Eckhart Tolle’s Psychology

Today, we’re going to look at the psychology presented in “A New Earth.” Now there are many problems I see in that while he claims in one part that he is against moral relativism, he seems to affirm a viewpoint of moral relativism in others. Let’s see where he says he is against it.

On page 70 we read “The Catholic and other churches are actually correct when they identify relativism, the belief that there is no absolute truth to guide human behavior, as one of the evils of our times;.”

Yet on pages 110-11 we read:

You might say “What a dreadful day,” without realizing that the cold, the wind, and the rain or whatever conditions you react to are not dreadful. They are as they are. What is dreadful is your reaction, your inner resistance to it, and the emotion that is created by that resistance. In Shakespeare’s words, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Here, it seems a relativism is being espoused, especially with the quote.

And on page 196 we read:

The deeper interconnectedness of all things and events implies that the mental labels of “good” and “bad” are ultimately illsuory.

So which is it?

Interestingly, one idea of his ethics astounds me in finding inner purpose. On page 263, he sets up an imaginary dialogue with someone on finding the purpose in their life. When he is asked to help find someone’s life purpose, he replies:

Your purpose is to sit here and talk to me, because that’s where you and that’s what you are doing. Until you get up and do something else. Then that becomes your purpose.

It would seem then that whatever you do is your final cause as it were. So, if I was really struggling with lust and went out and raped a girl, my purpose would be to rape a girl at the time?

Overall though, readers might be surprised to hear that I do find much that is helpful in the psychology given. I do believe we focus too much on things. I do believe we are too materialistic. I do believe we should live life in the Now. (So did C.S. Lewis.) I do believe there is great help in breathing exercises and in meditation.

My problem is the baggage that comes with it.

For instance, my roommate did a presentation at our church today on Yoga. I thought he did excellent and pointed out that it’s just incredibly difficult to separate yoga from the spiritual baggage that comes with it. So what’s a Christian to do? Several other exercise programs that can bring about just as much physical benefit as Yoga.

So what about Tolle’s psychology?

When he talks about what we tell ourselves, you can find the same stuff and better from a Christian perspective in Gary Habermas. I urge the reader to go to his website and listen to his lectures on emotional doubt. He is quite good at telling ways to get your emotions under control and would recommend also the book “Telling Yourself The Truth.”

In fact, you can find much of the good ethical teachings in the philosophers of the past. Go read the stoics. Go read Plato. Go read Aristotle. Tolle is not really saying anything new in the area of psychology. Again, you have to separate the wheat from the chaff with the philosophers also, but when you get to them, I find there is a lot less chaff and a lot more wheat. (And I would encourage the Christians that read to get familiar with philosophical thought anyway.)

I believe that is the danger in fact in Tolle! He has a lot of good stuff and when you take that in but take in the worldview as well, you get the bad. It is like drinking a glass of water, which is good, but then drinking arsenic in it also. If you take in the water, it is quite likely you will also take in the arsenic. There are better and safer sources and they don’t come with the worldview of Tolle that seems to be a conceptual disaster at the moment.

There isn’t much to say of the afterlife. I know where I wish to go, and we’ll go there tomorrow.

Eckhart Tolle on Man

I said last night’s blog would be shorter as when dealing with a pantheistic notion of the universe, you can’t say much about God that isn’t said about the world. I anticipate a short blog tonight as well as we look at the view of man and realize that there isn’t much distinction here also. Nevertheless, we shall go through and see if we can find anything to comment on while trying to avoid passages already commented on.

Some readers might also note the order I am taking after seeing how Tolle handles Scripture. Those who know me and some of my heroes in the faith could recognize that by going God, Cosmos, and Man, that I am actually taking the order of the Late Ron Nash. (May he rest in peace.) Nash, in describing a worldview, said the most important questions were the nature of God, ultimate reality, man, ethics, and the afterlife. Tolle says little if anything about the afterlife so we will focus on other topics then. For his ethics, we will look at his psychology. For now though, let’s look at what he has to say about man.

As we have seen, man is part of the universe and I see no way of avoiding saying that man is God. The problem for mankind is that mankind is not aware of this and needs to reach consciousness or enlightenment. In this, Tolle is no different from many new age teachers of eastern thought. It is simply repackaged for those in a more western worldview supposedly. It’s worth noting that this is also what he says Jesus called salvation. (Yet Tolle seems silent on sin, which Jesus was never silent on and salvation was deliverance from the penalty of sin.)

On page 11, he speaks of humans “Driven by greed, ignorant of their connectedness to the whole, humans persist in behavior that, if continued unchecked, can only result in their own destruction.” Here is the speaking of the environmental movement. The difference here though is that destroying the environment is bad for people not because they depend on it so much as they share the same essence as it. For the record, I personally don’t place much stock in environmental scare crisis and think the crisis of unbelief is far worse than any supposed environmental crisis.

