Uh-Oh Oprah!

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While in Chicago last week, I opened up the USA Today newspaper and ran across a full-page ad for the free online seminar that Oprah is offering in conjunction with Eckhart Tolle to discuss his book, “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose“. The plan is to review one chapter each week for ten weeks. Well, this causes me great concern, so buckle up, because I’m about to unwrap my issues with this.

OPRAH

There is no question that Oprah is one of the most powerful, influential people in America today. Her word and her recommendations hold tremendous sway over those who are fans. Millions of women, and in all likelihood, large numbers of men rely on her for useful information and suggestions. She has achieved rock-star status but with a much deeper connection to those who follow her. And much of what Oprah has done is commendable. She has brought out some very difficult issues into the public view and helped bring remedies to hard situations. Those things are to be highly praised, regardless of who initiates them.

But this is where the page turns. Influence can be both highly beneficial and extremely damaging. It all depends on where that influence is leading others. And Oprah is now influencing and leading people in some very dangerous directions. I began to investigate as a result of the newspaper ad, and in the process, I turned up some other troubling info.

According to information I found on the website Berean Call, she has begun a year long study on her XM radio channel on:

the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles.1 A lesson a day throughout the year will completely cover the 365 lessons from the Course in Miracles “Workbook.” For example, Lesson #29 asks you to go through your day affirming that “God is in everything I see.”2 Lesson #61 tells each person to repeat the affirmation “I am the light of the world.”3 Lesson #70 teaches the student to say and believe “My salvation comes from me.”4

By the end of the year, “Oprah & Friends” listeners will have completed all of the lessons laid out in the Course in Miracles Workbook. Those who finish the Course will have a wholly redefined spiritual mindset—a New Age worldview that includes the belief that there is no sin, no evil, no devil, and that God is “in” everyone and everything. A Course in Miracles teaches its students to rethink everything they believe about God and life. The Course Workbook bluntly states: “This is a course in mind training”5 and is dedicated to “thought reversal.”6

Not being a faithful Oprah follower myself, I had no idea this was being offered. Needless to say that from a Christian perspective, anything touting that “my salvation comes from me” is dangerous business since salvation is found only in Jesus Christ. But this is the thrust of “New Age” spirituality. It uses terms that sound familiar to us and sprinkles in a lot of “good”. But do not be confused.

ECKHART TOLLE AND NEW AGE BELIEFS

The online seminar with Eckhart Tolle promises to bring over a million people into contact with a truly dangerous way of thinking. The title of Tolle’s book sounds a bit like Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life“. And who doesn’t want to more fully understand their purpose in life? We spent a month this year already on pursuing the “something more” that we often feel is missing in our lives. So why not enjoy a free seminar that might point you in the right direction? The simple answer is that it won’t. In fact, it will point you in the WRONG direction. Far from suggesting that your purpose in life is to serve God, as Rick Warren’s book declares, your purpose is more about you, what’s inside of you. Click here to read more about Tolle’s belief system.

New Agers believe conflict exists in the world because of our ego-based state of consciousness. We are “separate” because our “attachment to the ego creates the dysfunction that leads to anger, jealousy, and unhappiness.” The New Age/New Spirituality solution is “oneness”. That is what every New Age teacher alive preaches, the doctrine of “oneness”. Tolle, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Marianne Williamson, Neale Donald Walsch, James Redfield, all of them are teaching the same thing: the planet must awaken to a new state of consciousness to save the planet. It is not only needful, they teach, it is mandatory for the salvation of the earth. Those who object to this oneness are deemed to be, in the words of Barbara Marx Hubbard, a “cancer” in the body of humanity. (That would be you and me who believe in Jesus alone for salvation.)

WHAT ABOUT THE GOOD?

I readily acknowledge that there could be good concepts promoted in these teachings. Good is good. The trouble is what else is contained in the good? What is disguised by the good? And what effect do those ingredients have on the whole? It reminds me of a story I once heard that I think may be very helpful to illustrate the danger here. It goes like this: (please read…this is good!)

Two teenagers asked their father if they could go to the theater to watch a movie that all their friends had seen. After reading some reviews about the movie on the Internet, he denied their request.

“Ah dad, why not?” they complained. “It’s rated PG-13, and we’re both older than thirteen!”

Dad replied: “Because that movie contains nudity and portrays immorality as being normal and acceptable behavior.”

“But dad, those are just very small parts of the movie! That’s what our friends who’ve seen it have told us. The movie is two hours long and those scenes are just a few minutes of the total film! It’s based on a true story and good triumphs over evil, and there are other redeeming themes like courage and self-sacrifice. Even the movie review websites say that!”

“My answer is ‘no,’ and that is my final answer. You are welcome to stay home tonight, invite some of your friends over, and watch one of the good videos we have in our home collection. But you will not go and watch that film. End of discussion.”

