Don't Check Your Brains at the Door part 2
Religion Light
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
May 18, 2008

[This message series examines several of the spiritual concepts that are dominant in our society but are contrary to Biblical teaching. In particular, we are looking at the spirituality being promoted by Oprah Winfrey and Eckhart Tolle in their webinar based on Tolle’s book, “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.” The videos used are not available on the Sunrise website. However, you may still be able to find them on iTunes or YouTube. In the event that you do find them, the start times for the clips are included in the notes below.]

Last week we began a new series of messages looking at some of the spiritual claims that are floating around out there right now that have the potential to deceive many, many people. And we focused in on some of the spiritual claims that are being promoted by the most powerful and the most influential woman in the world, Oprah.

We talked about how Oprah has actually done a lot of good things with her money and with her influence… there are a lot of things to admire about the woman. But over the past few months, she has really set herself up as a spiritual teacher. She’s joined forces with the New Age writer Eckhart Tolle and has hosted an online class on spirituality. And while I think their motives are good, what they’re teaching isn’t so good. And considering that over two million people from 140 countries around the world have been attending their class, I think it’s worth it to investigate exactly what they’re teaching.

Last week, we looked at four of the false claims. You see those summarized in your sermon notes in your bulletin.

False Claim #1: Truth is subjective. If you don’t like it, change it
Biblical Response: Truth is eternal. It does not change with the wind

False Claim #2: Jesus came primarily to show us how to live
Biblical Response: Jesus came primarily to rescue us from sin and death

False Claim #3: We are all part of a universal consciousness or energy
Biblical Response: We are individual creations of an all-powerful God

False Teaching #4: Christianity is just one of many paths to God
Biblical Response: Jesus is the one and only path to God

We’re going to go on this morning and look at four more of the claims being taught by Oprah and Tolle. And then in future weeks we’ll focus in on a few of them and talk about them in more detail. Okay?

Now, before we get to the false claims, let me clarify that there are some nuggets of truth in what they’re saying. There are some nuggets of truth in Tolle’s book, “A New Earth”, which is the textbook for their class. They have some practical ideas about overcoming anxiety and anger, about how our selfishness contributes to the pain in this world, and about letting go of the past, living in the present, and moving toward the future. But unfortunately, all of that is mixed in with enough false claims that it becomes dangerous. There’s enough truth mixed in with enough lies that it becomes difficult to tell the difference. And even when they quote Jesus or other verses from the Bible, they usually do so out of context and twist the words to mean whatever they want them to mean.

You may be aware that Chuck Norris has become an outspoken Christian, and he has written about Oprah and Tolle and this book, “A New Earth.” This is what he says…

“Like most self-help spiritual texts of this type, it is a blend of half-truths and half-fabrications. One easily could save the purchase price of ‘A New Earth’ -- and subsequently avoid its misleading remarks -- by reading the Bible, which gives a much more thorough and accurate picture of life’s purpose and the methods for overcoming its obstacles.”
~ Chuck Norris

Now, I can’t quote from Chuck Norris without giving you some Amazing Facts about Chuck Norris. So let’s do that… here’s the top ten amazing facts that you may or may not have known about Chuck Norris…

Top Ten Amazing Facts about Chuck Norris:

10. When Chuck Norris jumps in water, Chuck Norris doesn’t get wet. Water gets Chuck Norris.
9. Chuck Norris’ tears cure cancer. Too bad he has never cried… EVER!
8. A rolling stone gathers no moss…unless Chuck Norris wants it to.
7. When Chuck Norris does push-ups he doesn’t push himself up… he pushes the Earth down!!!
6. There are no steroids in baseball… only players Chuck Norris has breathed on.
5. Chuck Norris doesn’t churn butter. He roundhouse kicks the cows and the butter comes straight out.
4. Chuck Norris once shot down a German fighter plane with his finger by yelling, “Bang!”
[The top three are some of Chuck’s personal favorites…]
3. When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.
2. Chuck Norris doesn’t read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants.
1. Outer space exists because it’s afraid to be on the same planet with Chuck Norris.

