Children of Jesus and Mary: The Order of Christ Sophia

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More About This Textbook


The Order of Christ Sophia (OCS) is a small New Religion which, in the short span of eight years, has evoked intense controversy. An unusual synthesis of traditional Catholicism, esoteric cosmology, and psychology, the OCS already has centers in a dozen major cities in the United States. Thus far, however, it has eluded the attention of scholars of alternative religions. An offshoot of an earlier group, the Holy Order of MANS, the OCS developed a distinctive set of beliefs and practices that set it apart from the mother faith. It has cultivated some curious and provocative features for a Christian-based religion, including the elevation of women to full participation and status within the evolving sacred order. Its treatment of gender is refreshingly egalitarian; women can be priests, and Mary is deified and given equal status with Jesus. Another unusual feature of the group is its emphasis on introspection and intensive psychological and emotional work for all members. Beyond surveying the history, doctrines and practices of this unusual group, Lewis brings data from his study of the OCS to bear on many items of conventional wisdom in the New Religions field. He shows, for example, that far from joining the Order in response to a 'youth crisis,' the average age of new OCS members is 37. This and a number of other characteristics of the OCS membership challenge generally accepted conclusions about recruits to New Religions. Lewis also examines how various theoretical models, such as Rodney Stark's influential model of religious 'success,' pan out when applied to the OCS. In addition to the six core chapters of the book authored by Lewis, three other experts contribute chapters on: the results of personality and I.Q. tests administered to member; membership attitudes; comparison of OCS with mainstream denominations; and sex roles in the OCS.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195378443
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/25/2009
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

James Lewis is Associate Professor of Religion, University of Tromso, Norway.

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 28, 2010

    fascinating and well done

    This book was a fascinating read on multiple levels. First off, it is a detailed look into the world of a present day Order of Christian mystics. The practices of this Order seem to contain all the elements seen in the ancient mystical Christian orders and they seem to espouse the teachings of famous christian mystics such St Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. That alone makes it a worthwhile read. Secondly, the scholarly approach of Lewis places these timeless teachings in the contect of american culture. For anyone interested in Christian mysticism itself and for anyone interested in the study of new religious movements, this Order of Christ Sophia and this book are worth of your attention.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 28, 2010

    Eye-opening Look at a Religion that is Different

    This is a fascinating study of a new religion. It addresses all the questions people have about these things - what are the people like, how does the religion affect people and their lives, what do they believe and how do they operate, and how does this fit in the trend of spirituality in this day and age?
    I think we have to take very seriously any group where the members report such a high satisfaction with how their spiritual needs are met, and whose lives reflect spiritual, psychological and personal growth so dynamically.
    This is a must-read for anyone wanting to know the future of new religion.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2010

    book, poorly researched a disgrace to Oxford.

    Dr. N: Bad book, poorly researched a disgrace to Oxford.
    What's going on here, is this the work of a Ghost writer? How far will Oxford go to dumb down esteemed Academics education that once prided itself on accurate fact and polished editing? In one instance, the author tells us what a couple is thinking!

    The mention of names such as a well known author and expert Steven Hassan and other professionals such as consultant counselor Carol Weis, Gnostic Order of Christ, and the remaining and active founders and members from the Holy Order of MANS is missing a link. No interview was conducted. This book should be recalled, it does not qualify as a reliable educational contribution.

    This book is one sided filled with fiction and hearsay he /she said tabloid. Obviously no research was done there are no interview of the other groups and poorly sited recourses. Obviously someone has paid big for this book of fantasy. It's a shame Oxford allowed such unedited garbage to misfortune the eyes of academic students and researchers.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2010

    clear study of a new religious movement

    This book is informative and clear, written in a style that is enjoyable to read. I recommend this book for anyone curious about new religious movements, or about modern Christian mystics.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2010

    News Flash: Oxford Aids NRM Scholar in an Attempt to Steal HOOM or Oxford Sure Ain't What it Use to Be!

    The book Children of Jesus and Mary the Order of Christ Sophia (OCS) by James R. Lewis and Nicholas M. Levine; Oxford University Press, USA (November 25, 2009) documents a case of what happens when scholars adopt a bias from the beginning and as a result do not adhere to proven methods of historical research. Lewis began and ended this study based on the false assumption that the Order of Christ Sophia (OCS) was a "splinter group" of the Holy Order of MANS (HOOM) ultimately only because, the founder of the OCS said so (11-12).

    In order to substantiate his premise, Lewis, makes fun of and dismisses as irrelevant the primary source testimony of legitimate HOOM priests, who stated clearly the OCS is not rooted in the HOOM and that Bowes was never even a member. Because the author's facts are wrong from the very beginning and because he ignored the primary source testimony of legitimate HOOM priests, Lewis began with a wrong assumption and arrived at entirely the wrong conclusions. Lewis calls the OCS an "ideal study case" to consider in light of Rodney Stark's model of NRMs "how religions succeed'"(xvi) based on the premise that the OCS is a "splinter group of the HOOM, but, since the OCS is not a "splinter group" of the HOOM, the entire premise of the book falls apart.

    Bowes was actually ordained in the Society for Christ's Disciples (SCD) by Master Raeson Ruiz, who, after being kicked out of the HOOM for moral and ethical violations, founded the SCD and ordained priests and teachers in defiance of the HOOM Priesthood. In defiance he also eliminated having a council of Priests, established a dictatorship, changed the ordination sequence, the rituals, the entire format in fact, and the teachings. (Fact vs. Fiction: Peter Bowes' Claims to the Holy Order of MANS by Michael Maciel; Society for Christ's Disciples Ritual Manual (1980-82; Interviews with former SCD members).

    As to Bowes' false claim to have received a HOOM minister's ordination in 1974 by Master Marthelia (who oversaw the Discipleship Instructor program in 1974), she denies it. Maciel reports, she said, "Of course not. Only life-vowed brothers and sisters of the Order were qualified to be ordained.... Never were any of the Discipleship's lay students ordained as HOOM ministers.... McCaffery's husband Phillip corroborates her account, flat out calling Bowes "a liar" (Ibid, Fact vs. Fiction; HOOM By-Laws 1968; Letter from Peter Bowes: HOOM Heartbeat egroup, 2003).

    It is clear this book was devised from a standpoint of biased advocacy, in favor of one NRM over another, solely based on superficial appearances and the one-sided story of a misguided cult entrepreneur. It is also clear that the author failed to perform research according to accepted practices and omitted and twisted vital information that would have destroyed his premise. As a result of bias, Lewis rejected actual primary source testimony that conflicted with his stance, and aided an NRM in asserting a legitimacy it has no real claim to. In the process the author also persecuted innocent individuals. Since when do scholars do that!... This book is definitely a "radical reinterpretation of the past"; in fact it is completely a false rewriting of history (Lewis 2003: 143). Oxford should pull this book, off the shelves and Lewis should be barred from publishing ever again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Science at its Best

    I was truly moved by this book. Though very scientific, it revealed a deeply personal story of a mystical Christian group. Dispelling myths and fear and giving light to a hidden secret.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 28, 2010

    Lewis and Levine Bring Reason to Controversy

    How wonderful to read about a new religious movement in a book that calmly and clearly shows the facts and is also able to present personal stories of devotion and dedication. I was particularily inspired by the strength of the women who have taken on their calling to serve God in the Order of Christ Sophia. Also impressive was the educational level and work ethic of their members. Although the authors did not attempt to persuade the readers opinions about this group, the facts presented speak for themselves.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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