Chapter By Chapter Critique of “A New Earth”

While surfing the web I ran across a group of Christians who are doing a weekly, chapter by chapter review of Eckhart Tolle’s book “A New Earth” that sheds some down to earth Christian insight on the subject. They have graciously given me permission to reproduce their findings on this site. The author of their commentary is called “Stushie” and the website is located at http://stushie.wordpress.com/

“Stushie” is Rev. John Stuart who began his pastoral ministry at Erin in 1995. A native of Scotland, he and his wife Evelyn became US citizens in the summer of 2001. Rev. Stuart grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, and served several small churches in S.W. Scotland before accepting the call to Erin. He and Evelyn have two daughters: Lynsey, a graduate student at Virginia Tech, and Lauren, an undergraduate student at UT Knoxville.

The first installment of their collective commentary (italics are mine) is as follows:

Chapter One
Page 1: Tolle begins with his opinion about what happened on earth 114 million years ago. Obviously because he wasn’t there, this is just his opinion. This sets the tone for the whole book: he is making up his own reality about the world. Tolle suggests that there was no perceiving consciousness to witness the flowering of the world: in other words, God was not there and doesn’t seem to exist for Tolle.

Page 2: Tolle writes that flowers were the first things that human beings were drawn and fascinated to, outside of themselves – but where did that facility to be fascinated originate? From the flowers? From human beings? Or endowed by the Creator in our DNA? He also states that Jesus told us to contemplate the flowers and learn from them how to live. When Jesus taught His “Consider the Lilies” lesson, He was using it to express our dependency on the providence and mercy of God. The parable is not about us – it’s about God. (Note: Tolle will often use Christ’s teachings to express his own opinions, and not those of Jesus Himself.) Flowers lead us to an appreciation of our own inner beauty. This will be a common theme throughout the book. This is spiritual narcissism – the love of ourselves as the source of our spirituality. This seriously opposes our love, wonder, and fascination with God.

Page 3: Flowers are messengers from another realm…and fragrance comes from the realm of the spirit. This sounds like New Age stuff. He widens the conventional accepted meaning of ‘enlightenment’ to incorporate his own ideas…and yet his teaching is unconventional. Tolle: enlightenment brings about discontinuity with the old, helping us leap beyond the past into experiencing a new evolved level of Being and Self Awareness . Christian teaching would suggest that enlighten is the process by which we are over-awed with the wonder of God and attracted to Him. Tolle is substituting our own self-awareness in place of becoming truly aware of God.

Page 4: Tolle talks about One Life, One Consciousness. This is not original. This is more Jungian (Carl Jung) than Tollian. Tolle emphasizes “Presence” – Hebrews would call this shekinah – the glory of God, the sacredness of His presence. Tolle believes that we recognize this Presence within us and love it as ourselves. Once again, God is being displaced in favor of narcissism.

Page 5: Mainly deals with enlightenment in a Buddhist way of thinking. Tolle states that the Holy Spirit is preparing the ground for a planetary shift of consciousness. This is very serious because this is blasphemy. The purpose of the Holy Spirit is to reveal Christ to the world, not to bring about an evolutionary consciousness.

Page 6: Tolle references Jesus as a great teacher and messenger. He will very rarely use the term Christ and never refer to Jesus as the Son of God. Tolle also infers that Christ’s ministry was a failure because of the opposition to Him. His teachings did not transform many lives…and yet there are about 2 billion followers of Christ in today’s world. Tolle describes his book as a ‘transformational device, he is trying to canonize his own text. Reading the book will transform you….this is a frequent mantra in the book.

Page 7: This book is about you. Tolle stroking the ego of his readers to gain their patronage and appreciation. Narcissism. In contrast, the Bible is not about you…it’s about God. Tolle states that the book can only awaken those who are ready….this is the old Emperor’s New Clothes argument. Begins to write about ego – becoming Freudian and will start to apply pseudo-psychology here. Tolle states that the ego tricks the mind into identifying with it with no flexibility…this is going to morph into an argument against absolutes and Truth.

