Ligon Duncan on the Non-Negotiables of the Gospel

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  • Thursday, May 29, 2008

    People Beginning to Wake Up Regarding Oprah?

    It's reported ratings are down 7% for Ophah Winfrey. While many are speculating (and I'm sure the Winfrey camp is doing their own research) as to why this is happening (some suggest her political involvement (either party issues, or gender issues, etc.) some have suggested some of this has resulted from Ophrah's espousal of New Age Philosophies. Perhaps people are starting to wake up and see through the guise that everyone who may call themselves Christian are not necessarily so! The details and evidence, once one looks into it, speaks volumes.

    I've notice Oprah's website now has a "new" spiritual advisor who is leading Oprah in a "new" cleansing diet. How many new advisors does one need when they've found the truth? How many new diets will there be? The truth is that when one is continually searching, and always having to look for something and someone new, it's not always because new is better, but because one has not found that which satisfies and meets the need to begin with.

    In the wake of the Eckhart Tolle webcasts, there's been a brighter focus put on Oprah and what she believes and teaches... and how it not only is "not" Christian, but opposes the very message that's at the heart of Christianity. Hopefully, through these things some are beginning to see the difference and become more discerning. This is good and hopefully will continue, and perhaps through it many may come even to evaluate the truth claims of the gospel itself.


    moderator said...


    Oprah is not the problem. She believes in a Big God, not a God made up of 21st century Americans that call Jesus their Buddy. Yep, say a little prayer and you go to heaven. Then you can vote like Jesus and vote for War and Republicans, because after all Jesus did say blessed are the war makers. Oh, and make sure to go after Gays as well, because Jesus never said a word about homosexuals in the bible, so I guess the WWJD doesn't apply here. But if you are a Christian in America today, have lunch after church at Red Lobster, even though the bible says it's an ABOMINATION to eat Shrimp- oops, sorry, didn't get that scripture. And have all the Christian leaders like Ted Haagard, the Evangelical Big Dude, preach family values, yet he gets caught sucking a young boys penis and doing meth. WWJD, lol. And Be like Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn, and tell people that if they give money, they are doing God's work, but if they build an orphanage for young girls like Oprah- now that's EVIL! If Jesus came back today, most evangelical blogs would condemn him as some new age crazy guy, just like they did 2000 years ago because he didn't fit in the religous box of the time. No, the Jesus taught by the church today is Pro War, Pro Judgement, Pro hate and knows that they have truth and everybody else is wrong. My bible says, you shall know them by their fruit. Look at Oprah. What has she done? Hardly the antichrist. Yet look at all the "Christians" like Larry Craig, Jimmy Swaggart, Ted Haagard, Ken Copeland, on and on. Fornicators and war mongers and deceivers of the true Gospel. Anyway, have a nice day and remember, Jesus loves you very very much, and if you don't want to believe it he will burn you in hell.

    August said...

    Well, that's quite the little rant there.

    You claim that the church teaches falsehoods, but then you don't offer any arguments to substantiate what you said.

    Ad-hominem attacks are not arguments nor evidence, they are just unsubstantiated opinion. Pointing to the sin of men in no way diminishes the gospel, no matter how much you want it to.

    And no, the Bible is not just limited to what Jesus said, even He referred to the other Scriptures.

    But it does seem like you hold to an idea that people are saved by what they do, which you are welcome to, but it misses the mark by a wide margin.

    But since you mentioned it, why don't you tell us about this "big God" that Oprah believes in. What are his characteristics? In which way do you come to know him and of him?

    And while you are at it, why don't you substantiate some of your wild accusations against Christians and the church in general? I'm sure you are aware that the church does not consist purely of the Benny Hinns and Ted Haggards of the world?

    jazzycat said...

    you said.....
    No, the Jesus taught by the church today is Pro War, Pro Judgement, Pro hate and knows that they have truth and everybody else is wrong.

    You seem to be very judgmental in placing the entire church in one box. Certainly the church is made up of sinners just like those outside of the church. Your bitter and angry attitude with the human beings that lead and are in the church is not crucial to your spiritual destiny. However, your relationship with Jesus Christ is of utmost importance. Have you rejected the gospel of Jesus Christ or are you receptive to an encounter between you and the living God? (No flawed human beings.... just you and Jesus)

    swordbearer said...

