The Universal Christ

A RESOURCE COLLECTION

BUY THE BOOK

The Universal Christ

A RESOURCE COLLECTION

BUY THE BOOK

Incarnation is the oldest Christian story. Through Christ, God is pouring God's self into all creation. To be Christian, then, is to see Christ in every thing. Richard Rohr

This resource collection, created by the Center for Action and Contemplation, will help you explore the Universal Christ whether or not you read the book. Enjoy the podcast, videos, essays, and stories that provide different perspectives and insight into this transformative reality.  

Some things are just too big to be contained in the pages of a book. They reveal themselves as we test, practice, and integrate ideas into our lives and communities. Many of us begin with an image of Jesus when we think about Christ. We hope that as you explore this site and these teachings you might rediscover Jesus and learn to experience Christ in every thing.  

About the Author

Fr. Richard Rohr is a Franciscan priest of the New Mexico Province and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Fr. Richard’s teaching is grounded in the Franciscan alternative orthodoxy—practices of contemplation and self-emptying, expressing itself in radical compassion.  

Learn more about Fr. Richard’s Daily Meditations and sign up to recieve the free emails. Follow @RichardRohrOFM on Twitter.

Author photo Richard Rohr

Opening Themes

Christ is not Jesus’ last name. 

“Christ has existed 'from the beginning', so the Christ cannot be the same as Jesus.” 

Original goodness. 

"The Christian story line must start with a positive and over-arching vision for humanity and for history, or it will never get beyond the primitive, exclusionary, and fear-based strategies of most early human development.” 

Accept being fully accepted. 

"God’s infinite love has always included all that God created from the very beginning. The connection is inherent and absolute." 

Love is the meaning.

“Love is a universal language and underlying energy that keeps showing itself despite our best efforts to resist it.” 

See Christ in every thing.

“I have never been separate from God, nor can I be, except in my mind.” 

A sacred wholeness.

“The full journey towards wholeness must always include the negative experiences—the cross—that we usually reject.”  

Opening Themes

Christ is not Jesus’ last name.  

“Christ has existed 'from the beginning', so the Christ cannot be the same as Jesus.” 

Accept being fully accepted.  

"God’s infinite love has always included all that God created from the very beginning. The connection is inherent and absolute." 

See Christ in every thing.  

“I have never been separate from God, nor can I be, except in my mind.” 

Original goodness.  

"The Christian story line must start with a positive and over-arching vison for humanity and for history, or it will never get beyond the primitive, exclusionary, and fear-based strategies of most early human development.” 

Love is the meaning.  

“Love is a universal language and underlying energy that keeps showing itself despite our best efforts to resist it.” 

A sacred wholeness.  

“The full journey towards wholeness must always include the negative experiences—the cross—that we usually reject.”  

An Introduction

To say "I believe in Jesus Christ" isn't one belief statement but two. Jesus is God individual and personal; Christ is God everywhere and universal.  

In this five-minute video, Richard introduces what he means when he says "Universal Christ" and how we can know that Christ preceded Jesus by over 13 billion years. You'll also get the backstory on the original subtitle of the book. 

Christ is not the same as Jesus. 

If you have 10 minutes, consider downloading this essay that explores some of the primary themes of the book. Richard reflects on why the Apostle Paul might have used the phrase "in Christ" over a hundred times but rarely mentioned Jesus by name or quoted him directly. He looks at why Matthew, Mark, and Luke all focused on Jesus' birth, but John didn’t mention it; instead, John went all the way back to "in the beginning."  

Download the Essay

Perspectives on the Christ

Jesus is personal and Christ universal

I have to admit that when I first heard about this book I rolled my eyes. "Universal Christ" is often used in a way that extracts, commodifies, and generalizes the moral principles of Jesus Christ so that all particularity disappears. But that is not what Richard is doing.  

Cynthia Bourgeault, CAC Core Faculty  

The Universal Christ James Finley

Learning to see Christ 

What are the little moments and who are the people in our life that are the infinite mystery of Christ pouring itself out to us?  

Richard's great gift is saying very profound things in a very simple and accessible way that doesn’t water down his message.  

James Finley, CAC Core Faculty 

Teachers and Thinkers

The Universal Christ Joshua Tree

The Universal Christ and Climate Change

We do not meet God only in Jesus of Nazareth, because God is also incarnate in our world as the Universal Christ. Christians have always known this because an incarnate God is a world-loving God, but now it takes on new meaning and depth as we realize the radical interrelationship and interdependence of all forms of life.

