A Christian’s Perspective on Jesus, Oprah, Eckhart Tolle, and A New Earth

9 May

Fellow blogger, Living Oprah, has a neat project going on where for one year she will live as Oprah advises on her television show, on her Web site, and in the pages of her magazines to find out if Oprah’s advice will lead her to live her “best life” as Miss O claims. Her latest post, “For whom the bell tolls,” led to a discussion on Oprah, her new book club selection A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, and how it relates to other religions.

LO asked me, as a Christian, what I think about Tolle’s interpretation of the New Testament and Jesus’ words. This is my attempt to answer that question, though there are others out there who would do a much better job than I would. I am no theologian. I am an ordinary, average person who has chosen to place her life in the hands of a loving, powerful God. When I thought about how I was going to answer this question, I was completely overwhelmed since the subject is so deep. But here is my attempt. LO, I hope this answers your question. Thank you for challenging me.

First, there are several videos floating around the Web denouncing Oprah and Tolle. These videos (some of which are intentionally creating sensationalism in order to sell a book with questionable authorship and motives) claim that Oprah and Tolle are creating a new church with a New Age theology in order to lead Christians astray and essentially brainwash the mindless masses. Though these videos are purportedly Christian, I do not wholly subscribe to their message and am in no way promoting the aforementioned book, its author, of the creators of the videos. I mention these only because they have created a great deal of buzz as well as polarization.

Second, since I am not at a place in my life where I am seeking spiritual direction (I feel I have already found that), I have not actually read Tolle’s A New Earth. That is not to say that I am opposed to learning about and studying other religions and spiritual beliefs. I know there are people in this world who have different belief systems than I do, and I do not want to discount them simply because we are different. The only thing I know of the book and Tolle’s teachings about Jesus is what I’ve heard Oprah and Tolle discuss on her show and what I’ve read on various blogs, etc. That said, I don’t think I can give a comprehensive answer on what I think about Tolle’s teachings on Jesus and the Bible since I don’t know everything he has said about Jesus and the Bible.

What I can say is that I do believe that Jesus is the son of God, not just a teacher, a wise man, or some sort of cosmic revelation to humanity. And by God, I don’t mean the universe or an unnamed higher power or the “I Am” that we all are a part of. By God, I mean the God of the Bible, the Christian God, the divine creator God, the God of redemption and love and grace, the I Am that is above all else. I do believe in the in the virgin birth of baby Jesus. And I believe that Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross, not to reveal a cosmic mystery or as a display of ultimate human transcendence, but to reconcile imperfect humanity to a perfect God. I view the crucifixion as an act of love rather than simply an act of revelation. More importantly, I believe in the resurrection, that Jesus did die on the cross and was buried but was restored to life again.

And finally, to answer the question of whether I am offended by Tolle’s teachings, my answer is an emphatic no. He is a brilliant man and an excellent teacher. I disagree with him, but that doesn’t mean that I disregard him as a person. There are Christians, or people who claim to be Christians, who are angered and offended by anyone or anything with a different viewpoint than theirs. I hope that this group, though probably the most publicly vocal, are in the minority. There are a lot of us out here who do stand by what we believe but who also won’t discount, , devalue, shut out, or turn away people just because they don’t agree with us. For me, Christianity is not just a set of religious beliefs that I subscribe to or rules that I follow. It is about having a spiritual, powerful, loving relationship with the God who I believe created me and created the entire universe, a God that is the very essence of perfect love and perfect righteousness, a God who helps me navigate this wonderful, terrible, confusing world daily because I know that I don’t have the power within me to do it on my own. And I have no problem admitting that I can’t do it on my own. To be honest, it is wonderful to know that I don’t have to carry my burdens, and worries, and problems alone because I have a relationship with a God who loves me enough to shoulder the load.

To LO, I hope I have answered your question. I hope I have not bored you or confused you or completely turned you off with my rhetoric. It’s hard to sum up one’s faith in one blog post. And sometimes it’s hard to avoid “Christianese,” or weird, foreign Christian terminology and jargon. I hope that I have shown you that we Christians aren’t the close-minded, hate mongers that some people believe we are. And I hope that my words are clear so as not to be misconstrued.

There are people out there who would probably do a much better job of answering these questions that I. Here are some links for further reading if anyone is interested:

Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth” Book Review
Oprah’s New Age Gospel
The Church of Oprah Winfrey – A New American Religion?
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9 Responses to “A Christian’s Perspective on Jesus, Oprah, Eckhart Tolle, and A New Earth”

  1. k-rin Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 2:36 pm #

    Good post. I find “mud-slingin” from either side of this coin repulsive. For our Creator God Himself gave everyone freewill…… we all have the innate right to accept Him or not. So many have lost that perspective…..and if we are to live as Christ, we also must give them that choice.
    Thankfully, I choose Christ!

  2. laura Wednesday, May 14, 2008 at 8:27 am #

    Thanks KK, well said.

  3. Marie Wednesday, May 21, 2008 at 11:57 am #

    Bravo to Eckhart Tolle and Oprah for attempting to enlighten world thinking. However, one can’t educate the ignorant with logic, reason and rational. I think that Eckhart and Oprah were very mild and considerate in their presentation. Why intelligent people can feel offended and defensive is beyond reason.

  4. laura Wednesday, May 21, 2008 at 5:39 pm #

    I think those types of responses are mostly brought about by fear. The flip can be applied with Oprah claiming that people who don’t follow Tolle’s teachings are unenlightened. Just because you may disagree with a person doesn’t mean that you are less than him or her.

  5. Sarah Saturday, May 24, 2008 at 10:21 pm #

    Good post. I did read the book and appreciated his take on the ego, but found a strong disconnect between his liking of Jesus but lack of belief in Creation.

  6. laura Saturday, May 24, 2008 at 10:53 pm #

    @Sarah: Thanks for the comment. It’s nice to hear from someone who has read the book. The things he says about the ego seem to make sense. But for Christians, we should look at it as denying the ego in order to let Christ shine through us, not simply in order to become better, more enlightened people.

  7. Larry Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 12:39 am #

    I am so greatful to Eckhart Tolle and Oprah for turning me onto Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor and her beautiful book “”My Stroke of Insight””. Her story is amazing and her gift to all of us is a book purchase away I’m happy to say.

    Dr Taylor was a Harvard brain scientist when she had a stroke at age 37. What was amazing was that her left brain was shut down by the stroke – where language and thinking occur – but her right brain was fully functioning. She experienced bliss and nirvana and the way she writes about it (or talks about it in her now famous TED talk) is incredible.

    What I took away from Dr. Taylor’s book above all, and why I recommend it so highly, is that you don’t have to have a stroke or take drugs to find the deep inner peace that she talks about. Her book explains how. “”I want what she’s having””, and thanks to this wonderful book, I can! Thank you Dr. Taylor, and thank you Eckhart and Oprah.

  8. Peggy Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 12:12 am #

    I am currently reading the book… although I am only on page 42… I can understand why some Christians are “mad” at Eckhart… he really distorted some of God’s Word.

    But I really appreciate your perspective on how it is not our place to judge them. Ultimately they are answerable to God.. thanks for the reminder! 😀

  9. laura Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 5:26 pm #

    @Peggy – No, it’s not our place to judge non-believers, but it’s not our place, as Christians, to follow them without discretion either. Thanks for the comment. Let me know more about the book when you’ve finished reading it.

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