On March 3, a live 10-week webinar hosted by Oprah Winfrey and Eckhart Tolle, author of "A New Earth," began. Both the book and the online course purport to be able to awaken you and our world to life's grand purpose.
Since Oprah's endorsement of Tolle's book a month ago, about 3.5 million copies of his spiritual self-help guide have been sent out to enlighten the minds of people around the globe. More than 500,000 people in 125 countries have signed up for the World Wide Web seminar.
But will this religious text and its subsequent Internet churchlike gathering really lead you and our world to God's gates of splendor? Is it merely a coincidence that Winfrey and Tolle's spiritual quest aligns with one of Christendom's most sacred times of year? To me, it is more evidence of the paradigm shift in our culture from its moral absolute and Judeo-Christian basis to a relativistic worldview, in which anything goes and everything is tolerated. The fact is Tolle's "A New Earth" is being adopted and transformed into Oprah's new Easter.
Like most self-help spiritual texts of this type, it is a blend of half-truths and half-fabrications. One easily could save the purchase price of "A New Earth" -- and subsequently avoid its misleading remarks -- by reading the Bible, which gives a much more thorough and accurate picture of life's purpose and the methods for overcoming its obstacles.
Tolle himself doesn't align with any one religion but blends tenets of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Sufism, Christianity and other faiths. A review in The Vancouver Sun said of Tolle:
"His spiritual outlook has become more complex since (his earlier book) The Power of Now, when he dismissed external reality as an illusion and made it sound as if 'living in the now' was a panacea for all the world's problems. …
"In addition, Tolle believes outer realities -- including politics, war, poverty and even the climate -- will magically be transformed when individuals change their inner consciousness. This may be true, but only to an extent."
The reason Tolle's psychology and spirituality is marketed so easily is that it is an eclectic mix of conventional and unconventional wisdom, and Western and Eastern beliefs, presented in a tolerant, non-threatening and nonsectarian way. In other words, it's Religion Light, in which one can be spiritual with little down and no credit.
Tolle only quotes relatively benign sayings of Jesus, avoiding the more difficult ones. For example, Tolle notes that Jesus taught that the "kingdom of heaven" is already present on earth and can be experienced right now, but Tolle overlooks Jesus' teaching that one must be born again (by believing in him as the Son of God and Savior) to see that kingdom in the future.
When will we learn? Our pursuit and attainment of truth is hindered most by our subjective (or a la carte) selections of religion and refusal to consider tougher commandments that call us to higher accountability and our true purpose. That is why I'm endorsing -- and even have written the foreword for -- an upcoming (April 15 release) revolutionary book, "Do Hard Things," written by Alex Harris and Brett Harris. It offers real insight and rewards for life by commendably calling us to rebel against the low expectations of culture and choose to "do hard things."
My battle is not with Oprah; she has her guru (Tolle), and I have mine (Jesus). The real war is between those who assert to be bearers of the truth, such as Tolle and Jesus. And the question is: With contradicting truths, will we believe a mere man or one who claimed to be so much more? As C.S. Lewis -- the great Oxford scholar and writer of "The Chronicles of Narnia," who was once an avid atheist -- wrote:
"A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a good moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic -- on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg -- or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. …
"You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great moral teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."
That might not be what Oprah, Tolle or others around the world want to hear on their webinar, but he is everything we all need to obtain peace with God and peace with one another.
Again, the question is: Will we turn from what's easy, what's new, what's popular -- even what's "Oprah" -- and take a step back and rediscover the answers that have been there all along? As C.S. Lewis also said: "We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive."