Tuesday, April 15, 2008


In my seminary class on evangelism and discipleship tonight there was a lot of hype about some series of talks Oprah is doing. I heard everything from she is trying to start her own religion to she should be taken off the air to she is very confused and lost.

So I googled it in class and found it on her website here. She has put a lot of energy into this because this book study she's doing with author Eckhart Tolle on his book, A New Earth ("awakening to your life's purpose" is the subtitle which I swear I've heard before somewhere!), is available to be downloaded for free in one of 3 forms: audio, video, or written transcript.

I downloaded the transcript from episode one and read it during my extremely engaging seminary class. I found this piece very interesting. Seems to be along the lines of Dan Kimball's, "They like Jesus, but not the the church" pretty well. This would make great material to get students talking in a discussion group on what they believe. It is super new age and trendy and full of cultural norms we need to address. It is very western trendy all religions should just like each other in a happy soup bowl- a thought the middle east will never ever buy into, but that western cultures seem to think is very natural. I just might download the whole thing and use it to frame a whole series of talks that might really get students thinking. Here's several paragraphs from a 43 page PDF transcript that capsulate it pretty well in the framework of a question a viewer asked live via skype I think:

KELLY (ILLINOIS): Well, my question is regarding religion and spirituality.


KELLY (ILLINOIS): I had a Catholic upbringing, I married a Catholic, and we're raising our children this way. In reading books such as Tolle's, I've really, it's really opened my eyes up to a new way of thinking: a new form of spirituality that doesn't always align with the teachings of Christianity. So my question is to you, Oprah, how have you reconciled these spiritual teachings with your Christian beliefs?

OPRAH WINFREY (HOST): Oh, the question's to me. I was resting knowing it was going to about—I've reconciled it because I was able to open my mind about the absolute indescribable hugeness of that which we call "God." I took God out of the box because I grew up in the Baptist church and there were, you know, rules and, you know, belief systems in doctrine.

OPRAH WINFREY (HOST): And I happened to be sitting in church in my late 20s, and I was going to this church where you had to get there at 8 in the morning or you couldn't get a seat. And a very charismatic minister, and everybody was just, you know, into the sermon. And this great minister was preaching about how great God was and how omniscient and omnipresent, and God is everything.

OPRAH WINFREY (HOST): And then he said, "And the lord thy God is a jealous God." And I was, you know, caught up in the rapture of that moment until he said "jealous." And something struck me. And I was like, I think about 27 or 28. I was thinking, "God is all, God is omnipresent, God is—and God's also jealous? God is jealous of me?"

OPRAH WINFREY (HOST): And something about that didn't feel right in my spirit because I believe that God is love and that God is in all things. And so that's when the search for something more than doctrine started to stir within me. And I love this quote that Eckhart has, this is one of my favorite quotes in Chapter 1, where he says, "Man made 'God' in his own image. The eternal, the infinite, and unnamable was reduced to a mental idol that you had to believe in and worship as 'my god' or 'our god.'"

OPRAH WINFREY (HOST): Now I think that's very eloquently put by Eckhart Tolle in Chapter 1. But that is exactly what I was feeling when I was, you know, sitting in church that Sunday listening to the preacher. And you know, it's been a journey to get to the place where I understand, as I said on the preshow here, that what I believe is that Jesus came to show us Christ consciousness.

OPRAH WINFREY (HOST): That Jesus came to show us the way of the heart and that what Jesus was saying that to show us the higher consciousness that we're all talking about here. Jesus came to say, "Look I'm going to live in the body, in the human body, and I'm going to show you how it's done." These are some principles and some laws that you can use to live by to know that way. And when I started to recognize that, that Jesus didn't come—in my belief, even as a Christian, I don't believe that Jesus came to start Christianity.

OPRAH WINFREY (HOST): So that was also very helpful to me. And as I said earlier in the preshow here, there is a wonderful book called Discover the Power Within You by Eric Butterworth, which helped me reconcile the two. So that might be really good for those of you who are Christian and trying to balance the two. What would you say?

