Joseph Sieber Benner (1872-1938) was an Ohio businessman who came to believe that God had appointed him to serve as a medium and published a series of books containing messages he claimed came from Jesus Christ.
According to Jon Klimo, author of Channeling: Investigations on Receiving Information for God, Benner became convinced that he was called to be a “devoted channel” for God and received messages which supposedly came through automatic writing.
“[B]y 1916, Benner said he felt he could no longer resist the growing inclination to give himself over as a vehicle to a larger presence, to let his mind be subsumed by (or co-creatively interact with) a larger Mind or Being,” Klimo wrote.
Benner’s first book, The Impersonal Life, published under the pseudonym of “Anonymous,” contains revelations he believed came directly from God.
For example, one of the messages Benner received was: “I your divine SELF, the ‘I AM’ of you, bring to you this My Message, My Living Word, as I have brought to you everything in life, be it book or MASTER, to teach you that I, and I alone, your own True Self, am the Teacher for you, the only Teacher, and the one true God’.”
These messages, which became known as the “I AM” teachings, are expounded upon in several books, including The Impersonal Life. Essentially, Benner taught that everyone has a both a personal and an impersonal self. Our personal self is directed by our mind and senses while our impersonal self is more like an invisible intelligence that animates all of life.
As the late Wayne Dyer explains, this invisible intelligence “is responsible for all of your deepest desires. It allows your fingernails to grow, your heart to beat, and it is the Force that supports all of life everywhere. To appreciate the presence of this Force, you must get away from the consciousness of your body and intellect, which have long held you enslaved.”
As this site, devoted to spreading the work of Benner, explains: “In The Impersonal Life you are shown that it is really God who is living in your body and is your Real Self, and that you are of no importance whatsoever, either to yourself or to the world at large, until you recognize this great truth in a more or less conscious and intelligent way. This, of course, is not easy to grasp by a mind that considers you and itself separate and apart from God.”
In other words, we are all gods – a classic teaching of the New Age.
It’s basis in pantheism is evidenced by the following statement: “Now consider that the life that grew you and is living you is the same life that is growing the grass, the flowers, the trees, the animals and all humanity, and is so wise and powerful a life that despite every obstacle it develops all to the maturity of that which it is their destiny to be. Did you or anyone of these others have any conscious part in the direction of or actual process of such growing?”
Followers of Benner are advised to meditate on these principles. For instance, the Sun Group, which was founded in Ohio in 1920 and based on Benner’s teachings, advocated a meditative practice of entering “into the silence, stillness and peace” each day at noon. Two years after Benner’s death in 1938, the group moved their headquarters to Buffalo, New York.
In 2014, groups of students of Benner’s writing who had been practicing his teachings for decades in the Philippines, formed a group known as SUN CENTER, to continue the spiritual work of the Ohio-based Sun Center. Their priority is to publish Benner’s unpublished or out-of-print books.The group has published two sequels to The Impersonal Life.
Benner’s writing are problematic on many levels, not least of which is the claim to be channeling God and the reliance upon automatic writing – both of which are occult arts.
The pantheistic nature of the teachings and belief that God is our Real Self is a core teaching of the New Age.
Needless to say, Benner’s works should be strictly avoided.