The two teenagers walked dejectedly into the family room and slumped down on the couch. As they sulked, they were surprised to hear the sounds of their father preparing something in the kitchen. They soon recognised the wonderful aroma of brownies baking in the oven, and one of the teenagers said to the other, “Dad must be feeling guilty, and now he’s going to try to make it up to us with some fresh brownies. Maybe we can soften him with lots of praise when he brings them out to us and persuade him to let us go to that movie after all.”

The teens were not disappointed. Soon their father appeared with a plate of warm brownies, which he offered to his kids. They each took one. Then their father said, “Before you eat, I want to tell you something: “I love you both so much.” The teenagers smiled at each other with knowing glances. Dad was softening. “That is why I’ve made these brownies with the very best ingredients. I’ve made them from scratch. Most of the ingredients are even organic; the best organic flour, the best free-range eggs, the best organic sugar, premium vanilla and chocolate.” The brownies looked mouth-watering, and the teens began to become a little impatient with their dad’s long speech.

“But I want to be perfectly honest with you. There is one ingredient I added that is not usually found in brownies. I got that ingredient from our own back yard. But you needn’t worry, because I only added the tiniest bit of that ingredient to your brownies. The amount of the portion is practically insignificant. So go ahead, take a bite and let me know what you think.

“Dad, would you mind telling us what that mystery ingredient is before we eat?”

“Why? The portion I added was so small. Just a teaspoonful. You won’t even taste it.”

“Come on, dad; just tell us what that ingredient is.”

“Don’t worry! It is organic, just like the other ingredients.”

“Dad!!!”

“Well, OK, if you insist. That secret ingredient is organic … dog poop.”

Both teens instantly dropped their brownies back on the plate and began inspecting their fingers with horror.

“DAD! Why did you do that? You’ve tortured us by making us smell those brownies cooking for the last half hour, and now you tell us that you added dog poop! We can’t eat these brownies!”

“Why not? The amount of dog poop is very small compared to the rest of the ingredients. It won’t hurt you. It’s been cooked right along with the other ingredients. You won’t even taste it. It has the same consistency as the brownies. Go ahead and eat!”

“No, Dad … NEVER!”

None of us would want to eat those brownies. In this case a little does spoil the whole bunch. I would suggest that we need to take the same approach to teaching that may contain some good ideas but ultimately turn us away from the truth of God’s Word. In the end, it spoils the whole bunch.

It is this dangerous combination of ingredients – celebrity, New Age, influence, elements of good – that have led one minister to label Oprah as “The Most Dangerous Woman in America” in this video clip on Fox News.

While you may or may not agree with his label of Oprah, the truth is that the information she is providing and promoting IS dangerous. Don’t let yourself (or your friends) head down this path that may ultimately lead to real confusion and an obscuring of the fact the Jesus Christ is the only path to salvation.

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22 Responses

  1. This woman is so self involved that if you told her she was wrong that she would not even be able to comprehend it. America and the world better wake up and know who the TRUE GOD is and his word and law and his name is NOT Oprah!!!

  2. HIS name!

  3. You may not like it, but there is a consciousness awakening that is occuring across our beautiful planet. People are beginning to realize that everyone believes in God. We all just have different ways of achieving unity with him. More people have been killed on this planet in the name of God than for any other reason. More accurately, the belief that your belief is the one and only true belief. There’s a reason God made us all different, when you understand why that is you will experience true joy and oneness with God.

  4. Hastings, I’m curious to know..do you believe that this “conciousness awakening” is about having multiple avenues to God? If not, then what is the consciousness you are referring to?

  5. There is a new book out on this subject, but from the Buddhist perspetive, called YOU WERE BORN FOR A REASON by Takamori.

    Best wishes,
    Frank

  6. Interestingly enough, I have a former Pastor Friend who asked me to look into the works of Frank E. Peretti. In the context of reading his book, “This Present Darkness” I had to reflect much on what I heard Oprah is now offering. Lies and deception are being sold, consumed, delighted in more than ever before. I don’t like it when people are lied to. Not one bit. The Lord rebuke the father of lies.

    If the Saints don’t step up their game, they’ll be deceived too. I’m not ok with that.

    I have been praying for the men, spiritual warriors, pastors I know. That includes you Mark.

    Be of Good Cheer,
    Michael

  7. It frightens me how many people I know whose beliefs are 100% in line with what Oprah is teaching. And that way of thinking is expanding so rapidly! It can be disheartening, sometimes.

    Too many people label themselves Christians who haven’t found the saving grace of Jesus Christ, or have forgotten how to live that out in our world. So that those of us who ARE Christians and ARE trying to make a difference in the lives around us have an even harder job of showing Christ to the world. We are held to a higher standard because we have to overcome the hurdles presented by “Christians” who have disappointed the very people we’re trying to reach.

    So here’s my question–how do you talk to someone who is completely sold on New Agism? How do you show them that their brownies aren’t so great, after all?!!

