Sunday, May 4, 2008

Oprah's and Eckhart's New Earth

I thought the last post about Oprah would be the last. I lied unknowingly, but I feel the need for one more post on this subject, and then onto the Catholic Church.

First let me explain what I've decided my response to Oprah should be. I feel it important to think on because already, I've had a Christian woman ask me if I think Eckhart Tolle's book(s) would be beneficial to her life and should she read them. If I remember correctly, Oprah claims her web class membership is in the millions. And furthermore, Oprah has been, to an extent, open about her beliefs to the public, not only open but she tends to share and teach others what she learns. It's our responsibility as Christians to listen, consider, and compare what she shares to what we believe. The problem is, I'm not sure we're very good at listening and considering. What I think we're good at is reacting. Which is very different and usually gets us into trouble.

The non-believing world often sees Christians as close-minded, judgmental, arrogant, dogmatic, and mean-spirited. Some of those accusations we won't ever be able to deny. We are dogmatic. To an extent, we have to be. We do have to exercise judgment and discernment as necessary in defending our faith. But I don't believe we have to be close-minded to do it. I believe we can consider with an open mind the ideas of someone who believes differently. Open-minded doesn't mean foolish. It means being able to listen, consider, understand. We certainly don't have to be arrogant or mean-spirited. When we are presented with views that differ from ours, we don't have to scream and pout and make a fuss. We need to be rational and level-headed. We don't need to be afraid of a differing belief. And we certainly don't need to exclude any person from our lives just because they believe differently than we do.

I don't care one way or another if a Christian watches Oprah or not. It's up to the individual. I like her show. I'll keep watching it.

Oprah calls herself a free-thinking Christian. She believes there are many ways to finding God. To me that sounds as if she believes there are many ways of salvation, and as Christians we believe Christ is the only way of salvation. To say you believe in Christ (to call yourself a Christian) but also believe in multiple ways to God tells me you're confused about what Christianity actually teaches. It tells me you're confused about what the Incarnation and the Son of God's sacrifice actually means. To me, she seems like a powerful woman searching for truth. I sincerely hope she finds it. If I were her, I'd be careful about searching in front of the whole world, and I think one day she might be held accountable for that.... But because she does claim to be a Christian, I can't go any further in discerning what her beliefs are in their totality until we sit down to coffee and talk. Maybe one day. Who knows?

I had actually planned on relaying some of Eckhart Tolle's novel. Why I think his book is not worth reading. Didn't get to it. There might have to be a Part II here.


Chaotic Hammer said...

I like your approach on this.

I think the need to micromanage every little thing that every person believes is a waste of energy in the life of a Christian. It comes across as petty and small, and seems to contain the underlying message that if we don't carefully control all information out there, then God Himself is not able to overcome the lies and falsehood by virtue of His inherent Truth.

There are no other gods. None. If someone is naming the name of a false god but really seeking to know the True God, then we have to trust that He is in control enough to bring them to a knowledge of Himself. It will be in His time, and by His Spirit.

Of course this doesn't mean we ever compromise one iota on what the Truth is. We know Him personally, and seek to make Him known to everyone. When asked about it, we are instructed to be prepared to tell people about our hope in Jesus. We want to accurately tell about Him in accordance with the teaching of Scripture, and trust Him to be the power behind the Truth in what we say. The Bible teaches that there is power in the Gospel and in the name of Jesus.

We trust Him in our own lives because He keeps drawing us to Himself, and over time we see how He didn't give up on us when we were in error, or when we didn't know or understand Him yet. We need to give up "control" in other people's lives, and let Him work on their hearts just like He does on ours.

"Preach the Gospel at all times -- if necessary, use words."

FancyPants said...

Well said, C-ham. And I agree.

I'm off topic a little here, but to add to what you were saying: Sharing the gospel with someone means loving them where they're at in their lives. The unbelieving, the unsaved, the believing, the saved. I think we forget that sometimes. And that means actually sharing something of yourself with them. Your time and friendship are the most valuable of gifts. Jesus says, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." The Son of God walked on this earth and made the twelve his friends.

Interesting that Jesus didn't begin his ministry by first telling his disciples that he was the Son of God. Too much to handle for these God-fearing Jews, I'm sure. He let it be gradual. He lived with them and ate with them and healed with them and performed miracles, walked on water. Ever so often saying strange things he really shouldn't be saying, like claiming to have the power to forgive sins. Until he lets them tell him. Finally asking his disciples, "Who do you say that I am?," Peter replies, ""You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

For those who have no faith or have faith in a different "god," we should meet them with the same love that Jesus had toward those he walked with. If God-made-flesh walked a lifetime with sinners, certainly we, once sinners now made worthy only by His grace, can do the same.

Steve Glover said...

You wrote:

"We do have to exercise judgment and discernment as necessary in defending our faith. But I don't believe we have to be close-minded to do it. I believe we can consider with an open mind the ideas of someone who believes differently. Open-minded doesn't mean foolish. It means being able to listen, consider, understand."

THat is a great point that I hope more Christians today will hear and ingest!
Consider Paul's "open-mindedness" in Acts 17.

Here's an apostle preaching Jesus and repentance in Athens, Greece..
He is confronted by a group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers.
He then proceeds to communicate the gospel through the lens of their culture,using examples of the "unknown god" and mention of their own poetry.
What a great example of being open to the thoughts of others to lead them to ultimate Truth in a respectful an loving approach!

FancyPants said...

Steve, welcome. I love that passage in Acts. I think it's key in showing us how to share and defend our faith. I think it's also key to look at the difference in how Paul explains our faith to the Jews, and then to the Greek philosophers. In the Jewish synagogues, Paul "reasoned with them from the Scriptures." Not so with the Greek philosophers. As you have already mentioned, he starts at what they know, through the lens of their culture.

To someone who does not hold belief in the Scriptures, I believe it's important to communicate to them first through a different lens, then show and include the Scriptures at the appropriate time, when they are willing to receive it. Some are willing to listen to it and consider it earlier than others.