The Church of Oprah
by Dan Gatlin
For decades, Oprah Winfrey has proclaimed faith in Jesus Christ. Yet, when one examines Oprahís Jesus, he is not the same Jesus found in the New Testament. Oprahís Jesus is not God in the flesh, but merely a "good man." He is non-condemning and tolerant of "alternative lifestyles." In short, her Jesus is a New-Age Jesus.
In recent weeks, Oprah has conducted a series of internet broadcasts extolling the virtues and philosophy of her spiritual mentor, Eckhart Tolle. Tolle is a New Age teacher and author with two best selling books, The Power of Now and A New Earth. Excerpts of Oprahís interviews with Tolle can be seen on YouTube.com.
There is nothing particularly new about Tolleís teaching. His website states: "The work of Eckhart Teachings is in response to the urgent need of our times: the transformation of consciousness and the arising of a more enlightened humanity. ... In addition to supporting Eckhart Tolle and the dissemination of his teaching, we are committed and dedicated to serving the new consciousness and awakening of all humans on the planet. Behind the external form of what we do, and behind the business structure, lies the company's and our true purpose: the union with the Divine. ... At the core of the teachings lies the transformation of consciousness, a spiritual awakening that he sees as the next step in human evolution.An essential aspect of this awakening consists in transcending our ego-based state of consciousness. This is a prerequisite not only for personal happiness but also for the ending of violent conflict endemic on our planet." This is the same gobbledygook that New Agers have been churning out for the past 30-40 years.
For those not familiar with the New Age Movement, it is essentially Eastern Religion (Mysticism) adapted to western culture. New Agers believe in a "Supreme Power" of some kind, but vary somewhat as to what it is. To them "God" is not a Person (Being/Personality), but simply a force. Most New Agers are pantheistic, that is, they believe that "god" is nature itself. Since matter is made up of energy, and energy is equivalent to spirit, then matter becomes divine. Man is composed of matter (which has energy or "spirit"), so mankind is actually divine, a part of whatever "god" is. Of course, Western culture, and the Bible in particular, have blinded man to his true divine nature. "Enlightenment" comes through meditation on oneís own being or purpose, with the ultimate goal of "union with the Divine." When all of mankind realizes that we are all a part of god, then peace will prevail throughout the world and humanity will be able to evolve to the next level of
Does all of this sound familiar? The hippies of the 1960ís believed and taught this as they rejected societal norms and explored Eastern Mysticism. Those same hippies have cut their hair, discovered soap, and are now running many of our institutions, from government to universities to businesses. Notice a portion of Wikipediaís definition of New Age: "The New Age movement includes elements of older spiritual and religious traditions from both East and West, many of which have been melded with ideas from modern science, particularly psychology and ecology. New Age ideas could be described as drawing inspiration from all the major world religions with influences from Spiritualism, Buddhism, Hermeticism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Shamanism, Mayanism, Ceremonial magic, Sufism, Taoism, New Thought, Wicca and Neo-Paganism being especially strong."
Notice two things: First, psychology and ecology have been hijacked and are no longer strictly sciences. Large portions of these "disciplines" comprise religious teaching. A young person with an interest in psychology or ecology may attend a university thinking they are getting an education, when what they are really receiving is religious indoctrination. Of course, the material is presented as science (and, as such, should never be questioned) when, in fact, it is religious. Any young person without a firm conviction in the truth will find themselves unknowing disciples of this new cult.
Contrary to what Tolle espouses, New Age doctrine appeals to the ego. Only those few who have achieved "enlightenment" will evolve to the next level of consciousness. They are a little better than the rest of us. Contrast that attitude with the Bible, which was given for all men to understand (John 3:16; Ephesians 3:4; I Timothy 2:3-4) Second, notice that of all the religions mentioned, there are no references to the Bible or "Christianity." Thatís because the one true God is jealous (Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 4:24) and will not tolerate any false religion. Therefore, false religions feel compelled to marginalize or reject Him.
Letís consider with three basic points relative to New Age religion.
God is Distinct from Nature
Pantheism says that nature itself is god. But the Bible says that God is distinct from nature. It is God who created the universe and all the laws applicable to it. Notice how Genesis 1 begins and ends: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. ... Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good" (Genesis 1:1,31). When Paul came to Athens and preached to people who were completely ignorant of God, he said, "for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with menís hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things" (Acts 17:23-25). There are, perhaps, portions of two generations who have removed God from their knowledge, and the consequences of such are clear (Romans 1:18-32).
God is Distinct from Man
Tolle and Winfrey take the position that "God," as taught by Western culture, is simply the creation of man. Obviously, neither have made a serious investigation into the Bibleís reliability. They simply issue the same baseless charge that secular humanists have been making for 150 years. They offer no evidence for their assertion, but none is needed for those blinded by New Age dogma.
