[The following is a portion of a new booklet produced by Focus Press exposing the error of New Age religion and the book A New Earth, written by Eckhart Tolle and recommended by Oprah Winfrey. We encourage you to arm yourself with knowledge regarding this dangerous belief system.]
Jim Jones, the charismatic leader of the People’s Temple, died along with his followers on November 18, 1978. While his body and the People’s Temple are gone, his name is now synonymous with mass murder/suicide and Flavor-aid (Kool-aid) laced with cyanide. On that fateful day, 913 people (including 276 children) living in Jonestown drank the deadly cocktail, giving a new definition to the term “cult followers.”
While most modern Americans would never consider themselves members of a cult, (much less drink the Kool-aid), a new charismatic movement has emerged, and the leaders of this new “awakening” are Oprah Winfrey and Eckhart Tolle. It is no secret that a simple nod from Oprah and her book club can instantly turn a novel into a bestseller. But this year that book club has transformed itself into a bully pulpit for New Age religion. In January 2008, Winfrey announced her 61st Oprah’s Book Club selection, A New Earth written by Tolle. However, this book is not like choices in the past—it’s not a novel or even memoir. In fact, Oprah called it her boldest choice yet. It deals with a new form of spirituality—it is a handbook for New Age religion.
If the recommendation from Oprah itself was not bad enough, Winfrey and Tolle have teamed up to form a “school” to teach (a.k.a. brainwash) millions of unsuspecting souls on how to shed “ego” and embrace consciousness to become “awakened”. Discussing this latest venture Winfrey proclaims, “Being able to share this material with you is a gift and a part of the fulfillment of my life’s purpose. It was an awakening for me that I want for you too.” (http://www2.oprah.com/obc_classic/webcast/stories/anewearth_stories_284_101.jhtml?promocode=HP12.)
Thus, on Monday nights individuals from all across the globe gathered to listen to Winfrey and Tolle in an exclusive online class that walked through his book. I should admit that I do not watch the Oprah television program and, prior to this new religious propaganda, had never been on her Web site or bought one of her recommended books. But after listening to individuals “wonder” about this new teaching and hearing of New Testament Christians who wanted to take this class, I decided to employ my research training and see what kind of Kool-aid Eckhart and Winfrey were offering the masses. I should warn you that having digested the book and spent some time on her Web site, the “enlightenment” that Winfrey and Tolle are offering up will indeed sicken your soul.
Trying to pin down Tolle’s true religious beliefs is like trying to nail jello to a tree. He is a master at using flowered language and symbolism, but never truly “lands the plane”. He combines his doctrine with just enough truth to confuse and entice those who are not happy in their current state. While there are many errors in this new teaching (e.g., embracing of evolution, no absolute truth, God being merely consciousness), the central tenet that Christians must be aware of is the reduction of Jesus Christ to simply a prophet.
Beliefs contradicting Christ’s teachings
Tolle does not wait long to inform readers of his own position regarding Jesus Christ. He observes: “The messengers—Buddha, Jesus, and others, no all of them known—were humanity’s early flowers. They were precursors, rare and precious beings” (p. 6). Jesus Christ a mere messenger? Nowhere in his book does Tolle address Jesus as the Son of God (Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:1; 2 Peter 1:17)—the Savior of all mankind. This should be a major red flag to anyone identifying themselves as Christian. It becomes apparent very early in Tolle’s writings that he has missed the entire scheme of redemption and the need for a Savior (John 3:16).
Rather than acknowledging the sacrifice Jesus made for man’s sins, Tolle belittles that gift and declares, “Suffering has a noble purpose: the evolution of consciousness and the burning up of the ego. The man on the cross is an archetypal image. He is every man and every woman” (p. 102, emp. added). Tolle then begins to use the teachings of Christ in a perverted fashion, taking Scripture completely out of context. He sprinkles the words of Christ amidst the teachings of Buddha and Zen masters, as if they were all on the same level—merely prophets who had attained this “awakening.” He even has the audacity to “correct” Jesus on several occasions. For instance, Tolle noted: “And when Jesus said, ‘Deny thyself,’ what he meant was: Negate (and thus undo) the illusion of self. If the self—ego—were truly who I am, it would be absurd to ‘deny’ it” (p. 78-79).
Tolle argues that Heaven is not a location but rather a state of mind. He states, “‘Blessed are the poor in spirit,’ Jesus said, ‘for theirs will be the kingdom of heaven.’ What does ‘poor in spirit’ mean? No inner baggage, no identifications. Not with things nor with any mental concepts that have a sense of self in them. And what is the ‘kingdom of heaven’? The simple but profound joy of Being that is there when you let go of identifications and so become ‘poor in spirit’” (p. 43).
