Sunday, June 15, 2008

Answering Tolle's disciples **WARNING - SOME MATURE CONTENT**

Over the last few weeks, we had quite a few visitors who dropped by to comment on what we posted on Tolle. I hope I got all of the comments from the different visitors.

We always appreciate comments, and want to thank those who took the time to comment on this issue. It is hardly surprising that most of the comments were negative, given the emotional smokescreen that surrounds the whole topic.

Before I get into the details of answering the comments, I want to ask a few questions to start with, so that those who wish to comment on the topic in future can start from that point, by answering those questions, and we can move the discussion forward.

Christianity has a history that goes back thousands of years, and has produced billions of followers throughout the ages. The majority of the comments here say that all of those people were deluded, or wrong, that Christian teachings, history and traditions are all a load of nonsense. So the responsibility lies with them to prove that it is so.

To help these folks out a bit, here are a few questions to start with then:

1.Please demonstrate Tolle's teachings, in which he acknowledges Jesus as a “great teacher” from Scripture. Feel free to use the historical-grammatical method, or any of the other accepted methods of exegesis. (Not fair, you say, that is just doctrine and that is exactly what Tolle says is wrong with Christianity. Nope, sorry, if he, and by implication you, are going to quote Jesus then you cannot simply disregard the historical and grammatical context for your own benefit. Or you can, but then we will stop right there since you are simply begging the question in your favor, and it is clear that you have no interest in the truth, just in promoting Tolle at all cost.)

2.Please explain how the obvious conflict between exclusive truth claims from Tolle and Scripture are resolved without destroying either, something that Tolle says is quite possible. To do that, I strongly recommend starting by stating the basis of your hermeneutic for both Tolle and Scripture, follow that by establishing your theory of ontology, and by demonstrating how your epistemological basis flows from that. Or if you want it in simple terms, explain on what basis you interpret Tolle and Scripture, tell us what characteristics of being you have and why, and where you get that from, and finally, based on what you are, how you come to know things, such as how to interpret Tolle and the Bible, for example. (Not fair, you say, you are making this waayyyy too complex, typical of religious doctrine. Nope, sorry, those three things are the most basic of preconditions to even start having a discussion about spiritual things. Now you can choose to ignore it, and comment anyway, but why then should we believe anything you have to say? Feeling good about something is unfortunately not a valid argument, because (as we ourselves have been accused here on this very topic), you may be delusional.)

3.Since Christian beliefs are being (harshly) judged here, please show by which standard you propose to do so. Hint: Your opinion is not a standard, and neither is Tolle's opinion. Because if that was a valid standard, then so is my opinion, which is that you are wrong. Since that is what we want to discuss in the first place, then we are back at square one. My standard is Scripture. (No fair, you say, you want to make this a discussion about theories and doctrine, while Tolle's teaching is way beyond that, it is about a living reality inside a person. Nope, sorry, this is exactly about reality and how we understand and interact with reality. Even should you wish to level a higher level of criticism, on that abstract personal spiritual level, then you still have to do so by some standard, or we are back at the delusional opinion argument.)

Hopefully any future comments on this topic will start from there so that we can move the discussion forward. Now I understand that you may not have these answers right away, but then I would implore you to investigate these issues before coming here and blindly attacking Christianity.

Now on to the comments:

"moderator" said...
Well, that is a pretty big assertion right out of the chute. Let's see if Mr./Mrs. Moderator actually backs up this rather impressive claim.

Oprah is not the problem. She believes in a Big God, not a God made up of 21st century Americans that call Jesus their Buddy. Yep, say a little prayer and you go to heaven.
Hmm, 'k. Please describe this “Big God” that Oprah believes in. What are his characteristics? How did she come to know this god, and from where? On what basis is this god called big? What does “big”, in this context mean anyway? Please describe the God that 21st century Americans “made up”? On what basis do you say that their god is made up but Oprah's isn't? Please tell us which American Christians call Jesus “their buddy? What churches are these? Please quote examples. Please tell us which churches preach “say a little prayer and you go to heaven”? Please show specific examples. Since this looks like an internal critique of Christianity, please establish your standard by which to criticize that practice, then demonstrate from Scripture that it is wrong to do so, and finally, most importantly, please show that it is wrong, that people who say this prayer don not go to heaven.

