I have a few questions—but they are not about whether Oprah Winfrey, Eckhart Tolle or Marianne Williamson are good, smart and nice people. I’m sure they are. My concern is about the ideas they hold—since good, smart, nice people can hold false beliefs and be wrong about all kinds of things. Sometimes, even the most important things.
I have questions about their worldview.
A worldview is made up of the answers we give to life’s most fundamental and profound questions. It includes the answers we give to questions of philosophy, religion, ethics and theology. And they are questions that have been asked and answered by every culture in world history.
When comparing and contrasting religions, worldview categories are the most basic level of inquiry.
If you know a person’s worldview, you know a whole lot about them. Oftentimes, you even know more about their thinking processes than they do.
Right now, Oprah is co-teaching an online class with author Eckhart Tolle, based upon her current Book of the Month, his “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.” And, Oprah’s promoting a daily radio show on her XM channel featuring Marianne Williamson teaching from “A Course in Miracles.”
Both Tolle and Williamson are New Age thinkers. Oprah says she’s a Christian—arguing that she can reconcile “her” Christianity with what they’re teaching. If she’s a Christian, she’s an ignorant one, because Christianity is incompatible with New Age thought.
Here’s how the two opposing worldviews, Christianity (C), and New Age (NA), answer some of the most basic worldview questions. The New Age answers are ones that would be commonly held, though certainly not universal, as the belief system is loose, eclectic and unique to each individual adherent.
1. Why is there something rather than nothing?
Christianity (C): God created the universe at the moment of the beginning of time, matter and space. Big Bang cosmology and all modern science affirms this.
New Age (NA): The universe is beginning-less, endless, eternal.
2. Does God exist?—and is He personal?
C: Yes, God is personal, and the Bible teaches God is three persons sharing one essence, what Christians refer to as the Trinity. More specifically, God is tri-personal.
NA: Yes and No. Yes, God is an impersonal force that exhaustively fills every atom of the eternal universe: All is God, God is all, God is all of us and God is each of us. No, there is no personal creator called God who is outside of time, matter and space.
3. Who am I?
C: A creation of God.
4. How did I get here?
C: God created man with moral freedom and invited him to join the presence of the Trinity. But man exercised his freedom in rebellion to God, and now only through the work of the incarnate God and second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, can that severed relationship be restored.
NA: Through the infinite process of karma. As God, you are eternal, and have been reincarnating from object to object for trillions of years, and when you ultimately achieve enlightenment, and remember that you are God, you will then lose your individual sense of self and consciousness and become One with the One. (Remember, there is no personal God. God is a force. You must return to being a force.)
5. Why am I here?
C: The Westminster Catechism answers this question beautifully: The chief end of man is “to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” I am called to make a decision with eternal consequences: either accept or reject God’s offer of salvation in Jesus Christ. I am also called to help others make a correct choice; to advance the true, the good, and the beautiful; to fight evil and injustice; to work with God at reconciling the world to Himself.
NA: To pay off previous karmic debt gathered over trillions of years.
6. What is the meaning of life?
C: To glorify God.
NA: To achieve enlightenment.
7. What is the true, the good, and the beautiful?
C: God—and his goodness can be seen through his creation.
NA: Since there is no distinction between creator and creation, there can be no distinctions between true-false, good-bad, right-wrong, ugly-beautiful, or pain-pleasure.
8. What is the best life?
C: A life in the full presence of God.
NA: The life immediately before enlightenment, since you will no longer exist as a person once you remember you are God.
9. Who is the best man?
C: Jesus Christ, the Man who never sinned.
NA: “Best” is a nonsensical moral category.
10. Why is there evil, pain, suffering, and injustice?
C: The Fall. Man exercised his freedom in rebellion to God and these are the consequences.
NA: People are paying off their karmic debt. As God, we are responsible for the reality we create for ourselves through our thinking and choices. If we are suffering, it is because we are choosing to suffer. If we think differently we can alter the external world and create our own reality.
11. Why do bad things happen to good people?
C: We live in a fallen world with moral freedom. Evil and sin exist. Men hurt themselves intentionally and accidentally. Our hope is only in God who is able to bring good out of evil.
Karma and reincarnation have all kinds of fatal logical problems. Who started karma and reincarnation and why? Who decides what behavior gets rewarded and what gets punished, especially since there are no moral categories? How can there be a “who” to all this when God is a “what,” an impersonal force like gravity? How can an impersonal force help you in your relationships, heal your hurts, illnesses and wounds, help with your addictions and bad habits, lead you to confront social evils, poverty, crime, corruption, broken families, broken hearts?
12. Will good or evil ultimately triumph?
C: The resurrection of Jesus proves that good ultimately triumphs over evil.
NA: These are only apparent moral categories, they don’t really exist.
13. Is there life after death?
C: Yes! In either heaven or hell. Our destination is based on our response to the person and work of Christ.
NA: Yes and No. Yes, in that you may have trillions of more reincarnated bodies to inhabit as you pay off your karmic debt before reaching enlightenment. No, in that once you’re enlightened, you will cease to exist, since you will have remembered you’re really an impersonal force that New Age thinkers call “God.”
The New Age Movement is intellectually and spiritually bankrupt. But, it is making Tolle and Williamson—and especially Oprah—a whole bunch of money.