Sallie McFague

Download PDF
The Universal Christ Desert Desert Landscape

The Apophatic Christ

The Apophatic Christ is an encounter with the intense presence of divine intimacy that pierces our depth with the world’s suffering and the limitless love of the divine. Such moments of transcendence are not a source of absolutizing truth, but the radical reversal of self-interest and entrance into the mystery that defies naming: sacrifice and adoration, death and rebirth, humility and gratitude. It is universal because it is present in every religious story and permeates all beings and spheres of reality.

Beverly Lanzetta

The Universal Christ Desert Landscape

Christ as the Future Incarnate

Humanity’s biggest problems and most intractable predicaments stem from the failure of its dominant religions to ensure that every aspect of society is accountable to the future. When systems of governance and economics, for example, are free to operate in ways that are heedless of the future, society is propelled on a course that inevitably becomes self-destructive.

Michael Dowd

The Universal Christ Desert Landscape

The Coming of the Cosmic Christ

If the Cosmic Christ perspective sounds "all new'" to us, it means that, to the extent that we have been ignorant of the Cosmic Christ, we who call ourselves Christian, followers of Jesus, have been on a detour from our roots for centuries. We have set ourselves up for the damaging psychologizing of religion, the anthropocentrizing of religion, what Pope Francis accurately calls the "narcissism" that feeds too much of religion and society in general.

Matthew Fox

Teachers and Thinkers

The Universal Christ Joshua Tree


The Universal Christ and Climate Change

We do not meet God only in Jesus of Nazareth, because God is also incarnate in our world as the Universal Christ. Christians have always known this because an incarnate God is a world-loving God, but now it takes on new meaning and depth as we realize the radical interrelationship and interdependence of all forms of life.

Sallie McFague

The Universal Christ Desert Desert Landscape


The Apophatic Christ

The Apophatic Christ is an encounter with the intense presence of divine intimacy that pierces our depth with the world’s suffering and the limitless love of the divine. Such moments of transcendence are not a source of absolutizing truth, but the radical reversal of self-interest and entrance into the mystery that defies naming: sacrifice and adoration, death and rebirth, humility and gratitude. It is universal because it is present in every religious story and permeates all beings and spheres of reality.

Beverly Lanzetta

The Universal Christ Desert Landscape


Christ as the Future Incarnate

Humanity’s biggest problems and most intractable predicaments stem from the failure of its dominant religions to ensure that every aspect of society is accountable to the future. When systems of governance and economics, for example, are free to operate in ways that are heedless of the future, society is propelled on a course that inevitably becomes self-destructive.

Michael Dowd

The Universal Christ Desert Landscape


The Coming of the Cosmic Christ

If the Cosmic Christ perspective sounds "all new'" to us, it means that, to the extent that we have been ignorant of the Cosmic Christ, we who call ourselves Christian, followers of Jesus, have been on a detour from our roots for centuries. We have set ourselves up for the damaging psychologizing of religion, the anthropocentrizing of religion, what Pope Francis accurately calls the "narcissism" that feeds too much of religion and society in general.

Matthew Fox

Exploring the Christ 

Father Richard Teaching on the Universal Christ

It took me longer to write this than any book before. I want people to recognize something that is thoroughly biblical, but never the mainline tradition. What I’m trying to say for most of you will sound very new and very different. —Richard Rohr

This hour-long video provides a deeper exploration into the Universal Christ. Father Richard delivers a framework for reading Scripture and understanding church history that demonstrates how these ideas have been a part of the Christian tradition since the beginning.  

History of the Christ

In this fifteen-minute video, Father Richard explains how a succession of medieval scholars developed a theology around the religious and spiritual intuitions of Saint Francis of Assisi. He highlights how God has always spoken through creation since the beginning of time. Rohr invites viewers into the struggle of understanding the Christ mystery. 

The History of Christ - The Universal Christ

In this nine-minute video, Father Richard shows that the Universal Christ is rooted deeply in tradition. He highlights the story of St. Ignatius of Antioch who began using the term “catholic” or "universal" to describe the Christian Church. He highlights what Christianity has lost through the separation of Eastern and Western churches. We need to regain an understanding of “original goodness.”

The History of Christ - The Universal Christ

In this ten-minute video, Father Richard looks at what was gained and lost in the Protestant Reformation and the challenges for Western religion that come through the Enlightenment. He encourages viewers to try and engage the Universal Christ not just as a rational idea but a participatory reality.

Christ in the West and East

Click Image for Larger View

A Western depection of Christ. The Resurrection, by Andrea di Bonaiuto, 1365-1367, Spanish Chapel, Cappellone degli Spagnoli, Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, Florence, Italy.

The Universal Christ

Click Image for Larger View

An Eastern depiction of Christ. Apse of parecclesion, Church of the Savior in Chora (Kariye Muzesi), Istanbul, Turkey. 

