A new book out by a holistic health guru has some surprising content - not about health, but about Jesus Christ.
Best-selling author Deepak Chopra says Jesus is a state of mind rather than the historical rabbi of Nazareth or the Son of God.
"My book is about Jesus as a state of consciousness," said Chopra, who is considered a pioneer of mind-body alternative medicine. "If I can aspire - maybe not achieve - but aspire to be in that state of mind and if a lot of people were aspiring to be in that state of mind this would be a better world."
Chopra's book, "The Third Jesus: The Christ We Cannot Ignore" - which he calls "a Cosmic Christ" - looks at Jesus as a spiritual guide whose teaching embraces all humanity, not just the church built in his name. Chopra argues that Christ speaks to the individual who wants to find God as a personal experience.
"I said to myself, 'Why not write a book that takes Jesus' teachings - and it doesn't matter if you're Christian or not - and learn from this and improve your life,"' he told The Associated Press.
Skip Horton-Parker, a professor of Theology and Religious Studies at Regent University, says Chopra is right that Jesus' teachings can benefit anyone, but individuals who think of Christ as he does are missing out.
"The disconnect between Chopra's approach to 'wisdom' and what Christianity would say about true wisdom, is his basic metaphysical assumption that all is 'consciousness,' and that 'the highest level of consciousness' is synonymous with God," he said. "In (Chopra's approach), Jesus is depersonalized and any who attempt to make themselves over in the image of 'Jesus as gnosis' are depersonalized as well."
Chopra references the New Testament and Gnostic Gospels to deconstruct church doctrine and conservative Christianity on issues such as war, abortion, women's rights, and homophobia.
"I see blogs every day that are negative and very nasty because this is not a literalist interpretation of Jesus," Chopra said.
He added that he has been fascinated with Jesus and concepts within "The Third Jesus" for some 25 years.
Chopra says his next book will be a fictional account of "Jesus' missing years."
"Where else do you read a story of the Son of God being executed by their own?" he said. "It is dramatic. It's three years of his teaching and it has shaped the world for 2000 years."
Sources: CBN News, The Associated Press