Oprah’s “A New Earth” – A Christian Perspective…

As I worked out today Oprah was on the televisions in our fitness center. I was able to watch several portions of the show and learned Oprah is currently promoting the book A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle. Tolle is most well known for his book The Power of Now and could be considered a new-age philosopher.

Tolle and Winfrey have teamed up and are offering free web based classes that coincide with the book.

To begin, before you read the title of this blog and come with any preconceived notions, I don’t believe, we as Christians, should “stick are heads in the sand” to anything “non-Christian.” It is vital we have a healthy world view and can be culturally relevant to what is happening around us.

That being said, I believe Christians also have a responsibility to soundly, Biblically interpret what we hear, read, or view.

Here are several close paraphrases from the Oprah show I saw today…

Do you think A New Earth conflicts with other people’s religious views? – Oprah.
No, I think just like when you add sugar to tea, it’s still tea, it’s just sweeter. – Guest

I always thought Jesus came to earth to live, die and resurrect, but He really came to this earth to teach us how to do this thing called life.
– Oprah

There is no death of anything except in appearance – Tolle

Having never read this book, I’ll admit that I can’t begin to tell you how valid or invalid it is. But what I think I can do without reading the book, is interpret what I saw, do some research and form a basic opinion.

The first discussion about tea and making it sweeter implies that somehow my faith, Christianity in general, needs something added to it. I see this a lot even within the Christian community. We’ll ride the wave of programs and trends and books and seminars. Some of them are good and draw us closer to God, while others are just “filler”. Jesus Christ doesn’t need anything added to Him, nor does the Creator. Throughout the Old Testament it was apparent to see that people of all ages and backgrounds tried to add things to God. Yet in the end God’s response was the same, you don’t need anything or anyone but me.

The second discussion really surprised me because it’s so contradictory to the core believe of Christianity yet even Christians in the audience nodded their heads in agreement. If you subscribe to the fact that Jesus came to this earth to “be a good person” and “show us how to live” then the floor drops out from underneath your belief system. Jesus said numerous times before and after His death that He came so we could have a life eternal. Now, did he show us how to live and how to be a good person, yes! But that was a bonus. His #1 goal was to be a sacrifice for the sins we commit everyday. Prophets in the earliest days didn’t write about a “good person”, they wrote very specifically about a “Savior”. The role of Jesus Christ was predicted before His birth and lived out through His life and death on earth.

The final discussion I saw was an interview with Tolle himself in which he, in length, described that there is really no death. This again is contradictory to Christianity. If you believe there is no death, then Jesus came to earth for nothing. His sacrifice was in vein and the whole premise for Christianity is essentially irrelevant.

Books like A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose aren’t by any means new. There have always been practices, religions or programs that encourage individuals to rely on themselves and the world around them to live complete and happy lives. It’s interesting that many of the key concepts throughout the book have heavy Christian undertones. Selflessness, peace, joy, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, etc. Yet the book relies on the reader to find these things within themselves and their world. There is no reliance or need for a Savior.

As a Christian I have no problem having open dialog about our culture and the beliefs within our culture. What I would like to encourage Christians to do is to soundly, Biblically interpret what we hear, read, or view. How do those things measure up to what God has said and what He continues to say?

For me, I am well aware that there might be some good principles in Tolle’s book. But without Christ, it is my opinion that Tolle’s words are empty and ultimately cannot totally satisfy us.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

2 thoughts on “Oprah’s “A New Earth” – A Christian Perspective…

  1. Yay! Excellent post!Anyone who thinks Christian faith needs more than Jesus is decieving their own self, and those who might follow them. I get frustrated when people try to bring Jesus down to our level and make Him a “buddy”, or try to add worldly items to a service. You accept Jesus for what he is, Our Lord and Saviour. If you think He needs “sugar” added to accept Him, then your lying to yourself and possibly denying yourself an eternity with Him.

  2. All right, I’ve done some research on what exactly “A New Earth” is, and, while I also have not read the book, I think I have a pretty good handle on the major themes.Interestingly enough, my main issue with Tolle’s work is that it is simply taking other people’s teachings and repackaging it for Oprah’s audience. The little I’ve seen seems like a more marketable version of the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh. In essence, Tolle is teaching a form of Buddhism. That he calls it New Age or something else is, frankly, annoying. But I digress.As someone who has been studying Buddhism in relation to her Christian faith as of late, I want to try to address your points.In the tea discussion, having read the quotes in context, I do not disagree with her message. I do believe there are better ways to state it. She was referring to being present in the moment (i.e., not worrying about past or future and instead concentrating on what you are experiencing as you experience it). The woman was referring to being “present” during a church service and how that could only be a benefit to your faith. Instead of implying that something is being added by practicing mindfulness (the Buddhist term for being present), I would argue that the experience is crystallized for you, that you’re able to experience the service more fully. I think it’s hard to argue with that concept, and it’s certainly not an anti-Christian concept. Matthew 6:25-34 addresses this very topic. Mindfulness is as much a Christian concept as it is a Buddhist one; but it’s not often emphasized in the American church that I’ve experienced.The second discussion on death, also when taken in context, makes more sense. In the summary I read, Tolle was speaking about how the body ceases to be, but the spirit lives on. Thus, in his vernacular, there is no death. Christians, of course, also subscribe to this belief. Our bodies die, but our spirit lives on.Lastly, the age-old debate about good works. Most Christian denominations believe that we are saved by grace and that nothing is required of us to receive salvation except simply accepting it. I think if we saying that was Christ’s singular purpose is sort of pigeonholing him, to be honest. I don’t think Christ would have lived the life he did if his only purpose was to be a sacrifice. Obviously, that was one of his purposes, but we are called time and again to be Christ-like. We can still subscribe to the paradigm that our salvation does not hinge on good works without denying their importance.The truth is that, once we accept Christ, we are supposed to act like Christ. Accepting Christ is also accepting the responsibility that you bear his image and that he will be judged by others your actions. Christ, knowing this, gave us a wonderful example of how to live to fulfill that responsibility. And that is part of his purpose as savior. Perhaps this is semantics, but I prefer to think that Christ’s purpose was to SAVE rather than to be a sacrifice (though that is certainly what was required to save us). And thus, teaching us how to live is inherently tied to saving people so that others can see Christ in action through our own actions.

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