  8. […] takes good ideas and makes a religion of them applying it toward spirituality.  Consider this well-written blog article I stumbled across last night:  While in Chicago last week, I opened up […]

  9. Hi Mark,
    No it isn’t about “multiple” paths to God, although that is a part. What is happening is what has happened countless times before in our worlds history. (The renaissance, American Revolution, The 60’s) These are times when the greater consciousness of man is elevated to a certain extent. This does not mean world peace and an end to war and violence, in fact it may lead to it as there will be violent opposition from the entrenched establishment to the the new views of the public.
    Let me preface by stating that I do not desire for you to leave your faith and do not condemn Christianity. I myself was born-again, baptised, and have lived a life deeply rooted in the teachings of Christ. I have come to know, however, that my religion was binding my true connection with God. So, I have found other ways to establish that connection, including meditation and ‘alternative’ beliefs. Through this expansion of my faith I have come to know hundreds of other individuals who have come into this knowing, and we now realize that even though this is an ancient message, it has never been more needed or timely than now! The message that is so hard for most to understand is that we are all one! We are all part of God! There is no separation! You and I are the same. Your soul is the part of God which resides within you, therefore, you, me, and God are all part of the same energy. Tragedy happens when we believe that we are seperate. A Muslim man believes in God just as fervently as you, he just calls him by a different name. All of the worlds religions tell the same story, they just use different names. We all want salvation and connection with God, however if your path to God is different than mine I’m going to kill you! This is insanity! Radical Muslims are the worst at this, as they tend to take the words of their ‘holy book’ quite literally. I’m glad most Christians do not do this any more or we would still be in the crusades. (Which I fear we may be close to again, only this time under the flag of nationalism instead of religion.) If all could simply understand that their way is not the only way but simply a different way – there would be peace!

    I thank you for inviting me back to discuss this with you and look forward to future conversations. I have only scratched the surface here here but I do not feel I should try to explain my deeper beliefs unless you would like me to. I warn you however, It may require a few pages of text. 😉

    I wish you much peace and love! -James

  10. I’ll leave you with a question; Why is necessarry for Your way to be the only way? Why? Why must your bible be the only word of God? And how can you prove that it is THE word of God, other than by faith?

  11. Hastings,
    I appreciate your willingness to return here and share your thoughts. I think it helps many of us have a better picture of where you are coming from and the many others who have similar perspectives.

    While I would like to think that my response to your question and statements will change your mind, I’m well aware that few people have ever been “argued” into salvation or conversion of any sort. So my place in this response is not so much to convince you to change your mind (from my perspective, that is the work of the Holy Spirit, not mine), but to help you understand the conviction behind my position.

    I think the key to my response is found in answering your parting question, which was, “Why is it necessary for your way to be the only way?”

    Unlike many other faiths, Islam included, Christianity accepts Jesus Christ as THE Son of God. He was not merely a good man, he was not merely a prophet or rabbi, he was not simply a good teacher…he was in fact God in the flesh. He stands alone in the course of history as the only person to walk the earth that was both fully man, and fully God. There are countless sources of verification for the authenticity of Christ; far too many to recite here. But if you are interested in pursuing the information, I would recommend a book called “The Case for Christ” written by Lee Strobel, who was a former atheist and reporter. It took a lot to convince him, but in the end he was convinced, and in the book, he shares his discoveries.

    So for the sake of space and argument, allow me to defer to the third party information contained in that book that establishes the reality of Jesus Christ as truly God. Those sources stand beside the account of The Bible. So whether you accept the Bible as authoritative or not, there is a great deal of corroborating evidence to affirm the arrival and the deity of Christ.

    If we accept that Jesus Christ IS THE Son of God, that he IS God in the flesh, then we MUST accept his teaching. This is a simple concept to follow – Either Jesus was fully God and we believe his words, or he was not and he was delusional for claiming to be, in which case, we would be foolish to put any stock in his teaching. It would be senseless for us to lift Jesus as a great man to be followed and admired if he claimed to be God and was not. That would simply make him a madman, and unworthy of our devotion. However, if we accept him at his word, then we must accept all of it. If he is God, who are we to pick and choose which teachings we prefer to believe and which ones we don’t.

    As a Christian, I place my faith in Jesus Christ. Here are the words of Jesus in John 14:5-7:

    5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

    In this passage, Jesus clearly and plainly tells one of his disciples that He IS God. In verse 7 he states that Thomas does in fact know God the Father and has seen him, because he has seen Jesus. Further, Jesus claims that he is THE ONLY WAY to God.

    I do not claim to be a brilliant man. But I don’t think it takes a high IQ to put these pieces together. If Jesus was God, which he claimed to be, then we must accept his teaching….all of it. If we accept his teaching, then we must accept his declaration that he is the only way to God. Ultimately, it is not MY position that I stand on; it is Jesus’ position on which I stand.

    The Apostle Paul recognized the difficulty that we face by placing our faith in Christ alone. In his letter to the church in Corinth, he wrote these words in 1 Corinthians 15:18-20:

    18 In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! 19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. 20 But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.

