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Who does Oprah think she is? GOD?!

God, the scripture is saying, is formless consciousness and the essence of who you are.”
–Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose (Penguin, 2005), p. 219 [bold added]

This question is not meant to be disrespectful. It is meant to illustrate a point. Most amazingly, Oprah Winfrey might be the first person to answer this question with a “yes.” And, if you follow Oprah closely and participate in her new endeavors you may eventually answer this question in the affirmative also.

This teaching, that we are “God,” is at the essence of the emerging global spirituality. And Oprah has just embarked upon an aggressive campaign to educate the world about it. According to a January 30th Oprah press release, she has chosen A New Earth, which is interestingly subtitled “Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, by Eckhart Tolle, launching what is called a “pioneering venture” and “ground-breaking project” as part of a “10-part interactive Web event” to market this book to the global masses:

“Being able to share this material with you is a gift and a part of the fulfillment of my life’s purpose,” Oprah Winfrey said on Wednesday, January 30, 2008, as she revealed the 61st Oprah’s Book Club selection, A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. She added, “It was an awakening for me that I want for you, too.”

For the first time ever, readers around the world will be able to participate in a free, live interactive classroom discussion led by Winfrey and Tolle. Each weekly class will correspond to a chapter from A New Earth, with the discussion focusing on the chapter’s themes. The 10 weekly sessions will be webcast every Monday night from March 3 through May 5….

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.

So far this global education blitz has been wildly successful. According to another Oprah press release issued March 4th:

Monday night’s webcast was one of the largest single online events in the history of the Internet. More than 500,000 people simultaneously logged on to watch Oprah Winfrey and Eckhart Tolle live, resulting in 242 Gbps of information moving through the Internet. Unfortunately, some of our users experienced delays in viewing the webcast. We are working to identify the specific causes for the problems experienced and will work diligently to rectify them.

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?'”

Oprah is making a definite shift to focus more on the New Spirituality. On January 1 of this year her friend Marianne Williamson began teaching the 365 lessons from the New Age Bible, A Course in Miracles, on Oprah’s XM Satellite Radio. Page 147 of the Course Text teaches that we are “God”: “The recognition of God is the recognition of yourself. “

Oprah has hyped the New Age book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. Page 164 in The Secret states: “You are God in a physical body.”

And now, Oprah is launching an online course with metaphysical teacher Eckhart Tolle based on his book The New Earth: Awakening to Your Soul’s Purpose. 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]

Eckhart Tolle is working on “a unifying essence in the world’s religions,” according to a BeliefNet article describing his contemplative habits of “stillness.” In mystical New Age fashion he has connected this meditation practice to a misapplication of the words of Psalm 46 that we are “God”:

His new work centers on stillness as the door to a larger realm that humans can see themselves as part of. “Underneath thinking there lies `Be still and know that I am God,”‘ he says, citing the words of Psalm 46. “A deeper intelligence underlies the manifestation of all forms.”

Those who are following after the media idols of this world may discover themselves being led into idolatry. A Chicago Sun-Times article about the class even refers to Oprah as “America’s pastor”:

After making my own way through the first chapter — reading and rereading a number of paragraphs to make sure I grasped what Tolle was getting at — I had to wonder what would make 700,000 people want to commit to exploring this particular brand of East-West-hybrid mysticism.

Some say Oprah has become one of the most — if not the most — significant spiritual leaders of our time, a title I’m pretty sure she neither desires nor appreciates. If she hasn’t taken on the mantle of “America’s pastor,” she certainly has stepped into the role of Pointer in Chief — directing viewers toward people, things, concepts and ideals that she finds edifying.

Both Tolle and Oprah (through the class materials on Oprah.com) emphasize that A New Earth (which takes its name from biblical passages that talk about the creation of “a new heaven and a new earth”) is not anti-religion. (Cathleen Falsani, “Oprah’s class offers a new way to see” [emphasis and link added])

The Truth:

This teaching is not biblical, nor is it in any sense “Christian.” It is a New Age heresy as old as the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:5). Pastor Larry DeBruyn recently commented on this false doctrine in a new article:

One of my seminary professors once stated in theology class, “God created man in His own likeness and image, and man has been returning the compliment ever since.” Again, as one pundit put it, “Man is the ape that wants to be God.” In many ways, shapes, forms, and sizes, the “man-is-God” teaching still comes to us.

Though contemporary Mormons now disavow his statement, Lorenzo Snow (1814-1901), the fifth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, once said, “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become.” Pretending to be within the pale of Christendom, some Word of Faith teachers boldly tell their followers, “You are gods.”[1] Helen Schucman (1909-1981), a New York research psychologist, authored volumes which now comprise A Course in Miracles (ACIM). Over a period of seven years, Schucman claimed to have received the contents of the book by a process of “inner dictation,” the dictator, or spirit guide, in this case being an “ascended master,” Jesus Christ. Though using Christian terminology, ACIM is founded upon the fundamental premises of Eastern-metaphysical-mystical religion. In one of the course’s lessons, Schucman stated, “The recognition of God is the recognition of yourself.”[2] Among a host of other believers, authors and teachers, Schucman’s views are now widely being infused into American culture by the New Age guru Marianne Williamson, and her promoter Oprah Winfrey. Therefore, I will, in this article, address this question: Does the Bible teach anywhere that man is not God?

