This article first appeared in the Christian Research Journal, volume31, number5 (2008). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to: http://www.equip.org
Through Oprah Winfrey’s remarkable influence, motivational speaker and author Eckhart Tolle’s teachings have become a staple for the spiritually hungry. Tolle’s message, however, consists of an eclectic mix of ideas from Eastern Religions (e.g., Buddhism and Hinduism), the Mind Sciences, and the New Age Movement, which he weaves together into a unique belief system. Central to his teaching is the belief that the ego (rational thoughts, emotions, memories, perceptions, and self) is an illusion hiding us from the truth that all is one and all is God (monistic pantheism). This “truth,” in Tolle’s view, is not discerned through objective means, but through subjective experience and is not exclusive to a single religion. Tolle teaches that one discerns the core of truth in all religions by a subjective “inner knowing.”
There are several flaws in Tolle’s teaching. The idea that all is one and all is god is refuted by the clear teaching of the Bible. Subjective spiritual experiences are notoriously unreliable and must be tested in light of the objective standard of Holy Scripture. Contrary to Tolle’s belief, the world’s religions at their core are not compatible with one another. Finally, the spiritual counsel Tolle offers leads to absurd solutions to real-life problems.
Imagine being set free from nagging thoughts that well up feelings of shame. Or imagine experiencing a connection with a cosmic reality greater than yourself that offers safety, security, and self-improvement. Eckhart Tolle, spiritual teacher and author of bestsellers The Power of Now: A Spiritual Guide to Enlightenment1 and A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose,2 claims to have realized such desirable states of being and seeks to pass on his spiritual wisdom to others. Tolle believes, further, that the spiritual awakening that he hopes to induce in others constitutes “the next step in human evolution”3 and is “the key to ending conflict and suffering throughout the world.”4 In reality, however, the spiritual teaching of Tolle is like a cosmic hot fudge sundae with extra nuts, whipped cream, and maraschino cherries laced with arsenic—certainly tantalizing, but nutritionally impotent and ultimately toxic.
Born in Germany, Tolle graduated from the University of London and studied at Cambridge University. At the age of twenty-nine he experienced “a profound inner transformation,” which altered the course of his life.5 He came to realize that the “self” by which he identified himself, which he thoroughly loathed, was not his true identity; and through this realization he experienced a psychological release wherein his false sense of self gave way to his true identity, which he describes as “pure consciousness.” Here is how he tells of this awakening:
I was deeply identified with a very unhappy, egoic entity I believed was “me.” For years I lived in depression and continuous anxiety. One night I couldn’t stand it anymore. The thought came into my mind, “I cannot live with myself any longer.” Then I saw that my thought contained a subject and an object: I and myself. I stood back from the thought and asked, “Who is the self that I cannot live with? There must be two here. Who am I, and who is the self that is impossible to live with?” In that moment, that mind-based sense of self collapsed. What remained was I—not the form “I,” not the story-based “I,” the mental story of me—but a deeper sense of being, of presence. I died that night psychologically. The mind-made entity died. I knew myself as pure consciousness, prior to form before it becomes something, before it becomes a thought, before it becomes a life-form: the One Life, the One Consciousness that is prior to egoic identity. Then came enormous peace.6
After his spiritual epiphany, Tolle devoted a few years to “understanding, integrating and deepening that transformation,” which eventually led him into his career as a spiritual advisor to others.7 Since the publication of his first book, The Power of Now, he has gained a significant following, with his most renowned disciple being Oprah Winfrey. Actress Meg Ryan initially gave the New Age matriarch The Power of Now, which Oprah found to be “life changing.” In reading A New Earth, Oprah purports to have experienced many more spiritual “aha” moments.8 Through Oprah’s unsettling influence, Tolle’s teachings have spread like wildfire, as she has promoted A New Earth via her book club and has hosted a massively attended online class with Tolle as the instructor.
One cannot deny that something profound happened to Tolle. As tested by the teachings of the Bible, however, what Tolle discovered is not ultimate truth. Despite the prevalence of Christian terms (e.g., Jesus, sin, and salvation) and biblical passages in his writings, an examination of the core of his message reveals an eclectic mix of ideas from Eastern Religions (e.g., Buddhism and Hinduism), the Mind Sciences, and the New Age Movement, which are woven together into a belief system that has no resemblance to true Christianity. Indeed, in reading Tolle, one must learn to scale a language barrier as he redefines Christian terms and concepts in light of esoteric Eastern spirituality. Some of the more troubling aspects of his teachings include monism, pantheism, pluralism, and relativism.