    Paul knew there would be people criticizing Christians for believing that Jesus Christ is the only salvation, the only way to heaven, the only way to God the Father. And if our faith is in a madman, if our faith is placed in a man who was not truly God and all we get out of it is hope for the few years of our lifetime, then we are to be pitied. But the evidence is undeniable that Jesus Christ DID rise from the grave, that he DID live up to his claims, that he IS in fact God the Son, and our faith is well-placed and will see its’ ultimate culmination in eternity with God because we have believed the words and placed our faith in the work of Jesus Christ.

    Far from killing those whom would disagree with us, we are called to love them as Jesus Christ loved them and gave his life for them. The greatest expression of love in the history of mankind was expressed by Jesus Christ and is summarized in this amazing verse of scripture from John 3:16:

    16 “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.

    That is our call. That is our mandate. Not to argue people into salvation or conversion, but to love them enough to show them the way. That’s what Jesus did. And that’s where I stand.

  12. I love you too, which is why I realize that we are having a conversation that has been going on for 2000 years now and that we should agree to disagree. However, for the sake of advancing both of our faiths, and allowing your readers to expand their’s, let’s continue.

    I have read “The Case For Christ”, and have found a few discrepencies.

    Blomberg’s apologetics for the timing of the writing of the gospels overlooks the fact that the gospels are directly contradictory on many facts. While pointing out that the biographies of Alexander the Great, written four hundred years after the warrior’s death, are considered quite accurate, there is no reason to believe that they were written with propagandistic purposes in mind – hence there would have been no motive for the authors to write propaganda. In the case of the gospels, however, we know without question that they were, because all the elements of propaganda are there. Indeed, one of the gospel writers (“John” in John 20:31) even admits that he’s writing propaganda – for the purpose of “building faith” as he puts it.

    Please give an explanation for these common discrepencies:

    When the sun was coming up (Matt. 28:1) while it was still dark (John 20:1), Mary Magdalene (John 20:1) or Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (Matt 28:1) or “the women” [note the plural] (Luke 24:1) went to the tomb. There was an earthquake, and an angel came down and rolled the stone away (Matt. 28:2) from the entrance of the tomb and sat on it, even though it had apparently already been rolled away when Mary Magdalene had got there (John 20:1, Mark 16:4, Luke 24:2). The reason for the visit was to anoint the body with spices (Mark 16:1, Luke 24:1) or just to look at the tomb (Matt. 28:1), take your pick.

    Peace and Love – Hastings

  13. Well said Mark. I always found it odd that Christians were taught to NoT Judge thy Neighbor, yet this is inherent in stating that anyone else’s views are not in alignment with God. You see the big picture including Hastings position from a place of love and acceptance. I didn’t get that from the post. Thank you for saying it so well…

  14. Hastings,
    I will post my reply shortly. Thank you again for returning and continuing the conversation.

    YOUR ENTRY:
    Blomberg’s apologetics for the timing of the writing of the gospels overlooks the fact that the gospels are directly contradictory on many facts. While pointing out that the biographies of Alexander the Great, written four hundred years after the warrior’s death, are considered quite accurate, there is no reason to believe that they were written with propagandistic purposes in mind – hence there would have been no motive for the authors to write propaganda. In the case of the gospels, however, we know without question that they were, because all the elements of propaganda are there. Indeed, one of the gospel writers (”John” in John 20:31) even admits that he’s writing propaganda – for the purpose of “building faith” as he puts it.

    This is somewhat of a “straw-man” argument. An assertion is made that there were motives to dissmenate “propaganda” by the writers of the gospels, and, therefore, there must be propaganda. One does not necessarily mandate the other. So I will not attempt to defend against the assertion since it is unprovable. However, in response to the passage from John 20:31, context is of critical importance when interpreting any passage of scripture. Here is John 20:30-31:

    30Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31But are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

    In other words, John said he did not intend to recount every miracle performed by Jesus. But he had recorded THESE in order that they may know, and come to the conclusion that Jesus was who he claimed to be. To assert that this is propaganda would be to assert that every statement of fact by every author in every time in order to tell the truth of events would be tainted by propaganda. That simply doesn’t hold water.

    YOUR ENTRY:
    Please give an explanation for these common discrepencies: When the sun was coming up (Matt. 28:1) while it was still dark (John 20:1), Mary Magdalene (John 20:1) or Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (Matt 28:1) or “the women” [note the plural] (Luke 24:1) went to the tomb. There was an earthquake, and an angel came down and rolled the stone away (Matt. 28:2) from the entrance of the tomb and sat on it, even though it had apparently already been rolled away when Mary Magdalene had got there (John 20:1, Mark 16:4, Luke 24:2). The reason for the visit was to anoint the body with spices (Mark 16:1, Luke 24:1) or just to look at the tomb (Matt. 28:1), take your pick.

