Everything is Sacred: 40 Reflections on the Universal Christ (Convergent Books, 2021, hardback edition), is based on Richard Rohr’s Universal Christ book, and written in the voice of Richard Rohr’s co-author Patrick Boland, a devout follower of Richard Rohr. The book is divided into 40 reflections designed for the reader to think about Rohr’s ideas in The Universal Christ, including practical exercises the reader is encouraged to use to incorporate these views into his/her life.
Below are highlights that reveal significant departures of this book’s beliefs from historic Christianity. There is too much content to address, so only selected points are given.
The True Self, according to this book, is in God and God is in you — this is true of everyone, including atheists, Hindus, Buddhists, New Agers, witches, Taoists, etc. (Reflection 8). There is no exception because Rohr and Boland believe that the first incarnation of Christ was creation and all are in creation; therefore, all are in Christ.
The False Self is an “illusion” constructed from fears and conditioning, thinking one is separate from God when actually nobody is. In fact, Boland asserts (echoing Rohr) that Paul wrote that no one has ever been separated from God because he used the phrase “in Christ” so many times (Reflection 10). This claim neglects the context and clear meaning of the phrase and takes it literally, which would be comical if it were not harped on so seriously by Rohr and Boland.
The True Self of this book is not the new self or new creation in Christ (John 3;3; 2 Corinthians 2:17; Galatians 6:16) because Boland and Rohr do not believe in the necessity of a regenerated self through faith in Christ. One need only awaken to the original True Self that has always been there.
[Note: By the way, it should be pointed out that Rohr makes a distinction between Jesus and the Universal Christ. They are not one and the same in Rohr’s teachings; see CANA article on Rohr’s book, The Universal Christ.]
Too many Christians, according to the book, have wrongly focused on Genesis 3 instead of Genesis 1, when everything was made “good.” Although Genesis 3 comes after Genesis 1 and reports that sin corrupted creation, Boland and Rohr want the reader to go back to Genesis 1 (Reflection 13). Why? Because Rohr does not think individual sin is an issue; corporate sin is the issue and is what Paul was writing about. (Sin for Paul was “a combination of group blindness or corporate illusion” — Reflection 36).
The book wrongly downgrades or even dismisses accountability for personal sin. Instead, emphasis is placed on one’s supposed natural self in Christ and supposed natural or “primal” goodness. This deceives readers into believing they do not need forgiveness for salvation. This false security may mislead many into rejection of Jesus Christ as the one who died to pay the penalty for sins on the cross (as taught in passages such as Isaiah 53:5; Romans 5:8, 6:23; 1 Corinthians 6:20; Ephesians 1:17; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 2:2; and many others).
Boland and Rohr reject the teaching of Christ’s personal substitutionary atonement on the cross because they believe this is a mere “transactional” deed (Reflection 26). To view the cross this way, as taught by Rohr, is dualistic and may lead to answers but also to “less love.”
Rohr and Boland want everyone to be nondual; that is, to see that everyone is “in” and no one is “out,” because the Universal Christ is inclusive of all. Jesus died as a victim of the Roman Empire and because reality has a “cruciform pattern,” according to Rohr’s teachings. It is through suffering and love that one grows and that is all that is needed, suffering and love. Jesus was merely an example of this.
The book’s teachings on this topic are in stark contrast to the teaching of God’s word that Christ died to pay the penalty for sins, and only through faith in Christ is one given eternal life (Acts 4:12; John 1:29, 3:16, 11:25-26 14:6; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 1:7; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 2:2).
The resurrection of Jesus reflects the fact that resurrection is a “cosmic pattern” (Reflection 32). Denying this pattern and the abundance of God, according to Boland, is a state of negativity called “sin” or “hell.” One is to embrace uncertainty as the path to a more clear understanding of what resurrection really means.
Although Boland does not deny Christ’s resurrection, its centrality in historic Christianity is downgraded to a symbolic general meaning based on Rohr’s outlook.
This resurrection view from Rohr and Boland is in contrast to the teaching of God’s word that the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is part of the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:3-5) and stands as the hope for a bodily resurrection into glory for all who believe in Christ (Romans 6:5, 8:11; 1 Corinthians 6:14, 15:23, 52: 1 Thessalonians 4:14).
Contemplation (Reflections 5, 38 and 39)
All need new “software” instilled and can get this via Contemplation. Rohr and Boland’s definition of contemplation is comprised of mystical practices, such as repeating “sacred” words or following the breath. These techniques take one inward because this is where the Christ-self is, that is the True Self which has always been in Christ (this Perennial understanding is also taught by Rohr follower David G. Benner, author of many “Christian” books).
Contemplation is about “unlearning” since Christians have been taught wrongly and conditioned to believe in a distorted Christianity. This is based on Rohr’s and Boland’s Perennial beliefs that all religions share the same core divine reality (God, who is part of this reality) and are equal paths to this truth. Boland, a psychotherapist, mixes in many of his psychological theories with his Rohr-ish theology.
The above is just a sampling to give evidence to the book’s beliefs that conflict with the historic faith of Christianity confessed for 2,000 years. To address all the major points contrary to the Christian faith would take several pages. Please see the CANA article on Rohr’s book The Universal Christ.
This book needs to be held in the light of God’s word so that its ideas are tested and seen for what they are according to what God has revealed.