Tolle’s belief system begins with the notion that within everyone is the “ego” or the “illusory self.”9 As mentioned, this ego is not one’s true identity, but a distortion, and the ego forms the basis for all misinterpretation of reality.10 In order to attain spiritual awakening, then, one must identify the complex way the “ego” functions11 and perceive the false reality generated by it. He writes,
When forms that you identified with, that gave you your sense of self, collapse or are taken away, it can lead to a collapse of the ego, since ego is identification with form. When there is nothing to identify with anymore, who are you? When forms around you die or death approaches, your sense of Beingness, of I Am, is freed from its entanglement with form: Spirit is released from its imprisonment in matter. You realize your essential identity as formless, as an all-pervasive Presence, of Being prior to all forms, all identifications. You realize your true identity as consciousness itself, rather than what consciousness had identified with. That’s the peace of God. The ultimate truth of who you are is not I am this or I am that, but I Am.12
According to Tolle, the entire universe, despite the appearance of seemingly infinite forms, is essentially one thing. This is known philosophically as monism—the view that all is one. Such diverse and wondrous things, then, as “flowers, crystals, precious stones, and birds” are simply “temporary manifestations of the underlying one Life, one Consciousness.”13 In other words, the myriad perceived forms are manifestations of the same reality. It is the mind that creates “an opaque screen of concepts, labels, images, words, judgments, and definitions that blocks all true relationship,” which gives the appearance that an individual is distinct from the rest of the universe; but this is ultimately “the illusion of separateness.”14
The monism of Tolle, however, is contrary to Scripture. The problem becomes clear when one carefully considers what it means in the orthodox Christian view for God to be both immanent15 and transcendent.16 God and creation are in intimate relationship with one another but ontologically (essentially or substantially) separate from each other. God, according to Scripture, sustains and interacts personally with creation (Gen. 2:7; Exod. 29:45; Matt. 10:29; Acts 17:27; Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3, 10); He also, however, transcends creation (Deut. 4:39; 10:14; 1 Kings 8:27; Ps. 113:5, 6; Acts 17:24–25; Eph. 4:6). He is not the creation, nor is the creation a part of His being. Tolle, however, believes intimacy between God and man exists because there is no ontological difference between the two; they are ultimately the same, and any observed differences are, in his opinion, just an illusion.
Tolle’s monism, moreover, renders certain virtues worthless. If the universe is just one thing, then virtues such as love and tolerance become meaningless. Since an aspect of love involves one person performing an act of selfless compassion toward another person, and inasmuch as monism denies love’s prerequisite of the existence of two distinct persons, monism is incompatible with real love. Monism is also incompatible with tolerance, since this virtue involves one person putting up with the conflicting beliefs and/or practices of another person. Love and tolerance, then, are virtues that presuppose a universe with multiple beings and cannot exist in a universe of only one being. Oprah, ironically, would be hard-pressed to find in Tolle’s universe any value for her acts of philanthropy, since she would not be showing compassion to a distinct other person. Her acts of kindness are really a remnant of the Christian worldview in which she was raised.
Do you like what you’re reading? Take a look at this.
Watch Hank's interview with GriefShare project
A corollary to Tolle’s monistic universe is the belief in a pantheistic deity. Pantheism is the idea that all is God and God is all.17 After quoting from the Upanishads (part of the Hindu scriptures), Tolle declares, “God, the scripture is saying, is formless consciousness and the essence of who you are.”18 He also explains that consciousness “is the unmanifested, the eternal….Consciousness itself is timeless and therefore does not evolve. It was never born and does not die.”19 Again he writes, “Being is the eternal, ever-present One Life beyond the myriad forms of life that are subject to birth and death. However, Being is not only beyond but also deep within every form as its innermost invisible and indestructible essence. This means that it is accessible to you now as your own deepest self, your true nature.”20 Tolle, therefore, not only understands the universe to be one thing, but believes that that one thing is conscious Being.
