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.
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