'Third Jesus' Author to Discuss 'What Jesus Really Taught' in Web Series

The author of controversial book The Third Jesus will be discussing "what Jesus really taught" and how it can be applied in today's world through a six-part Web series that will be aired by an equally controversial group.

The online radio series is set to begin Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET, according to Paula Coppel, vice president of Communications at Unity School of Christianity in Unity Village, Mo. Unity School of Christianity and its affiliated organizations, like author Deepak Chopra, have been criticized for their belief that Jesus was only a man who attained a higher mental state, among other controversial ideas.

"We came up with the idea for this series after Oprah Winfrey's successful webcasts last spring with Eckhart Tolle on his book 'A New Earth,'" said Coppel in a released statement, referring to another book that has drawn criticism from the conservative Christian community.

"The Web series contends that Jesus was not trying to start a new religion, nor was he aiming his teachings at some people and not others," Coppel added. "He was pointing the way for all of us to experience the awakening that he himself had experienced."

According to Chopra, there is not one Jesus, but three.

"First there is the historical Jesus, the man who lived more than two thousand years ago and whose teachings are the foundation of Christian theology and thought," he explains in his book. "Next there is Jesus, the Son of God, who has come to embody an institutional religion with specific dogma, a priesthood, and devout believers."

Then there is the "third Jesus," says Chopra, "the cosmic Christ, the spiritual guide whose teaching embraces all humanity, not just the church built in his name."

"He speaks to the individual who wants to find God as a personal experience, to attain what some might call grace, or God-consciousness, or enlightenment," the author contends.

Since the release of The Third Jesus earlier this year, a number of heated debates have flared up amid its rising popularity. While some say the book is helpful in deepening understanding of how God works in the world, others are quick to criticize it for undermining the credibility of the gospels and asserting that the orthodox version of Christianity is nothing more than a sham.

"It is obvious that when Chopra approaches the New Testament he is so blinded by his New Age 'light' that he can only see that which supports it," wrote Kelly Boggs, editor of the Baptist Message, the newspaper of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, in a column appearing in Baptist Press.

"As such, he cherry picks quotes of Jesus and twists them to fit his New Age version of a 'third Jesus,'" added Boggs, who argues that "Chopra's 'third Jesus' is no Jesus at all."

"He is nothing more than the figment of a New Age imagination."

The upcoming Web series, which will be available free at www.unity.fm, will feature in-depth discussions between Chopra and series host, the Rev. Wendy Craig-Purcell, founding minister of The Unity Center in San Diego.

Craig-Purcell sees the series as especially appealing to those who consider themselves "spiritual more than religious" as well as "Christians with questions."

Her organization, however, and the several other Unity groups founded by Charles and Myrtle Fillmore have been criticized for a number of teachings that conflict with orthodox Christianity, including the belief in reincarnation and the denial of heaven and hell's existence.