Tolleís concept that man is inherently divine (WOW, no ego there!) is an ancient error. Many men in the Bible have attempted to take Godís place (cf. Ezekiel 28; Acts 12:20-25; II Thessalonians 2:3ff). Of course, all failed.
In truth, mankind is Godís creation (Genesis 1:26-28). While we have been created in the image of God (spiritually, not physically), we cannot possess many of the attributes that belong solely to deity. Man will never be omniscient (Psalms 139), omnipotent (Job 42:2) or omnipresent (Jeremiah 23:23-24). However, man can have the same character as God (II Peter 1:4-8).
Truth is Objective
One of the major failings of New Age teaching is how "truth" is discovered. According to New Agers, truth cannot be found in some external, objective source like the Bible. "Truth" is individual and subjective. Most often, one arrives at "truth" through meditation, emptying the mind and allowing it to turn in on itself. Tolleís website states, "When challenges come, as they always do, make it a habit to go within at once and focus as much as you can on the inner energy field of your body." The goal of this kind of meditation is to get in touch with your feelings. Again, Tolleís website says, "Feeling will get you closer to the truth of who you really are than thinking."
What happens when one personís "truth" is diametrically opposed to anotherís "truth?" Not to worry, to a strict New Ager, all truth is to be accepted (unless it comes from someone who takes a literal interpretation of the Bible). Such open-mindedness is contrary to the Bibleís teaching (Matthew 7:13-14; Acts 4:12).
One of the things that makes the Bible stand apart from any other religious document or belief is that one can objectively examine itís reliability. Yes, much of what we believe in the Bible is based on faith. But it is not a blind faith, it is a faith based on facts.
- Pre-Scientific Statements. The Bible reveals many scientific facts that took man thousands of years to discover. For example, the spherical nature of the earth (Isaiah 40:22, written about 700 BC). This wasnít accepted as scientifically proven until around 1500 AD. One of the "newer theories" in astronomy is the "Expanding Universe." Yet, the writers of the Bible referred to "heaven" as an "expanse" (Genesis 1:8) 3,500 years ago. Jeremiah (who lived 2,600 years ago) tells us that the universe cannot be measured (Jeremiah 31:37). Bible writers also speak of the evaporation amd rain cycle (Job 36:27-28; Ecclesiastes 1:7) thousands of years before science "discovered" these truths. Literally hundreds of examples can be cited. How did the Bible writers know these truths? The only logical answer is that the Author of the Bible is the Creator of the universe.
- Historical Accuracy. Critics of the Bible cited the lack of any archeological evidence for the Hittite Empire, which played a prominent role in the Old Testament, as proof that the Bible was nothing but myth. Then A. H. Sayce and Hugo Winckler discovered evidence of their existence 100-125 years ago. Belief in the Hittites is now accepted fact. More recently, Bible critics said that there was no evidence for the existence of David, King of Israel. Then in 1994 the Aramaic Stele was discovered in the ancient city of Dan with references to "the house of David" and "King of Israel." These inscriptions have been verified. Again, hundreds more examples could be cited.
- Continuity. The Bible was written by about 40 men over a period of 1,500 years and, when properly interpreted, contains no contradictions. Man is simply not capable of producing such a flawless document. Some have tried, all have failed. (For example, the writings of our Mormon friends contain many documented absurdities and contradictions.) Cultists (Mormons, Jehovahís Witnesses, New Agers, etc.) often make the accusation that the Bible has been corrupted and changed over the centuries. This is mere assertion without evidence. This charge is so easily disproven that itís a surprise that anyone still makes it. There are Bible manuscripts that go back 1,000ís of years that conclusively prove that the Bible did not evolve. This is an argument made only by the lazy or uninformed.
While New Agers are groping around in the dark trying to figure out who or what this "Supreme Power" is, Christians know precisely who created and saved them. If we are Godís offspring (children), then doesnít it make sense that He would reveal Himself to us, not only through nature (Psalm 19; Romans 1:20), but through the word that He left (John 16:13; Romans 10:17; Ephesians 3:4).
What is perhaps most dangerous about Tolle is the unparalleled access to the public afforded him through Oprah Winfrey. During one internet broadcast Oprah revealed that over 700,000 people were watching, and undoubtedly millions more will see it re-broadcast over YouTube and similar venues. FoxNews.com reports: "Winfrey is nothing if not gifted at recognizing whatís already popular in the culture and exploiting it. But her association with Tolle is way over the top. It involves sponsorships with General Motors (Chevy), 3M Corp. (Post-Its) and Skype Internet phone service. In one broad stroke, sheís managed to accomplish what Scientology never has achieved: bringing corporate Americaís implicit approval into religion" (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,351545,00.html). Make no mistake, this is this kind of pagan nonsense that we will be dealing with in the future.