    These “discrepancies” are not necessarily discrepancies at all. I just recently watched the movie “Vantage Point” which I blogged about a few days ago. It provides an excellent analogy for your contentions here. The movie illustrates how different people, from different vantage points see different elements of a story. Separately, the may give you part of the picture, but not the whole. It is in combination that you see the full story. At the scene of any crime/accident/or event people will describe the exact same situation with completely different terms and highlights. How does that happen? It happens because we are all different and see things from different perspectives. The four gospels were written by four different men to four different audiences. Same story, different perspectives. Same story, different highlights. Same story, different points of emphasis.

    In some ways it is comparable to a trial in a courtroom. A trial attempts to take different perspectives, different aspects of a story, different takes on the same event and make a judment about what actually happened.

    Ultimately, we are all in a courtroom. We must each take the different perspectives that are available to us and reach a conclusion about what is truth. It is NOT all truth. In the end there is …A… truth, not multiple truths. Which brings me back to the primary point of my initial reply to you. Either Jesus was who he said he was or he’s not. If he is, we have no other place to go. If he’s not, we are pursuing a pointless faith. So the ultimate question for you, is do you believe Jesus is who he said he was, or do you believe something else?

  15. But if the bible is THE WORD OF GOD, why are there different perspectives? I have a different perspective of the same story, but my view is called blasphemous.

    Here’s another point to ponder, and perhaps the one element of Christianity that has me most confused.

    If God is without flaw, how or why did he create an “imperfect” world. I know the canned response of creating free will so that we will chose to love him, but if God is flawless why does he have a “need” for our love or anything for that matter. Why, if God is omnipotent would he allow “sin” if it is against his will. This would imply that he is in need and is therefore imperfect.

    See, I believe that he did create a perfect world. This universe is one of relativity. Which means that in order for light to exist so must darkness, and in order for heat to exist so must cold. We can not know near if we do not have a relation to that of what far is. Therefore if there is white there must also be black as well as shades of gray. This is the Holy Trinity. You like to believe that the “devil” is responsible for “bad” things happening. I’m telling you that God is responsible for all of it. For we could not know good without also knowing bad.

    Therefore, I disagree with your courtroom argument. For why would a God who has created all of it, the good and the bad, punish us for simply existing and experiencing what he has created? If I built a pool in my back yard but told my children not to go into the pool or I would burn them at the stake, I would be called a mad man! However, I can make them aware of the “consequences” of their actions, like drowning. This would be a much more logical approach to explaining a Father’s love. If God truly loves his creation, he is not going to burn us in eternal fire for not coming to him the “right” way. If I told my children that they can only earn my “grace” and “love” by doing a certain ritual in a certain way, I would check myself into the loony bin. Do you not at least understand why it is hard for us to accept the logic (or lack thereof) of religion?

    If God has half the love, grace, and compassion I do, then he will accept his children as there are and love them for their differences not dispite them.

  16. Hastings,
    I apologize for the delay in answering you. I wanted to take a few days to let your questions “perc” before I responded.

    First, let me touch on your question regarding the Bible. There are different perspectives because these men were used by God to provide the document we now celebrate as the Bible. God worked through individuals, utilizing their unique personalities to express just what he wanted to say to us. Here are just a few verses that make my point:

    2 Timothy 3:16 – 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.

    2 Peter 1:19-21 – 19 Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, 21 or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.

    Your question about why did God have a “need” for love is an interesting one. But the question is asked from “our” perspective. In other words it is “me-centered”. Because we cannot think the way God thinks, we can only think the way we think. And so our point of reference is clouded if we depend only on our own insight.

    Isaiah 55:8-9 – 8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

    As I read scripture, I walk away with the understanding that God created man in order to bestow love. God is the ultimate source and giver of love. And as such, he created an outlet for that love. He created man. It wasn’t his “need”. It was his desire to give love that led to the creation of man.

    Your statement/question regarding sin is somewhat rolled up into your assertion concerning free will. You believe that God “allowing sin” somehow proves he is NOT omnipotent nor perfect. And yet what sort of God would he be if he gave us NO CHOICE BUT TO LOVE HIM? Then he would be a creator/dictator. That would not be real. We would all be like Stepford Wives with no options to exercise individuality. We survey the world and roundly criticize those countries that are led by dictators because it crushes the human spirit. Without a doubt, those who would question the validity of God’s power and wisdom because of the presence of sin, would equally decry him were he to have created us without free will and the ability to choose. And yet the ability to choose gives us far more value and honor than if we were given no choices at all.

    I understand your argument that God is “responsible for it all”. Had he never created us, this would not be happening. Had he never created angelic beings, Satan would have never tried to rise above God and wind up as the adversary of humanity. God is responsible in that he actually created all that we see and know. But he is NOT responsible for our choices. If you have children, then you are “responsible” for the existence of your children in the same sense that God is “responsible” for creation. I have no doubt that you have trained and taught your children to the best if your ability, if in fact you have them. However, their choices are theirs alone. You can train, teach, encourage, motivate, challenge, direct, and plead, but you cannot make their choices for them. If so, then you are controlling them instead of loving them. You are “responsible” for them, but you are NOT responsible for their choices. If one of them chooses to break the law, it is they who will stand before a judge, not you. That is the honor and the burden of free will and choice. We cannot blame anyone but ourselves for poor choices.