Later on page 102, we read this:

The man on the cross is an archetypal image. He is every man and every woman. As long as you resist suffering, it is a slow process because the resistance creates more ego to burn up. When you accept suffering, however, there is an acceleration of that process which is brought about by the fact that you suffer consciously. You can accept suffering for yourself, or you can accept it for someone else, such as your child or parent. In the midst of conscious suffering, there is already that transmutation. The fire of suffering becomes the light of consciousness.

Now there is some psychology in here of course, but there is a statement about our nature. It is our nature to become conscious and this is through suffering. Christianity has a similar teaching. It is where it is different that it matters. We too, see the value in suffering, but believe it is making us to be more like Christ and that God is purging all the impurities from within us. Notice the distinction. In Christianity, it is God working in us. In Tolle’s view, it is us working in us.

This is more explicit on page 116 where he says “To end the misery that has afflicted the human condition for thousands of years, you have to start with yourself….”

Now partially, one does have to take responsibility for one’s actions, but in a Christian worldview, it is God that is reaching down and taking the initiative. We are merely following him. Saving the world does not start with us. It started with Christ. We are simply carrying on his work through the proclamation of the gospel and the Great Commission.

I honestly wish I could say more, but all that is said is about consciousness and being one. Much of it has already been addressed and I count on people who care about truth being able to separate the wheat from the chaff. Tomorrow, we’ll look at the psychology of Tolle to see if he does have any wheat.

Eckhart Tolle On The Cosmos

This blog will probably be shorter than last night’s. Last night, we continued our look through “A New Earth” with Eckhart Tolle’s view of God. I didn’t cover everything of course. This blog is not meant to do that nor do I think it would be appropriate. A few passages that are select and most people can easily recognize the problems with the others. I would rather see people be able to pick out most problems themselves anyway. I get more and more concerned with a culture that doesn’t think.

Last night though, we covered the topic of his God and found that it is largely a pantheistic or panentheistic notion. Today, we will cover his view of the universe and probably leave out statements that are deifying the universe as much as we can. There will be some naturally, but God has already been covered and we don’t want overlap.

To begin with though, let’s look at a quote from page 25. Tolle has claimed that when we put a word on something, we think we know what it is. He replies: “The fact is: You don’t know what it is. You have only covered up the mystery with a label. Everything, a bird, a tree, even a simple stone, and certainly a human being, is ultimately unknowable.”


How does he know that?

This seems to be Kant’s problem of the noumena and the phenomena. Rest assured though that whenever someone tells you something is unknowable, they will always tell you something they know about it. Tolle delivers. He tells us that all we can know is the surface layer. Then the next thing he says is telling us about what the case is under the surface.

It never fails.

Tolle also has a personal universe. He speaks of acting in negativity on page 58 and states that when we do such, the universe will not be on our side. This makes sense though in Tolle’s progressing universe as it somehow seeks to grow through us (The panentheistic notion) and thus, it will work against us somehow whenever we act negatively. One wonders how it works against us. One wonders also if Christ sent out some negative energy greatly to get nailed to a cross. Is that how he thinks all suffering in the world is here? That it is simply people releasing negative energy?

We spoke yesterday of Gaia and on page 132, which ends with the start of the Gaia quote, we read “The body’s intelligence is, of course, an inseparable part of universal intelligence, one of its countless manifestations.” Again, we have a universe that is intelligent and we are manifestations of it. Thus, there is some of Kant in there and now apparently some of Spinoza. Tolle seems to have just taken a hodgepodge of worldviews and taken what he likes from each to form his own.

On page 163, we read that those who do not wish to obtain consciousness are out of alignment with the evolutionary impulse of the universe. One wonders where this evolutionary impulse comes from though if there truly is a pantheistic worldview involved.  Where is the universe going and for what goal? Who gave it its final cause?

On page 196, speaking about the oneness of the universe he says “The deeper interconnectedness of all things and events implies that the mental labels of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are ultimately illusory.” This is a most puzzling statement. Does that mean that his claims about ego are wrong? Is it illusory to say that ego is a bad thing? Is it illusory to say consciousness is a good thing?

And there are some things that I think are clearly good and clearly bad. I think the beauty of a lady is good and the marital union between a man and a woman is definitely good. (And as I am single, I hope to learn that firsthand someday soon.) I think also that acts like adultery are definitely bad. I think the slaughter of innocent children through “A woman’s right to choose” is definitely bad.

On page 218 he asks if we can be aware of space if there is nothing there. “The answer is both simple and profound. When you are aware of space, you are not really aware of anything, except awareness itself—the inner space of consciousness. Through you, the universe is becoming aware of itself!”

One wonders if the universe lost awareness sometime. Did it ever happen? How does this work with the universe having intelligence? There are just too many unanswered questions. Tolle has a worldview that is a complete jumble and one can search high and low through the book and they just won’t find a satisfactory answer to them.

Like I said earlier, much of this was covered last night, but ultimately, I find the entire worldview lacking. I do think there is some good psychology, but it has a terrible foundation, which we will look at in a later poist.

