Oprah Winfrey’s latest overnight success is Eckhart Tolle. Tolle is a contemporary spiritual teacher and the author of the record setting bestseller “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.” Almost four million copies of the manifesto have been sold on Amazon alone, following its celebrated adoption into the Oprah Book Club. Two million seekers from all over the globe login each Monday night for a ninety minute webinar featuring Tolle and Winfrey (mostly Winfrey) discussing, and attempting to clarify, the books principles of awakening to a new state of inner consciousness – Heaven.
I have read the book. I am not basing my opinions on You Tube video clips. I have also endured the first four Monday night webinars. My exposure to Tolle’s teachings is not inappreciable. This series of blogs will be difficult for me because it is against my philosophy as a Christ follower to spend any time at all ranting about what I am against. It happens, and it is inevitable in this case, but I’d much rather tell you what I love about Jesus. That said, I believe this book and the substantial attention it is garnering is a stunning indictment of the western church. Tolle’s success would not be probable if humanity’s pain had a vibrant, culturally relevant, loving healer in the western church.
Has the state of western Christianity become so compromised that fringe ideologies can not only profit the promoter, but sweep through the field of shallow believers like a wildfire? Before I point out the speck in someone else’s eye, I want to examine the plank in my own. We have finally reached the point where the living organism that is the
First there are the purveyors of moralism. They are the modern day Pharisees. They usually have considerable Bible knowledge and hold important titles in the institution. They work hard and everyone is well aware of their works. They are quick to inform you of the infirmities of our society. They see the message of the cross as a behavior management program. They have put a stern, judgmental face on the church.
Next are the shallow believers, hurting souls who turned to the institution for help managing their behavior. The early, emotional success has passed and they don’t want to admit that they have failed at the Pharisee’s system. They don’t have a craving for the things of God like prayer, reading Scripture, and loving their neighbor. They wouldn’t have time anyway; they are too busy keeping track of their trespasses and sins. They put a confused, defeated face on the church.
Last is the hurting soul who has no relationship with Jesus Christ. His pain is real. His longing to fill the spiritual emptiness he was born with is overwhelming. The world is closing in on him and he turns and looks into the face of the church, where he sees judgment, confusion and defeat. A quest is born. Where will he go now?
But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron
(1 Timothy 4:1-2 NASB95)