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On Monday, January 13, the Queen, Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry held a family summit with their respective advisers on Harry and Meghan’s future:

I hope to have more on that at the end of the week.

For now, the British public’s reaction at the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s disroyalty (not a real word) was largely one of disgust with the couple and supportive of the Queen. For proof, please read the readers’ comments in the tweets and articles below.

Many British journalists also oppose the Sussexes’ attempt to leave royal life and still get paid while showing great disrespect to the Queen.

Tim Stanley of The Telegraph is around Harry and Meghan’s age, but even he takes a dim view of their actions:

Stanley explained the situation (emphases mine):

It might seem counterintuitive, but the monarchy survives by appearing modest and the Windsors figured out long-ago that they reign not by the grace of God but the good will of the people – so going all “progressive”, cashing in and running off to Canada (“But I get to keep Frogmore Cottage, right?”) is not the behaviour of a 21st‑century royal.

“Who do you think you are, young man? A Kennedy?”

Like most Britons, he thinks the storm will pass:

The threat of a tell-all interview, termed ‘blackmail’ by many Britons, has not gone down well, either:

On Sunday, January 12, The Sun reported that the couple could give the interview to the queen of daytime television, Oprah Winfrey. Meghan is allegedly busy working on it:

Her American PR team is already in touch with major US networks and chat show queen Oprah Winfrey.

The couple could use the TV threat to try to secure a better deal at the Sandringham talks with the Queen, Prince Charles and Wills over their plans to step down from frontline royal duties.

A royal source said: “Harry and Meghan’s people have been reaching out to all the big US networks to explore the possibilities of a sit-down warts-and-all interview.

“Perhaps Harry and Meghan will use this as a negotiating tactic as there is no way the royals want their dirty laundry out in the open.

Maybe they will get more money if they agree not to talk.”

It is believed Meghan’s team has been in contact with ABC, NBC and CBS and celebrity chat show hosts such as Oprah.

She was a surprise guest at Harry and Meghan’s wedding and is known to be in contact with them. Meg’s mum Doria has been pictured leaving Oprah’s home.

Harry has already worked with Oprah for an Apple TV series on mental health.

The source said the couple want to “tell their side of the story” — adding: “Meghan feels she’s been silenced and is no longer prepared to be muted.

“She and Harry feel the royals have been racist and sexist. Her people are actively exploring opportunities.”

I wonder if the Queen discussed this with her grandson at the Sandringham summit.

In 2019, Prince Harry succeeded his grandfather, Prince Philip, as Captain General of the Royal Marines.

On Monday, January 13, a retired officer in the Royal Marines told the Telegraph that, based on last week’s antics, he would not raise a toast to Harry if he attempts to cash in on his royal title:

The retired military chief urged the 35-year-old Duke to honour his pledge of allegiance to the Queen, while a decorated war hero described his decision to stand down from the Royal family as “disgusting”.

James Glancy, a former captain in the Special Boat Service, said he and many military colleagues would not raise a toast to the Duke if he tried to earn money from his royal position with commercial ventures.

His criticism came as a highly decorated Army figure told The Daily Telegraph: “Prince Harry has every right to want to balance his responsibilities between the Royal family and his wife and young family. But first and foremost Harry was a commissioned officer who pledged allegiance to the Queen and the Queen is his grandmother, so when push comes to shove, Queen and country come first.”

Speaking to Nigel Farage on LBC radio, Capt Glancy, who won the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross in 2012 for courage and leadership during three campaigns in Afghanistan, said: “Harry’s been a great public servant.

He’s done two tours of Afghanistan. I was there for one of his tours … He’s done brilliant work in charity since he’s left the Armed Forces, especially with the Invictus Games, but his behaviour in the last year is not becoming of somebody that holds these important positions, these patronages, including that of the Captain General.”

Captain Glancy also told the following to Nigel Farage:

Insisting others in the Royal Marines and military were “very upset, if not disgusted by the disrespect to the Queen by not discussing this”, Capt Glancy added: “Everybody agrees that if he wants to leave these positions … he’s absolutely entitled to have another life, and he’s entitled to live overseas. But you can’t do this half and half. You’re either in or out … “

The Telegraph article went on to quote the father of one of the men who served alongside the Prince in Afghanistan who:

accused the Duke of “abandoning his Army family”.

Derek Hunt, whose son Nathan was mentioned in dispatches for neutralising Taliban bombs in Helmand province in 2008, said: “Nathan kept Prince Harry alive in Afghanistan. He’d have been blown up had my son not found those IEDs. After everything they went through together, I think it is terrible to see him turning his back on everyone.

We all thought Harry really understood what life is like for veterans and their families, as if he was one of us and by our side – but he’s shattered that impression now. It’s like he’s lost his spark, like he’s not the same person.”

Tied in with Harry’s military service are the Invictus Games, a sports competition he helped to develop for disabled military veterans. I watched some of the first Invictus Games and they are very inspiring, indeed. They have given the participating veterans a new lease on life.

On Saturday, January 11, The Telegraph reported that the future of the Invictus Games could be in doubt following the Prince’s announcement to retire from public life:

Military backers of the games, which have brought together wounded servicemen and women since they first launched in London in 2014 are known to be concerned the event may fall into a “limbo”.

The Invictus Games have relied heavily on the Duke of Sussex as its public figurehead, and his close association with the event has guaranteed them a high profile to date.

It was at the Invictus Games in Toronto, in September 2017, that Harry and Meghan made their first official public appearance together.

But there are fears that if the Duke and Duchess withdraw from part of their public duties as part of their aim to “step back as senior royals”, then the Invictus Games could lose much of their purpose and drive.

One source familiar with the thinking of the Palace said: “There is a big question about the Invictus Games. Where does that stand? The military are pretty annoyed because he seemed totally disinterested at the last meeting

They were very worried and concerned. They are thinking ‘now what? It is in limbo. They don’t know where it sits.”

Another military snub has not gone unnoticed. On Friday, January 10, The Sun quoted one of their employees, veteran Royal photographer Arthur Edwards, who said:

I don’t think you can “pop in” for Trooping the Colour but not be there for Remembrance Sunday.

Arthur Edwards was speaking to Fox News about the Sussexes and had this to say about Meghan:

The veteran snapper said she had won over the British people and was “brilliant”.

He remembered how “the Prince of Wales walked her down the aisle, what a way to compliment.”

But added: “It seems that it’s not enough, it’s not enough for Meghan.”