    Seems like August and Jazzy have said it all and said it well; that is ... with one exception concerning your accusation about the shrimp, which I will gladly clear up for you (something which should be quite easy since you yourself so fondly exalt the teachings of Jesus). Did HE not say "What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.'"?

    jasciu said...

    Some (not all) of Tolles ideas are supported by scholarship. The drive toward infinite growth is the main fault of the ego and that is reflected in our cultures institutions. On the surface we really don’t feel we will actually die, but deep down we do know it is ievitable. Thus, our institutions reinforce that imaginary striving toward unlimited growth. In particular the confusion of symbolic abstract thinking with self and consciousness. Nonhuman animals with little symbolic ability have worthwhile lives on this planet thank you. Please don't take my word on this. Google "Terror Management Theory".

    Here is a summary:

    1) We are animals first, humans with imaginations second. We live in a dangerous world, in an unsure world where death is just around the cornor. Try to remember your own anxiety as an infant or notice the fearful stages of growth in your children, especially when they realize how dependent they are on the adults. Humanity was also in this state of anxiety in our early history. Tigers were big and all we had were spears. Part of us feels this all time. We feel vulnerable in our animal natures and limited. We strive for growth, mastery and propagation just like every living thing that has ever existed. We crave and greed for anything that represents more abundant and secure biological life - even when it is actually taken care of in our advanced civilization. In the following essay remember we are animals. Thinking animals but animals nevertheless.

    2) However, we are social animals - like some herd or pack animals but not at all like big cats, sharks, or hawks. We need each other and the group to compete against other animals and nature. But we also compete with our fellow humans for mastery and status. Knowing our place allows us take on specific jobs in the group and to feel purpose and meaning. We test and gauge our status wihin the group. We especially need other love and recognition. Early in history and our physical skills were the important measure of worth but that soon turned to social skills. The function of our direct perceptual senses is to gauge our level of security, protection and worth/recognition within the group. Getting our fellow humans approval and esteem enhances this protection because somebody is literally watching your back. In a sufficiently advanced civlization, when the food supply, healthcare, shelter and education are taken care of the impulse to grow - to have more abundant life - does not go away. That is because the emotional part of us knows we are still limited and vulnerable without our cultural and group protections. So we unconsciously compare worth, significance and power in our society - to find our place in it and to gather as many protectve affliations around us as possible.

    3) As our brains evolved and abstraction and symbolic abilities developed we imagined we could be gods! Our situation was so perilous in the wild we tended to make false correlations in nature, thus creating “magic” to allow us to feel more in control. Eventually, our egos created complex systems of symbols representing physical skills. We created institualized ritual to control the environment and its ceremonies to control each other. Magic turned into religion. Religion turned into divine states. Divine states turned into secular society and political philosophies. Thus, magical ritual, religion and its decendent instutions allowed for defined heirarchy, castes, classes and organizational efficiencies.

    We freely give up our freedoms to percieved "heroic" higher authority. Our egos do not like to hear we have weaknesses or are simply competing status seeking animals, or we are the cause our own suffering or that we are vulnerable, limited and will one day die. So we seek ways of removing our guilt and feelings of vulnerability by latching on to anything or anybody who can make us feel secure, safe and confident that all will be well, and in their care that we will prosper, grow, be significant and live a much fuller life. This is the “heroic impulse”. It is pervasive within all cultures except the most simple and egalitarian. We value and acknowledge those symbols (not reality) that which will make us feel safe or make us feel like winners. Of course, this had loads of survival value in the forest because some did have real skilled hunter gatherers - but the impulse has been distorted to an absurd point.

    Acquisition of possesions, titles, status, large families, and attachment to symbols far and long divorced from actual survival needs is what drives our culture and politics. The impuluse for more, more, more drives our economic systems. In fact, it is OUR need for MORE and our unconsciousness of why we desire MORE that creates the economic system - a system that depends on 4% growth per year despite that fact that we live in a finite world with finite resources. Unbridled and un-reflective thinking in service of the fear of death is what makes the human animal insane in comparison to other species. The fundamental confusion is taking mere words or concepts to be reality.

