Oprah and A New Earth

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You have probably heard of author Eckhart Tolle and his connection with Oprah Winfrey. What with Tolle's bestselling book A New Earth, its repeated promotion on Oprah's talk show, and the online course they are running together, they have become pretty difficult to miss.

Unfortunately, for many people, it seems that the true message of A New Earth has proved all too easy to miss.

Let me cut right to the chase: Tolle's supposedly groundbreaking message is simply the same old New Age thinking in pretty packaging. While Tolle acknowledges something wrong with the human condition (what Christians call "sin"), he preaches the need not for repentance and salvation, but for a new "awakening."

This involves looking deep within the self for peace and harmony, not looking to Christ. There is nothing new or revolutionary—and definitely nothing Christian—about it. It is paganism. It even seems some who claim Christ are getting caught up in the Tolle phenomenon.

Of course, it is easy to see the attraction. I can contribute to global peace by making life all about me? Who would not want that? It is the oldest temptation there is: letting ourselves be convinced that we "shall be like God." But as Tolle and his followers do not seem to grasp, that is precisely what is wrong with the human condition in the first place: setting oneself up as God with all the resulting egoism, selfishness, and misery that entails.

At our own blog, The Point, there have been some fairly heated conversations about this phenomenon. There are those who claim that, simply because Tolle talks about God, that should make his teachings acceptable to all who believe in God. (These people, presumably, are unfamiliar with the reminder in James chapter 2 that "even the demons" believe in God).

The real evil, in these people's eyes, is for members of any one particular faith to claim that it points the way to truth. And that, of course, undercuts Christianity. Even as Oprah Winfrey—Tolle's patron—claims to still be a believer in Christ, she calls this the most exciting project in her life.

In a popular video on YouTube, when asked a direct question about how she can reconcile belief in Christianity with belief in Tolle's message, Oprah states: "I reconciled it because I was able to open my mind about the absolute indescribable hugeness of that which we call God. I took God out of the box."

She says she got tired of "rules" and "doctrines," and particularly of the Scriptural idea that God is a "jealous God." "Something about that didn't feel right in my spirit," she said, "because I believe that God is love."

What Oprah did not understand, or would not understand, is that a loving God must be a jealous God—jealous of any lie that would steal His children away from Him and send them after false gods. As I explain in my new book The Faith, we need those doctrines to guard us against just the kind of untruths that Oprah, one of the most influential people in America, is now peddling.

Sadly, millions fall for this, especially when it becomes Oprah's religion. There has never been a more urgent time or need, as I write in my new book The Faith, "for us to know and defend the truth before millions more are sucked in to the old claims of the New Age."

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From BreakPoint®, April 28, 2008, Copyright 2008, Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with the permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or distributed without the express written permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. "BreakPoint®" and "Prison Fellowship Ministries®" are registered trademarks of Prison Fellowship