As for Harry:

You couldn’t take your eyes off him because he was guaranteed to do the unexpected, like playing football with street kids, racing Usain Bolt or hugging a prime minister.

He was a joy to work with, a normal guy in the street who just happened to have a royal title. The whole world loved him.

But over the past two years his relationship with the media has not just turned sour — it has become toxic.

I haven’t seen him look really happy for a long time.

The Sussexes’ complaints about the Royal Family — if true — seem rather petty.

Before Christmas, the Queen posed for a photograph with three generations of her family, all in the top three places as heirs to the throne: Prince Charles, Prince William and young Prince George. The Sun reported:

It has been claimed that the succession photo was the last straw for Meghan and Harry.

Why on earth is that a problem? They are the immediate princes in line to succeed the Queen and each other. Harry is sixth in line.

Here’s another alleged complaint. Harry allegedly got upset with his older brother when he introduced him to Meghan. The Sun says that was the beginning of the rift between them:

Prince Harry fell out with Prince William when his older brother told him to “heed” Princess Diana’s warning not to “marry in haste”, it’s been claimed.

The Duke of Sussex, who has now quit the royal family, accused his once-close brother of trying to “wreck his relationship” with Meghan Markle.

William had told Harry to take his relationship with the former actress slowly after he was first introduced to her at Kensington Palace.

And he reiterated the warning after Harry and Meghan got engaged – this time using mum Diana’s advice to drive it home.

She had explained to William how she and Prince Charles “hardly knew each other” before marrying, the Daily Mail reports.

The comments sparked a rift between the two

Well, who could be angry about that? That’s just common sense advice to avoid a problem marriage.

One accusation that both Princes Harry and William say is false is the claim that the latter bullied the former. On Monday, January 13, The Sun reported that the brothers issued a joint statement denouncing the story:

Prince Harry and Prince William have united to say they are “deeply, deeply unhappy” about claims the latter’s ‘bullying’ caused the royal split.

The Duke of Sussex was originally said by a royal source to have felt pushed out of the royal family by his big brother.

But he has spoken out with William today slamming the “offensive” claims ahead of crisis talks being held by the Queen at Sandringham.

Their statement read: “Despite clear denials, a false story ran in a UK newspaper today speculating about the relationship between The Duke of Sussex and The Duke of Cambridge.

For brothers who care so deeply about the issues surrounding mental health, the use of inflammatory language in this way is offensive and potentially harmful.”

Meanwhile, the Sussexes have Elton John as a close confidant. Nothing wrong with that, except that they told him of their plans to withdraw from royal life before they told the Queen. On Sunday, January 12, The Sun reported on a story published in the Sunday People:

The Sunday People also revealed that Harry and Meghan have turned to Elton John after secretly telling him they were planning to quit royal life before they informed the Queen.

An insider said: “Sir Elton is constantly at the end of the phone for Harry and Meghan and speaks to them every day.

“He is an inspiration to them and has been an almost motherly figure to them throughout this process. They made their decision on their own but he has been a shoulder to lean on and listened to them as they spoke about their own plans.”

The public will stand by the Queen.

A few of her subjects, frustrated with the Sussexes, have suggested that Charles could demand that Harry take a DNA test. Yes, the paternity rumour mill has started again. However, it is said that red hair runs in the Spencer family, so he would have inherited it from his mother’s side.

I do hope everything works out well for all concerned. Whatever is decided upon will have far-reaching effects one way or another.

Rob BellIn 2011, I wrote a series of posts on the enfant terrible of Evangelical Protestantism Rob Bell.

His universalist book, Love Wins, had just been published: there is no hell and God loves everyone.

Today — 2014 — he has another book out, The Zimzum of Love: A New Way of Understanding Marriage. He co-wrote it with his wife Kristen.

Zimzum (tzimtzúm in Hebrew) means contraction. In Kabbalah it refers to:

The self-imposed “withdrawal” of a part of God to enable the creation of the universe, as described by Isaac Luria.

Hmm.

The Huffington Post helpfully tells us what Bell has been doing for the past few years.

After the storm surrounding Love Wins, Bell left the Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He had co-founded the church.

He moved to California to work on television projects.

In 2013, he came out in favour of same-sex marriage:

“This is a justice issue,” Bell said. “We believe people should not be denied the right to have someone to journey with.”

Never mind that same-sex couples have been able to live together for some years now.

Bell no longer belongs to or heads a church congregation:

Now resettled near Los Angeles, the couple no longer belongs to a traditional church. “We have a little tribe of friends,” Bell said. “We have a group that we are journeying with. There’s no building. We’re churching all the time. It’s more of a verb for us.”

He adds:

One of the most extraordinary things I’ve done since I left Mars Hill is be with people and engage with people who would never step foot in a church.

Day-to-day:

He conducts retreats in Laguna Beach and teaches on innovation, communication, creativity, how to read the Bible and how to surf. At the end of the gathering, he serves the Eucharist.

He is also something of a spiritual adviser to Oprah Winfrey, about whom he is fulsome in his praise:

“She has taught me more about what Jesus has for all of us, and what kind of life Jesus wants us to live, more than almost anybody in my life,” Bell said.

“Is she a Christian? That word has so much baggage, I wouldn’t want to answer for someone. When Jesus talks about the full divine life, you think, this is what he’s talking about.”

Really?

Oprah took Bell on a tour of the United States. Together, they presented the ‘Life You Want Weekend’.

On December 21, 2014, Bell will have his own programme on the Oprah channel. It is called The Rob Bell Show.

The Huffington Post observes:

Even when he talks about marriage, Bell sounds more like Oprah than a theologian, meshing what sounds both spiritual and evangelical when addressing marriage as an institution.

And therein lies the danger for Oprah’s viewers. Elsewhere the online journal has this gem:

The Church of Oprah incorporates as many religious concepts as possible, while evangelicalism commits to exclusivity.

Just so.

Rob Bell may be ideal for Oprah but, like the syncretic beliefs presented on her network, his religious outlook can be hazardous to the viewers’ salvation.

It is doubtful whether Bell, in eschewing the Cross, sin, hell, repentance and redemption, can be called a Christian.

A couple of weeks ago more strange news emerged about the incumbent in the White House.