    Therefore, I disagree with your courtroom argument. For why would a God who has created all of it, the good and the bad, punish us for simply existing and experiencing what he has created? If I built a pool in my back yard but told my children not to go into the pool or I would burn them at the stake, I would be called a mad man! However, I can make them aware of the “consequences” of their actions, like drowning. This would be a much more logical approach to explaining a Father’s love. If God truly loves his creation, he is not going to burn us in eternal fire for not coming to him the “right” way. If I told my children that they can only earn my “grace” and “love” by doing a certain ritual in a certain way, I would check myself into the loony bin. Do you not at least understand why it is hard for us to accept the logic (or lack thereof) of religion?

    Unfortunately, your suggestion here misses the mark. God does not desire to “punish” us for simply existing. In fact, he has made it crystal clear through scripture that his desire takes him 180 degrees in the opposite direction. Look at this verse from 2 Peter 3:9

    9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.

    Far from telling us we cannot “go into the pool” as you put it, we are already there. The real picture is that we are all drowning and God is throwing us a life preserver through the person and work of Jesus Christ. And it was a costly life preserver at that. What is shocking is that so many of us would rather drown because we do not want to admit we need the help. If we will not reach out and grab the preserver, It is not God that is causing us to drown, it is our own pride and unwillingess to accept the rescue that is being offered. If your children were drowning, you would not hesitate to throw out the preserver. You might even jump in. Which is what Jesus did. You wouldn’t call it a ritual at that point. You would only care that they grab on, because their rescue is the only thing that will save their lives. I have yet to watch any rescue documentary film that shows someone refusing the rescue being made available because they thought there must be another way and that if the rescuer really cared about them, they would let them save themselves. That is the person we would call a madman.

    Jesus Christ IS our life preserver. We ALL have the right to accept or reject what is being offered. God gives us the dignity of choice. But with freedom comes responsibility and with every choice, there is a consequence, are result. God wants all of us to choose rescue, to choose Jesus Christ. But he will not force us. It is not God that condemns or ulitmately chooses our destiny, it is our choice that will determine that. And that choice is based on one criteria – Jesus Christ.

    At the end of each of my responses to you, Hastings, I have posed a question to you regarding Jesus Christ. In each of your responses back to me, you have gone in different directions, but never squarely addressing the question of Jesus. Ultimately, that will be the question you will have to answer. Not necessarily to me, but to God. And since Jesus proclaimed that he was the only way to heaven, if we REJECT him, then we have chosen our destiny apart from God.

    Matthew chapter 25 gives several illustrations of what that final day will be like. We have a finite number of days upon this earth in which to make a choice that will determine eternity for us. We have no gaurantee of tomorrow, so delaying a decision can be a dangerous decision in and of itself. When we have drawn our last breath in this human existence, then we have surrendered the right to make any further choices. Our choices are then the arbiter of our destiny, one with God in heaven, or one separated from him in hell.

    I don’t think I will ever be able to convince you with brilliant arguments. The Apostle Paul said much the same in his letter to the Corinthians:

    1 Corinthians 2:3-5 – 3I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

    It is not the power of my debating skills that will sway you into belief. That will be up to the work of the Spirit of God in your life as you allow him to show you truth. If we resist, he does not force us. But he will show himself to those who truly want to know him as is demonstrated by this verse:

    Hebrews 11:6 – 6And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

    The Bible tells us that it is a child-like faith that will bring us to him. If your children were drowning (your illustration once again) and you threw them a preserver, they would not question your intent, they would not question your motives, they would not question the content of the preserver, they wouldn’t ask why they were in the condition in the first place; but recognizing their need, they would simply trust that you, as their father, were providing a reliable method of rescue and would immediately trust you enough to grab on. We will all have to come to God in the same fashion.

    So, Hastings, once again I ask, what do you do with Jesus? Is he who he said he was (which would require you placing your faith in him and him alone), or is he a madman that is to be dismissed while we seek another source of rescue?

  17. Very much enjoyed the respectful and open dialogue here.

    I think of the perfect garden God offered us in Eden for us to enjoy with him. Why he created anything, we don’t know. All I know is that we were made in His image, still prone to wanting to create and enjoy our creations.

    We also create animate and inanimate objects. We don’t “need” them, but we do it anyway. We bring children in the world, the tainted world, a harmful world. Why?

    I think because we believe there is joy and hope to offer that will, that can, win out and make it worth it, no matter what faces us. The joy is greater than the pain.

    I would disagree with Hasting. God didn’t leave us in a perfect, balanced world. There is evidence of balance, for God is a God of order, and he created in that way. But, because of man’s choice to sin, that first sin in the garden of Eden, sin was introduced, death was introduced into the world. Until that time, man was meant to live forever in the intimacy of fellowship with God. The point from the beginning is that we need rescue. We can’t do it on our own. If we could, we would be God. And we are not.