Tolle also prefers not to use the word “God,” because he believes it is an inadequate term to use when referring to an infinitely transcendent being. He explains that “God has become empty of meaning through thousands of years of misuse.” It is also a “closed concept” that leads one to create “a mental representation of someone or something outside…almost inevitably a male someone or something.” Although Tolle thinks “God” and “Being” are both inadequate words, he opts for the latter because it is an “open concept” and “does not reduce the infinite invisible to a finite entity.”21 Whether we use the word “God” or “Being,” however, in Tolle’s view each represents that which is ultimately indistinguishable from the universe.
Pantheism logically leads to absurdity, particularly given the idea that people can come to the realization that they are, in reality, God or Being. As we have seen, Tolle teaches that God or Being is infinite, timeless, and changeless consciousness and also that in our true essence or nature we, too, are infinite, timeless, and changeless consciousness. If we come to realize this truth, however, as Tolle did at twenty-nine years of age, then we have changed. We, therefore, cannot be actually infinite, timeless, and changeless consciousness in our essence, and Tolle is mistaken in believing that his spiritual experience was a glimpse into his own true identity as Being.22
That God is infinite means not only that He is endless in terms of existence, but that He is boundless in terms of all of His attributes; He is not constrained by any limitations. He is, therefore, eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent, and omnipresent.23 God does not change with respect to these attributes. This is the nature of an infinite God. He cannot age, for He is eternal with no beginning or end. He cannot grow tired or be hindered by an obstacle, because He is all-powerful. He cannot be ignorant of anything or need an education, because He knows all things. His love never fails. He cannot be confined to a location or move from one place to another, for He is immediately present to all things.
Finite creatures such as humans, however, do not possess God’s incommunicable, infinite qualities. Humans are born and experience time. Human existence does extend beyond the grave in everlasting life or everlasting condemnation; however, although human existence has no end, it still has a beginning. God’s existence has neither beginning nor end. Humans have varying degrees of strength, knowledge, and love. As they naturally mature from infancy to adulthood, their capacity of strength, knowledge, and love also matures. Even before the fall, Adam could exercise strength, knowledge, and love only in accordance with his good but finite nature. Humans can find faster ways to get from one place to another, but they remain limited by time and space. As mentioned, Tolle cannot be God, since he experiences change and personal growth, which the infinite, eternal, and changeless God does not experience at all.
TRUTH, PLURALISM, AND RELATIVISM
Tolle acknowledges that his oneness view of the universe must account for the diversity of religious ideas we encounter in the world. He attempts to resolve this tension by positing that substantive truth cannot be found in any single religion, though partial truth may be present in many religions. He finds certain concepts taught by other spiritual teachers (Buddha, Jesus, and so forth) to be helpful; however, he states that these teachings were only “precursors” to the ultimate truth, and “their message became largely misunderstood and often greatly distorted. It certainly did not transform human behavior, except in a small minority of people.”24
Tolle declares, moreover, “All religions are equally false and equally true, depending on how you use them. You can use them in the service of the ego, or you can use them in the service of the Truth.”25 This happens, he teaches, because religions may start with truth, but over time they get corrupted.26 In other words, the major religions never effectively recovered “the transformative power of the original teachings.”27 All religions, therefore, Tolle believes, offer only glimpses of truth, and no religion has the total truth.
When dealing with any clear disparity between his teachings and other religions, Tolle notes, “Man made ‘God’ in his own image. The eternal, the infinite, and unnameable was reduced to a mental idol that you had to believe in and worship as ‘my god’ or ‘our god.’”28 The truth, then, according to Tolle, rests in the continuity of ideas that all religions have with one another. Elaborating on the idea of man making God in his own image, he explains,
If you go deep enough in your religion, then you all get to the same place. It’s a question of going deeper, so there’s no conflict here. The important thing is that religion doesn’t become an ideology….the moment you say “only my belief” or “our belief” is true, and you deny other people’s beliefs, then you’ve adopted an ideology. And then religion becomes a closed door. But, potentially, religion can also be an open door.29
Any contradiction between religious beliefs thus, Tolle believes, can be attributed to a manmade construct or ideology, and not to the truth; conversely, any agreement between the beliefs among religions (which there must be, since they are the same, he believes, at their core) is the truth.
