Just Give Me the Truth
By Lysa TerKeurst

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” I Peter 3:15 (NIV)

Do you know anyone who is trying out the latest New Age teachings entitled “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle? Beware. This teaching stands in stark contrast to the truths of the Bible. As Christians it is vitally important for us to be grounded in truth so we don't inadvertently get swept up in the lies, and so that we can talk intelligently to those who are trying this stuff out.

The most dangerous theme I've discovered in this book so far is this notion that you don't have to weigh your current religious beliefs against this new age awakening. Let’s look at what it teaches.

The Lie: Tolle teaches you can keep all your current religious beliefs but this will help you put them into proper perspective. Those elementary ideas are a step toward spiritual progress. But if you want real success in your spirituality's effectiveness, you have to make a leap into "true enlightenment.”

In true enlightenment you will discover that "the light of consciousness is all that is necessary" for a more fulfilling existence. Therefore, if Buddha works for you - great. If Hinduism works for you - great. If Jesus works for you - great. Tolle believes all these different avenues simply lead you to that first step toward awakening your consciousness.

According to Tolle, Jesus is basic. He was the light of your basic beliefs. But ultimately you, yourself, are the way... the truth and the life. No one comes to spiritual awakening but by reaching inside themselves and leaping to a higher consciousness of being.

The Truth: In John 14:6 Jesus gives us the truth which clearly refutes the notion that one can get to God through many avenues, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

The Lie: Throughout the book, Tolle walks right beside Christian beliefs and uses just enough Christian lingo to make his writing appear, especially to the ungrounded Christian, truthful. For example, look at how he talks about sin:

"Sin means to miss the mark, as an archer who misses the target"... Yes! yes! I've heard this preached about at my church, a person might excitedly think. But wait, look at how he finishes this sentence:

"Sin means to miss the mark, as an archer who misses the target, so to sin means to miss the point of human existence."

In other words, this book has been promoted as the guide by which you can find your purpose, therefore not missing the point of your existence. So, if you ascribe to this teaching and find the point of your existence, then you will not be a sinner.

Dictionary.com has not caught up to this new definition of sin. It still defines sin this way:

1. transgression of divine law: the sin of Adam.
2. any act regarded as such a transgression, esp. a willful or deliberate violation of some religious or moral principle.

The Truth: A person who doesn’t consider themselves a sinner, is in no need of a Savior. Do you see the slippery slope here?

Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

The truth is sin is that which separates us from God. But God has made a way for us to be forgiven of our sin through Jesus Christ... the one and only WAY.

Tolle's book is so popular right now because people want to find their way - they want to live a life that matters. They want to feel like they have a handle on their spirituality. The problem is “A New Earth” is false teaching that will not stand the test of time. It will fall apart at the seams when life strains against it, and quite honestly, Tolle paves a quick road to eternal separation from God.

Dear Lord, open my eyes to your truth. You say if we ask for wisdom then you will give it to us. Lord, I ask for Your wisdom and discernment to know the truth, so that I can stand firmly upon it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

P31 Woman magazine

Visit Lysa TerKeurst’s blog for more on this subject

Application Steps:
Is there anyone in my sphere of influence that I need to discuss this message with? Along with your personal testimony, this could create a wonderful opportunity for you to share God’s truth.

Reflections:
Am I committed to studying truth on a daily basis?

Do I know what I believe and why?

Power Verses:
I Peter 3:15, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord…” (NIV)

Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.


7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is very timely for me and others I'm sure. When Opra promotes something, many listen and think she knows best. Ofcourse we know it must line up with God's word but for many they say it is ok because it is a tool to bring us closer to the truth. Very scary!!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lord, for every person who reads a copy of this book, may you place a biblically educated Christian in their lives ready with Your Truth. May those who read that book feel unsatisfied and continue searching for You. May the lies they believe be replaced with Your Truth. May you call them out of the darkness and into Your glorious Light.

Blogger eph2810 said...

Wonderful post, Lysa. You know, more and more of the 'self-discovery' teachings/buoks come out and flood the marked. I totally agree with you, we need to stay rooted in His Word in order to see the false teachings.

Thank you so much for sharing and the warning about false teachings.

Have a blessed weekend.

Anonymous Sondra Smith said...

