who strap themselves to suicide bombs because for them truth is absolute. No, Mr. Chopra! The reason jihadists are willing to kill themselves and others by becoming suicide bombers is that they are told if they do this they will gain immediate entrance into paradise for doing so. Any and every true Christian would not only find this suicidal and homicidal theology repulsive, they know there is absolutely no biblical warrant for it. Doesn't the sixth commandment tell us, "You shall not murder" (Exodus 20:13)? Mr. Chopra's conception of truth is, "Absolute truth is blind truth" (p. 229), and that truth is relative (p. 231).
The Second Coming - according to Mr. Chopra - is not Jesus returning physically to raise the dead from the graves, but will be a shift in consciousness (p. 40). Yet as Jesus was ascending into heaven two angels said to the assembled crowd, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11). A physical return, not a shift in consciousness, is clearly intended.
Using apocryphal works by non-Christian sects, Deepak Chopra tries to
persuade readers that Jesus Christ was nothing like the Jesus of the Bible's New
Testament, which he dismisses as purely propaganda. The Third Jesus
attempts to demote Jesus Christ from that of Deity and Savior to that of an
enlightened master of Mr. Chopra’s own creation (and religion).
- Is the Bible Really the Word of God?
- Is Our Copy of the Bible a Reliable Copy of the Original or Has it Been Changed?
- History of the Bible: How The Bible Came To Us
Last Modified April 15, 2008