Page 8: Author suggests that when we triumph over ego, we become the light of consciousness – in other words, we are the light that we are looking for. In contrast, Jesus would say that we are the Light of the world and that he is the Light we are looking for. Tolle begins to reference religions as ancient…by implication, he is suggesting that they are outdated, instead of timelessly relevant. He also begins to reference his idea that sin is a madness, a dysfunction of who we truly are.

Page 9: Equates sin with dysfunction, it is not a selfish choice. He also interprets the NT Greek word “sin” as something that means missing the point of our human existence. This shows his shallowness of New Testament knowledge. The word for sin actually means to miss the mark – standard or expectation – that God has set for us. It’s not about our human existence; it’s about disappointing God.

Page 10: SIN = MADNESS…which will mean that we are not personally accountable for our sinful actions. This is New Age Narcissism. Tolle begins the old argument that religion breeds violence and conflicts.

Page 11: Talks about the horrors of Stalin, Hitler and Pol Phot – Agreed. He also emphasizes the environmental wreckage of the planet that is brought about by our greed.

Page 12: Fear, greed, and the desire for power are the psychological forces that cause most conflicts. Tolle believes that they cause a misconception and distortion of our true human perception. Dysfunction entirely replaces sin. Tolle suggests that we cannot get rid of this dysfunction without a shift in our consciousness. This means that there is no room for Christ as our Savior.

Page 13: We cannot be good by trying to be good; we can only do this by finding the good within ourselves. This opposes Christ’s teaching: only God is good. For Tolle, there is no source of good outside of us…therefore Man replaces God. Tolle: Good News – radical transformation of human consciousness. He is deliberately using the Gospel term to proclaim his own philosophy. This is in direct contrast to Christian teaching and promotes a false gospel. Tolle suggests that Jesus called enlightenment ‘salvation.’ Tolle: salvation is truly understanding yourself….but for Christ salvation is the realization of needing to be rescued from God’s wrath and the process through Christ’s sacrifice in which it is done.

Page 14: Self-recognition is the greatest human achievement — narcissism all over again. Recognizing our insanity/dysfunction is the beginning of healing and transcendence….Jesus is kicked into the gutter and the Cross is absolutely useless.

Page 15: Tolle writes about the original teachings of religious leaders being changed through the generations and were not part of the original ministry. He is subtly attacking the veracity of the Gospels. He furthers expresses his own opinion that the unpopularity of the teachers’ teaching got them killed, which made others worship them as gods. This is an attack on Christ’s ministry of atonement through sacrifice and His divinity as the Son of God. Tolle also states that religions are more divisive than unifying – that’s an old argument which doesn’t hold water. Religions unify millions upon millions of people. Tolle then expresses his rejection of some being right and others wrong. This is the modern non-absolutionists’ argument…there are no rights or wrongs…Goes against Gospel teaching. Tolle suggests that Man made God in his image. Humanism. This is a direct attack on our Creator. He suggests that we have reduced the infinite and un-nameable to a mental idol. Christians, however, worship God as Christ’s Father.

Page 16: Tolle writes that the real message is the truth that lies within us…narcissism again. As opposed to Christ being The Truth. Tolle references Gnosticism as a rediscovery of the real truth and intensification of the light. Obviously, he has not read the texts and is caught up in a false Da Vinci Code moment. Gnosticism is emphasized as a true realization and inner transformation of self…and yet they rejected the physical self and believed that the body is bad.

Page 17: Tolle belabors the point that only a small minority had access to these truths because the Church oppressed and suppressed them. Obviously he hasn’t read the history of Gnosticism and its cultic practices. Tolle extols the differences between spirituality and religion. This is what Christ also taught, BUT Jesus did not abandon His religion – He still went to synagogue to teach and to worship on the Sabbath. Tolle suggests that our religious beliefs systems separate us from the spiritual dimensions within ourselves…Tolle is subtly enticing people away from God…our spiritual navels are more important that our relationship with God.

