I was just reading The Wisdom of the Ages, for Now Anyway which highlights the ministry of Eckhart Tolle, a "German-born teacher on spiritual enlightenment and a best-selling author. He is not identified with any religion, but uses teachings from Zen Buddhism, Sufism, Hinduism and the Bible."
I was reminded in reading that while the trend of many today (including Oprah) is to suggest that by combining religions or "taking the best from what each of the religions has to offer" ...one is either subject to the subjectivism or relativism of deciding for themselves what to accept and what to reject (and therefore set themselves as the ultimate determiner/aribiter, and perhaps creator of truth) or as in the case of following Eckhart Tolle to submit themselves to the subjective beliefs of another who has chosen and rejected along the same principles and thus become the de facto determiner, arbiter, and creator (if not borrower) of truth.
What's interesting is the infinite number of "truths" and "creators/determiners/arbiters of truth" that can and will not only result from trust and dependence on such foundational presuppositions, but infinite number of conflicts and oppositions to the truths held by others. The point being that when one assumes truth is relative (or can be found even among combinations of systems of belief which are self-exclusive or oppose one another), then the result is not one "higher" good that can and will be obtained by those who give themselves to such belief and practices, but to a numerous mirage of beliefs and possibilities that not only will lead to disunity and disfunction, but to confusion, irrationalism, and division.
In effect, those who espouse and practice pluralism, while seeking and claiming greater wisdom, ultimately are found to delve deeper into the wisdom of man, which not only cannot save but results in the things mentioned above. While seeking to become wise, they prove themselves to be foolish.
As shown in the article, speakers continue to come and offer something (perhaps a little different but in ways) in essense the same.... the suggestion that man controls (or can control) his own destinity and success. I love the quote "Mr. Tolle suggests that by living in the moment and in touch with what he calls 'the totality,' good things MAY start happening to you." [CAPS, my emphasis] Seems the one thing these self-help geniuses can't get over is the curse itself. Seems no matter how much "embracing the present", "turning off the ego", "turning off the mind's chatter", "meditating" (which by way, it you can determine truth, why meditate?)... they just can't get over the fact that things don't always go they way they want, and it seems aging, difficulties, even death keeps staring them in the face. Funny that so many "wise" people would follow one whose best advice only promises that things "may" begin to go their way. (By comparison, Christianity recognizes One - Jesus Christ - in whom peace, strength, confidence and hope may be found even though trials, troubles, suffering, tribulation and even death will come.)
The only thing new with today's speakers, advocates and followers, is that they use words and phrases like "globalism", "packing thousands of years of teaching", etc., along with the fact they address issues more pressing upon modern minds ("war", "conflict", "world at large", etc.), and perhaps that they now see the
"worlds religions" as a new source to look to in order to provide a measure of "authenticity" or "believability" or "global" or "pluralistic" perspective to their message, but in the end, it's no new message, just more of the same of that which is old dressed up in new clothes!
It's another opportunity and occurrence of a person getting rich by speaking to the felt needs of man and offering a solution that comes from man but in the end will prove powerless, though the very claims made include words such as "power", "wisdom", "a New Earth", potententially "world changing", etc.
Should it surprise us that "not much is being revealed about the author and speaker's own life, except that he's living with his girlfriend and failed to follow through with his educational pursuits, and yet the masses are following him as if he has all the answers?
As the writer of Ecclesiastes states "There's nothing new under the sun." Seems many followers could learn from the writer of Ecclesiastes who shows that living simply in the moment (or for the "now", or "present") apart from God doesn't produce or result in the satisfaction, peace or lot that many believe it will.
"Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, 'I find no pleasure in them -" (Eccl 12:1)
It's not that God has left us without the truth, or that God has dispersed or confused his truth; rather he has provided a consistent and continuous revelation of Himself by his Word, most clearly revealed in Jesus Christ himself, about whom the Scriptures testify and proclaim. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved... and this... not in the absence or always in the alleviation of suffering, war, etc., but in spite of it and even in it's midst as we wait for the return of him who will restore all things.
In essence in Tolle's writings (along with the statements of his followers), you have a gospel presented which denies the necessity of the substitutionary atonement of Jesus as revealed in Scripture. While Tolle and his followers may claim Jesus was an example or one who has gone before us in reaching a state of consciousness (of surrendering, of renouncing ego and the world, i.e., "thy will be done", etc.), they reject Jesus as Son of God and Savior sent from God. Rather than looking to the forgiveness based on Jesus' sacrifice and the justification that comes through the imputed righteousnes of Christ, they look to their own abilty, actions, and merit as enabling them to reach the goal. Hence it is salvation (even of a different sorts) by works, not by grace. Conversations with Tolle's followers reveal a quickness to talk about God as "love", but unwilling to talk about the "justice" of God. One in particular was willing to say Jesus was crucified according to the wrath "of man', but refused to acknowledge the wrath "of God" was involved. In the end, Tolle and his followers present another gospel, which while some may claim fits with Scripture, does not. One the one hand they present a different gospel (which depends on what man does rather than on what God has done for us), and on another hand is no gospel for if salvation could have been accomplished through the law (or by man's efforts), there would have been no reason for Jesus to come and to die for us.
For more, see here and here.
See also a comparison of Eckhart Tolle and Christianity on subject of Death.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
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