I've read a New Earth. It has made me become more present in my daily walk. The book does have good points about ego and what the ego is and isn't, about pain and how pain can be used as a crutch. I would not dismiss this book. As in every book, you should read it for yourself with an open heart and mind. Yes, the book does leave you searching, but it lead me to search for more about Jesus and more about who he is. I understand the warnings from other commentators but think how wonderful it would be if A New Earth by just mentioning Jesus can lead someone who doesn't know Jesus and scripture to the Bible in order to discover more about Jesus. Tolle does use scripture but he leaves you wanting. He left me wanting to know Jesus more and if A New Earth could do that for me, the book can and is doing that for others. My biggest fear is that people will dismiss the book without reading it and will not look at it as a tool to bring others closer to God and develop their prescence here and now where God is. Also, I think it is good to know what other religions believe, which was an education for me throughout the book, so you can be ready to answer questions and show others the Way, the Truth, and the Light in a gentle and respectful way, not dismissing other religions as lies, because how would you feel if someone dismissed your long held beliefs, but respectfully showing people how those ideas/religions are based upon the truth of Jesus.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you for this post

Anonymous Fellow 31er said...

dear ladies of Proverbs31...(writers and readers)

I have been a "proverbs31" girl since I discovered you through the crosswalk devotions...I believe that was back in 2003 or 2004...

anyways, I consider myself a proverbs31 girl...

I relocated to the middle east a little over a year ago...I now watch Oprah with subtitles...(I didn't watch Oprah before moving here)

and I saw proverbs31 team on tv :)

and I am using the books for the small group I am leading...

I have two things to add to this discussion:
1- yes it is very important to read and keep an open mind and always compare with the truth. I have learned so much from my buddist roomate, who actually accepted Christ later. But her moral stand as a buddist was a lot stronger than my own christian stand. I agree with you Sondra

2- However, Lyza is correct to be concerned with ungrounded believers. I myself while being away rely alot on Oprah to keep me in the loop. She does have authority in the hearts and minds of arab women...more than any of our many wonderful missionaries who are trying to fit in the arab world.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