Tolle drove this point home in an earlier chapter in which he shined a light on why the book was titled A New Earth: “It occurs in both the Old and the New Testament and speaks of the collapse of the existing world order and the arising of ‘a new heaven and a new earth.’ We need to understand here that heaven is not a location but refers to the inner realm of consciousness….‘A new heaven’ is the emergence of a transformed state of human consciousness, and ‘a new earth’ is its reflection in the physical realm”(p. 23, italics in orig., emp. added). Surely true Christians see the folly and foolishness in this teaching. Jesus Christ said, “Let not your hearts be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1-2). Just before his death, the first Christian martyr Stephen “gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55). Anyone with even an elementary knowledge of God’s Word recognizes that God resides in Heaven, and it is the place most desire for their eternal homes.
With the quick stroke of a pen, Tolle completely obliterates all of the parables of Jesus Christ and His teaching on the Kingdom of Heaven and the coming judgment. If Heaven is the emergence of consciousness, then why did Christ say, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven”?
Probably the biggest perversion of God’s Word is found on pages 70-71 in which Tolle tries to escape the reality of absolute truths. Tolle notes:
…but you won’t find absolute truth if you look for it where it cannot be found: in doctrines, ideologies, sets of rules, or stories. What do all these have in common? They are made up of thought. Thought can best point to the truth but it never is the truth…. All religions are equally false and equally true, depending on how you use them. You can use them in the service of ego, or you can use them in the service of the Truth. If you believe only your religion is the Truth, you are using it in the service of ego (p. 70-71).
He then goes on to claim that man is Truth. Tolle and Winfrey have bought into the notion that the only absolute truth is man himself. Tolle observes, “There is only one absolute Truth, and all other truths emanate from it…. The Truth is inseparable from who you are. Yes, you are the Truth. If you look for it elsewhere, you will be deceived every time” (p. 71, emp. added).
Tolle then attacks a most basic, sacred premise in God’s Word. Giving readers only a portion of the words of Jesus in John 14:6, Tolle claims: “The very Being that you are is Truth. Jesus tried to convey that when he said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” These words uttered by Jesus are one of the most powerful and direct pointers to the Truth, if understood correctly. If misrepresented, however, they become a great obstacle. Jesus speaks of the innermost I Am, the essence of identity of every man and woman, every life-form, in fact” (p. 71). What Tolle left out was the completion of Jesus’ thought– “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, emp. added). That bold (and truthful) claim made by the Son of God completely destroys Tolle’s understanding of Truth.
It should be no surprise that Oprah Winfrey has embraced Tolle’s definition of Truth, as she herself has admitted she believes there are multiple ways to God—multiple ways to get to Heaven. Consider the following discussion that took place on her highly rated talk show:
Oprah: One of the mistakes that human beings make is believing that there is only one way to live—and that we don’t accept that there are diverse ways of being in the world, that there millions of ways to be a human being.
Audience Member: Then how do you please God?
Oprah: And many ways, many paths to what you call God. And her path might be something else. And when she gets there she might call it the light, but her loving, and her kindness, and her generosity, if it brings her to the same point that it brings you it doesn’t matter if she called it God along the way or not. There couldn’t possibly be just one way.
Audience member: What about Jesus?
Oprah: What about Jesus?
Audience member: You bring Him up in this whole discussion and you say there isn’t only one way. There is one way and only one way and that is through Jesus.
Oprah: There couldn’t possibly be only one way for the millions of people in the world.
Winfrey may be a media mogul and a wealthy individual, but her voice and opinion has no authority in this discussion. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, plainly said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Christians need to fully understand Tolle’s teachings are dangerous and soul-threatening. He boldly proclaims, “It has been said ‘God is love’ but that is not absolutely correct. God is the One Life in and beyond the countless forms of life (p. 106, emp. added). Tolle obviously is not aware that an inspired writer made the declaration that God is love (1 John 4:16). All he is worried about is an inner feeling of joy. Tolle contends: “There are three words that convey the secret of the art of living, the secret of all success and happiness: One With Life. Being one with life is being one with Now. You then realize that you don’t live your life, but life lives you. Life is the dancer, and you are the dance” (p. 115, emp. added). His words soundeerily similar to Shirley MacLaine who years ago in her book, Dancing in the Light, said: “I am God, because all energy is plugged in to the same source. We are each aspects of that source. We are all part of God. We are individualized reflections of the God source. God is us and we are God” (p. 339).
Oprah continues to proclaim that she is a Christian—a follower of Christ—but it is obvious from her own voice and the voice of Eckhart Tolle that they have long ago abandoned the Son of God and His teachings. They believe they have discovered God—and He is a part of them. Tolle ends his book by noting: “A new species is arising on the planet. It is arising now, and you are it!” (p. 309). One wonders how many of these new species could be accurately described as followers—cult followers of New Age religion. Don’t be deceived. Jesus is still The Way.
[For the complete evaluation of Oprah’s New Age religion and Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth, we invite you to order a copy of the pamphlet Of New Oracles and New Earths, coauthored by Brad Harrub, Ph.D. and Dewayne Bryant M.S. It is available for $2.50 online as a PDF download or by calling our office at 615.324.5870 to receive the PDF by email attachment.]
Tolle, Eckhart (2005) A New Earth (London: Penguin).
MacLaine, Shirley (1991), Dancing in the Light (New York: Bantam).