Eckhart Tolle on God

We’ve been reviewing Eckhart Tolle’s book “A New Earth” here at Deeper Waters. Last night, we discussed the nature of truth. Naturally, I disagreed with much of what Tolle said in the section on truth and think that he did contradict himself later on with the usage of a Shakespeare quote. Tonight though, we’re going to try to establish what his view of God is.

This is a difficult one and I fluctuate between describing it as pantheism or panentheism. Readers of my blog regularly will remember I was reading this book when I visited the beach recently and noted that if one goes to a place like that and is not tempted with pantheism, then there is something dead in them. Note again that I think pantheism is wrong, but absent of revelation, which seems to be the problem in the book, I can understand how someone would reach that conclusion.

Now let’s look at the texts.

To start with, Tolle describes an Earth that one day had color and scent come over it, that is, if a perceiving consciousness had been there to perceive it. One point here that might be nit-picky. Wouldn’t there be colors and scents even if there was no one there to perceive them? I seriously doubt that the books in my room change color when I go away. However, the perceiving consciousness statement is odd. Is he excluding God from this? If so, we have a form of pantheism with an impersonal type of Brahman.

This could be the case also when later on in speaking of birds he says “Like all life-forms, they are, of course, temporary manifestations of the underlying one Life, one Consciousness.” (Page 4) Does Tolle believe this one Life and one Consciousness to be God? He doesn’t come right out and say it, but it seems a fair implication, especially since it’s capitalized.

Later on page 22, we read  about the ego and how it is being connected with forms. Tolle states “This results in a total unawareness of my connectedness with the whole, my intrinsic oneness with every ‘other’ as well as with the Source. This forgetfulness is original sin.”

First off, in Christian thought, original sin means that we are all tainted with the sin of Adam. The problem is that we are cut off from the Source being God, of course, but the difference is that in Christian thought we are not in oneness with God. We are all distinct within the creation and we are all distinct from the creator, though we do bear his image.

On page 26, we read “Even a stone, and more easily a flower or a bird, could show you the way back to God, to the Source, to yourself.” One wonders how it is that Tolle can explain if we are God how we lost our way from ourselves. As a Christian who believes in the argument from beauty, I do believe a stone or a bird could lead you to God. I also believe though that without further special revelation from him, you will probably not know much of who he is. Could this be the problem with Tolle? In an earlier post, I described creation as God flirting with us. Could it be Tolle is taking the flirting as the end all when God is only hinting at so much more? Is he replacing the fulfillment of love with foreplay?

On page 57 we read “You realize your essential identity as formless, as an all-pervasive Presence, of Being prior to all forms, all identifications. You realize your true identity as consciousness itself, rather than what consciousness had identified with. That’s the peace of God. The ultimate truth of who you are is not I am this or I am that, but I Am.”

I really don’t see how a Christian can read something like that and accept that. Christians should know that “I AM” is the divine name God reveals himself by in Exodus 3:14. God alone can refer to himself as that for God alone is eternal and is not “I was” or “I will be.” (This is also one of the reasons English teachers often discourage their students from using words am and are.)

Friends. Many of us may be on quests to “find ourselves” at times and we can remember the words of the Oracle of Delphi to “Know thyself” but I can assure you of this.

You are not God.

I can also assure some of you who may be concerned with a greater threat.

I am not God either.

(Some of you know that’s kind of self-evident.)

You are a beautiful creation of God, and you as a human being that reflects his image, are worth more than the universe, but you are not him. You were made to worship and serve him and to give him glory. Also, I don’t really consider the god worth worshiping who has a problem remembering who he is. I’ll take the one who always has been, always is, and always will be.

On page 74, Tolle speaks of our common humanity and then in talking about how we perceive the ego in others as their identity says we not only forget our common humanity but also “the rootedness in the one Life that you share with each human being, your common divinity.”

Now I do believe there is something divine in human beings, but it is not by nature but gift. We do not have to be. God created us and gave us life as a gift and with that comes bearing his image. We are meant to reflect him. If we paused to think about that, it should strike us as awesome. What we are getting instead is the same lie used in the garden. “You shall be as God.”

It worked so well then, why not try it again? In fact, Tolle says the opposite of what I’ve just said on page 79 referring to our essential beingness, the I Am. I am a contingent being though. If I exist, I must be necessarily human, but my existence is contingent. It doesn’t have to be and the universe could make it just fine without me and God definitely could. What I have is a gift.

I must comment on page 81 when he says “This is because the recognition of the impermanence of all forms awakens you to the dimension of formless within yourself, that which is beyond death. Jesus called it “eternal life.”

No. Jesus called eternal life living in the Kingdom of God by the gift of his salvation forevermore. Only those who have been forgiven of their sins could have that and it would always be by gift from the creator who is distinct from us. It’s a shame Jesus must have been a terrible teacher. No one understood his message until these New Age teachers came along.

In speaking about discipline on page 104, Tolle says that you are to only want the moment with your child then. “In this way, you make room for Being. In that moment, if you are present, you are not a father or mother. You are the alertness, the stillness, the Presence that is listening, looking, touching, even speaking. You are the Being behind the doing.”

