The terms ‘Transcendent Christ, and ‘Immanent Christ’ are terms which are little used today but their difference is important. One reason for this importance is because these terms help us to understand the nature of the second Person of the Trinity.
While saying ‘Jesus Christ’ is commonly, and not incorrectly, used it is nevertheless limiting. The Transcendent Christ is the primal fount, the principio which means the ‘principle’ or ‘beginning’ found in Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1. The Transcendent Christ is the Logos or Word through whom all things were created.
Illuminated manuscript with the Holy Trinity in the Book of Hours of Francis I
On the other hand the ‘Immanent Christ’ expresses the nature of Christ as He is encountered in the world. This encounter is in two ways. One is in the historical Jesus the other is as the divine indwelling, the Christ within.
Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Col. 1:26-27)
The divine essence exists as a tiny spark in each of us but as we gradually make progress on the spiritual journey that spark gradually grows brighter until it becomes a great flame. It is this flame which transforms us, which makes us truly holy, which makes us saints and this mystery still remains hidden from those who see the mundane things of the world as their gods. The Immanent Christ is encountered in our hearts.
When considering the historical Jesus, He was the Christ, the Messiah, the anointed one in whom the fullness of the Transcendent Christ was manifested. Now there is a little trick which can be used to gain a better understanding of many things in the Gospels. It is to mentally separate ‘Jesus’ and ‘Christ’. See Jesus was the man and regard ‘Christ’ as referring to the fully manifested Logos. Then, sometimes, if you regard it as Christ speaking rather than Jesus, a better understanding of the meaning can be grasped, as in the following text:
I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. (Jn. 14:18-20)
As we make progress spiritually we no longer need to believe in Christ because we come to know Him as through the experience of the very real presence of Christ with, who is the hope of our glory. There is a deep inner excitement to be experienced with each new discovery, at each step forward along the way. So do not stay on the side lines but start embracing the Christian Way more fully today.
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