In reality, all religions are not the same at their core. Hinduism at its core affirms pantheistic monism, in which many gods and human personalities appear to interact with each other, but do no such thing, since they are ultimately just extensions of the one absolute reality of the impersonal Brahman. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, on the other hand, all affirm the existence of a monotheistic God who is ontologically separate from His creation.30 Moreover, Christianity at its core affirms that the one true and living God is triune,31 whereas Judaism and Islam teach a strictly Unitarian deity. The list of incompatible core teachings among the world’s religions is extensive.
Quite disparate religions might have externally common features (e.g., the moral imperative to feed the poor), but even at this level it becomes clear on analysis that fundamental differences exist (e.g., why we should feed the poor). The Christian belief in salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and the good works that follow in response to salvation should not be confused with the Buddhist realization of suffering and its Eightfold Path to eliminate suffering.32
Pointing out the distinguishing features of religion, moreover, is simply telling the truth, not advocating an “ideology,” as Tolle would have us believe. If when a student answers on her math test that “1 + 1 = 3” and the teacher marks it incorrect, the teacher is not touting an ideology; the teacher is just pointing to truth.
Tolle’s final arbiter of truth, however, is subjective experience. He purports that “the New Testament contains deep spiritual truth as well as distortions,” with the latter occurring because of “a misunderstanding of Jesus’ teaching” or “because people had an agenda,” but teaches that by accessing one’s “inner knowing,” one can “sense what is true and what was added on or distorted.”33
There are good reasons, however, to believe that the New Testament writers did not distort the teaching of Jesus. Since the writings of the New Testament can be dated prior to AD 70,34 it is not likely that the writers had an opportunity to distort either His teaching, or teachings about Him. Not enough time had elapsed between the events and the writing for that to occur, and many eyewitnesses to the ministry of Jesus would have been around to correct any distortions or myths.35
Tolle is also inconsistent in his own perspective on religion. He argues, on one hand, that those who make absolute truth-claims, like “only my belief” is true, are motivated by a deception of ideology. On the other hand, he asserts many absolute truth-claims in his own writings and teachings, including the truth-claim that those who make truth-claims are motivated by a deception of ideology! Tolle pronounces, moreover, that “millions are now ready to awaken because spiritual awakening is not an option anymore, but a necessity if humanity and the planet are to survive.”36
Tolle certainly has no way of validating the truth-claim that his teaching is the one truth that can bring mass spiritual enlightenment for all humanity. He may have the testimony of his obscure spiritual epiphany, but he has no objective means of verifying his truth-claim. Christians, however, readily point to credible historical evidence for the bodily resurrection of Jesus in support of their belief in Him as God and Messiah. Only Jesus’ resurrection can account for the remarkable New Testament departure of the people of God from observance of the Mosaic Law concerning animal sacrifice.37
The principal method Tolle uses to harmonize the Bible and Christian theology with other religions is an esoteric redefinition of terms based on his subjective experience. More directly, Tolle attempts to discern whatever “spiritual truth” is in a biblical passage by relying on an “inner knowing,” and this purely subjective knowing conforms to an Eastern spirituality—ideas drawn from Hinduism, Buddhism, Mind Sciences, and the New Age Movement. For example, the “new earth” (Rev. 21:1; cf. Isa. 65:17) is “the outer forms created by awakened doing.”38 The term “sin” is redefined as “to miss the point of human existence” (emphasis in original).39 Jesus’ words, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), are not a declaration of being humanity’s only means of entering into a relationship with the Almighty, but “the innermost I Am, the essence identity of every man and woman, every life-form, in fact.”40 Elsewhere, Tolle teaches on the “transformation of human consciousness” and makes the following error: “In Hindu teachings (and sometimes in Buddhism also), this transformation is called enlightenment. In the teachings of Jesus, it is salvation, and in Buddhism, it is the end of suffering. Liberation and awakening are other terms used to describe this transformation” (emphases in original).41
Tolle’s method of biblical interpretation is not new, as many cults follow the same pattern of twisting Scripture to accord with their heresies. His method, again, is to interpret whatever biblical text he encounters in such a way as to conform with his subjective views of his own experience, which are influenced by Eastern spirituality. Insofar as his method of biblical interpretation is driven by untestable subjectivity, there is no exegetical warrant to adopt his interpretations. In addressing a concerned student on her observation of discrepancies between his teaching and what she learned being brought up a Catholic, Tolle responds,
Well, religion can be an open doorway into spirituality, and religion can be a closed door. It prevents you from going deeper.…And when I went through this inner transformation, and for the first time accidentally I picked up a copy of the New Testament at my mother’s place.[sic] And I started reading and I immediately recognized the deep truths that is there, and I realize the truth that is deeper, that is expressed in what Jesus said, is much deeper than what you, how the church interprets it.[sic] There’s a depth to it. And it reflects your own depth when you read it. So there’s no conflict between this teaching, which is purely spiritual, and any religion….Because if you go deep enough in your religion, then you all get to the same place. It’s a question of going deeper, so there’s no conflict here.42
Tolle’s method of interpreting the Bible, then, begins with his “inner transformation,” which allows him to discover for the first time deeper truths than what the student or the church has ever understood. This spiritualizing of the text, he believes, prevents the Bible from conflicting with the teachings of other religions.