President Obama spoke of his sons — somewhat confusing when he has two daughters, Sasha and Malia. CNSNews reported:

… the Washington Post and Politico both took notice of the president’s slip of the tongue. Post columnist Al Kamen wrote: “Breaking news! President Obama, speaking last night in Chicago at a fundraiser at a private home, unloaded this bombshell: Obama, according to the White House transcript, talked about ‘The first bill I signed–a bill that said that we’re going to have equal pay for equal work because I want my daughters treated the same way as my sons.’ Sons? What sons? How many? Where? Names? Do the girls know? (More importantly, does Michelle?) Will the boys be joining him on the campaign trail?”

Politico picked up on Kamen’s piece, posting a short item by Byron Tau that said: “The Washington Post’s Al Kamen catches this nugget in President Obama’s address to supporters yesterday in Chicago: ‘The first bill I signed–a bill that said that we’re going to have equal pay for equal work because I want my daughters treated the same way as my sons.’ It’s not the first time that a rhetorical hypothetical has tripped up the president, as when a ‘Muslim faith’ reference was taken wildly out of context.”

Obama, as noted, does not have sons. Nor was he born in Kenya. Nor is he a Muslim.

But it is a fact, as the White House itself reported in its transcripts of his speeches, that on four occasions this year President Obama has rhetorically slipped up and mistakenly talked about “my sons”—nonexistent though they are.

We know so little about the leader of the free world. In 2008, John McCain — as all other presidential candidates, except one, have done — brought a few thousand pages of documents about his health, career, education and more for the press to examine in the vetting process. Then-candidate Barack Obama had only a few pieces of paper to show.

My position on who he is? I really don’t know.

However, strange things have appeared. Breitbart.com found that Obama’s literary agents, Dystel & Goderich, changed their client’s biography in April 2007. On April 3 of that year, it read:

BARACK OBAMA is the junior Democratic senator from Illinois and was the dynamic keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic National Convention ... He was born in Kenya to an American anthropologist and a Kenyan finance minister and was raised in Indonesia, Hawaii, and Chicago.

On April 21, 2007, the potted biography read:

BARACK OBAMA is the junior Democratic senator from Illinois and was the dynamic keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic National Convention … He was born in Hawaii to an American anthropologist and a Kenyan finance minister and was raised in Indonesia, Hawaii, and Chicago.

Dr Tim Stanley, blogging for the Telegraph, wrote:

Breitbart.com itself has always rejected the absurd cult of birtherism. In fact, this story is really the opposite of birtherism – Breitbart infers that in the past Obama encouraged people to think that he was born abroad in order to establish an identity as an authentic, exotic voice in the debate on racial politics.

Obama’s old literary agent has issued a terse statement to the effect that the wording was all her fault and she never consulted her client. If that’s true, she’s a bad agent. A different agent, quoted by Breitbart.com, disagrees. He told the website “that while ‘almost nobody’ wrote his or her own biography, the non-athletes in the booklet, whom ‘the agents deal[t] with on a daily basis,’ were ‘probably’ approached to approve the text as presented.”

If we accept that Obama didn’t provide the biography, it would seem highly unlikely that he didn’t get a chance to vet it. Accepting that he didn’t do that either, it’s incredibly strange that the literary agent approached by Breitbart.com does not remember Obama calling the agency to register a complaint and make a correction. My mother spent a lot of her childhood in Grenada. If my literary agent told people I was born in the Caribbean, I’d at least pick up the phone to set the record straight.

America’s ABC, quoted, it seems, from Breitbart:

It is for that reason that we launched “The Vetting,” an ongoing series in which we explore the ideological background of President Obama (and other presidential candidates)–not to re-litigate 2008, but because ideas and actions have consequences …

It is evidence–not of the President’s foreign origin, but that Barack Obama’s public persona has perhaps been presented differently at different times.

And that’s the puzzling thing: what is the truth here? There was also a contretemps between Alan Keyes and Barack Obama during the Senate race debate in 2004, whereby Keyes mentioned that his opponent was not a natural born citizen. Obama replied (emphases mine):

So what? I am running for Illinois Senator, not the presidency

This came up in 2008 and has resurfaced this year.

A comment following the ABC blog explained what ‘natural born’ means, as we 50-pluses learned in primary school. Reader GO_FLYERS wrote:

The framers stated in the Constitution and writings, that to be President or Vice President was much more difficult than becoming a citizen. They did this, who would have guessed with a globalist President, loyalty reasons. They stated that “A Natural Born Citizen” had to be born of two US citizens at the time of birth, in the USA or one of its territories. To be President you must have lived in the USA the previous 9 years and at least 14 years. You must have reached the age of 35. You can have a parent who is naturalized prior to your birth. Also it is incumbent upon Obama to prove to us, that he is eligible to serve us President. It is not our duty to prove he is or is not eligible.

A footnote here for natural born Americans considering dual nationality: you lose your natural born status. The only drawback there is that you cannot run for President of the United States.

Fox News’s Sean Hannity interviewed Ed Klein, author of the new book Amateur. He interviewed over 200 people for the book, including the Revd Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s former pastor. Here are a few excerpts from the transcript:

HANNITY: I am not going to get to this now, but we are going to play some of the audio. You actually got a three-hour interview that you taped with Reverend Wright. How did you get that? 

KLEIN: Well, through mutual friends who had tried over months to convince him to see me. Finally, he did see me in his office at the — get this — Kwame Nkrumah Academy, which is a high school, named after the late Marxist dictator of Ghana. He has his little office there because he has now retired — Reverend Wright. And he met me in a suit. He looked very, very proper. And we had this three-hour interview. And I had my tape recorder on the desk. The whole thing is on the tape …

HANNITY: … Explain where the title game from. 

KLEIN: The title came from Bill Clinton …

HANNITY: … Let’s talk about meeting Jeremiah Wright …

KLEIN: It was — it wasn’t what I expected, tell you the truth. Because the guy who I met did not look like the guy on — on the videotapes with the dashiki (ph) and, you know, red face and screaming. He was very quiet, very polite. 

HANNITY: Very measured. 

KLEIN: Very measured. And talked about his — his academic credentials, very proud of the fact that he had a PHD. And answered all my questions and he was — it was just like you and me talking. There was no — there was no sense that this guy could go off the deep end …

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REV. JEREMIAH WRIGHT, TRINITY UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST: [Eric Whittaker – Obama’s good friend] came to talk to me and said what the email said — I would wish — I really wish you would not be do any more public speaking until November [2008]

KLEIN: Did he offer you any money? 

WRIGHT: No, he did not. Eric did not say that to me.

KLEIN: Eric, did not say it directly to you?

WRIGHT: No.