ECKHART TOLLE AND THE CHRISTIAN TRADITION
By Richard Rohr, OFM
Although Eckhart Tolle is arousing great interest today, many think he is a
novelty, New Age, or even non-religious. The process—and that is what it is—that he
is teaching, can be traced through the Greek and Latin traditions of contemplation,
the apophatic tradition in particular, and the long history of what was sometimes
called “The Sacrament of the Present Moment” (Brother Lawrence, OCD, Francisco de
Osuna, OFM, Jean Pierre de Caussade, S.J.).
The mystical tradition inside of Orthodoxy and Catholicism often divided
contemplation into two types: infused or natural contemplation, and acquired
contemplation. Evelyn Underhill, the brilliant historian of mysticism sees three forms
of contemplation: 1) Mystical Contemplation of the Natural World, 2) Metaphysical
Contemplation of the World of Being and Consciousness, 3) Theological Contemplation
of the World of God.
After the oppositional mind that set in place during and after the Reformation
of the 16th century, and after the Enlightenment of the 17th-18th centuries, this ancient
tradition was largely lost, except among individuals. We lost the older Tradition of
“praying beyond words” as the entire Western and Eastern Churches became quite
preoccupied with words and proving words to be true or false. This is the only period
that Protestantism and Evangelicals have ever known. So for at least 400 years, we
have had neither an understanding of infused nor acquired contemplation! It is such
foreign terrain to almost all Protestants, and most Catholics and Orthodox that they
immediately think it is heresy or even pagan, when in fact, it is the solid tradition of
the first 1400 years of Christianity! (Which I will try to document in my next book,
The Third Eye).
Tolle is, in fact, rather brilliantly bringing to our awareness the older tradition
of both “infused” or “natural contemplation,” and the two first types in Underhill’s
listing. These are both the ground and the process for breaking through to theological
contemplation of God, and acquired contemplation of Jesus, the Gospels, and all
spiritual things. He is teaching process not doctrine or dogma. He is teaching how to
see and be present, not what you should see when you are present. Tolle is our
friend, and not an enemy of the Gospel. There should be no conflict for a mature
Christian. “Anyone who is not against us, is for us,” as Jesus said, and he also said,
“Fear profits nothing.”
What Tolle Is Not:
1) Eckhart Tolle is not a Christian theologian or teacher.
2) He is not teaching Christian contemplative prayer or Christian prayer at all.
3) He is not teaching any dogmas or doctrines as such.
4) He is not presuming or teaching that there is a personal/relational God (but
neither is he denying it).
5) He is not a proponent of the social, communitarian nature of religion.
Page 1
What Tolle is doing:
1) Eckhart Tolle is teaching a form of natural mysticism or contemplative
practice.
2) He is teaching a morality and asceticism of recognizing and letting go of “the
self that has to die” (Matthew 16:25), which he calls ego and Jesus calls the
“grain of wheat” (John 12:24) ; so that another self can be born, which he
would call “consciousness” and we would call the person born again in Christ,
or something similar.
3) He is giving us some practices (Similar to how John Wesley gave “methods” or
Ignatius gave “exercises”) whereby we can be present to the grace of the
moment and stop the “passions,” the “egocentric mind,” or the “prideful
self” which keeps us from true goodness (or God, as we would call it). Each
tradition uses different language for what is to be overcome, but it is always
some form of “un-love” and selfishness (which he calls ego). TOLLE IS NOT
ASKING YOU TO BELIEVE ANYTHING. HE IS ASKING YOU TO TRY SOMETHING!
You will know if it is true, if you try it, and you will not know if it is true or
false, if you don’t try it. No point in arguing it theoretically or in the
abstract.
4) He does assume and imply a worldview that is foreign to many, if not most
Christians. For Tolle, Being, Consciousness, God, Reality are all the same
thing, which is not all bad, when you come to think of it. Of course, his very
point is that you cannot think of it at all, you can only realize it. I would not
call him pantheistic (all things are God) as much as panentheistic (God is IN
all things).
5) His brilliant understanding of the “pain body,” as he calls it, is actually very
close to the Catholic notion of Original Sin, and does give a corporate,
communitarian, mystical understanding to religion. We are all in this
together, and share one another’s pain. I’m not sure he makes clear how we
share one another’ joy, except that he tends to create very “low
maintenance” people who can relax and enjoy life.
In Tolle’s world, Jesus is not central. However, he is a beloved teacher, who
does it perfectly right himself. “Redemption,” as we understand it, is not necessary
beyond letting go of our own fears, negativity, and oppositional energy. He might
understand reality itself as gracious. We would localize that grace in and through
Jesus, as the “Sacrament” of all of Creation.
Although Tolle is not a Christian teacher, we must not assume that makes him
an anti-Christian teacher. Today we need whatever methods or help we can receive
to allow the Christian message to take us to a deeper level of transformation. Our
history, and our guidance of Western history, shows this has clearly not been
happening on any broad scale. This is an opportunity for us to understand our own
message at deeper levels. It would be a shame if we required him to speak our
language and vocabulary before we could critically hear what he is saying—that is true
and helpful to our own message.
Page 2
What if John’s Gospel had refused to use the word “Logos” which was a term
directly taken from Platonist philosophy? What if Paul had kept the limited
vocabulary and categories of Judaism when he preached in Rome and Athens? What if
Thomas Aquinas had not written his Summa because it was a dialogue with
Aristotelian philosophy? Would they have had any success as evangelists?
Admittedly, this will be much harder for those Christians who emerged after
the 16th century when the older contemplative tradition was no longer taught, or
understood even by the older Tradition. Catholics and Orthodox simply have the
trustful advantage of apophatic saints like Clement of Alexandria, Gregory of Nyssa,
Gregory Palamas, Dionysius the Areopogite, Bonaventure, Francisco de Osuna, Meister
Eckhart (whose name Mr. Tolle chose when he recognized his gift as a spiritual
teacher!), the Cloud of Unknowing, John of the Cross, and Jean Pierre de Caussade.
Unfortunately, most of Western Christianity has understood Jesus apart from
the eternal Trinitarian life and the Pre-Existent Cosmic Christ that is presented in
Colossians 1:15-20 or Ephesians 1:8-11. Here “The Son” is at work in the universe
from the very beginning and everywhere, and not just during and after Calvary (which
Protestantism has tended to exclusively concentrate on). Remember, both Thomas
Aquinas and Bonaventure said “Deus est Ens,” God is Being Itself. This is not new or
dangerous teaching, but if ones denominational tradition has no tradition of
philosophical theology, or no tradition of the pre-existent Christ as the Second Person
of the Trinity inherent in the very pattern of creation, then I admit that Eckhart Tolle
will be quite foreign terrain. That does not make him wrong.
I have learned to join with Peter, who said after much resistance, “God has
made it clear to me that I must not call anyone profane or unclean” (Acts 10:28), and
I am willing to hear truth today wherever it comes from, as long as it does not
compromise the Gospel. As St. Thomas Aquinas said, “If it is true, then it is from the
Holy Spirit.”
I must join with Paul who in preaching to the secular Athenians, said “God is
not far from any of us, since it is in him that we live, and move, and have our very
being” (Acts 17:28). That is an excellent foundation for trusting Tolle’s natural
mysticism. We are also preaching to a largely secular world, and must find a language
that they can understand and draw from, as Paul did, and not insist that they learn
our vocabulary before we can even talk to them or hear them. How else can we ever
be “all things to all people” (1 Corinthians 9:22) or dare to think that we can “preach
the Gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:16)?
Center for Action and Contemplation
P.O Box 12464 Albuquerque, NM 87195 • (505) 242-9588 www.cacradicalgrace.org
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