Sound hermeneutics, by contrast, requires the Bible student to discover the message that the inspired author intended to communicate to his original audience, which involves understanding what each passage meant within its original historical and grammatical context. Once the student discovers the objective interpretation, he or she can draw out a personal application.43 The spiritual message Tolle attempts to read into the biblical text, however, is utterly foreign to the first-century Jewish context of Jesus’ teachings and the inspired writings of the New Testament.44
AWAKENING TO MISS LIFE’S PURPOSE
Tolle’s teaching in general focuses on practical ways to identify the complex deceptions that the ego allegedly manufactures, offering spiritual exercises to awaken to a true consciousness. These spiritual exercises are not benign; rather, they reaffirm the practitioner’s belief in the erroneous aspects of his metaphysical worldview (e.g., monism, pantheism, and so forth), and consequently lead practitioners into adopting absurd solutions to real-life problems, ultimately missing out on the whole purpose of life in general.
One absurd solution to real-life problems derived from Tolle’s spirituality is the discouragement of rational thought. The quest to understand “Being,” according to Tolle, is already within one’s deepest self. “But don’t seek to grasp it with your mind,” he advises. “Don’t try to understand it. You can know it only when the mind is still. When you are present, when your attention is fully and intensely in the Now, Being can be felt, but it can never be understood mentally.”45 Apparently, thinking is “the root of the ego.”46
Another example of Tolle’s absurd solutions to real-life problems is seen in an aspect of the alleged ego called the “pain-body,” which dwells within each person. He teaches that this is a “semi-autonomous psychic entity,” which is formed by “negative emotions that were not faced, accepted, and then let go in the moment they arose” and are “stored in the cells of the body.”47 Tolle says there is also a “collective human pain-body containing the pain suffered by countless human beings throughout history.”48 He believes the “pain-body” is the source and cause of our negative experiences. For example,
When you realize that pain-bodies unconsciously seek more pain, that is to say, that they want something bad to happen, you will understand that many traffic accidents are caused by drivers whose pain-bodies are active at the time. When two drivers with active pain-bodies arrive at an intersection at the same time, the likelihood of an accident is many times greater than under normal circumstances. Unconsciously they both want the accident to happen.49
Tolle also believes that the active “pain-body” energy of one person can be transferred to another. He realized this through experiencing a series of events, which began with an intense counseling session with a female client with lots of emotional baggage. A few minutes after the session had ended and the woman left, a friend came into the room where the counseling took place and blurted, “The energy feels heavy and murky—it almost makes me feel sick. You need to open the windows, burn some incense.” Tolle later had dinner in a restaurant and witnessed an outburst by another patron. He then concluded, “I suspected that the universal human pain-body had come back to tell me, ‘You thought you defeated me. Look, I’m still here.’ I also considered the possibility that the released energy field left behind after our session followed me to the restaurant and attached itself to the one person in whom it found a compatible vibrational frequency, that is to say, a heavy pain-body.”50
If one grants the plausibility of a worldview like Tolle’s in which God is indistinguishable from the universe, perhaps something like a pain-body hypothesis has some explanatory power. As we have seen, however, such a worldview is wholly incompatible with a biblical worldview and cannot stand up to the harsh light of reason. Without such a pantheistic monism in which to adhere, Tolle’s pain-body hypothesis has no credible rationale to commend it. It seems instead simply fanciful.