**So far no proof that anything the church teaches is false, just some random arbitrary claims. Mr/Mrs moderator has clearly not been to my church.

Then you can vote like Jesus and vote for War and Republicans, because after all Jesus did say blessed are the war makers. Oh, and make sure to go after Gays as well, because Jesus never said a word about homosexuals in the bible, so I guess the WWJD doesn't apply here.
Please state how you know what party Jesus would vote for. Also, please establish a Biblical basis for saying that all war is wrong, since you are making a general statement about “war makers”. Also, while we are on the topic, can you please explain why only the teachings of Jesus should be accepted as the totality of Christian teachings. Please explain what Jesus meant when He said “Mat 10:34 "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

As for homosexuals, Jesus had this to say: “"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' {5} and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? {6} So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." Now you may argue that that is not explicitly about homosexuals, but you would be wrong. Because this is a clear teaching of the Biblical basis for relationships, and it is only between a man and a woman., and is consistent with the rest of the Bible's teaching.

**Still no proof that the church is teaching falsehoods. There is an interesting little sidenote inside view of Mr/Mrs moderators political views, which seem to be the goggle through which he/she chooses to view the world. But no proof, just some politically motivated rhetoric.

But if you are a Christian in America today, have lunch after church at Red Lobster, even though the bible says it's an ABOMINATION to eat Shrimp- oops, sorry, didn't get that scripture. And have all the Christian leaders like Ted Haagard, the Evangelical Big Dude, preach family values, yet he gets caught sucking a young boys penis and doing meth.

Now while I enjoy a reasoned discussion as much as the next guy, I don't quite know how to answer these childish and inane comments. If Jesus didn't say anything about homosexuality, then where did He manage to slip in the little bit about Red Lobster? I have read through the Bible a few times, and probably more in the NT than anywhere else, and I must have missed that bit. Please enlighten us. As far as Pastor Haggard is concerned, you are a liar. Maybe you should know your facts before trying to offer an irrelevant argument. We all agree that what he did with a male prostitute was wrong (no mention of young boys, by the way). But you have not established a standard to tell us that he was wrong. Just one paragraph above you wanted us to lay off the homosexuals, yet here, strangely, you seem to think that there was something wrong when Pastor Haggard engaged in such behavior. Of course, we as Christians were rightfully horrified by what he did, but we also know that the blood that Jesus spilled on the cross is big enough to cover even those sins. Please tell us what Mr Tolle offers Pastor Haggard, or even why it is necessary for Pastor Haggard, from your point of view, to be offered any hope, if what he did was seemingly acceptable in your eyes.

***And still no proof that the church is spreading falsehoods (except if you have been to a church that tells you to go have the shrimp at Red Lobster afterwards, in direct contradiction to a yet to be named explicit teaching from Jesus not to do so). But an interesting little bit of hypocrisy on display, along with a rather lame attempt at guilt by association. (I can assure Mr/Mrs moderator that the church are full of sinners, some like Pastor Haggard, that doesn't make Christianity false, it makes it true.)

WWJD, lol. And Be like Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn, and tell people that if they give money, they are doing God's work, but if they build an orphanage for young girls like Oprah- now that's EVIL!

Again I don't quite get what this has to do with the topic. I would agree from my vantage point that Messr's Hinn and Copeland will have a lot of 'splainin to do one day. However, to characterize them as mainstream or valid examples of Christians is simply committing the fallacy of poisoning the well. We do see a little bit of doctrine weaved in here, apparently we have to do good things to get in God's good graces. Maybe Mr/Mrs moderator can enlighten us to the number of good deeds and amount we need to do, give or contribute in order to earn our way into heaven. I mean, if Oprah is the one setting the bar then she, Bill Gates and God will have a nice tea party one day while laughing down at the rest of us in hell. And maybe Mr/Mrs moderator can enlighten us to the orphanages that he/she has opened so that we can make a small contribution (not wanting to miss out on this “good deeds get you into heaven deal”.) There is no doubt that Oprah does do good things with her money sometimes, but to equate that with spiritual maturity is a non-sequitur, and it is even more laughable to think that has anything to do with salvation.