Friends. It’s simply getting to be more repetitive at this point as it’s simply the idea of identifying ourselves with Being again. We are not existence. Existence is not something we have necessarily for we are not necessary beings. We are contingent beings and if we exist, we exist for the glory of God and it is a gift from him to us.

On page 106, we get a more direct statement on the nature of God with Tolle saying “It has been said that ‘God is love’ but that is not absolutely correct. God is the One Life in and beyond the countless forms of life. Love implies duality: lover and beloved, subject and object. So love is the recognition of oneness in the world of duality. This is the birth of God into the world of form. Love makes the world less worldly, less dense, more transparent to the divine dimension, the light of consciousness itself.”

Classical apologists used “God is Love” to demonstrate the Trinity all the way back to Augustine. Tolle has made it something entirely different. One wonders though how there is a duality if all is one. Parmenides would have admitted no such thing in his monistic system.

Question: If all is one, then would that not eliminate love as how is the one subject and object if there is no distinction between anything truly?

On pages 132-133, we see more clues of the worldview as he equates the world with Gaia. This is a common name used to refer to the Earth as having some sort of consciousness of its own, a further indication of pantheism.

I refer the read to an earlier post with the quotation of Matthew 5:48. Note that on that same page, page 184, Tolle specifically says your true nature is one with the nature of God. I believe I have said enough though in response to such an assertion.

Now why do I think he could be panentheistic at times? He seems to talk of a God also who is progressing and undergoing change in these quotes and we will see more of this when we look at Tolle’s view of man in the book.

At this point, I simply say, Christians beware. Anyone who was an informed Christian when reading this should have had his red flags going up several times.

Eckhart Tolle on Truth

There is only one section alone that I really want to focus on in “A New Earth” as the book is divided into chapters and each chapter is divided into sections. That is the one “Truth: Relative or Absolute?”

Why? Because so much today hinders on what truth is. Not what is the truth, but what truth itself is. What is the truth is certainly an important question, but before we get to it, we have to establish what truth is. Now Tolle does seem to believe in absolute truth, but does he mean what Christians mean by that? He is right in saying that moral relativism is one of the great evils of our times. Does that not start though somehow with epistemological relativism?

Let’s consider some statements.

2 + 2 = 4

Washington D.C. is the capital of America.

The World Trade Towers fell on 9-11, 2001.

Red and yellow make orange.

Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Now let’s consider some others:

Lassie is a penguin

3 x 3 is 44.

Ontario is located in Asia

America won its independence in 1844.

White and green make black.

Water consists of 7 parts Carbon and 9 parts Arsenic.

Now all of these statements are false, but notice something. They’re all meaningful. The only way that we know that they’re false is that they all have some meaning. We know 3 x 3 isn’t 44 because we know what 3 means, we know what it means to multiply, we know what equal means, and we know what 44 means. We also know all these items belong together. Consider if it was the following:

3 x 3 = purple.

Not only is it false, it seems like gibberish to us. What does that mean? It’s a category fallacy entirely. Or consider the classical example:

Colorless green dreams sleep furiously.

Even if we know what all the words mean, they not only contradict, but dreams not only do not have colors as it were, but they don’t sleep. The sentence doesn’t make sense. Let’s consider some other sentences.

Christianity teaches that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

Islam says there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.

Mormons believe that men can become gods.

These are also all true statements. Let’s take the first one though. We know it’s a statement that has meaning and is claiming to be a true statement about what Christianity teaches. Let’s take out part though.

Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

Now we have something different. It’s not just Christianity teaches this. It’s saying that this is a truth claim and this is where we have some differentiation. This is the kind of statement I think Tolle might say is “True for you but not for me.”

However, notice something about that proposition. It’s not meaningless. If I assert it, you can easily ascertain what I mean by it. I mean something specific. I do not mean Jesus Christ rises in our hearts and Easter always happens. I mean that within the space-time fabric of history, the God-man, Jesus Christ, died and rose again physically.

Question: Why should this truth be relative instead of absolute?

Now someone might say “You can’t prove it!”

Okay. I think I could give exceedingly great evidence for it, but let’s suppose I can’t. Let’s suppose it’s a claim. Now let’s consider some others:

Human Life begins at conception.

It’s wrong to torture babies for fun.

That man loves his wife.

Courage is a virtue.

These could be contested by some, and it might be considered to be beyond proof. (I think the first one has been shown, but I say that for the sake of those who might not think such.) Nevertheless, they all make claims about reality and those claims are either true or false and they are true or false whether they can be proven or not.

So, even if I could not prove Jesus rose from the dead, the claim still has meaning. If he rose from the dead, it would be a fact. If he didn’t, it wouldn’t. It’s that simple.

Now let’s look at what Tolle says.