Some amazing facts about Chuck Norris. Who knew? Getting back to “A New Earth”, here’s something else Chuck has to say…

“The reason Tolle’s psychology and spirituality is marketed so easily is that it is an eclectic mix of conventional and unconventional wisdom, and Western and Eastern beliefs, presented in a tolerant, non-threatening and nonsectarian way. In other words, it’s Religion Light, in which one can be spiritual with little down and no credit.”
~ Chuck Norris

So let’s get to some of this “religion light.” What are some of the claims that Tolle and Oprah are making sound attractive and appealing but in truth are very dangerous? Here… listen to this…

VIDEO – Week 4 from 1:18:03 to 1:20:39
(Tolle - "The very consciousness that you are is the one universal... the one life. And that permeates everything" Oprah adds that God is "the totality of the essense of all life forms. Tolle - "I am not separate from life because I am life.")

False Claim #5:
God is consciousness, you are consciousness, so you are God

Let me ask you this: What is the oldest lie in the world? The lie that you can be God. You can trace it all the way back to the Garden of Eden. God had created the first two people, Adam and Eve, and placed them in the beautiful Garden of Eden and put them in charge of everything. There was just one tree that was off limits to them… the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

But then that serpent came along and tempted Eve. “Did God really say you can’t eat from any of the trees?” “No,” Eve said, “just this one tree. God told us we can’t even touch it or we will die.” How did that serpent respond?

Genesis 3:5 (NLT)
“You won’t die!... God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God…”

“You will be like God.” Eve liked the sounds of that. So she ate from that tree, and she gave some of the fruit to Adam to eat, too. But they didn’t become like God at all. Instead, they experienced sin for the very first time. And we’re still experiencing the results of that sin today.

And we’re still hearing that same lie today. Tolle teaches that God is consciousness, you are consciousness, so you are God. He says God is life, you are life, so you are God. He says God is eternal, you are eternal, so you are God.

“The Eternal, the formless, the spirit is the essence of every human being.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
(A New Earth webinar week 1 at 54:15)

Biblical Response:
We are the creation of the Living God

In Acts 14, the apostles Paul and Barnabas traveled to the city of Lystra where they healed a man who had been crippled since birth. All the people in the city heard about what had happened, so they came out and started to praise Paul and Barnabas as if they were gods. They shouted, “These men are gods in human form!” So how did Paul and Barnabas respond?

Acts 14:15 (NLT)
“Friends, why are you doing this? We are merely human beings—just like you! We have come to bring you the Good News that you should turn from these worthless things and turn to the living God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them.”

We are not gods, we are not part of God, God is not some consciousness or energy or life-force that we feed off of. God is a real Being… a person… the Creator of all things. He’s alive. The Bible refers to Him as “The Living God” 30 times.

Plus, you’ll notice that Tolle and Oprah both refer to God as “it”. They strip Him of any personality or intelligence or individuality. But the Bible always refers to God as “He”… a personal pronoun. God is a personal Saviour, not an impersonal “it”.

We’ll be talking more about the nature of God in weeks to come.

VIDEO – Week 3 from 1:17:40 to 1:19:25
(Oprah - "God is a feeling experience, not a believing experience... If God for you is still about a belief, then it's not truly God." Not covered in this point, but note the continual use of "it" to refer to "God" in this clip and throughout the classes)

False Claim #6:
God is a feeling experience and not a believing experience

So they’re saying that what you believe isn’t important. It’s what you feel that really matters. It doesn’t matter what your theology is, it doesn’t matter where your faith is, as long as you feel connected.

But that’s not even close to what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches that our beliefs are very important. In fact, the Bible uses the word “belief” or some variation of it a total of 427 times. By comparison, the word “feel” appears only 47 times. So the Biblical response is…

Biblical Response:
What you believe is crucial to connecting with God

That’s why the Bible refers to Christ-followers as “believers.” They’re never called feelers. What you believe… what you give cognitive consent to… is important. You cannot connect with God with wrong belief.

Here, let me show you. Check out these verses… In Mark 1:15, Jesus said…

Mark 1:15 (NIV)
“Repent and believe the Good News.”

Mark 16:16 (NLT)
Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned.

John 1:12 (NLT)
But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.

John 3:16 (NLT)
For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

What you believe is crucial for you to connect to God. Your beliefs are crucial to your salvation. Your beliefs are crucial to living a God honouring life.

