It happened, of all places, in a Christian bookstore. I was standing near the entrance scanning a display when two women walked in chatting. That was nothing unusual. It's what they were saying that caught my attention… and made me catch my breath. They were looking for a particular book, one I was certain they weren't going to find there. I know, because I'd read it. One friend said to the other, "I hope they have that book that was on Oprah, A New Earth."
A few years ago, A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle, hit the market and had respectable sales. Categorized in the Inspirational section as "paperback advice," it wasn't until the book was picked as one of Oprah's "book club books" that it skyrocketed to #1 on the New York Times bestsellers list. In fact, according to Barnes & Noble, the book became the fastest-selling title in the history of Oprah's Book Club.
I read the book because we were talking about its skyrocketing sales (and their implications) on our women's show, Full Circle. According to Tolle, the book's purpose "is not to add new information or beliefs to your mind or to try to convince you of anything, but to bring about a shift in consciousness." As I read this book, I found his statement couldn't be further from the truth.
In short, Mr. Tolle's book is about "spirituality." Great. I love to read books about our spiritual-ness… our true selves. In fact, it was famed 19th century author George Macdonald who said, "Never tell a child, ‘You have a soul.' Teach him, ‘You are a soul; you have a body.'" It is through our souls that God saves us. It is through our spirits that He embraces us. In essence, our spirituality is all about our relationship with God. And it's a bond only made possible through Jesus, His Son. Because of this, to me, any author's view on the Person (and purpose) of Jesus is monumental in considering the spiritual benefit of his book.
In his book, Mr. Tolle mentions Jesus several times, often coupling Him with Buddha, and then uses the "teachings" of Jesus to add validity to other "teacher's" statements. Never does he (in this book on "spirituality") assert that Jesus was any more than just a good teacher with wise words to consider. This is paramount. This isn't a book on "gardening." It's a book on "spirituality." And having a proper perspective on the foundation of our faith is the basis of ALL "spirituality." Jesus is most definitely the Foundation of our faith.
For this reason, as well as his blatant teaching on reincarnation and repeated assertions regarding our consciousness (a Buddhist term for soul), I, along with many others, advised extreme caution regarding this book. Even so, millions of copies flew off the shelves, sadly landing in the homes of many who follow Jesus.
As believers in Jesus, it's crucial that we remind each other not to be deceived when it comes to issues of our spiritual walk. We have a responsibility to shine God's Light into any teaching on spirituality in order to discern its integrity. Cloaked in the feel good, think good, do good doctrine, many authors assert the "religion" of all-roads-lead-to-God, thereby nullifying the need for, and work of, the Cross. And that is a dangerous mindset indeed.
It was Oswald Chambers who said, "Often Satan does not come to us on the premise of tempting us to sin, but on the premise of shifting our point of view." And therein lies the rub. For if shifting our point of view on the Person of Jesus, even ever-so-slightly, is a possibility, then Satan has accomplished his goal.
10,000 Reasons to Engage… we have to engage our culture on the things that matter. For one simple reason. The enemy of our souls has them already engaged. Now more than ever we have to understand…connecting with our culture isn't optional.