KLEIN: He said it to one of the guys close to me. (INAUDIBLE) However, he signed it. (INAUDIBLE) And that’s in the box.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Klein had previously explained that Wright has a box which contains the email.

HANNITY: All right. So, this is after the President — he’s meeting with Reverend Wright after he gave the speech at Philly on race. 

KLEIN: Yes. And basically threw the Reverend Wright under the bus

HANNITY: Yes. 

KLEIN: And then he called the Reverend Wright, as the Reverend Wright told me and said, I would like to have a private meeting with you in a secure place. Reverend Wright said, what do you mean a secure place? You have come to my home a thousand times. Why don’t you just come here? So, so he did go there. And I have the Secret Service logs showing that he did show up that day at the Reverend Wright’s parsonage. 

HANNITY: And it was picked up only on a small way by the media but you would think after the big Philly speech. Remember, this is the President that had said earlier that he is like family to me

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

KLEIN: (INAUDIBLE) Talk to him about being elected? 

WRIGHT: At that point, he was — yes, and he told me as — as — yes. He was confident, he was very hopeful. But he saw me as a deterrent, which is why he didn’t — 

KLEIN: How did you two leave each other that day in your living room? 

WRIGHT: He said, I’m sorry you don’t see it that way. I said, oh — he said to me that day, he said, you know what your problem is? You have to tell the truth. I said, that’s a good problem to have. 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

HANNITY: So basically, Reverend Wright is telling the world right now, knowing that this is an important point in the election. 

KLEIN: Yes. 

HANNITY: That Barack Obama is a liar. 

KLEIN: That’s right. 

HANNITY: Am I reading that right? 

KLEIN: You are. He said to me numerous times during this interview, there was a Barack Obama that I knew before he ran for president. Not a bad guy. Wanted to stay home with his kids, tucked them in at night. And then something happened when he ran for president. He completely changed.

Tim Stanley ran a post on this story — as well as what happened with talk show queen Oprah Winfrey, who in 2008 broke with her longstanding tradition in not interviewing politicians running for office. That year, she invited Barack Obama on as a guest. Oprah never invited John McCain to appear. Stanley, again in the Telegraph, has more about Ed Klein’s book:

… Klein says that during the 2008 primaries, Obama welcomed Oprah’s endorsement and pursued her advice. One study calculated that she was worth 1,015,559 votes in the general election. Oprah enjoyed easy access to Obama, who treated her like a serious political adviser. To quote Klein: “When she phoned, he dropped everything and took her call. They huddled over strategy. Of all of Obama’s unofficial White House advisers, Oprah had unparalleled access, input, influence, and power.”

But Oprah quickly learned the limits of Obama’s charm. As the White House court grew and institutionalised, members of the inner core became protective about access. If Oprah could call straight through to the Prez, what was the point of being his official gatekeeper? There was a constitutional issue at hand, too – there’s only so much influence that a chat show host should be able to wield. Things came to a head when Oprah visited the White House to conduct an interview with the President and (gosh!) was treated like a regular citizen. Klein: “When they arrived, Oprah and [her producer] Gayle weren’t [welcomed] like VIPs; they were made to wait at the security gate like ordinary visitors. Once inside, they had to cool their heels for a long time before they were shown up to the Yellow Oval Room in the family residence, where Michelle finally made an appearance.” Oprah was horrified to find that she had to talk interview strategy with White House staff who made only $75,000 a year, and was even more angry when Michelle boasted about having a big staff, “as if Oprah wouldn’t know about that.” To rub salt into the wound, “Michelle mentioned that the White House cooks made the best pie in the world. But she didn’t offer Oprah or Gayle any…”

When it became clear that Oprah had no intention of inviting McCain onto the show, her ratings began to tank and eventually her show left network television. Disaffected Democrat women who intended to vote McCain stopped watching. Republican women did too.

Up until then, millions of women in America saw Oprah as a great unifier. It didn’t matter what race or religion you were; Oprah was there to bring everyone together. Then, she unintentionally built a wall with only one candidate’s appearance. Today, her newish cable station is struggling and she’s just another ordinary citizen to the Obamas.

The story of Wright and Winfrey recalls Psalm 146:3:

Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.

It will be interesting to see how Obama shapes his re-election campaign in 2012 — and with whom.

Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism are not just restricted to the Church.  Popular culture — especially New Age self-help — can also promote these heresies.

Oprah Winfrey has been a mainstay of television for two decades.  Although her show is no longer on network television, Winfrey’s OWN is on cable and continues with self-realisation classes and techniques.

A lot of women — and some men — have absorbed this powerful mixture of Pelagianism and Gnosticism (secret knowledge) to overcome the hurt in their lives.  I have no doubt that for the secular, unchurched viewer these courses have probably helped them improve their relationships and job prospects.

However, a number of Christians are also taking part in these remote courses. Personally, I believe they are doing this out of ignorance rather than what conservative pastors would term ‘rebellion’.

I would encourage prayers for these people — including Oprah — that the Holy Spirit infuses them with the understanding to see how unbiblical this way of thinking is.  Yes, it can happen, and I’ll have an ancient example to recount in my closing post on this heresy on Thursday evening, running through Friday.

For now, this is what popular Pelagianism looks like, as seen from comments on Oprah’s Lifeclass.  Emphases mine below.

This is how seduced people are by this false notion of self-determination:

Sat 11/19/2011 8:45 AM: … There are so many good lessons and messages that we can all learn from you Oprah. I have been evangelizing for you with family, friends and even strangers.

Wed 11/16/2011 3:50 PM: … Now if I could get my hands on the series in DVD format I would totally be in heaven.

Then, there is the error of believing one’s own ‘inner power’ effects transformation in oneself and others:

Wed 11/16/2011 6:59 AM: … These life lessons have always been, but Oprah ~ you helped make them more accessible ~ like a strong hand bending down the bough to reach the ripest fruit~ and I will savor each piece ~ and then I will plant the seeds~and watch them grow~ and bend the bough for someone else….

Tue 11/15/2011 3:53 PM: … oprahs life lessons not only allowed myself to forgive but understand i didnt do anything wrong i had just let myself go so long for everything else and my “self” hit me upside the head and said enough. i am now a better person more in tune with my world …

Tue 11/15/2011 3:38 PM: This show has awoken the person inside of me who has been trying to get out, but didn’t have the courage …

And the mistaken notion that we are good people at heart:

Fri 11/18/2011 3:35 PM: … I believe I have become a beautiful, strong and proud woman FINALLY! … Thank you for this class and making all of us people out here believe in ourselves! I absolutely love myself today!