1 Timothy 4:16 (NIV)
Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

VIDEO - Week 3 from 1:22:37 to 1:23:27

False Claim #7:
Only the truth of who you are will set you free

Do you remember the first line from the book “The Purpose Driven Life”? “It’s not about me.” But Tolle and Oprah seem to be saying the exact opposite. They’re saying that it is all about me. If I discover the truth about who I am, I will be free. That’s what they’re teaching.

Tolle writes in his book…

“The Truth is inseparable from who you are. Yes, you are the Truth.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth (p.71)

But what does the Bible say?

Biblical Response:
Only the truth of who Jesus is will set you free

Jesus told the people who believed in Him that if they would follow Him and follow His teachings…

John 8:32 (NLT)
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Okay, but what is the truth? Or perhaps a better question would be “who” is the truth? Tolle says that you and I are the truth. But Jesus said…

John 14:6 (NLT)
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

So Tolle says you are the truth and you can set yourself free. But Jesus says He and He alone is the truth. He is the only one who can truly set you free.

In fact, the word “Free” is used some 198 times in the Bible, and not once does it say that we find true freedom by discovering who we are… it’s all about discovering who Jesus is. The apostle Paul came to understand this. Look at what he wrote…

Romans 7:24-25 (NLT)
Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

John 8:36 (NLT)
So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.

VIDEO – Week 3 from 1:23:27 to 1:27:30
(Tolle - "You are the awareness - you are consciousness - appearing as a person for a little while... As consciousness you are timeless." He goes on to say that when we die we are "transformed either to join with the Source or to go through further experiences of awakening.")

False Claim #8:
When we die we either rejoin “consciousness” or go on to another experience of awakening

This claim is rooted in Tolle’s believe that we are all just individual expressions of one great consciousness. So he believes that when we die our individual consciousness will simply be re-absorbed into the consciousness of the universe. Or we might come back as someone or something else. So he has some reincarnational beliefs mixed in with his teachings.

Let me play you another clip…

VIDEO – Week 4 from 1:23:47 to 1:25:48
(Oprah - "We are confusing the 'I Am' life force with our bodies... so when this dies and becomes the shell... we are confusing that which is the physical form, the human, we're confusing that with the being."
Tolle - "You have come out of this universe because you are this universe experiencing itself very briefly as a human.")

Okay, so Eckhart believes a lot of things, including the idea that we are just the universe expressing itself in bodily form. So he believes that when we die, we just go back into that universe. What he definitely does not believe in is the existence of a place called Heaven.

“We need to understand here that heaven is not a location but refers to the inner realm of consciousness.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth (p.23)

But the Bible does talk about Heaven as being a real place. And it talks about Hell the same way. And it teaches that every one of us will end up in one of those two places. So the Biblical response is…

Biblical Response:
When we die we will all face the judgment and then move on to Heaven or Hell

Hebrews 9:27 (NLT)
And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people.

So the Bible says we will all die once and only once, and then we’ll face the judgment. And that judgment will determine where we go from there… Heaven or Hell.

And what determines that final destination is what we decide to do with Jesus during this lifetime. This is what Paul has to say to those who choose to believe in Jesus and live for him…

2 Corinthians 5:1 (NLT)
For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.

That’s for Christ-followers. That’s for believers. But for those who reject Jesus…

Revelation 21:8 (NLT)
“But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

That’s a description of Hell. And yes, I believe in a literal Hell. The Bible talks about it, Jesus Himself talked about it, and I trust that what He says is true. Hell is a real, literal place, created for Satan and his demons, and it’s the destination of all those who choose to reject Jesus.

So the question for each of us here this morning is, what are we going to do with Jesus? Are you going to reject Him and follow after the spirituality of Eckhart Tolle and Oprah Winfrey, seeking answers within yourself? Or are you going to give yourself wholly to Jesus, believing in Him and living for Him, discovering that He is the truth?

The choice is yours to make. No one else can make it for you. And I understand that if this is new for you, then you probably have some questions that you need to address first.
If this is all new for you, are you going to investigate the claims of Jesus a bit more until you have enough to base a decision on?



Copyright © Greg Hanson, 2008