The Great Heretical Idea:
Oprah and Eckhart Do the New Age Shift
“There are many such people in the world now – teachers and messengers, Masters and visionaries – who are placing this vision before humankind and offering tools with which to create it. These messengers and visionaries are the heralds of a New Age.” [bold added]
Neale Donald Walsch
Friendship With God
“This book’s main purpose is not to add new information or beliefs to your mind or to try to convince you of anything, but to bring about a shift in consciousness, that is to say, to awaken…. It will change your state of consciousness or it will be meaningless. It can only awaken those who are ready. Not everyone is ready yet, but many are, and with each person who awakens, the momentum in the collective consciousness grows, and it becomes easier for others.” [bold added]
A New Earth
The Power of Now
I stared at the huge stack of books in the Barnes & Noble bookstore. The title of the book was A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life Purpose. The title sounded like a new book by Purpose-Driven pastor Rick Warren, but it was actually the latest selection in Oprah’s Book Club. A colorful orange and blue paper band around the book invited the reader to “Join Oprah and Eckhart for a worldwide web event… Every Monday night beginning March 3, 2008 for 10 weeks… Register at Oprah.com/anewearth.” A personal message from Oprah stated: “Get ready to be awakened.”
It was clear to me that Oprah was no longer content to just popularize New Age beliefs, she would now teach them. This was a bold move by a woman who was obviously willing to do everything in her power – which is considerable – to convert the world to her New Age worldview.
With friend and New Age author Marianne Williamson simultaneously teaching A Course in Miracles daily on Oprah & Friends XM Satellite Radio, Oprah now offers two very public New Age classes. These classes are teaching millions of people that the way to save themselves and the planet is not by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, but rather by accepting “the Christ within.” For someone who probably has an aversion to traditional proselytizing, Oprah is giving new meaning to the word “proselytize” as she continues to push her New Age beliefs upon the world. But, in defense of her role as a New Age proselytizer, Oprah would probably be the first to tell you – it’s all for the good of the world. She would also probably argue that what she is teaching is not New Age, but a “New Spirituality.” Curiously, that just happens to be the same term that some emerging church leaders like Brian McLaren are using as they introduce New Age ideas and language into the church.
Oprah can call her New Age teachings whatever she wants, but she and her ever-growing band of New Age colleagues are still teaching that “we are all one” because we are all “God” and “Christ.” As Marianne Williamson writes, “We are all one, we are love itself. ‘Accepting the Christ’ is merely a shift in self-perception.”
The “shift” Williamson, Oprah and Tolle describe is “awakening” to the “Christ within” and the “God within.” “Shift” is the key word. It means to move from one position to another – as in shifting one’s awareness away from the mind and “ego” to the collective “Christ consciousness” or “Christ within.” And, as in shifting your belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior to a New Age belief in the “Christ within.” With her New Age classrooms on satellite radio, and now on the Internet, Oprah apparently feels an urgency to teach everyone how to “awaken” and make this “shift” to the “Christ” within. With her Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) kicking in next year we can expect to see her New Age views showcased on an even grander scale.
In her first class with Eckhart Tolle, Oprah asked if people had experienced the “shift” while reading Tolle’s book, A New Earth. The question reminded me of Werner Erhard’s New Age EST program in the 1970s that taught this same idea of shifting one’s perception, and then similarly asking – “Did you get IT?” Obviously, there is pressure to “get IT” – to feel the shift: Oprah felt the shift – did you? Are you understanding this new [age] way of looking at yourself and the world? Or, are you being blocked by your mind and your ego from seeing this New Spirituality that can save our planet? Keep logging onto our classes. Keep reading Tolle’s book – you’ll ‘get it.’
Years earlier, when launching the New Age movement publicly with her book The Aquarian Conspiracy, Marilyn Ferguson introduced this concept of the “shift,” connecting it to the mystical ideas of Teilhard de Chardin – the father of the New Age movement – “whose new perspective would trigger a critical contagion of change” which would result in the “rapid transformation of the human species, beginning with a vanguard” of emerging leaders. She explained how scientist-philosopher Thomas Kuhn coined the term “paradigm shift” to describe “a distinctly new way of thinking” which entailed accepting new truths. When “the new paradigm gains ascendance” and “a critical number of thinkers has accepted the new idea, a collective paradigm shift has occurred.” Ferguson said the “shift” would result in a “new knowing” of the occult world called an “awakening” of “deep inner shifts.”