Thu 11/17/2011 5:28 PM: … i could not help but allow my self to write these aformations: …
I live in a harmony with myself.
I see clearly where i am going where to put my next step …
I recognize the goodness that i have
I am grateful for my ability to love unconditionally and freely.
I am happy that my love flows equally to everyone
I love and respect myself first.
My actions are full of love and understanding.
I absolutely and completely trust the Universe,that supplies me with everything i need …
My actions resemble the purity of my soul
I see my existence as a powerful,beautiful and shiny energy and this energy is BLISS and LOVE.
I feel my body is transforming in to this perfect glittering light which is ecstasy and pure love.
I AM PURE LOVE.
Material energy is under my command …
I am in the highest state of existence.
I am purity and goodness.
I am well in every situation

Finally, the error that we fully control our own lives:

Fri 11/18/2011 10:52 AM: TODAY I WILL BEGIN TO LIVE LIFE INSTEAD OF ALLOWING LIFE TO LIVE ME!!

Fri 11/18/2011 10:52 AM: Today i woke up with clarity and decided to be the purpose I have been searching for and to live life intentionally with thought and to wake up and be present in my choices and what I allow in my life, instead of just floating thru and hoping for the best, allowing life to live me. If this helps even 1 person then it has accomplished its task.

Thu 11/17/2011 6:49 PM: I have decided to truly take charge of my destiny. My internal map is a organizer planner and I want to somehow contribute to making the world a better place …

However, Semi-Pelagianism also appears.  This can be even more insidious and difficult to talk someone out of. Although we would be correct in questioning the Christianity of those quoted below, it is highly probable that a number of Oprah’s viewers are regular churchgoers. I was when I dabbled in New Age thinking (no Oprah, though):

Sat 11/19/2011 11:36 AM: If I keep on doing what I am doing I am going to keep geting what I am getting. The first thing I did was to stop the self abuse and tried to get more positive feelings into my life. I started this with going to church and reading ‘The Secret’ and listened to other peoples stories. After I watched one of Oprah’s lifeclasses something came together for me. I realised that I had to rediscover myself

Fri 11/18/2011 2:45 PM: … I am praying. I am writing my prayers; I am singing my prayers … knowing that Something Greater than we are expresses through us, and, by allowing it to do so, our experience changes.

Tue 11/15/2011 5:35 PM: … I believe in all that is said, maybe from reading Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth” and that I believe you do get back what you give. The OWN network is all I have ever dreamed of in what mass media should protray. I believe in the goodness of people and if the media would display to us all the wonderful things people do for each other every day, instead of the horror on this earth, we would have a New Earth. I, too start each day with reading from an inspirational book, a prayer to our creator

Mon 11/14/2011 1:18 AM: I believe everybody starts out having a dream, but some faint along the way!! Galatians 6:9 says, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” I agree that we’ve always had the power to be, receive and do anything we can dream in life – it’s just a matter of continuing!!! … For when GOD’s plan is put into motion, nobody can stop it!!! I’m a living witness that we can achieve what we can dream!! We should never be finished dreaming!!! Once we finish one dream, we definitely should be dreaming bigger dreams – as long as we have breath!! Some of my dreams haven’t came to pass yet, but I rest on Galatians 6:9 daily!! I can recall being led to study Psalm 27:14 for a week, during a very crucial point in my life!! I was compelled to Wait on the LORD …!!! I wouldn’t take anything for my journey!!! I KNOW that it’s no coincidence that I’m alive in this lifetime with you Oprah!! We are the same age and what you have been teaching along the way – I had to learn, to get me to where I need to be!!! Thank you Oprah, from the bottom of my heart!!!

Let’s pray for these women, who have been drawn into this heady mix of Pelagianism or Semi-Pelagianism and Gnosticism instead of humbly praying for God’s help.

As for Oprah, what wonderful work she could do in the Lord’s name, if she were a true Christian. I pray that she has a Damascene conversion and repents.  I pray that He leads her to read the Bible along with the Augsburg Confessions or the Westminster Confessions of Faith.  I pray that one day she comes to openly confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and realises that we can accomplish nothing without God’s grace.

Thursday/Friday: Concluding the series with Dr Michael Horton on Pelagianism

For better or worse, everything starts in America before spreading to the rest of the world these days.

One of the most pivotal tools over the past 20 years has been Oprah Winfrey‘s television show, which has evolved into a cable channel attracting millions of women viewers every day.  It only lasted a couple of years here in the UK.  We prefer more kitchen sink chat show entertainment during the day with the likes of Jeremy (‘DNA test’) Kyle and Trisha Goddard, who is probably our Oprah equivalent, although she deals with people’s problems.  I’m not a fan of any of them, however, many women rely on them as a break to get through the day, and it is common for women in an office to discuss who was on these shows and what was said, especially about the paternity tests.

I know of women in the US who have relied heavily on Oprah.  They either watch the show in the afternoon or record it for viewing in the evenings.  Some have also regularly bought Oprah’s magazine.  Because she is a self-made woman with bags of cash and her own media companies, she is seen as a role model.  What’s more, she offers gifts of cars and trips to her delighted audience.  Is it any wonder, then, that she influences the way many American women think?

Oprah finds New Age literature inspiring.  It, in turn, affects her view of Christianity.  Here’s what she had to say about Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose (highlights in the original):

I am a Christian who believes that there are certainly many more paths to God other than Christianity.

In 2008, Berit Kjos tells us that she co-presented a 10-week long Internet-streamed course with Eckhart Tolle on A New Earth:

According to Tolle, Jesus’ teaching of “salvation” means “a radical transformation of human consciousness” (p. 13) and the process of “rebirth” is “reincarnation.” (p. 252)

Her January 30, 2008, press release stated in part (emphases mine):

“Being able to share this material with you is a gift and a part of the fulfillment of my life’s purpose … It was an awakening for me that I want for you, too” …

Published in 2005, A New Earth encourages a collective sense of commitment to changing the way we live for people who want to make a difference. With the knowledge that we live in a time desperate for global change, the book by renowned spiritual teacher Tolle answers the question: What can one person do to enact that change? With clarity and in practical terms, he gently leads readers to a new level of consciousness, awakening them to their lives’ purposes and inviting them to envision a new earth where peace and fellowship are the norm.