Tolle speaks about how Christian history is an example with people being routinely tortured and burnt for disagreeing with the reigning power. Now I’ll grant that there was much evil that happened in the Inquisition. However, there is much myth about it as well. On page 155-156 of his book, he claims 3-5 million women were tortured and killed by the Inquisition.

I would like to see one scholar of the Inquisition who would make such a claim.

Really. There was a lot evil, but by and large, the Inquisition was not seen to be the dread force it has been depicted as. Later writers often told horror stories about the Inquisition that simply are not true. One sees this kind of thinking about it showing up in writers like Sam Harris also in “The End of Faith.” We condemn the bad that happened, but we realize all that happened was not evil. (And realize that Tolle says on 110-111 that there is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so in quoting Shakespeare. How does he say anything is evil then?)

Tolle says what these people had was simply a bundle of thoughts.

Why yes. They had thoughts.

Those thoughts were either true or false and that’s what needs to be asked most of all. Is the Christian story true? Not is it a good story? Is it a story I like? Is it a beautiful story? I could say that the story of the Lord of the Rings is a good and beautiful story that I like, but that does not make it a true story. (Although several Tolkien fans would wish it were.)

Tolle makes the claim that thought can point to the truth, but it is never the truth. Now I wonder about this. This seems to be a thought of Tolle’s. Is it true or not? There are so many questions that can arise from that because I believe that Tolle has erred gravely. Truth consists in concepts that can be formed in propositions about reality and those propositions are often contained in thoughts. They are the bearers of truth indeed. You don’t say the words are true. You say the concept behind the words is true.

Tolle also makes the statement that all religions are equally false or equally true depending on how they’re used.

As a Christian, I find that gravely insulting.

In my worldview, the one true God sent his only Son to die a hideous death for my sins and he rose from the dead after the horror of crucifixion and the response I get is “Well that’s true for you provided you use it right, but the Buddhist path works just as well.”

So then God made a mistake if he sent his only Son? He could have just sent everyone to Buddha?

What would it mean to work anyway? Does it mean to make you happy or make you a better person? Well and good. Christianity is not about that though. It is not about giving you warm fuzzies of happiness but letting you enter into the joy of the Lord. It is not about taking people that are bad and making them good, though it does that, but taking people who are dead and making them alive.

My religion is making claims not about how I feel, but about how reality is. It claims that certain events happened in history and those events have ramifications for all mankind. It does not matter if you like that claim or not. It does not matter if I’m arrogant when I make the claim or not. It does not matter if the claim can be proven or not. It is still a meaningful claim and it is thus, either true or false.

Next Tolle makes this interesting statement: There is only one absolute Truth, and all other truths emanate from it.

Question: Is that claim an absolute truth?

If it is, then there are two absolute truths and the statement contradicts itself.

If it isn’t, then the statement is not absolute truth so why should I believe it?

Tolle then goes on though to say that we are inseparable from the truth. We saw though in an earlier blog that his usage of John 14:6 is not in line with what Jesus was saying and in fact, Jesus was making a strong claim about exclusivity. (We will be looking at exclusivism later.) Now one can say that Jesus was wrong in his claim to being exclusive, which I doubt he was, but let it not be said that he is uttering something meaningless. The claim is either true or false.

Tolle’s worldview would have the most important truths actually being left out of the equation. Is my roommate my friend for instance? I could not prove that empirically. I could not use science to find it out. I do not think I could prove it to the most ardent skeptic. He would always be able to come back with some reason to think some tomfoolery is going on or something. However, does that mean it’s a meaningless claim? No. In fact, do I doubt the claim? Not at all!

When I examine the questions of life, the most important questions I have are not scientific or mathematical. Now don’t get me wrong. Those are important questions. The most important questions involve though the areas of morality and theology and philosophy. What is the nature of God? What is the nature of love? What is the nature of sex? (Which is actually in all three. It’s not just physical and biological.) How do I treat my neighbor? How can I be a good person?

Can each of these be answered with truth claims? Yes. Even if I don’t know the answers, they can be answered. Even if I can’t prove such answers if found, they are still true.

In philosophy, this is the correspondence theory of truth. Truth is the way things are simply. The claim “I am sitting down as I type this sentence,” is true because, well I am sitting down as I type this sentence. It doesn’t mean when I stand up it will be false. The claim is that I was sitting down when I typed it and that is true for all people in all times in all places like all truth claims are.

What’s Tolle’s theory? He doesn’t say explicitly and I don’t think he gives enough clues to find out even implicitly. That concerns me greatly. Especially for a book that I believe is making several truth claims. Are things the way Tolle says they are? We’ll find out over the next few days.

Eckhart Tolle on Scripture: Part 4

Hopefully, we’ll wrap up Tolle’s use of Scripture this time.

On page 267, Tolle speaks of tapping into the power of the present moment and quotes Jesus to show his case. The passages quoted are found in John 14:10 and John 5:30. “It is not I but the Father within me who does the works.” and “I can of my own self do nothing.”