The way Tolle describes the activity of the “pain-body” also creates a confusing system of ethics, particularly in the way one determines right and wrong, as well as reward and punishment. After posing the question, “Does this mean that people are not responsible for what they do when possessed by the pain-body?” Tolle answers, “How can they be? How can you be responsible when you are unconscious, when you don’t know what you are doing? However, in the greater scheme of things, human beings are meant to evolve into conscious beings, and those who don’t will suffer the consequences of their unconsciousness. They are out of alignment with the evolutionary impulse of the universe.”51 Tolle’s answer is a paradox: because people who are governed by the “pain-body” are unconscious of reality, they cannot be held responsible for what the “pain-body” makes them do; nonetheless, they will continue to suffer the consequences of their unconscious actions until they learn their lesson and become conscious.
Tolle therefore sees the “pain-body” playing a role in enlightenment. He reasons, “When you can’t stand the endless cycle of suffering anymore, you begin to awaken. So the pain-body too has its necessary place in the larger picture.”52 The “pain-body,” then, is a source of traumatic experiences, but also part of the process of awakening to the truth.
Since Tolle’s monistic and pantheistic universe is untenable, no good reason exists for one to think that life’s purpose is to employ Tolle’s spiritual techniques to detach oneself from the illusion of the self (i.e., one’s thoughts, feelings, memories, individuality, relationships, and social status) to awaken to the ultimate reality of Being. Commitment to his false spiritual quest is missing life’s purpose. The Christian, however, can look to the certainty of the resurrection of Jesus Christ as evidence of the truthfulness of His message. Christ taught that life’s ultimate purpose is to enter by faith into a relationship with God through the way He forged via His own death and resurrection. Becoming a redeemed creation eternally worshipping the Creator is what God intended from the beginning.
Warren G. Nozaki received his M.Div. from Talbot School of Theology and is a research specialist at the Christian Research Institute (CRI). This article was first published in booklet form for CRI under the title of Paradise Still Lost in a New Earth: Exposing the Errors of Eckhart Tolle (Charlotte, NC: Christian Research Institute, 2008).
1 Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Spiritual Guide to Enlightenment (Novato, CA: New World Library, 2004).
2 Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose (New York: Plume, 2005).
3 “Biography,” Eckhart Teachings, http://eckharttolle.com/eckhart_biography, accessed March 28, 2008.
4 Tolle, A New Earth, back cover; cf. “Biography,” Eckhart Teachings.
5 “Biography,” Eckhart Teachings.
6 Kathy Juline, “The Presence of Now,” News, Interviews, Eckhart Teachings, http://eckharttolle.com/interviews_74, accessed March 28, 2008.
7 “Biography,” Eckhart Teachings.
8 “A New Earth Online Class: Chapter 1 Transcript,” Book Club, A New Earth, Oprah.com, http://images.oprah.com/images/obc_classic/book/2008/anewearth/ ane_chapter1_transcript.pdf, accessed March 28, 2008. As of this writing, A New Earth is number one on the New York Times Paperback Advice “Best Sellers” list and has been on the list for nine weeks; Tolle’s The Power of Now is number two on the same list and has been on the list for twenty-four weeks (http://www.nytimes.com/ 2008/03/ 30/books/bestseller/0330bestpaperadvice.html, accessed April 10, 2008).
9 Tolle, A New Earth, 27–28.
10 Ibid., 28.
11 Tolle explains in A New Earth that the ego is conditioned by past events consisting of “content” and “structure” (p. 34). The “content” aspect of the ego is conditioned by “environment,” “upbringing, and surrounding culture” (34), whereas the “structure” aspect of the ego brings the self into existence via identification with things (material and immaterial) (35), the body (gender identity, fitness, appearance, etc.) (49–52), and thought forms (thoughts and emotions) (53–54).
12 Tolle, A New Earth, 56–57.
13 Ibid., 3–4.
14 Eckhart Tolle, “You Are Not Your Mind,” News, Interviews, Eckhart Teachings, http://eckharttolle.com/interviews_72, accessed March 28, 2008.