****Sigh. I had such high hopes, but nope, still nothing. No proof of those falsehoods yet. Some more poisoning the well and guilt by association fallacies though.

If Jesus came back today, most evangelical blogs would condemn him as some new age crazy guy, just like they did 2000 years ago because he didn't fit in the religous box of the time. No, the Jesus taught by the church today is Pro War, Pro Judgement, Pro hate and knows that they have truth and everybody else is wrong.

Ok. This is getting a bit tiresome. This is just another set of blind assertions. And even more scary, an implied Tolle=Christ type argument. And the same set of questions as above. Please prove what you are saying. How is the Jesus that churches proclaim today “ Pro War, Pro Judgement, Pro hate”? Where are these churches that teach this? Please provide examples. And please tell us why you are allowed to judge, but the church apparently isn't? And on what basis do you evaluate the exclusive truth claims made by the church? What is your standard?

*****Still no proof. More political rhetoric. More baseless assertion.

My bible says, you shall know them by their fruit. Look at Oprah. What has she done? Hardly the antichrist.

You have a Bible? And you want to quote that to us? Great. Please provide us with an exegetical argument for that verse, based on the historical-grammatical or on of the other accepted methods of Biblical interpretation that proves your implied theory that “fruit” here means giving like Oprah does, and that that is what gets you into heaven.
As for Oprah being the “antichrist.”, who said that? Anyone here? Nope, but she did say this, herself:
Oprah: “There are many paths to what you call God.”
Audience Member: “There is one way and only one way and that is through Jesus.”
Oprah: “There couldn’t possibly be just one way!”

Now that, Mr/Mrs moderator, certainly does not sound like someone bearing the fruits referred to in your Bible. (Unless your Bible differs substantially from mine.)

******Alas, still no proof about all these falsehoods. Just some random comments about the Bible (vaguely referred to) and an attempted sarcasm-laced vindication of Oprah, who then spoils it herself by straight-out denying what Jesus says about Himself.

Yet look at all the "Christians" like Larry Craig, Jimmy Swaggart, Ted Haagard, Ken Copeland, on and on. Fornicators and war mongers and deceivers of the true Gospel. Anyway, have a nice day and remember, Jesus loves you very very much, and if you don't want to believe it he will burn you in hell.

This line of reasoning was already addressed above. Pointing to sinners in the church does not prove anything. And to summarize, it is committing several logical fallacies in the process. Now maybe you think that this line of “argumentation” gets you somewhere, but I'm afraid that it does nothing but show that you yourself are guilty of the very things you accuse us of. You are judgmental, hateful and woefully ill-informed. You present no arguments, but prefer to rant in ignorance through politically tainted-glasses.

******Nope, we did not see any proofs of these falsehoods that was so confidently announced in capital letters above. We did see a mildly entertaining example of how not to defend the great Tolle though.

Sigh, now that did not get us very far. So how about “incredulous”?

Clap, clap, clap, Moderator. Well said and finally a breath of fresh air and (new age!) truth to this tired place of closed minds and fear-based beliefs.

Mr/Mrs incredulous does not start off in promising fashion, by offering praise to what Mr/Mrs moderator offered up, which was really not much.

I grew up in a cult like this and if it weren't for people like Tolle, Oprah, Wayne Dyer, Denise Lynn, Louise Haye, Debbie Ford, Neale Diamond Walsch, Abraham (the list of these "false teachers" is endless, THANK GOD!), my mind would still be closed and my spirit trapped in the fear-based cage of this narrow-minded ancient way of believing.

Well, we are glad to hear your mind is not closed anymore, at least when it comes to denying Christianity. You offer some choice subjective descriptions (ancient, narrow-minded, fear-based etc) of Christianity. Before asking for proof that those statements are true descriptions of the Christian faith, please establish your basis for making those moral judgments. Again, your opinion, feelings, dreams, moods and experiences are not considered an objective basis to make those judgments. If you do wish to pursue that line of thought, then I will present my opinion to you, which is that you are simply delusional.

I love learning new things and I feel so blessed to living in this New Age (sorry, folks, I know you all hate that sinful phrase) with a mind and spirit that know no bounds :-) And most especially, NO FEAR OF "HELL"; NO FEAR OF "SIN"; plus the absolute LUXURY of knowing that it is my BIRTHRIGHT to be loved by my Creator!!