It sounds dreamy, doesn’t it?  Note the highlighted phrases and the words ‘purpose’, ‘collective’, ‘commitment’, ‘make a difference’, ‘desperate for global change’, ‘change’, ‘consciousness’, ‘awakening’, ‘a new earth’ and ‘peace and fellowship’.

Perhaps you can see through those words straightaway. Yet, imagine the numbers of people who go without discernment ministry.  Not all of them will be adult women, either.  Some will be teenage girls at home after school.  Again, I thought about the woman university student I mentioned on Monday.  Perhaps she was attracted to Tolle’s books whilst taking the course on line.  We all want to make a difference, right?  And who wouldn’t want to live in a world where ‘peace and fellowship are the norm’?

In a USA Today article on March 3, “World is Oprah’s Classroom,” Oprah explains that this is a “classroom larger than anyone could imagine…. We’re going to be streaming live throughout the world…. And I think the interest will just keep growing.” The article indicates: “Although Winfrey has enthusiastically embraced self-improvement books by Tolle and others, notably Rhonda Byrne’s best seller The Secret, she has never before chosen one for her book club.” Oprah explained that she does interviews on XM Satellite Radio that “might not work as well on mainstream TV.” Her rationale for teaching Tolle’s book is:

Many people aren’t that familiar with spiritual growth. They might need some help at first with the languaging of new consciousness and things like that. So I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have classes to help people through the process?'”

… In Tolle’s earlier book, The Power of Now, he teaches that we are “God”:

“Don’t get attached to any one word. You can substitute ‘Christ’ for presence, if that is more meaningful to you. Christ is your God-essence or Self, as it is sometimes called in the East. The only difference between Christ and presence is that Christ refers to your indwelling divinity regardless of whether you are conscious of it or not, whereas presence means your awakened divinity or God-essence.” (p. 104) [bold added]

She also invited New Age author Marianne Williamson to:

systematically teach the New Age principles of A Course in Miracles. While most of the Christian world was relaxing, Williamson was hard at work teaching A Course in Miracles on her radio show. Her program, which now airs each weekday for an hour, is completely devoted to teaching A Course in Miracles. Both Oprah Winfrey and Marianne Williamson have openly stated that they believe the principles of A Course in Miracles can change the world.(1)

… A Course in Miracles is reputedly “new revelation” from “Jesus,” channeled through a university professor in New York City by the name of Helen Schucman. A Course in Miracles is actually the Bible turned upside-down, as it teaches that “a slain Christ has no meaning” and that “the journey to the cross should be the last useless journey.” Its teachings state that “there is no sin” and that “the recognition of God is the recognition of yourself.”

Williamson cleverly avoided any direct reference to biblical Christianity when she stated that over the coming months on her program she would be methodically “dismantling a thought system based on fear.” She emphasized that the dismantled thought system would be replaced by “a thought system based on love” – a thought system that would be inspired by the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles.

In terms of Holy Week and Easter, Williamson’s book states (emphases in the original):

The song of Easter is the glad refrain the Son of God was never crucified. Let us lift up our eyes together, not in fear but in faith. (ACIM Text, p. 428)

The crucifixion did not establish the atonement; the resurrection did. Many sincere Christians have misunderstood this. (ACIM Text, p. 36)

For the undoing of the crucifixion of God’s Son is the work of redemption, in which everyone has a part of equal value. (ACIM Text, p. 209)

Do not make the pathetic error of ‘clinging to the old rugged cross.’ (ACIM Text, p. 52)

Let Us Reason Ministries tells us:

Marriane Williamson who promotes the Course in Miracles (a book dictated by a spirit guide) is the pastor of one of the largest Unity School of Christianity churches in the United States (Warren, Michigan). The Unity School was founded by Myrtle and Charles Fillmore. Through them we discover another secret – that it is connected to the popular secret everyone is embracing– “In the course in Miracles” she writes “The recognition of God is the recognition of yourself” (p.147). Once we understand that this same message is found in all the authors,  books and practices, we will gain the perspective of what this is all about, where it is going and what it will do to the individual that pursues its ways.

If you want to know what has made Oprah successful- this is what she has been promoting from the beginning of her show. As we will see, the Secret that Oprah is promoting is the very same ideas and concepts that many have espoused before her. And they are right out of Religious Science and Metaphysics …

Oprah’s motivation is to inspire people to take control of their lives. This message can be beneficial if it is kept in the practical realm. But when it is enforced by metaphysics it becomes a very different message. “You can choose what happens” is the New Age philosophy. Oprah states, “You are responsible for your life-the power of God is within you, above you and through you. You control your life” …

So we are all masters (like the new age teaching that everyone is Christ). You are the master but you actually become the slave to a law you know nothing about. Considering that they find Bible verses to validate their teaching and practice; yet Jesus said “You cannot serve two masters,” either you are master and the universe obeys you or God is your master and you obey him.

So, you see how an Oprah viewer would hear the words ‘church’, ‘pastor’ and ‘God’ thinking, ‘Hey, this sounds really interesting.’  And, someone like Williamson will have selected certain Bible verses to misinterpret, Oprah will reinforce the good feelings and there you have it.  More women being deceived and led down the garden path.

Yet, as to Helen Schucman who received these messages from her ‘Jesus’, Berit Kjos tells us that Schucman:

never fully believed in the teachings she channeled. Schucman confessed, “I resented the material I was taking down, and was strongly impelled to attack it and prove it wrong” and “I do not understand the events that led up to the writing. I do not understand the process and I certainly don’t understand the authorship.(2)

Be very careful with this.  New Age courses seem to attract many more women than men, and that could be because the spirituality they espouse is quite feminine.  Furthermore, they are based on the heresies of gnosticism, pantheism and more.  If it sounds too good to be true, it generally is.  Any book or lecture which contradicts God and Christ as represented in the Scriptures is false.  Paul’s epistles warn us about false teachers.  Revelation tells us what will happen to Babylon.  Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security.

Those who do follow Oprah’s New Age courses to the letter, however, will be unwittingly co-operating with the New Age, UN-sponsored plan for behavioural change on a global scale.  Is Oprah aware of what her courses are doing and where this universal thought process is leading?  If so, it’s an extraordinarily clever way of accomplishing a global plan.