Page 18: Tolle writes about new spirituality movements arising out of the existing religious structures…for example, the New Emergent Church in Christianity. Tolle describes the Western Church as the most mind dominated faith on the planet…he is going to equate this with egotism. He does not however, suggest that the Church’s domination saved civilization and actually engendered enlightenment. Begins to state the old New Age argument that ancient Eastern wisdom is beginning to influence the West, as if the Eastern ways were better….but look at the state of most countries with Eastern wisdom…they are practically the poorest and most oppressed on earth! Did Eastern wisdom spawn documents like the Magna Carta or Declaration of Independence? Liberty and life are more valued in Western Church countries than in Eastern wisdom nations. Tolle suggests that we let go of dogma in order to discover the true spiritual depth within ourselves…in other words experience spiritual narcissism over the teachings of the Church.

Page 19: Any opposition to Tolle new transformational conscious is called the ‘entrenchment of ego.’ He is stating that institutionalized religion is about idolizing the institution, but he has missed the point altogether. Religious institutions normally exist to serve God, not the believer. Tolle writes that the collective ego will fight back…in other words, churches will oppose his philosophy. They will be mentally closed to his ideas…no, we disagree with them. It comes down to this: whom do we trust? Tolle and Oprah, or Christ and God? Tolle declares that religious institutions will disintegrate from within…but we’ve heard this all before – Voltaire & the French Revolution, as well as Soviet Communism (which lasted 100 years), but the Church still survives and thrives. Atheism & New Age keep declaring the death of God and the Church…but the fact is this: the Church is still growing worldwide.

Page 20: Tolle argues that through the process of evolution, species & life forms will either become extinct or rise above their limitations…to survive requires an evolutionary leap. He writes about evolutionary processes…but these are physical changes, not spiritual ones.

Page 21: Tolle’s controversial statement about spiritually evolving or dying – This is fascism…submit or die…spiritual eugenics. He then claims that he is not promoting a new belief system…but that is precisely what he and Oprah are establishing.

Page 22: Tolle urges his readers not to take their identity from the old ways of consciousness. Yet Christians belong to Christ. Our spiritual identity is established in Him. Tolle is subtly arguing that we ditch Christ for ourselves. Tolle then questions the reality of evil. It’s a matter of dysfunction and madness for him. If evil is not real according to Tolle, then Christ is the Savior of nothing and His death is meaningless.

Page 23: Tolle states that he took the title of his book from scriptural references…Isaiah 65:17 and Revelation 21:1. He argues that the new heaven and new earth represent his transformational consciousness as reflected in the physical realm. He believes that this is what Christ taught…that the new heaven and new earth are not places, but new transformational ideas. However, both scriptures emphasize places…
Isaiah 65:17-18 Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.
Revelation 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.
Tolle is falsely advocating his view as being the same as Christ’s. He ends the chapter with a suggestion that human life and human consciousness are intrinsically one with the planet…but this is not what Genesis teaches. Tolle suggestion is perhaps borrowed more from the movie “Excalibur,” when the secret of the Holy Grail is discovered…that Arthur and the Land are one.

Chapter Two is at this link:

http://stushie.wordpress.com/2008/05/12/a-new-earth-part-2/

Chapter Three is at this link:

http://stushie.wordpress.com/2008/05/19/a-new-earth-part-3/

Chapter Four is at this link:

https://stushie.wordpress.com/2008/05/30/a-new-earth-part-4/

Chapter Five is at this link:

https://stushie.wordpress.com/2008/07/01/a-new-earth-chapter-five/

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Follower of Jesus, married with 5 grown up children, 6 grand children, ex-military and residing in beautiful Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. a.k.a. "Papa"

