Was Christ the one and only son of God or was he simply one of history’s many significant spiritual leaders? Was he a miracle worker who walked on water and rose from the dead, or are these stories about his life simply metaphors imbued with timeless spiritual and moral truths? In this interview, Bruce Sanguin, an ordained minister in the United Church of Canada, speaks to EnlightenNext’s Joel Pitney about how he’s applying cutting-edge models of human development to explain why Christ means so many different things to so many different people.
In his recent book, The Emerging Church, Sanguin uses Spiral Dynamics, the color-coded model of psychological and cultural evolution developed by Don Beck, Chris Cowan, and the twentieth-century psychologist Clare Graves, to describe how Christ is perceived at each level of human development. Sanguin draws on insights from the evolution of his own faith, as well as his more than two decades as pastor to a diverse group of Christians, as he takes listeners on a journey through the different stages of Christianity. At traditional levels, he explains, Christ is seen as the miracle-working son of God. For Christians at the modernist level, Christ is a great moral teacher. To postmodern Christians, he is a compassionate friend, a defender of the poor, and an antiauthoritarian revolutionary. Finally, at the barely emerging integral stage of human development, one awakens to what Sanguin calls the “Cosmic Christ”—an “evolutionary intuition” that relentlessly pulls the individual toward greater and greater spiritual wholeness.