Now, on to the best known pastor in the United States — Rick Warren.  Today, we are just going to address the implications of his health programme, the Daniel Plan, launched earlier this year. As Berit Kjos says:

Rick Warren was well-schooled in Leadership Network’s marketing model which encourages pastors to snap up a biblical-sounding term, apply it on to any new plan or program, and voila! It becomes a marketing logo! Note the emphasis on community in this description:

“The Daniel Plan is designed to help people adapt a healthy lifestyle through a comprehensive 52-week journey–not just another short-lived diet. With the inspiration to know and live God’s Prescription for Health, The Daniel Plan supports you with world-class professional Doctors, small-group support, tools, resources and an online community!” [https://www.saddleback.com/thedanielplan/healthyhabits/ ]

God doesn’t give us a prescription for health other than spiritual health — by grace through faith, aided by Word and Sacrament.

In another of Ms Kjos’s Herescope posts, we discover (emphases in the original quote, followed by mine):

Rick Warren has now plunged into a role as Change Agent for health care reform in America. It is significant that he chose some genuine New Age gurus to be his partners.[7] This association provides an indication about how Rick Warren defines “health.” Researcher Jennifer Pekich wrote an account of her personal experience at the Saddleback Health and Fitness Seminar. Her report on Rick Warren‘s new Daniel Plan revealed that the real agenda is not about healthy parishioners. It is about radical community transformation …

I about fell off my chair when Dr. Hyman stated, “The key to the success of the “Daniel Plan” is “group living”…”individuals” will not succeed, our only hope lies in “community.” And with that, it was announced that the “Saddleback community” would be an example of “sustainable living” and would set the course to “change this world”…and the crowd went wild![8] …

Being part of the community means that you go into the databank. The Daniel Plan is a massive health assessment for all evangelicals gullible enough to turn in personally identifiable health data to a Rick Warren’s massive secretive databank.[9] The Daniel Plan asks users to create their own health profile online that divulges intimate medical information …

A broad range of health data will be collected on participants. (We guess the participants will yield their right to privacy! They will provide to Dr. Rick information that was previously confidential between them and their personal physicians.) …

Who are Rick Warren’s partners in this endeavor? With whom will he share this data? Will this Church data be passed along to the State? Turned over to Corporations? (In other words, the other two legs of the 3-legged stool)? Given Warren’s close association with Bill Gates, who is heavily involved in funding health care reform around the world, one can only guess how far-and-wide the Daniel Plan data could be divulged.[11]

Note how cleverly Warren has maneuvered the Church into a position of Agent Provocateur. This fits in with the Dominionist “cultural renewal” model where the Church assumes a key role in managing the transformation of Society, i.e. transforming “culture.” In this case, specifically health care. By assuming this pivotal role the Church is no longer the conscience of Society. It is not functioning as salt and light to a dark world. Rather it is acting as a Change Agent working in collaboration with the State and Corporate Business to facilitate transformation.

Through the Daniel Plan Warren will help his congregation — and anyone else daft enough to participate — to get accustomed to an intrusive database state and view it as beneficial.  The US government and the United Nations must be grateful to him for that.

The other thing is that he is using well-known New Age doctors:

The question might be asked: Why didn’t Dr. Rick pick medical doctors who were Christians? Not nominal Christians, but sincere evangelical Christians! Surely there are highly esteemed, reputable, well-credentialed Christian physicians at the top of their field in various hospitals, universities or medical research laboratories! But Rick Warren picked the Oprah Winfrey type of New Age guru to be his guides with the Daniel Plan – the Hollywood hype type of doctors.

An official “Daniel Plan Pastoral Response” to the question “Why did Saddleback Church choose to use these doctors, who have been linked to other beliefs?” can be viewed HERE. In this classic insipid Warrenesque response it is claimed that these doctors “are in no way advising our church on spiritual matters.” But given the fact that these doctors have specialized in integrating their spirituality with their views on medicine and health, this is not an honest answer. (View Daniel Plan FAQ sheet HERE) …

The input-driven model of healthcare reform is not a model that treats disease. It is outcome-based healthcare. It is a New Age model that denies the reality of disease and focuses on wellness, as we explained in our earlier post, 3-Legged “Health” Care. Therefore the Daniel Plan is all about what you are putting into your body’s system. Note: what you put into your body can be measured and assessed, monitored and databanked…. and controlled.

I find it incredible that a mainstream Baptist pastor (and the son of one!) can invite New Age practitioners to participate in a church-based ‘health’ programme.  Then again, perhaps Rick Warren is under influences other than the Bible these days.  Who knows — many of us have our theological differences with him — but there might be more here from a ‘transformational’ perspective than we realise.  All the more reason to be wary of a pastor with ‘purpose’!

Please beware of these programmes.  They have no biblical mandate and come from Fabian, Theosophical and New Age influences.  They are about conformity and control of large populations.

Wow — another morning of random sites on the Internet.  You really can learn something new every day.

A couple of weeks ago I read an article in a Catholic university magazine by a young Catholic woman who wrote that Eckhart Tolle (at left) was her favourite author. She found him ‘so inspiring’. I’ve seen Tolle’s name once or twice, but one of the advantages of living overseas is that (so far) we’ve been spared a lot of New Age – Emergent Church thinking.

Having said that, what did I find a couple of days later?  Several relevant posts on the South African blog, Waak en Bid (Watch and Pray), which debunks the emergent church there.

For those who are unfamiliar with Christianity in South Africa, the country has a long tradition of Calvinism amongst its white population.  So, it is not surprising that, in a post-apartheid nation, Christian orthodoxy is seen as part of the past by those who wish to promote greater racial harmony.  I’m not in the slightest trying to cast aspersions on the Reformed churches there, but recent thinking in the country appears to be part of the postmodern zeitgeist of ‘let’s try something new for a new era’.

In ‘Doctrines of Demons and E-Church heresies’, Tom Lessing observes (emphases mine):

The motive, therefore, is not that the population of South Africa (white, black, colored and Indian) should be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ but that peace should prevail throughout the country — at what cost? Well, of course, at the cost of setting aside our doctrinal issues. Neither you nor your “aside-setting-of-doctrinal-issues-brethren” will be able to say as Joshua did in Joshua 24:15 “but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” if you disregard God’s doctrines. You can only serve the Lord with all your heart when you love and obey His doctrines. Isn’t that what Jesus taught us? …

Their plea for peace, unity and love may seem to promote a horizontal kind of love but it certainly does not enhance a vertical love toward God, simply because they are ruling out the proof for one’s love for God which is in the observance of the doctrine of Christ (John 15:10; 2 John verse 9). In fact in their endeavor to promote unity and love they are echoing the very same sentiments of the New Age …

We may conclude that the very first doctrine Satan and his devils devised to deceive mankind is a “love” doctrine that looks and sounds so much like the real thing, the result being that a multitude of saints are continually falling into their trap. This false love has given rise to a new rallying cry which you may have noticed on the internet many times: “The first Reformation was about belief; this one’s going to be about behavior. . . . The first one was about creeds; this one’s going to be about our deeds.”[1] (Rick Warren). Whose deeds are they — “our deeds” as Warren says or are they the deeds of devils?

