There has been much virtual ink spilled over Eckhart Tolle’s book, A New Earth, as of late, and the majority of it has to do Oprah’s endorsement of the book in her online course which has over two million students. Now I admit that I have made statements to the effect of brushing off Oprah, because I honestly do not see her as a major threat to Christianity. That being said, there are some who are definitely influenced by her brand of feel-good self-help advice meets pop psychology meets spiritual fad of the month entertainment. The frustrating thing to me is that I think it has been hard to find a response to Oprah that didn’t go over the top by spouting off lines to the effect of calling Oprah the anti-Christ and being part of a vast, global conspiracy. So anytime I see a review on the blogosphere that contains real and helpful information, I take note of it.
Greg Boyd, the pastor of Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, MN has written a review of Tolle’s book, that I believe is a good example of how to approach these sort of things. First, most importantly, Boyd does something that should be common sense, but he actually read the book himself before writing about it. Secondly, Boyd refrains from making an ad hominem attacks on either Oprah or Tolle. Third, he does a thorough review of the points in the book, and points out both good and bad.
In the end, Boyd’s see the book as potentially dangerous and deceiving, and he advises caution should people choose to read it. Here is Boyd’s summary about Oprah and the book:
I am left, then, with deep concerns about this book and with the fact that Oprah (who explicitly identifies herself as Christian) is so enthusiastically supporting it. Again, I’m not denying there are some very good insights in this book. Nor am I joining the rank of those who are castigating Oprah as the new pastor of a new, heretical, internet “mega-church” or “cult.” I believe both Oprah and Tolle mean well and are sincerely trying to help people improve their lives. But I am nonetheless very concerned that the masterful way Tolle identifies and diagnoses the struggles we all wrestle with will make readers more gullible in accepting the strongly anti-Christian religious belief system he’s intentionally or unintentionally slipping in the back door.
To me this is an example of how Christians should approach discernment. If it is done in a reasonable fashion without resorting to hysterics and conspiritorial thinking, it seems like it has a much greater chance of being listened to.