Book review: The Christ is Not a Person

by J. C. Tefft


As a colleague often proclaims, “Christianity is the belief that history is heading somewhere.” Tefft would agree. It’s heading toward an eternal consciousness. Tefft embraces the wonder of evolution instead of grudgingly accepting its possibility and then dismissing it into a corner. But more than mere biological evolution, Tefft sees the development of life as a gradual transition into conscious awareness. We see this on a macro scale, as we compare minerals to plants to animals to man to God. 

Here, “God” is the all-pervading Intelligence or Spirit that motivates Creation, guiding us slowly toward ultimate Consciousness. You’ll want to read this definition twice: “What is called the Christ in New Testament Biblical lore is not a person born two thousand years ago, but can be likened to a new unseen faculty or capability that exists within the field of omnipresent Energy at the ‘entrance’ to the Kingdom of Heaven.”

So Tefft is clearly not a Christian in the conservative or exclusive sense of the word. He notes that Pure Consciousness came to light hundreds of years before Jesus, through at least two people that we know of–the Buddha and Lao Tse–though there were probably others. This acceptance of other traditions is important; religious authorities have tended to dwell on the differences that separate their way of thinking from others, rather than the similarities, and this closed-minded approach will never fully approach truth. However, the focus of Tefft’s book is on the Bible.

Tefft reads the Bible with both scholarly and spiritual insight. He leans toward to a non-conservative dating of the Bible’s books. For example, the Gospels were written between the years of 64CE and 100CE by authors who had never known Jesus personally; the books of Moses are compilations of multiple authors with multiple agendas; and so on. We cannot, therefore, expect perfection among these writings, as if the Bible can in its entirety be read in a spiritual manner. There is much in the Bible that belongs to antiquity, and while such material may be of historical interest to some (read: Lee Harmon), it is of little value in the realization of enlightenment (read: J.C. Tefft). Sigh. Now I have to read all the Bible.

And in this book, I nearly did read all of the Bible, or at least it feels like it. This is no beach read. Tefft has amassed and explained a huge number of scriptural passages, such that his book becomes almost a Bible in itself. You’ll relearn the story of creation, the flood, Jacob’s ladder, the ten commandments, and more, arriving at Jesus in the second half of the book. Tackle this one if you’re really ready for a spiritual transformation, not merely looking for some surface-skimming entertainment. I struggled a little; I think I would have preferred for Tefft to give me Jesus first, or least his coverage of the Lord’s Prayer, so I can see where we’re heading. Then I could more easily appreciate the Old Testament stories. 

Tefft’s interpretation appeals to me as another window to truth, recognizing that religious truth is many-faceted. I think his view is mystical, meaningful, uplifting, and that it promotes human kindness. In other words, all the things that make for a good religion or humanitarian philosophy. Highly recommended. And yet … for myself, I find that I’m too mired in the historical-critical method of reading scripture to be able to seriously approach the Bible in this fashion. Jesus, yes; the rest of the Bible; no. Tefft’s method of reading the Bible is fascinating and spiritually uplifting, but I can’t imagine that this is the way the writers of the Bible intended their words to be read.

The fact is, I had the book pegged for a 4-star review all the way until the last fifteen pages, when Tefft came through with an epilogue summary that was concise and uplifting. Of the events leading up to Jesus, Tefft writes,

“After Moses, enlightened souls the likes of Saul, David, Isaiah, and Jeremiah arose over the years within Israelite society–the later ones proclaiming a new Kingdom yet to come, and Kingdom unlike any they had known before … It turned out to be a Kingdom that is within Man … as one awakens to the living Christ within, one is shown how to approach Life with Love in one’s heart.” 



  1. Lee, a great review…but I wonder…how can you read so many interpretations and remain devout? I have always been open, or at least I thought I was…but some of the material being written is so “out there” that you don’t know what to “accept”… If faith is based upon beliefs, how do you maintain faith? Just wondering…

    Best, Glenda

  2. Hi, Glenda!

    I’m not really sure “devout” is the proper word for me. For example, I don’t relate “faith” to “belief” … the latter of which of which I have very little.

    I embrace the mystery of God, and I doubt I will ever again join a denomination with a statement of beliefs … I would not only lose interest in the quest, I would lose my faith, which would then turn into a stale set of beliefs.

    Short answer: Faith is NOT based upon beliefs.

  3. Lee,

    Your “Short answer” – “Faith is NOT based upon beliefs” resonates with me.

    So how would you define faith?



  4. you guys do ask the tough questions! How about providing your answer as well?

    Faith is mysterious, I don’t know how I would define it precisely. However, it would be wrapped up in the comfort that life does have purpose and meaning, things fall together for good when we obey that purpose, and that we appear to be on the right track with our religions and their emphasis on love and kindness.

  5. Lee,

    Thanks for taking a shot at it! I’m sitting with it… and perhaps can provide the answer one day!

    In my case, I’m feeling like past training that has tied faith to a set of beliefs and judgments is clouding the simplicity of a clear definition.

    Robert from

  6. Hi again Lee… and Robert (I like your site name!)

    Sorry, that hasn’t helped…me, at least. OK, I’ve gone to the point where some believe in God, and that globally nearly all are willing to accept that, no matter what they call Him…I recognize that each has been born into a cultural or religious background so that family ties are a major part of establishing spirituality at first…But, somewhere along the line I wrote a little article where I proclaimed that you can’t depend upon those beliefs to establish your own…so, I’ve been somewhat dubious myself, especially related to the Bible being totally true and written by God…

    The thing is that, via beliefs, I have been led into a number of spiritual activities, such as being born in the holy spirit. If you discredit beliefs, do you not also discredit your own personal experiences and how they came about?

    If faith is mysterious, then, me as a mystery lover, want to solve the mystery…why? As I grow older and see more, I don’t feel that “comfort” that I once did. Nor do I feel that our “religions” are on the right track, at least in the local churches I’ve visited. There is, in my opinion, no longer a feeling of His spirit there… I guess, for me, if I eliminate Jesus who left His Holy Spirit, then how is there is a personal relationship with God, or is there?

  7. Hi Glenda, I share your frustration that we seem to be moving very slowly in figuring God out, but we may as well embrace the mystery while the quest continues.

    There are a number of mysteries known to science, things that “work” but we don’t understand why. We productively use the equations developed through quantum theory, yet we don’t understanding the workings.

    A friend loves the word “paradigm”…Jesus and Christianity is one person’s paradigm, while another may have an entirely different one, both of whom share the experience without a full understanding. And, part of the experience seems to be relating to the paradigm…the experience loses much of its meaning without a belief in Jesus, or Mohammed, or whomever.

    Regardless, I personally don’t mix my quest for understanding with my discipleship of Jesus. For me, the latter is more of a humanitarian philosophy than a set of religious beliefs. My own books derive from a fascinating scholarly quest to learn how Christian beliefs developed, and that’s what I pass on here on my blog as well…that and book reviews…I surely don’t pretend to be anyone’s pastor or spiritual advisor. 😉

  8. Anonymous

    Hi Lee…it’s Selah here,

    I think I’d like to read “The Christ is not a Person.” I also just wanted to agree with you about “embracing the mystery of God.” We simply cannot know God altogether, for He is too much for us. If we could solve the mystery, would He be God?

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE being on the Quest. I exercise my faith through a belief system that includes Jesus Christ, but it is definitely not typical Christianity. I like Tefft’s quote at the end of your original message here.


  9. Selah!! It’s good to hear from you!

    As I wrote, it’s not an easy read, but there is a lot in there.

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