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Posted in Christian, Eckhart Tolle, New Age, Religion
9 comments on “Chapter By Chapter Critique of “A New Earth”
  1. Katie says:

    this is very extensive! Did you read the book? I have a friend that is following this book very closely and I am concerned for her. I said I would read it with her not really knowing anything about the book. I have not yet touched it but instead have researched it on the internet to see what fellow Christians say it is all about. I am now myself concerned to read it because I don’t want this own poison in my own mind; however, my concern for her and wanting to show her biblical truth to what is said in the other book makes me wonder if I should have some knowledge of what this book is all about. So I guess my question is, if you read the book, did it affect you spiritually/how did it affect you spiritually? thanks

    Katie

  2. Bruce says:

    Hi Katie,

    I have a suggestion, you will note that there are a couple of chapter by chapter critiques of “A New Earth” on this blog. You could do the week to week reviews along with the reading of “A New Earth” with your friend. That way you could have the advantage of having access to what I consider a balanced response to the book from a Christian perspective but at the same time, you both could gain some first hand experience of why it is so important to understand what the Bible does say and how easily one can be lead away from the truth if there is no such understanding of the truth in God’s Word. I am assuming that you are a young adult. If you are younger, I would recommend doing the reading with a Christian adult that you feel comfortable with. And, a prayer for some guidance on how to safely go forward with this would be a prudent step too. And to answer your question, no, I see no reason to fear this book, just be aware of what Eckhart Tolle says and what God’s Word says. Some of this discussion can get pretty heavy, so doing a chapter a week is a nice pace. Hope that helps.

  3. beyondfaith says:

    Hey Katie!

    I am in the process of reading the book and reviewing it on my site. By itself, the book is not “that bad” if it was just sitting on the new age shelf at your nearest bookstore. It would not have gotten much notice because, honestly, it is nothing new that has not been covered many times before by various new age writers and in the same light none of them have ever challenged Christianity.

    The problem become that little sticker on the cover that reads “Oprah Book Club”; that in itself puts the book sales in the millions. But to complicate this even further, Oprah and Tolle are pushing this as “modern Christianity” and holding their own “Sunday school classes” to convert the masses to their way of thinking. It is no where near what the bible tells us. Yet, many people just nod along and agree with the queen of TV because she is Oprah….and she knows all!

    Beliefnet actually did a survey and 33% of the people polled said their would trust Oprah more than their own clergy in spiritual matters. That is an issue!

    I hope this helps and you can always reach me at http://beyondfaith.wordpress.com or beyondjustfaith@gmail.com.

    God Bless,
    Hunter

  4. Yuray Priori says:

    Well, now that a lot of the hype is in the past regarding this Tolle nonsense, I feel I can shed some light on ego, and its manifestation. Primarily, and basically, this whole ego thing is to placate the owner of the ego through gratification, and to a degree, validation. There is a dichotomy here however. The illustrious, Mr Tolle claims the ego is the bane of existence, and at the root of all disharmony. When one shamelessly self promotes themselves by delivering their own books in person to bookstores, it cries out ” please acknowledge me”, an inner child sort of thing wanting validation as ‘being’. Smacks of ego to me. Big ego. Pandering his own wares door to door. In short, it was his ego that got him where he is now, despite any of his fluffly transendental nonsensical rebuttals which require a leap of faith, and total capitulation to illogic. It is his ego that counts the millions of dollars and makes sure accountants are not skimming. Now, for the highlight of this little narrative…………I wish it was me dammit! I will submit to ‘being’ in the ‘present’ whatever that means. My ‘pain body’ cries out for financial remuneration. My ‘life drama’ would improve. I wish to understand the ‘meaning of surrender’ however, because I would gladly surreneder my bank account for his. All in all, I’m jealous.

  5. Dominic says:

    This book is very helpful – not necessarily on being “enlightened” – but on being content and relaxed, being happy, stop worrying, and treating everyone and everything equally.

    Nobody is perfect, so is the book. So, you gotta pick what you thing is right for you and discard what you think is rubbish.