This is not talking at all about the present moment. The first passage tells what Jesus was talking about. He was NOT talking about a power we can all tap into. He was talking about his unique ability based on his unique relationship to the Father. As the Wisdom of God, he could not act as an independent agent as it were. What would it mean for Jesus to say “The Father is out there, but I don’t need him” and “I do everything by myself without the Father”?

No. This is not a passage about dependence on some unseen power in the universe. This is speaking about who Jesus is. I really have a problem when someone like Tolle takes a Scripture like this and makes it mean something that it never would mean to the original hearers, especially since it contradicts everything else that they said.

The next quote is of Jesus saying “Look at the lilies of the field, how they grow. They toil not, neither do they spin. Yet even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Tolle quotes this in talking about being one with the totality of the universe.

Unfortunately, that is nowhere taught in the New Testament. We have a special place in the universe, no doubt, but we are not one with it. We are a part of it. In fact, the medieval Christians thought we were the most important part and one human being was of more value than the whole universe. The context was not to worry and to trust in God.

In the last chapter, we have John 5:30 being quoted again about not speaking out of the ego. Now I find this odd as Jesus did speak about himself quite often. He did speak of his being identity in relationship with the Father and he made so many claims that if anyone else made those same claims, we would think that they were a madman or the most vicious blasphemer of all.

Next, Tolle speaks of the creative power of the mind and the conscious manifestation of form and says this is what Jesus referred to in Mark 11:24 saying “Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.”

There is a greater context a Jew would understand of being in faithful relationship to God. In that case, you would get what you asked for because you were walking in his will. This would also result in your not asking for many outlandish requests. The idea that we can get whatever we ask for though is quite nonsensical. Especially since when this is said in John 14-16, suffering is also promised.

Rev. 21:1 and Luke 17:21 are discussed, but those have been discussed in the earlier blogs and I refer readers to those.

The last then is Matthew 5:5 saying the meek will inherit the Earth. Tolle equates this with the egoless.

To which, one can imagine the Jew listening saying “Huh?”

No. It means the meek. Those who don’t have the power and the strength are those that will inherit the Earth. Who is that? That’s us. That’s the church. We will be the ones that live in the re-creation. Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that we will live forever on Paradise Earth. They got one thing right. They just shortened it. We will live forever in Paradise Cosmos.

Now why is this being done with Tolle?

Friends. It’s because ideas matter. Some are true and some are false and if you want to live in accordance with reality, it’s best to have true ideas. Now Tolle could still have some ideas, but his interpretation of Scripture often is just wrong. That concerns me greatly in a postmodern age where people start thinking any text can mean whatever you want it to mean.

Tomorrow, we will start looking at Tolle’s worldview itself.

Eckhart Tolle on Scripture: Part 3

We’ve been going through Eckhart Tolle’s book “A New Earth” and looking at first, his use of Scripture. Note at this point we’re not even saying whether the ideas in it are necessarily wrong or not. I believe they are in many ways, but for now, I simply want to know if Eckhart has really handled the Scripture accurately and presented it in a way its writers would agree with.

This is going to be essential in our postmodern world where any interpretation is seen as valid. I seriously doubt Eckhart Tolle would want me to read his book and say that Tolle is teaching that Jesus Christ is the only way to God and unless you believe, you will be condemned. Nor would I be right in doing so for that is not Tolle’s view. He could justly say I am misinterpreting him.

Let’s see if the writers of Scripture could justly complain also.

Today, we begin with Luke 6:38. Tolle suggest that we give to the world what we think it is withholding from us. He then says “The law that outflow determines inflow is expressed by Jesus in this powerful image: ‘Give and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap.’ ”

Jesus is not talking about what Tolle is speaking about though. He is speaking centrally about forgiveness. If you are forgiving to others, God is forgiving to you. In fact, one wonders that if one gets from the world what one gives to it, how is it that Jesus Christ wound up on a cross? (Which is a most certain fact in history that even the most liberal will grant you, such as the Jesus Seminar.)

We find the same kind of usage with Mark 4:25 with abundance coming to those who have it. “For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” This is one reason Christians should be looking up in their Bibles to see if the text says what it supposedly says. (I’m now reading “The End of Faith” by Sam Harris and it seems one citation is explicitly wrong even.) Jesus is talking about wisdom and discernment in spiritual matters here.

The next reference is 1 Cor. 3:19 where we read ” ‘The wisdom of the world is follow with God,’ says the Bible. What is the wisdom of this world? The movement of thought, and meaning that is defined exclusively by thought.”

Actually, the wisdom of this world is that which thinks it’s foolish that God would have his Son crucified. The way to find this out is to read chapter 1 of the epistle. This is in distinction to Christ who not only is wise but is the wisdom of God. (1 Cor. 1:24) I urge the reader to do a study on the concept of wisdom theology and how Christ fits in. A good reference for this is the Tektonics website which there is a link to on the side.

The next reference is to Luke 14:10-11 and Tolle uses this in the context of humility. In this case, I agree with his interpretation. Jesus is indeed talking about humility. I only disagree with the idea of aligning oneself with the universe.