    He made us. He loves us. He saves us. We are meant to be his forgiven bride, saved by his work, with Him as God. We are not God. He lives in us, but we are not Him. We have his spirit given to us, to live in us and instruct us after salvation, but we cannot be God. We will still fail.

    We are just forgiven.

    I read a blog yesterday of a man who is still bitter that he grew up in a church where a man preached Christ and then failed miserably in his business and personal life and witness. He said, “if there is a narrow way and a wide path and you can’t even stay on it, why bother the rest of us? I’m happy here.”

    My heart aches. Mainly because I know that as much as I want to have a life that testifies to the work of God in my life, I will fail to give him all the glory he deserves. I am not God. I am not the perfect Jesus. I have every intention to try, but I cannot be. Only he, the perfect, points to himself. Only Jesus.

    That is why, if you miss Jesus, you miss “the fix” for the sin that raveges us and the world. Jesus was given because there was sin introduced into the world, and we all need it gone to have right relationship with God again. The punishment for sin is death. For many years, God allowed bulls, and sheep and goats to cover this price, just as a temporary fix. In the garden of Eden, death was the price of sin. It still is today.

    And we will all die that physical death as a result of sin. But, because Christ paid the price for us, our spirit has the promise of eternal life with God.

    Oh, yes, next come questions: what about babies and the incapacitated and those who lived before Christ…and there are discussions and verses that help give us peace about those hard to answer questions. But, the main question for now is: what about you?

    You CAN decide. He died for your sin. God wanted your frienship that much. He who knew no sin, suddenly took on the sin of the world and died an undeserving death…for you. And for me. And he overcame death and the grave, rising three days later, so that we would not have to face that hell. We don’t have to suffer the punishment we deserved because he took it all for us. He walked through the gates of hell for you.

    It would be easy enough to not believe in Satan as Hastings suggests, if I didn’t read how he has tried to manipulate men thorugh the ages, starting in the garden of Eden, and how he uses the same tricks today to try to keep us from Christ, mainly because angels do not have the option of salvation. Once they turned, it was done. They are servants, they are either completely obedient to the Father, or they have turned from Him, the scriptures tell us. It all adds up.

    He has already lost the war…it was won at the cross. All Satan has left is to win as many battles as he can. He is deluded into thinking he can still win. All he can do is provide himself more company in hell where deception and trickery reigns.

    I see a dark sky and say, “Look, the sunlight is coming”, another sees it and say, “it is still dark”. The main point of Scripture is not whether it is day or dark, or whether the angel sat on the stone or it was already rolled away. The line consistent throughout all of scripture is, a lamb would come, a perfect Lamb to take away the sins of the world for all who would believe on Him. And he did. All the prophecies prophecied for thousands of years have come true. They have come to pass. Dreams, visions, direct words given through men by vague sounding prophecies (at the time)…all became clear when Jesus came. All of Scripture points to the coming of Christ and his glory in us. He restores.

    There have walked many great men on the earth, but none who take away the sins of the world and restore our relationship to God and give us back the life we lost. We lost it because we needed to know He is God, and we are not. We are just the work of His hand. The sheep of his pasture. Created. We create, but we are not The Creator.

    Well, I am certainly not eloquent and cannot begin to write as well as the two of you, but I just wanted to lend some closing thoughts I had on my heart as I plodded through your conversational journey. Blessings to you.

  18. […] Comments “Maggie” on Uh-Oh Oprah!Mark Doebler on The Solution to D.S.T. Drowsin…Mark Doebler on Uh-Oh Oprah!Tammy on American […]

  19. Hi Mark,
    Sorry for the delay in getting back to you, I’ve been a little busy. Your last post was brilliant and well informed. You stated that I had not answered your questions regarding Christ so I would like respond to that.

    “Either Jesus was who he said he was or he’s not. If he is, we have no other place to go. If he’s not, we are pursuing a pointless faith. So the ultimate question for you, is do you believe Jesus is who he said he was, or do you believe something else?”

