Book Club: The Universal Christ


“There is only Christ. He is everything and he is in everything."
– Colossians 3:11

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Never have I read a book so provocative as Father Richard Rohr’s The Universal Christ: How a forgotten reality can change everything we see, hope for and believe. Stop what you’re doing and find out why this is a must-read book.

The Gist

Father Rohr boldly and tenderly introduces the book to us by dedicating it to his black lab who passed away in his arms. He writes: “I dedicate this book to my beloved fifteen-year-old black Lab, Venus, whom I had to release to God while beginning to write this book. Without any apology, lightweight theology, or fear of heresy, I can appropriately say that Venus was also Christ for me.” The last part of his dedication (“Venus was also Christ for me”) sets the tone for the rest of the book.

Father Rohr’s words in The Universal Christ are eloquent, profound, heartwarming and mind blowing all at the same time.

I have never been separate from God, nor can I be, except in my mind.
— Father Rirchard Rohr, The Universal Christ

The first distinction Father Rohr makes is the difference between Jesus and Christ. People are used to hearing “Jesus Christ”, however that is an incorrect and lazy combination. The more accurate reference is Jesus the Christ. This then begs the question: what is Christ? In his first chapter Rohr explores this mystery and shows through scriptural and theological references that the Christ existed from the beginning, and therefore “Christ cannot be coterminous with Jesus.”

The Universal Christ is split into two parts: The first part named “Another Name for Every Thing” covers topics such as: Christ in us and Christ in everything; original goodness instead of original sin; and a sacred wholeness. The second part is named “The Great Comma” which covers topics such as why Jesus died; being connected together; Eastern and Western Christian perspectives; and hearing versus knowing and doing.

Why You Need to Read It

Some might say that this book is heretical. And perhaps they are right. If heresy means going against the grain of mainstream conservative evangelical Christianity then Father Richard Rohr is unapologetically heretical, and I’m here for it.

Rohr foresees this concern and writes: “This is not heresy, universalism, or a cheap version of Unitarianism. This is the Cosmic Christ, who always was, who became incarnate in time, and who is still being revealed. We would have helped history and individuals so much more if we had spent our time revealing how Christ is everywhere instead of proving that Jesus was God” (Father Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ).

Our central message again bears repeating: God loves things by becoming them. We love God by continuing the same pattern.
— Father Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ

This book will give you a deeper, more mystical (whole) understanding of the Christ that will completely shift the way you think about faith and the way you see people in your day-to-day life. This shift in thinking could permeate every aspect of your life. Rohr however doesn’t see it as a new, completely different perspective, rather, a return to something the first Christians understood but that was later marred by imperialism and Westernized Christianity.

This book would be an incredible addition to book clubs and bible studies with the Companion Guide for Groups. The Universal Christ will be sure to draw forth profound conversations and new perspectives.