We are glad you are happy. Please tell us what will happen to you should you die today. And please tell us where you get your concept of “creator” from? And on what basis you demand this creators love, by birthright? And if you don't fear hell, do you deny that such a place exists, or that you simply are not going there? If you deny that such a place exists, why does it matter if your creator loves you or not? If you believe that it does exist but you are not going there, on what basis do you believe that?

My joy and ultimate salvation are not dependent on my ability to accept some loony story that originates with a "virgin birth";

Hmm, despite your username, incredulity is not a valid argument. Please prove that a virgin birth is “loony”, or that it did not happen.

I no longer fear each big world event as "a sign that the end is near" where crazy monsters are going to be killing people and fire is going to engulf us all and "all hell is going to break loose." The list of crazy beliefs attached to this lunacy is as long as my beloved list of "false teachers" ;-)

Now let's make this short. Christians don't fear any of that. Furthermore, you choose to beg the question, poison the well and argue ad-hominem, not very convincing. But since you seem to want us to disbelieve some things, apparently vaguely related to Christianity in some way, why don't you offer up some critique that proves what you are saying?

Does anyone ever stop to wonder WHY these supposed "false teachers" are so popular? It's because their messages FEEL RIGHT. THEY ARE NOT SCARY. THEY ARE NOT SHAME BASED. THEY JUST ARE.

Hey, hang on, we can just do what “feels right”? That case, I feel that you are a misguided soul. And Hitler felt right about killing millions of innocent people. I don't think Hitler was scared or ashamed either.

This board is right, people ARE "waking up regarding Oprah." They are seeing a very respected, generous, gracious loving woman STEP OUTSIDE OF THE TINY BOX OF CHRISTIANITY, AND ALLOWING HER SPIRIT TO SOAR!

Respected? Gracious? It's not very gracious or loving to tell the billion or so Christians that they are “close-minded”, “narrow-minded” and Christianity is “loony”, lunacy” “crazy beliefs” and “scary and -shame-based”. But don't let the hypocrisy stop you.

What is a soaring spirit? On what basis do you judge Christianity to be a “tiny box”?

Sorry folks, I hate to disappoint you, but the loss of a mere 7 percent ratings caused by narrow minded fundamental Christians who are now her worst critics pales in comparison to the amount of personal growth she is embracing and instinctively wanting to share with others.

Trust me, the only thing that disappoints me is the complete lack of understanding you have of Christianity. But way to go on adding the insults here, that is really convincing argumentation. As for her “spiritual growth” and “sharing”, because it is based on the relativistic and emotional beliefs that Tolle espouses, then I'm afraid you are the one that is mistaken. That is not growth, it is merely the denial of truth.

Don't flatter yourselves and don't waste too much time worry about Oprah. At the end of the day, I'm pretty sure she'll be just fine :-)

And don't flatter yourself by thinking that what you and others offer here in support of her and Tolle is in any way damaging to Christianity. In fact, it sounds like the atheist arguments from 100 years ago. Oft refuted, tired and an entirely useless direction of thinking or being.

These comments are fairly typical of what we have seen from the Tolle supporters. Now if moderator or incredulous wish to respond, they are of course welcome to do so. I would suggest they start with the questions at the beginning and work from there. That will tell us whether they are truly intellectually and morally honest, or whether they just wish to engage in mud-slinging and baseless assertion.

Friends, there is just one truth. That there cannot be a creation without a Creator. And that the Creator, despite the imperfections of that creation, so loved the people He made in His image that He sacrificed all He had, His only Son, so that He may be glorified, and we may be with Him. That Creator is the one and only triune and personal God, not some abstract consciousness that appeared from nowhere at the time of creation, as Tolle wants it.

And however the self-important people like Oprah and Tolle want to wish that truth away, it won't happen. Because that God is bigger than their ego-god, the one they make in their own image.

Come to know the one true personal God, our Father who loves us more than we can ever know.

PS: I know there are several more comments on this topic, I will deal with those in the coming days.

1 comment:

  1. As I have pointed out many times in dealing with Tollenists, new age pluralism is simply unbelief. There is nothing "new" about that.