He then follows up with a section on Eckhart Tolle with quotes from two of Tolle’s books, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose (note the word ‘purpose’, à la Rick Warren) and The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment.  It’s a strange admixture of gnosticism, pantheism and Buddhism.  Here’s a sampler (emphases in the original):

“Awareness is the power that is concealed within the present moment. . . . The ultimate purpose of human existence, which is to say, your purpose, is to bring that power into this world.” — Eckhart Tolle (A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose). (Emphasis added)

“Don’t get attached to any one word. You can substitute ‘Christ’ for presence, if that is more meaningful to you. Christ is your God-essence or the Self, as it is sometimes called in the East. The only difference between Christ and presence is that Christ refers to your indwelling divinity regardless of whether you are conscious of it or not, whereas presence means your awakened divinity or God-essence.” — Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment (Novato, CA: Namaste, 1999), p. 104.(Emphasis added).

So, yes, I can see how attractive this would be to a university student.  I also found such thinking rather seductive when I was that age. It all ties in with the seeming invincibility of youth.

Mr Lessing points out a discussion thread from April 2008 about Eckhart Tolle on Oprah Winfrey’s website, which you must read to believe.  I draw it to your attention, despite its age, because people take Tolle seriously.  And if you are unfamiliar with his teachings, it’s well worth a read.  This comment appears to sum up Tolle’s beliefs about himself, God and Jesus Christ (emphases mine and grammar as in the original):

He says he is already divine since he was born. He never needed anyone other than himself. He does not recognize the person claiming to be Jesus, as any Savior to him. His phrase “Christ consiousness” means he already “is” christ inside of his soul ,all the time he has been living. He does not believe in any way that Jesus claims, of being our Savior, or our redeemer, as Jesus Himself , stated , are true. He believes he is enough. and everyone else is “christ” , or holy enough, inside., their souls, with nothing added. That we need absolutley nothing from Jesus Christ, outside of some writings that say a few things, he likes. But not the writings or claims of Jesus as the Son of God. And Jesus death on the cross for sins , is a false claim. That means , this is a new religion. Not the religion of the Bible. iI is a religion of man as Christ. Or man as “already” god, and saying or thinking this idea, is the ‘awakening”. It is a religion of your own thoughts. Not directed by any God, but yourself.

Wow, what a heresy.  I thought back to the article I had read last week by the Catholic student and wondered, ‘Does anyone at that university know what Eckhart Tolle is about?  Or is this part of the new zeitgeist paradigm shift they want to promote?’

Mr Lessing then turns our attention to a Herescope post, also from Spring 2008, which explores Oprah Winfrey and Eckhart Tolle’s mutual admiration in more detail.  In ‘The Great Heretical Idea – Part 1: Oprah and Eckhart Do the New Age Shift’, Warren Smith writes:

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.[5]

… As Marianne Williamson writes, “We are all one, we are love itself. ‘Accepting the Christ’ is merely a shift in self-perception.”[6]

“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.”

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.’

EST (Erhard Sensitivity Training — now called Landmark Forum), which I read about quite a lot in Time magazine in the 1980s, worked on the basis of weekend seminars which you weren’t allowed to leave.  Some people attending were publicly humiliated in front of others.  They went on stage and were ‘torn down’ before a crowd so they could be ‘built up’ again and leave as new people.  But, according to the articles I read, some suffered severe trauma and required ongoing psychotherapy afterward.

Back to Warren Smith, who explains the origins of ‘shift’ and ‘paradigm shift’:

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.”[7]

Hmm. The ‘occult world’.

Note the other words used there: ‘new truths’, ‘transformation’, ’emerging’ and ‘leaders’.  We see those being used not only by the emergent pastors but also by Rick Warren, who is keen to train as many ‘leaders’ through his programmes as possible.  Whereas the emergents talk about ‘new truths’, Warren looks to ‘leadership’.  This is the way ahead along with the phrases ‘evolve or die’ and ‘change or die’, which Rick Warren also uses.  Mr Smith explains:

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.”[8] 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.

How can pastors such as Warren — a lifelong Baptist — use phrases like ‘change or die’?  Scriptural they are not.  However, it seems as if this means something more than planetary extinction.  Mr Smith goes on to say:

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.”

‘Selection process’? ‘Eliminated’? ‘Die’?  In what sense?

Yet:

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.[10] Emergent leader at the “vanguard” of church “transformation,” Brian McLaren, has also written about an Armageddon alternative [11] and just happens to be one of the featured speakers at the upcoming World Future Society’s annual gathering.

However, as Mr Smith points out:

Eckhart Tolle erroneously states that once you “awaken” to your Christ-consciousness and your own godhood, the shift is “irreversible.”[12] 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.

I had never read Matthew 24 until a couple of years ago.  It is not included in the three-year Lectionary readings — yet another entry in my Forbidden Bible Verses series.  In it, Jesus explains so much about false teachers, natural disasters and the end of the world. (Nothing about burlap bags or eco-friendly lightbulbs, I hasten to add.) A clergyman could derive a month’s worth of Sunday sermons from it.

More tomorrow

For those of you who missed Oprah Winfrey’s interview with the Dominican Sisters of Mary on February 9, you can view all the segments on YouTube. The brilliant MG Writers has found them and kindly blogged the full set. Alternatively, you read a transcript here at Oprah’s site. 

This is the order that also teaches in Ave Maria, Florida.  One of Oprah’s reporters, Lisa Ling, stayed overnight with the sisters at their motherhouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a Detroit suburb.  Some then travelled to Chicago to appear on Oprah’s show.

The sisters have revamped their website, which has some terrific pictures and insights into their life in community.  The order was founded in 1997 with four nuns.  They now have 98!  It’s the traditional habits, rules and obedience which makes this order and others like it popular.

The sisters look radiant and happy.  May God be with them in their discernment and ministry.  Let’s hope they receive many sincere requests to attend their next open weekend for women considering convent life.

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