By John Jalsevac
March 7, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - This past Monday Oprah Winfrey, considered by many to be the world’s most influential woman, began a ten-week long online course on the best-selling book, "A New Earth," by New Age guru, Eckhart Tolle. "A New Earth" has already sold some 3.5 million copies worldwide, thanks largely to the publicity given to it by Oprah. According to Oprah, 500,000 people from across the world signed on to the first segment of the online course, to spend an hour and a half listening to Ekhart and Oprah talking about chapter 1 of the book, and taking calls from participants.
In recent years Oprah has been inviting an increasing number of representatives of new age spirituality onto her talk shows, including figures such as Marianne Williamson, Barbara DeAngelis, LaVar Burton, Richard Carlson, Betty Eadie, and many others. Oprah has strongly endorsed many of their works, and has included some of them in her "Book Club" list.
Since the beginning of this year Oprah has offered daily classes on her XM radio station on the book "A Course in Miracles.""A Course in Miracles" (or ACIM for short) was written by another major player in the New Age movement, Helen Schucman, who claims that the book was dictated to her by an interior voice, which she identifies with Jesus Christ. In that course, the listener is taught that there is no sin, is told not to make the "mistake" of "clinging to the old rugged cross," and that the name of "Jesus Christ as such is but a symbol."
Oprah, who is a self-labeled "Christian", was recently named the "most dangerous woman in the world" by Bill Keller, considered by some to be the world’s leading Internet evangelist. He accused Oprah of peddling the equivalent of "spiritual crack." Keller has been warning the subscribers of his Daily Devotional for years about Oprah and how she uses her TV program to promote every New Age philosophy in the world, including the wildly popular book and DVD last year, "The Secret," which teaches readers or viewers that simply by desiring them strongly enough, one may obtain wealth, health and happiness.
However, rarely has Oprah shown more enthusiasm for a New Age guru than for the so-called Eckhart Tolle, who takes his first name from the well-known 13th century Catholic Rhineland mystic, Meister Eckhart. Tolle is the author of several books including "The Power of Now," and, most recently, "A New Earth."
Much like many other New Age systems, Eckhart’s "spirituality" is a vague, ethereal blend of spiritual theories and ideas, gleaned from all of the world’s major religions. Eckhart promises the attainment of "inner peace" and a higher state of consciousness by utilizing methods of meditation that plunge one into the "now." He also says that mankind is in a moment of crisis, in which the race must either achieve the next stage in its evolution by attaining "higher consciousness", or destroy itself and the planet.
The title of his newest book, "A New Earth," is taken from Chapter 21 from the Book of Revelations, in which the Biblical visionary says that he "saw a new heaven and a new earth." Throughout his newest book Eckhart sprinkles quotations from Scripture, and he frequently speaks about Christ and Scripture in his talks.
The core of Eckhart’s teaching is a religious relativism, in which he eschews all rigid doctrine or exclusive claims to truth as dangerous and manifestations of "egoic consciousness." "The moment you say ‘only my belief’ or ‘our belief’ is true, and you deny other people’s beliefs, then you’ve adopted an ideology," Eckhart told the participants in Monday’s online class. "And then religion becomes a closed door."
Eckhart explains away conscience and feelings of guilt as but the consequence of years of conditioning. He told one caller, who confessed that she still feels guilt when she decides against going to church on Sunday, that she must recognize that "the voice" which tells her to go to church is simply the result of social conditioning.
One caller into the show told Oprah that she was a Catholic, and was having trouble seeing how Eckhart’s teachings could be reconciled with her Catholicism. Oprah responded that the caller must simply realize that Christianity is but one of many ways to achieve the "higher consciousness," and that the belief that one must follow a set of doctrines is a consequence of "egoic consciousness." While Christianity is a valid way to achieve high states of spirituality, it must not be considered a unique way, or a "correct way".
"Jesus," said Oprah, "came to show us Christ-consciousness…Jesus came to show us the way of the heart…Jesus came to say, ‘Look I’m going to live in the body, in the human body and I’m going to show you how it’s done.’ These are some principles and some laws that you can use to live by to know that way"
She concluded, "I don’t believe that Jesus came to start Christianity."
"What Jesus said is much deeper than what you, how the church interprets it. There’s a depth to it. And it reflects your own depth when you read it. So there’s no conflict between this teaching, which is purely spiritual, and any religion."
Oprah also indicated that there are many names that one might give to that which she calls "God", including "energy," "consciousness" and "life."
Oprah also contrasted what she called the "old" spirituality vs. the "new" spirituality, as espoused by Eckhart. "The old way is the hierarchy has the authority. Church authorities tell you how to worship in church and how to behave outside of church. The new spirituality is that you are your own best authority as you work to know and love yourself, you discover how to live a more spiritual life."
Despite Oprah and Eckhart’s reduction of Christianity to but one "way" amongst many other equally legitimate ways to God, and their calling Christ a "revolutionary" who has been misunderstood by the Church, and who simply came to manifest "Christ-consciousness", a quick search through the internet reveals that many Christians are following Oprah in attempting to fuse together the teachings of Eckhart, and the doctrines of the historical Christian church.
One writer on the message board on Oprah’s website wrote a message with the subject line, "Scared I’m replacing my religion, which I love." "I just started the book" she wrote, "and I love the idea of the book but I guess the question I keep repeating in my head is will this be replacing my religion? How do the two work together. Can someone please help ease my mind that I’m not turning on the lord."
Many of the respondents to the questioner confessed that they too had similar misgivings about the book, but "upon reflection", realized that Tolle draws from numerous Christian sources, and that he and Oprah were giving them a "deeper understanding" of their faith.
However, Keller, and a number of other Christian pastors have begun to actively warn Christians that Oprah and Eckhart’s teachings are by no means compatible with Christianity. "Oprah is now trying to be the spiritual guru to this nation," said Keller in an appearance on Fox. "Sadly, she is being used as a tool of Satan to lead millions of souls to hell with her false teachings."
Another pastor, James A. Smith Sr., writing in the Florida Baptist Witness, criticized Oprah’s "spirituality" for its emphasis on the power of the individual to define truth and reality, and to totally control one’s own life. "What this fails to acknowledge is that man dos not define reality; man does not determine what truth is," wrote Smith. "The source of truth for our decisions and power is the one true God of all reality and He has communicated plenary propositional truths to us in the Bible and remarkably, uniquely in His incarnation in Jesus Christ.
"Oprah, as with other New Agers, is not in pursuit and in communion with God."
WorldNetDaily columnist Chuck Norris, wrote about Oprah and The New Earth, "The reason Tolle’s psychology and spirituality is marketed so easy is that it is an eclectic mix of conventional and unconventional wisdom, and Western and Eastern beliefs, presented in a tolerant, non-threatening, and non-sectarian way. In other words, it’s ‘Religion Light,’ in which one can be spiritual with ‘little down and no credit.’"
Norris recommended that his readers simply sit down and read a Bible, rather than"A New Earth." "One could easily save the purchase price of ‘A New Earth’ and subsequently avoid misleading remarks by reading a Bible, which gives a much more thorough and accurate picture of life’s purpose and methods for overcoming its obstacles," said Norris.
See YouTube video of Fox interview with Bill Keller
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