  6. Jono says:

    The idea of sin as missing ‘God’s mark assumes that the bible is a coherent book who’s entire inspiration is given by a supreme being… that this being is big enough to create the entire universe, yet who’s confidence is small enough to feel Jealous, or betrayed by the insignificant will of a human dissobedience… Eckhart Tolle takes the reverence for such an imaginary being as god… and takes it back to the real issue wich is humans, humans that invented god, much like a therapist will use a puppet to talk indirectly about issues that really pertain to the puppet holder to deal through inner problems… I think it’s time to pass the ‘god’ puppet down to the museum of control oriented priests of brimstone… to a self affirming humanity that speaks directly, not out of fear of damnation in hell, or reverence for heavenly reward, but because the actions and reactions are tangibly demonstrated and understood… If aristotle is the efficient documenting photographer… plato and God are merely the mirage…. Be at peace… the monsters are really imagined… and they are truly silly at this point in time. 🙂

    • Bruce says:

      Strange how one person’s perception of reality can be so different from another person. Yours and mine obviously differ. My perception draws me to humble adoration and your perception of God draws you to the conclusion of it all being silly. Last night I listened to the words of the Christmas Carol, “O Holy Night” and felt overwhelmed when the line “fall on your knees” came up. I think it is one of my most favorite Christmas Carols because of those wondrous words. My investigation, study and life experience has rendered a different conclusion. God’s love that He continually sends forth to us is not silly, God’s gift of eternal life through faith in the shed blood of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, is not silly in my mind and heart, likewise with many others. We humans (generalization) think we are so smart, yet we know nothing. This universe, this galaxy, this planet, our history, our shortcomings, our current status, they all are testimony to God’s grand design, the difference between God’s nature and our own and man’s attempt at standing in His place. I have walked the streets of Jerusalem, I have fallen on my knees in His presence and I have experienced His overwhelming love. I hold no malice for your shared thoughts, for reasons known to you, you saw fit to put your fingers to the keyboard and enlighten my disillusionment. Who knows, maybe you meant well. I do know this, as long as you draw breath, God’s love is extended to you and I would be foolish not to do likewise. “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who trespass against us”. There is a process of methodology in there if you look for it. Enjoy the holidays.

  7. James says:

    I was raised and brainwashed in Christianity. Now, as a grown adult, I am so thankful for my curious and open mind and that I no longer fall prey to its worn-out, tired agenda. It has lead me out of a religion that taught me to believe I am a worthless sinner. And, most ridiculously, that there was only one way that my sorry existence could mean anything and that was if I believed in a silly story that originated with the notion that a virgin got pregnant without having sex.

    DIscussions like this one are hilarious to me because Christians are always so quick to point out how “ridiculous” other peoples’ belief systems are when their entire belief system starts with a “virgin birth”. As if that isn’t enough, it ends with a dead man “rising”. All of this is “taken on faith” without a shred of physical evidence to prove any of it. Oh. Except for “the Bible.” Now THERE’S the “proof”!

    Christianity is nothing but one giant shame-based cesspool of human dysfunction. The spinning of an obvious situation like sex-out-of-wedlock into a fanatical fairy tale is so clearly a shame-based human response to a young girl’s misfortune of getting caught with her hand in the cookie jar…it makes about as much sense as “Adam and Eve.” More shame there.
    Christianity = shame. I am so glad to be over it!

    • Bruce says:

      Hi James,
      I have no idea what you were exposed to in your youth but it sounds like it made an impression. My journey was a little different than yours, I came to Christianity later in life, in my mid twenties. I too have a curious mind. I shared some of your thoughts and doubts. My journey included exposure to some real life individuals that I will never forget. Individuals that I grew to love. And along the way, I came to a place where the personal one on one between God and I became a reality, at least to me. I am 64 years old now and my mid twenties are far behind me. I have made many foolish decisions in my life but asking Jesus into my heart was not one of them. Christianity is all about a relationship with God. He is there and He does love you. Don’t close the door on a perception of Christianity that doesn’t include exposure to that relationship I spoke about. I wish you well in your quest. God’s blessing.

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