Other than the obvious, that God is One and not many (Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Corinthians 8:4; Ephesians 4:6), and that God is the Creator and man is the creature (Romans 1:18-23), there is a revealing prophecy that demonstrates that people are not gods, and that God, and God alone, is God. The passage is interesting in that it occurs in the context of Yahweh’s address to the Babylonians, whose culture was steeped in a new-age-like spirituality of sorcery, astrology, divination, and so on. In Scripture, the system of spirituality is known as, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” (Revelation 17:5). It was this religion that God called Abraham, the father of the faithful, to separate from (Genesis 12:1; Joshua 24:2). It was also this spiritual system which Daniel refused to compromise with (Daniel 1:20; 2:2; 4:18; 5:7; Compare Isaiah 19:3). But as it was in the case of Daniel, it should be noted that spiritual Babylonianism is most intolerant of true Christians, for John pictures the harlot as, “drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus” (Revelation 17:6). According to the Bible, Babylonianism (i.e., the New Spirituality of the New Age) possesses zero tolerance for any Christian fully committed to Christ! But to understand a core belief of Babylonianism, the belief that man is, or can become, god, an understanding of Isaiah, chapters 41-48, will prove helpful.

Singularly, Yahweh is “the” Lord. To Israel, He declares, “Remember the former things long past, /For I am God, and there is no other; /I am God, and there is no one like Me” (Isaiah 46:9). Earlier He spoke, “I am the Lord, that is My name; /I will not give My glory to another, /Nor My praise to graven images” (Isaiah 42:8). Again, again, again, again, again, and again, Yahweh says through the prophet, “I am the first and I am the last, /And there is no God besides Me” (Isaiah 44:6; See 45:5a, 6b, 18b, 22b; 48:12b). This is Isaiah’s point: From the beginning unto the end, there is one God, and only One: Yahweh. No divine essence resides in humanity, and even in our New Age, it is idolatry to believe otherwise.

Enter old-age Babylonism. Yahweh addresses them: “Now, then, hear this, you sensual one, /Who dwells securely, /Who says in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one besides me’ (Emphasis mine, Isaiah 47:8). And again, “ Your wisdom and your knowledge, they have deluded you; /For you have said in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one besides me’ (Emphasis mine, Isaiah 47:10b). Who is this sensual and deluded one who dares to assume the divine name (i.e., “I am”) of Yahweh? Why, it’s the Babylonians! About Isaiah’s address to the Babylonians, one commentator observed, “There is even an assumption of divine supremacy in these words, when compared with the frequent use of the pronoun I, in the solemn declarations of Jehovah . . .”[3] Another notes that Babylon was, “frivolously deifying herself.”[4] Like devotees to Eastern-pantheist-mystical religion, and the Schucman-like spirituality being infused into the American consciousness by Marianne Williamson and Oprah Winfrey, the Babylonians affirmed themselves to be “yahweh.”[5]

Incurably, some people are “wannabe” gods. Satan has implanted this desire deep within the human psyche. It was, and continues to be, Lucifer’s intent to want to be God (Isaiah 14:12-14; “I will… I will… I will… I will… I will…”). It was he who tempted Eve and promised her, that if she ate the forbidden fruit, “you will be like God, knowing…” (Genesis 3:5). So why should it surprise us that Lucifer would plant this hubris, this “I willing,” in the hearts of people? If Satan desires to be God, then we can assume he will dupe his followers into thinking they are “gods.” Of themselves, and like ancient Babylon, the new spiritualists will declare, “I am… I am… I am… I am… I am…” But one day, like the devil and his Babylonian lackeys, those who claim to be God will be judged and forced to bow down before the Throne Sitter. In response to their “I am,” the Lord will declare, “You aren’t!” For of Himself He has said, “I am the Lord… I will not give My glory to another” (Isaiah 42:8).

Pastor Larry DeBruyn is the author of a new book Church on the Rise: Why I am not a “Purpose-Driven” Pastor.
[1] See Walter Martin, “Ye Shall Be As Gods,” The Agony of Deceit, What Some TV Preachers are Really Teaching, Michael Horton, Editor (Chicago: Moody Press, 1990) 89-105.
[2] Quoted by Warren Smith, Reinventing Jesus Christ, The New Gospel (Ravenna, Ohio: Conscience Press, 2002) 11.
[3] Joseph Addison Alexander, Commentary on the Prophecies of Isaiah, Volume II (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1847) 201.
[4] Edward J. Young, The Book of Isaiah, Volume III (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972) 237.
[5] A student of the Scriptures must take notice of the incipient spirit of anti-christ within this old-age-Babylonian spirituality currently asserting itself in American culture by calling itself the New Spirituality. From the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, we note that of Himself, and no less than five times, Yahweh delares His singular Deity in the phrase “I am” (Greek, ego eimi, Isaiah 41:4; 43:10; 43:25; 45:22; 46:9; Compare Exodus 3:16.) Then abruptly, the prophet records Babylon saying to herself, “I am” (Greek, ego eimi, Isaiah 47:8, 10). Of course, Jesus declared Himself to be “I am” in John’s gospel (Greek, ego eimi, John 6:35, 41, 48, 51; 8:12, 18, 24, 58; 10:7, 9, 11, 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1, 5; 18:5, 6, 8). Now, in continuity with Babylon, Shirley MacLaine (And hundreds of thousands believe like her.) manifested her Babylonian-like religion when she, standing before the Pacific Ocean with arms spread out wide and in mantra-like fashion, repeatedly repeated, “I am God… I am God…” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccb2GsnOoBM&feature=related).

“O LORD, there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears.” (1 Chronicles 17:20)