OPRAH WINFREY (HOST): Because one of the things that Eckhart says in the beginning of this book on page 6 is, "This book's main 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, that is to say, to awaken." He says that on page 6. And one of the reasons why I appreciate him so much is because he truly isn't out to become your next guru. He doesn't want, you know, all of you who are online with us tonight and those millions who will now hear about this book, he's not interested in being your guru, correct?


OPRAH WINFREY (HOST): Yeah. How would you respond to that? That's one of the biggest questions that we have coming into our message boards about the same thing that Kelly is addressing here from Alton about spirituality and religion. This is not trying to tell you how to believe. And how do you advise people to reconcile this with their religious beliefs?

ECKHART TOLLE (AUTHOR A NEW EARTH: AWAKENING TO YOUR LIFE'S PURPOSE): Well, religion can be an open doorway into spirituality, and religion can be a closed door. It prevents you from going deeper. So that I love reading the New Testament, and I also read the Old Testament. Sometimes there's some incredible jewels in there. And when I went through this inner transformation, and for the first time accidentally I picked up a copy of the New Testament at my mother's place.

ECKHART TOLLE (AUTHOR A NEW EARTH: AWAKENING TO YOUR LIFE'S PURPOSE): And I started reading, and I immediately recognized the deep truths that is there, and I realized the truth that is deeper, that is expressed in what Jesus said, is much deeper than what you, how the church interprets it. There's a depth to it. And it reflects your own depth when you read it. So there's no conflict between this teaching, which is purely spiritual, and any religion.

ECKHART TOLLE (AUTHOR A NEW EARTH: AWAKENING TO YOUR LIFE'S PURPOSE): Because if you go deep enough in your religion, then you all get to the same place. It's a question of going deeper, so there's no conflict here. The important thing is that religion doesn't become an ideology—so, "I believe this." And the moment you say "only my belief" or "our belief" is true, and you deny other people's beliefs, then you've adopted an ideology. And then religion becomes a closed door. But, potentially, religion can also be an open door.


don 5:45 AM  

I am just one of the millions of people who read Eckhart Tolle and appreciate what Oprah is doing. I am also one of the millions of FORMER born again Christians, who used to believe that to follow Jesus meant to just say Jesus come into my life. Then I could vote Republican, hate gays( even though Jesus never did), and judge everyone else if they didn't believe in my Jesus, just like my church taught me. No, I'm not new age, I just think that following Jesus is not that same as believing in your head some things that you were taught by a bunch of old white bigots, who only a few years ago would not allow blacks to worship in the same church as whites. Free AT Last, Free at Last, Thank God, I'm free from crazy Fundamentalist Christian Religion that would kill Jesus again, if he came back today, as he would probably appear on Oprah and talk about love and forgiveness- another new age freak, lol. don fundys.com

brian c. berry 7:37 AM  


there are millions of christians who don't believe the Jesus hates gays, votes republican, is white, and judges everyone. But that does not make Eckhart Tolle's take on Jesus the correct one. I'm grieved by the way the church has hurt you, and I believe I desire to be free at last as well. However, my fear is that many will step from one lie of extreme fundamentalism into another lie that is neither who Jesus said he was not what the Scripture records as true. The desire of neither Oprah nor Tolle from what I can figure is to follow Jesus. Surely, at least that can be agreed, is what Jesus asked his disciples to do.

Angi,  4:32 PM  

I am a Christian. Being a Christian is a lot more than accepting Jesus. It is about recognizing that while no one will ever be perfect, God loves us anyway. As undeserving as we are, he loves us. Unconditionally. And his love for us will never change. Wether we accept him or not. Wether we are theives, murderers, liars, whatever. He still loves us. It is our job, as Christians, to let God show his love for the world through us. We will not always agree with the rest of the world. I do not agree with homosexuality. But I refuse to treat a homosexual any differently than I would anyone
else. Just because we disagree does not mean that we hate. There are a lot of people that claim to be Christians who are hateful and cruel. They don't understand that they are just as wrong in their hatefulness as the person they
hate. Sin is sin. I think maybe you should try another church. Try an apostolic or Pentecostal one. There is no such thing as a perfect church though. If there is, it stops being perfect as soon as it has people in it. I hope you give God a second chance. And just for the record, I am white, my husband is black, our children are mixed, and we are both republicans. Neither of us are old or biggots. So you should listen to us! Hehe.


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