15 God’s immanence refers to His “presence and activity within nature, human nature, and history” (Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology [Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1985], 302).
16 That God is transcendent means that He is superior to, separate from, and independent of creation (Erickson, 312).
17 Pantheism comes from the Greek words pan (all) and theos (God). For a pantheist, “God ‘is all in all.’ God pervades all things, contains all things, subsumes all things, and is found within all things. Nothing exists apart from God, and all things are in some way identified with God. The world is God, and God is the world. But more precisely, in pantheism all is God, and God is all” (Norman Geisler, Encyclopedia of Apologetics [Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999], 580).
18 Tolle, A New Earth, 219.
19 Ibid., 291. Tolle explains that the universe evolves over time and becomes conscious, though consciousness itself underlies the universe and is timeless and unchanging.
20 Tolle, “You Are Not Your Mind.”
22 See Tolle, A New Earth, 56–57.
23 The Scriptures attest to these attributes of God. He created the universe (Gen. 1:1; John 1:1–4), He is eternal (Col. 1:17), He is all-powerful (Ps. 147:5; Job. 11:7–9), He is all-knowing (Rom. 11:33), He is all-loving (1 John 4:7–10), and He is everywhere present (1 Kings 8:27; Isa. 40:12; 55:8–9; 66:1–2).
24 Tolle, A New Earth, 6.
25 Ibid., 70.
26 Ibid., 14–15.
27 Ibid., 16–17. Tolle also appears to incorporate terms and concepts from other world religions to describe the meticulous architecture of his belief system; however, he often abandons their original meaning (see discussion under “Scripture Twisting”).
28 Ibid., 15.
29 “A New Earth Online Class: Chapter 1 Transcript,” Oprah.com.
30 Monotheism holds that there is only one infinite, transcendent, eternal, almighty, perfect, and personal God, who alone created and sustains the world. Though God transcends the creation, He is also immanent in that He interacts with the creation.
31 Within the Being of the one true God exist three eternally distinct and coequal Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three Persons are the one true God.
32 For more on the incompatibility among the teachings of world religions, see Hank Hanegraaff, The Bible Answer Book (Nashville: J. Countryman, 2004); and James Sire, The Universe Next Door, 4th ed. (Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004).
33 “Dear Eckhart,” Eckhart Teachings, http://eckharttolle.com/dear_eckhart_28, accessed March 28, 2008.
34 Cf. John A. T. Robinson, Redating the New Testament (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2000).
35 For more on the reliability of the New Testament, see Gary Habermas, The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1996), Darrell L. Bock, Jesus according to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002), and Michael J. Wilkins and J. P. Moreland, Jesus under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995).
36 Eckhart Tolle, “The One Thing,” Books, A New Earth, Eckhart Teachings, http://eckharttolle.com/a_new_earth, accessed March 28, 2008.
37 See Hank Hanegraaff, Resurrection (Nashville: Word Publishing, 2000).
38 Kathy Juline, “Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose,” News, Interviews, Eckhart Teachings, http://eckharttolle.com/interviews_68, accessed March 28, 2008.
39 Tolle, A New Earth, 9.
40 Ibid., 71.
41 Ibid., 13.
42 “A New Earth Online Class: Chapter 1 Transcript.”
43 For further study, see Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003); Walter Russell, Playing with Fire: How the Bible Ignites Change in Your Soul (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2000); and R. C. Sproul, Knowing Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1977). See also Hank Hanegraaff, The Apocalypse Code (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007).
44 For further study, see Habermas, The Historical Jesus; Bock, Jesus according to Scripture; and Wilkins and Moreland, Jesus under Fire.
45 Tolle, “You Are Not Your Mind.”
46 Tolle, A New Earth, 55.
47 “A New Earth Online Class: Chapter 2 Transcript,” Book Club, A New Earth, Oprah.com, http://images.oprah.com/images/obc_classic/book/2008/anewearth/ ane_chapter2_transcript.pdf, accessed March 28, 2008.
48 Juline, “Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.”
49 Tolle, A New Earth, 162–63.
50 Ibid., 164–68.
51 Ibid., 163.
52 Ibid., 164.