The easiest way to introduce the idea behind The Universal Christ is to understand that, “Jesus last name isn’t Christ.”
Richard Rohr says this to make the point that the Christ, which is also described as the Word in John 1, existed long before the man Jesus did. However, the Christ became incarnate (put on flesh) in the man Jesus. This means that the unifying story of the Bible is not the Jesus, but the Christ (which includes Jesus). However, the story of the man Jesus also serves as the model of what the nature and work of the Christ is throughout Scripture (ideas I expand on both in my introduction to Abundance Reconstructed and my post, Context is King).
Rohr breaks his discussion of the Universal Christ into two parts. In the first part he explores the broad ramifications of the teaching, which really does, as the subtitle suggests, change everything. This includes how we understand our nature and our relationship with the divine.
In the second part secondly how it brings meaning to the life of Jesus rather than just his death and resurrection.
Rohr’s podcast, Another Name For Everything, offers an excellent introduction to the context of both parts of the book.
I wish I had this book years ago as much of what Rohr writes about expresses what I found while working on my dissertation. Having my hands on a text like this years earlier might have save me years of struggle and others an abundance of pain. Christians embracing what Rohr writes would make both the church and world better.