East Vs West The Universal Christ

The Eastern Orthodox Church has long held a different view of Christ’s resurrection than many Western Christians. This is evident in much of Eastern religious art, as John Dominic Crossan explores in his book Resurrecting Easter. The images above contrast a typical Western representation of the resurrected Christ (left)—floating around people and the world—with an Eastern portrait of Christ (right) destroying the gates of hell and pulling all people to Christ's self. Join Father Richard Rohr, John Dominic Crossan, Jacqui Lewis, and artist Janet McKenzie for a webcast exploring these themes and more. Participate in the live event March 28-31 or watch later. 

Christ in the West and East

Click Image for Larger View

A Western depection of Christ. The Resurrection, by Andrea di Bonaiuto, 1365-1367, Spanish Chapel, Cappellone degli Spagnoli, Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, Florence, Italy.

The Universal Christ

Click Image for Larger View

An Eastern depiction of Christ. Apse of parecclesion, Church of the Savior in Chora (Kariye Muzesi), Istanbul, Turkey. 

East Vs West The Universal Christ

The Eastern Orthodox Church has long held a different view of Christ’s resurrection than many Western Christians. This is evident in much of Eastern religious art, as John Dominic Crossan explores in his book Resurrecting Easter. The images above contrast a typical Western representation of the resurrected Christ (left)—floating around people and the world—with an Eastern portrait of Christ (right) destroying the gates of hell and pulling all people to Christ's self. Join Father Richard Rohr, John Dominic Crossan, Jacqui Lewis, and artist Janet McKenzie for a webcast exploring these themes and more. Participate in the live event March 28-31 or watch later. 

Visionaries in History

The Universal Christ Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene 1st Century CE

"I have seen the Lord." Read More

Athanasius of Alexandria

Athanasius of Alexandria c. 296-373

"All things have been filled with the knowledge of God." Read More

Gregory of Nyssa

Gregory of Nyssa c. 335-c. 395

"Concepts create idols; only wonder grasps anything." Read More

The Universal Christ Augustine of Hippo

Augustine of Hippo c. 354-430

"Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee." Read More

Maximus the Confessor c. 580-662

"Just as the thought of fire does not warm the body, so faith without love does not actualize the light of spiritual knowledge in the soul." Read More

Universal Christ John of Damascus

John of Damascus c. 675-c. 749 

"We must thank God for all created things, and show Him perpetual worship, as from Him and through Him all creation takes its being and subsists." Read More

Universal Christ Saint Francis

Francis of Assisi 1181-1226

"While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart." Read More

Mechthild of Magdeburg

Mechthild of Magdeburg c. 1207-c. 1282 

"The day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw and knew I saw all things in God and God in all things." Read More

The Universal Christ Saint Bonaventure

Bonaventure 1221-1274

"If you do not know your own dignity and condition, you cannot value anything at its proper worth." Read More

John Duns Scotus c. 1265-1308

"Our predestination to glory is prior by nature to any notion of sin." Read More

Julian of Norwich

Julian of Norwich 1342-1416

"Know it well, love is its meaning. Who reveals this to you? Love. What does he reveal? Love. Why? For Love." Read More

Etty Hillesum 1914-1943 

"Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it toward others." Read More

The Universal Christ Caryll Houselander

Caryll Houselander 1901-1954

"The sense of the joy in anything is the sense of Christ." Read More

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin 1881-1955

"Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God." Read More

Thomas Merton 1915-1968

"No despair of ours can alter the reality of things, nor stain the joy of the cosmic dance, which is always there." Read More

Book Companion Guide

The Universal Christ is not just an idea but a reality to live and experience. This companion guide for groups includes invitations to deeper reflection, contemplative practice, embodiment, and practical application. It also includes a section to support facilitators, whether you’re already part of a group or would like to start one. The guide is available as a free PDF download or purchase a printed copy for only $5.  

Listen to the Podcast

Another Name for Every Thing is a conversation series on the themes from the book. Richard is joined by two students of the Christian contemplative path, Brie Stoner and Paul Swanson, who seek to integrate the wisdom of The Universal Christ amidst diapers, disruptions, and the shifting state of our world. Listen wherever you follow podcasts. 

Students of the Way

The Universal Christ Book Trailer

Friends of Fr. Richard and the Center for Action and Contemplation join together in sharing the message of the Universal Christ. Using images from the book along with their own words, these courageous voices help us imagine what it means to see Christ in every one and every thing.

The Universal Christ

The image of God is inside you.

A group of church leaders from across the country, joined Richard for a retreat to learn about and experience the Universal Christ. A few of them graciously share their stories and insights.