The next is of Ecclesiastes 1:8.  I believe Tolle has the basic gist of this passage correct that reads “All things are full of weariness. A man cannot utter it.” This is read more from the perspective of the secular mindset though and not the idea of the formless as Tolle has it. In our world today, it would be seen more as the atheistic perspective.

The next is one that is frequently misused about seeking enlightenment. Tolle says you can’t find it if you seek it referencing Jesus saying “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say ‘Lo, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”

The kingdom of God is not about enlightenment though. It is about God reigning as King and having his Son sitting on the throne. It is about the world in a covenant relationship with YHWH. The effects of this kingdom are visible though and that is the conversion that happens in the hearts of men and women. This is already in their midst though and beginning through the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth.

The last one we’ll look at today is on breath. In Genesis 2:7, we read that “God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the man became a living creature.”

Tolle wants us to reflect on our breath, but the breath understood here is that of God. In other words, it is by God that we all live. One wonders how such a concept fits into Tolle’s worldview if there is no distinction between us.

We shall hopefully conclude Tolle’s use of Scripture tomorrow.

Eckhart Tolle on Scripture: Part 2

I have been asked to continue my blog at another site. I simply must decline though as this is my blog and my readers expect it and it’s a good resource for me to easily point back to whenever I need to share some thoughts on a subject and I remember that I’ve done a blog on the topic. I do appreciate the interaction that has resulted though from this.

Let’s also be clear on something. If I believe Tolle is wrong on an interpretation of Scripture, that doesn’t mean the point is wrong overall. For instance, I do believe he is quite wrong on his interpretation of Matthew 5:39-41, but that doesn’t mean I disvalue the idea of not being attached to objects. I think there’s a lot of truth to that. That just isn’t what Jesus was talking about.

So let’s go on through the next few chapters.

The next passage is Luke 6:41 which Tolle takes to be about faultfinding. Christ is not against faultfinding in general though. We are to go and if someone has a serious wrong point it out to them. He is against doing so hypocritically. Jesus made his opinion of the Pharisees quite clear in Matthew 23 for instance and Paul to Peter in Galatians 2. Now there are some that are probably not worth mentioning, but Jesus is simply calling for self-examination first.

The next one greatly concerns me though. On page 71 we read:

“The Truth is inseperable from who you are. Yes, you are the Truth. If you look for it elsewhere, you will be deceived every time. The very Being that you are is Truth. Jesus tried to convey that when he said, “I am the way, 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 misinterpreted, however, they become a great obstacle. Jesus speaks of the innermost I Am, the essence identity of every man and woman, every life-form, in fact.”

Every Christian should be on red alert at this point as we have stepped out of classical theism and moved into pantheism. (Though I think Tolle switches between pantheism and panentheism.) Christ was making a claim about himself. He never said “We are the truth” or “You are the truth.” He was making a unique claim about his own identity that in him was life, in him is the truth, and he is the way to the Father.

For those who have a problem with exclusivity, that will be discussed later on. For now, it is simply Scripture.

Of special note here is the use of “I Am” with capitalization which is the term used to identify God in the Old Testament and the term Jesus used of Himself in John 8:58 which got the Jews ready to stone him for blasphemy. In theism, there is a distinction between the creator and the creature and we are in for problems when we start blurring that distinction.

On page 184, we read this:

“Through allowing, you become what you are: vast, spacious. You become whole. You are not a fragment anymore, which is how the ego perceives itself. Your true nature emerges, which is one with the nature of God.

Jesus points to this when he says ‘Be ye whole, even as your Father in Heaven is whole.’ The New Testament’s ‘Be ye perfect’ is a mistranslation of the original Greek word, which means whole. This is to say, you don’t need to become whole, but be what you already are–with or without the pain-body.”

First off, again, every Christian should be prepared when someone talks about us being one with the nature of God. We are a reflection of God to a very limited degree as he is infinite and we are finite. Jesus is not talking about emptiness here at all but is talking about righteousness. He is saying that we must be pure as God is pure. We must not have any sin upon us.

It’s a tough call, but yeah. That’s his. Fortunately, he provided a way for it.

We will continue more of this tomorrow.

Eckhart Tolle On Scripture: Part 1

I recently read Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth” as I believe I mentioned in an earlier thread describing a vacation to the beach. It’d be very tedious to go through this chapter by chapter as each chapter has numerous subsections and most of it is psychology. We will discuss that aspect in another thread. For today, I’d like to discuss his use of Scripture.

For those interested, I am using the First Plume printing edition from September of 2006.

On page 23, we read the following in regards to Isaiah 65:17 and Revelation 21:1 talking of a New Earth.

“We need to understand here that heaven is not a location but refers to the inner realm of consciousness. This is the esoteric meaning of the word, and this is also its meaning in the teachings of Jesus.”

Later that same page we read

“A new heaven is the emergence of a transformed state of human consciousness, and a new earth is its reflection in the physical realm.”

