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.