    First, this question implies that the Bible is the truth. Which I have a hard time believing since it has been rewritten and translated several times by many “authorities” throughout history.
    Was Christ a great man? Absolutely! But so was Buddha. Was Christ the saviour of all mankind? I have a hard time believing this one. Remember I was “born-again” and come from a deeply religious family deeply rooted in “the” faith. My father and uncle are both pastors and I can tell you that this argument is not a new one to me. I will admit that I am not the best at making my case as I am not that great with words but what I know to be MY truth is real to me! I have searched the depths of my soul and considered all possibilities and have come to the conclusion that every man has his own truth. You believe that there is only one way. Life experience tells me that there are many ways! My father is a Christian man, but he lives less like Christ than I do. He is constantly commenting on infidelity and cursing the people around him who upset him. This is not being “Christ-Like” which is what a Christian should be! I have many “Christian friends who support the war in Iraq but seem to forget that they have a commandment of “Thou shalt not kill”. This doesn’t mean you can kill if it suits your country’s agenda, it means do not kill another human being!
    See, I believe that Christ’s message was not “believe in me” but “believe like me”.
    Christ understood that we are not separate from God. We and God are one! There is no separation! It is the belief that we are separate which causes so much pain and heartache. When you live with the understanding that you and the rest of the universe are working in one accord with God, there is a peace and strength which rises up inside of you allowing you to truly do God’s work. The belief that we cannot communicate with God except through some channel such as Christ or Mohamed or Krishna or whoever is ludicrous. I know that you and God are very close, for you would not be in the ministry if you weren’t. You have simply labeled God as Christ. Just as Muslims label God as Mohamed. But we all know that God exists and that we have a soul.
    Our soul is God which resides within us!
    We are spiritual beings! Man has known this since the dawn of time, and in an effort to explain this we have come up with theories, philosophies, and theologies in an attempt to explain it and structure it. The “problem” I have with organized religions is that they bind and limit what true spirituality is. That is to say, most organized religion was established to control the masses, and it works. However many people are waking up and beginning to realize that their old religions aren’t making sense anymore. This was what happened to me. As I began to question the “logic” behind my faith, I realized that there were too many “holes” in what the scripture was telling me. This was when (to my reluctance) I began to search for answers elsewhere. My soul knew that there was more to “all of this” but my mind had been indoctrinated with a certain belief, thus when I came into a new belief or paradigm my mind recoiled as my soul rejoiced. This was when I learned that my highest thought was not the one in my mind but the one in my soul. Which was God’s thought. I know this sounds crazy to you, as it did to me when I discovered it, but it is my truth.
    So in short, NO I do not believe what is written about what Christ said. It has been misinterpreted through the years to suit the organizers of the Christian faith. Just as many other portions of the Bible and other “Holy” books have. There is truth and salvation to be found in those books but not in the religions themselves. God does not have a religion! He/She simply is!

    Namaste! -Hastings

  20. Hastings,

    I have been following this conversation, as my husband’s beliefs are pretty similar to some of yours. So I thank you for providing all of us who are reading this with the insight you’ve given. It truly is helpful. I have a few questions, asked with the utmost sincerity and respect, about what you’ve written…

    You say: My father is a Christian man, but he lives less like Christ than I do. He is constantly commenting on infidelity and cursing the people around him who upset him. This is not being “Christ-Like” which is what a Christian should be!

    I ask: What, exactly, SHOULD a Christian be like? Christ himself, after all, went around condemning behaviors while still loving the person. I don’t know the manner in which your father is speaking, so I can’t say whether his actions are Christ-like, but too many people have this idea that Christians should be nice, sweet, ooey-gooey pushovers who have no spine. That’s not who my God calls me to be. I don’t think we should be crass and mean, but I do think that we are meant to stand up to the things in this world that aren’t of God. That’s exactly what Jesus did. The Bible even gives us a framework for confronting these behaviors! In your eyes, what does being “Christ-like” entail?

    You say: See, I believe that Christ’s message was not “believe in me” but “believe like me”.

    I ask: How do you refute John 14:6, “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This very clearly says that without Christ, faith is nothing.

    You say: Christ understood that we are not separate from God. We and God are one! There is no separation!

    I ask: Again how do you respond to this, from John 14, Jesus says, “7If you really knew me, you would know[b] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” 8Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” 9Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.”

    This passage says nothing about all of the universe being one with God. Instead, Jesus is one with God.

    You say: The belief that we cannot communicate with God except through some channel such as Christ or Mohamed or Krishna or whoever is ludicrous.

    My response: We absolutely can communicate with God! Anyone, anytime, anywhere can communicate with God as long as they walk this earth, with no intermediaries necessary. But without the saving grace of Christ, people will spend an eternity separated from Him.

    You say: Our soul is God which resides within us!

    I ask: So how do you classify the Holy Spirit? I would argue that what you are calling the “soul” is actually the Spirit, which guides us.

    I agree with you about the concept of “religion.” To a point. There are so many negative connotations that go along with the word religion, that have very little to do with the way I experience God and worship Him. People get stuck in rituals, performing the acts without really understanding why or putting any thought into them. Christianity is about living a full, joyful life to God’s glory. That doesn’t mean Christians are perfect. Far from it. We all mess up. We all do bonehead things. We all have our stumbling blocks. But those who believe in Christ are called to face life with joy, no matter the circumstances.

    Like Mark has said above, I don’t presume that any of these points will change your mind about your beliefs. None of us can do that. But I am very interested to read your responses, and I thank you, again, for being willing to answer our questions so openly and honestly.

    Regards,
    –Tammy

  21. Thanks for your post, I listened to Oprah’s first webinar with Tolle’s new book, A New Earth, and I posted on how Oprah has transcended from talk show host to uber-evangelist.

    you can go to my blog Provocative Church to get the link for the article:

    http://www.provocativechurch.com/2008/03/is-oprah-next-billy-graham.html

  22. […] this post on Oprah and concerns with her New Age direction currently deserves another mention.  Well […]

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