Geez. Don’t you love how these people come along and tell us what these teachings really mean considering no one took them to mean this kind of stuff for thousands of years? All of the disciples of Jesus got it wrong!

No. A New Heaven and a New Earth I believe refer to a recreated cosmos. This time though, God will dwell personally with his people. I don’t believe God is dwelling in some physical location outside of our cosmos. (Although he’s not confined by it certainly.) He is omnipresent. I believe instead though that in the New Heavens and the New Earth, that God’s presence will be manifest amongst his people. I see no reason to accept Tolle’s idea that this is what Jesus had in mind and he has given none.

On page 41, we read of a lady fretting over a lost ring and Tolle telling her she needs to release her attachment to the object. She then says “Now I understand something Jesus said that never made sense to me before. If someone takes your shirt, let him have your coat as well.” Tolle tells her that Jesus was indeed talking about letting things go.

Um. No. This was in a time when you didn’t have access to the legal authority immediately with Rome ruling and the basic point behind it is “Don’t escalate violence.” Giving more to someone who takes from you is a way seen then of dealing with the situation at the time. Rather than arguing theologically, do be willing to part with things to avoid a fight.

On page 43, Tolle equates being poor in spirit with meaning having no inner baggage or identifications. The Kingdom of Heaven is then the simple joy of being.

Um. Wrong again.

Poor in Spirit would refer to those who are poor in this world and seen to not have the blessing of God. Instead, they have the Kingdom of Heaven.

On page 56, we are told that Paul must have known about the sacred sense of presence in his writing of Philippians 4:7.

Um. No. Paul is talking about interpersonal relationships actually and not the interior life. He is trying to defuse a heated argument in the church and telling the church as a whole that they need to focus on those things that are good and pure and the peace of God in their interpersonal relationships will then dwell in their midst.

Unfortunately, this kind of bad exegesis continues. Tomorrow we shall look at more of it.

New Atheists: Wrong View. Valid Reasons.

I started reading today “The End of Faith” by Sam Harris. I must admit that I am just ten pages into this book and already, I think my pen is going into overdrive. There are just so many mistakes I see and so many things that must be circled. A check of the bibliography and I couldn’t find any of the great defenders of Christianity I know. Maybe they’re there though and I overlooked them. We shall see.

There is one view that the new atheists tend to keep saying. It’s said in Dawkins and now I see the same thing in Harris. I will state that this view is entirely wrong. However, I will also state sadly that I can see how they came to that conclusion. The view is that if you are a religious person, then it means that you have abandoned reason and you believe things without evidence.

Well, they’re wrong.

I can understand how they think that’s the case though.

Many of us have given that impression that religion is not to make friends with reason. The Christian life is seen to be better when it is more emotional. Now I do think emotions play a part, but they are not essential. The reason is essential because Christianity is a belief system. It is not a feel system. You are to believe on Christ. You are to love him also, but love also does not always produce feelings.

The main love that produces feelings is eros love. Is it any wonder then that in so many of our songs, you could just take the name of a romantic interest and substitute that for God and it would fit? We treat God as if he’s a romantic love interest and then we expect to get the feelings. There’s someone you should have a romantic interest in. That’s your significant other of the opposite sex. It is not God. Yes. I know we’re the bride of Christ, but that is referring to the church as a whole. I seriously doubt we can take that literally. That would lead to sooooo many questions.

When the emotions take over, then it is assumed that reason is to be gone. Love is seen as irrational and simply crazy. Now I’ve been in love before. It is highly emotional, but it does not have to be irrational. In fact, we as Christians believe that God is love and we also believe that God is rational. It would follow that love and rationality can easily co-exist.

If this is how we have made the Christian life, I can understand the point of the New Atheists. Again, the point is wrong, but have we really given them reason to doubt it? How many times do you think of great Christian intellectuals? When you hear people talking about the great minds of the world, how often do they name Christians? Now we are gaining grounds in science and especially in philosophy, but where are the great Christian doctors, lawyers, politicians, engineers, etc.?

Of course, there are some, but we need more.

Christianity is a religion of reason. It is about having a certain belief about the world and mankind and God. It is a set of beliefs about how all of these function together. It means that you don’t just have strong feelings about these. You don’t just get warm fuzzies thinking Jesus Christ rose from the dead. You think that he literally and historically rose from the dead. You’re not interested in “Jesus rising in our hearts.” You mean the man Jesus Christ rising from the dead in the space-time continuum.

The church may not like the attack from the new atheists, but in some ways, I consider it a blessing. Maybe this will get many in the church to get off the pews and start engaging in the life of the mind once again. I firmly believe that if Christianity stays with just emotions, we are simply coasting downhill, and we will keep going down further and further until the end.

Now over the next few days, I have books that I plan to discuss. I know some might want my thoughts on “The End of Faith” but that will be awhile and I certainly want to read all of the book first before I give my thoughts. Tune in tomorrow though and if I decide to, and it’s quite likely I will, we will be discussing a work that is opposed to the Christian worldview.