Evolve or Die
Tolle’s book A New Earth – like A Course in Miracles and other New Age teachings – exploits the idea that the world is at a crisis point and insists that we must “spiritually evolve” as a species to avoid personal and planetary disaster. According to New Age leaders like Tolle, spiritually evolving means “shifting” or converting to the heretical belief that we are all “God” and that we are all “Christ.”
In both his book and his class with Oprah, Tolle reiterated the words that New Age leader Barbara Marx Hubbard was given by her New Age “Christ” – “evolve or die.” In other words, don’t feel any pressure, but if you don’t “shift” your point of view, and “get it” that “we are all one” and that “we are all God,” our planet will probably be destroyed and our human species will become extinct.
Tolle and Oprah stayed away from the harsher aspects of this “evolve or die” dictate in that first Internet class. Hubbard, however, has made it clear that in the future, those who refuse to make the “shift” by seeing themselves as “God” will be eliminated by something called “the selection process.” Hubbard, who is highly respected by her New Age colleagues, claims that her “Christ” has laid out an Armageddon alternative peace plan to save the planet. This peace plan is predicated on accepting the “shift” in consciousness that Oprah and Tolle (and other New Age leaders) are teaching – the “shift” to the Christ within.
Hubbard’s New Age view of the future inspired her to be one of the co-founders of the World Future Society and she is currently listed as a member of its Global Advisory Council. Emergent leader at the “vanguard” of church “transformation,” Brian McLaren, has also written about an Armageddon alternative  and just happens to be one of the featured speakers at the upcoming World Future Society’s annual gathering.
Surprised by the Truth
In describing their New Age/New Spirituality “shift” and the necessity for everyone to spiritually evolve, Eckhart Tolle erroneously states that once you “awaken” to your Christ-consciousness and your own godhood, the shift is “irreversible.” What he neglects to take into account is that there are large numbers of us who formerly made the “shift” to these New Age beliefs only to discover – by the grace of God – that we had been greatly deceived by these New Age teachings. The Bible proved itself to be true as it exposed the New Age/New Spirituality for what it was – a lie. It was very humbling for us to realize that the Bible was true after all, and our New Age beliefs were wrong. God was God and we were not. Jesus was the one and only Christ. There was no universal “Christ-consciousness” or “Christ within.” We were amazed to discover that there really was a deceptive spirit world and an actual devil; that we really were sinners that needed to be saved by Jesus Christ. What we came to understand was that the whole New Age plan to save the world was part of the very deception that Jesus warned would come at the time of the end (Matthew 24). We were stunned by the truth of the Bible and shocked at our own gullibility to have believed that we were “God” and “Christ.” We had been very sincere about our New Age beliefs, but we were sincerely wrong – as are Oprah and Tolle.
The New Age paradigm “shift” is a deceptive device that is being cleverly used by a very real spiritual Adversary who is out to deceive the world. One of the definitions of “shift” in Webster’s Dictionary is “a deceitful scheme or method; a trick.” The New Age/New Spirituality “shift” advocated by Oprah and Tolle is such a “shift.” It is, in every sense of the word, diabolically “shifty.”
To be continued. . . .
1. Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose (New York: Plume, 2005), paper band encircling book.
2. Neale Donald Walsch, Friendship with God: an uncommon dialogue (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1999), p. 295-6.
3. Tolle, A New Earth, p. 6-7.
4. Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment (Novato, CA: Namaste, 1999), p. 104.
5. Brian McLaren, quote cited in Faith Undone by Roger Oakland (Silverton, OR: Lighthouse Trails, 2007), p. 11.
6. Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles (New York: Harper Perennial, 1996), p. 32.
7. Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy: Personal and Social Transformation in the 1980s (Los Angeles: J.P. Tarcher, 1980), pp. 25-32.
8. Tolle, A New Earth, p. 21. Barbara Marx Hubbard lecture at Texas A & M University, September 11, 2002, information taken from The Aggie Daily, September 12, 2002. Warren Smith, Reinventing Jesus Christ: The New Gospel (Ravenna, OH: Conscience Press, 2002), pp. 16, 19.
9. Smith, Ibid.
10. “WorldFuture 2008: Seeing the Future Through New Eyes,” World Future Society conference brochure, http://www.wfs.org/March-April08/WF2008_preliminary.pdf
11. Brian McLaren, The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth that Could Change Everything (Nashville, TN: W Publishing Group, 2006), p. 175.
12. Tolle, The New Earth, p. 7.
13. Websters New World Dictionary (New York: Websters New World Dictionaries, 1988).
Warren Smith is the author of Deceived on Purpose: The New Age Implications of the Purpose-Driven Church, The Light that was Dark: From the New Age to Amazing Grace and Reinventing Jesus Christ: The New Gospel.