    4) Biologically, abstracting egos arise from the left hemisphere of the brain. The symbolic processors of the left brain take fear arising from the amygdala and rationalizes an insulating symbolic defense - many of which are words or concepts. The left hemisphere also tends to mask perceptual realities of the right hemisphere since this holistic part does not harbor linguistic processors. The right hemisphere cannot argue for itself even though it harbors many intelligences! This effectively removes feelings of vulnerability and fear from our thinking selves but it also veils broader realities and perceptions that could have survival value. This is a necessary condition for mental health and negotiation in a highly symbolic environments which most people live in. Cultures are systems of symbols that reinforce a consensual strategy against this fear of death. Or, at least, a “social symbolic death” with insignificance or loss of approval among our fellows. Cultural values change as the demands of survival from the environment change. We create complex symbolic absolutist views and cultural sanctioned rituals, rules and behaviors that institutionalize the strategy against death because total faith brings the most confidence. That is why suicide bombers say they love death as much as we love life - they are assured at place in paradise. These emotional displacements provide order and sense of meaning to our world and provide confidence. The value of the concept of immortality, gods and single great hero, God, has provided the greatest sense of relief for many cultures.

    5) Furthermore, We create conflict and suffering through mutual exclusive competing symbols within and between our arbitrary rule-bound cultures. Thus, individuals will constantly compare who’s up and who’s down, one street gang will fight another over graffiti, how clothing is worn, territoral encroachment; soceer games will erupt in violence over a game, republicans and democrats will demean and “symbolically” fight each to other’s social death (the inability to influence others). Our egos constantly strive to strengthen its stature compared to others. Our egos are willing to defend, belittle or even fight to the death any symbol or person who threatens our unconscious immortality symbols because our ego’s imaginary life is at stake. The impulse to prove oneself right and the other wrong is simply the defense of the ego against imaginary death.

    6) Whether it be God, Nirvana or our imagined legacies on earth, or our political philsophies our egos find something to latch on to, no matter where we live. Cultures, religions and all absolutist philosophies exist to provide approval-seeking humans ways of organizing, encouraging, coping, prospering, staving off fear of death and moving civilzation forward (toward what??). We are social beings that create our own environments whose need for a sense of belonging and self esteem is universal so convienently adopt the prevailing notions that imply worth. The need for human connection and approval is primary and real, cultural values are secondary and imaginery.

    7) Our egos can be exploited, controlled and abused by those who use our needs, hopes and dreams to suit their own agendas or by those that insist to withdraw their respect unless we tow the cultural line. We all, quite naturally, give our loyalty and our lives to those who best can communicate to our emotions the symbols that promise security and strength but most importantly - a sense of belonging. The sucess of leadership is proportional to the level of alignment of culturally adopted values to the real demands of the environment. Blind following often leads to disaster. Following, a worldview, hero or personal expression is only useful to the extent that it actually haromonizes with the reality of others, other cultures and the physical environment.

    8) So, we only contribute more suffering in the world when we allow the ego unbridled comparison, identification and power-seeking or when we let our egos get competitive, defensive huffy and violent over whose coping mechanisms, behaviors, opinions are best. Judgment and negativity is the primary diagnostic of absolutism - whether it is ubridled praise or criticism. Acceptance (tolerance), enjoyment and enthusism is the primary diagnostic for awareness of the extreme comparative activity of the ego.

    9) We could spend our time much more profitably by recognizing more when our ego’s comparative and defensive functions operate and instead look to our fundamental common needs - food, health, education, need for belonging and personal expression. We could look to our common problems and working together to make a difference, rather than defending our egoic coping belief systems or sense of status and worth or defending out-dated cultural systems and pet idealogies.

    10) Ultimately, all human activity is “religious” or “political” in that any activity that provides a sense of mastery of life over death tends to held on to. We must be vigilant in the tendency for our human psyche to attach to absolutist concepts or worldviews. The unconscious denial of death is the primary motivation for humanity. This irrational motive lies behind science, art, technology, politics, philosophy and culture. The only solution is to accept tolerance as a fundamental moral, to treat intolerance with intolerance, expose ourselves to other cultures, come to empathsize with them, communicate with them, catch ourselves holding onto absolutist worldviews or ways-of-life and be willing to mutally compromise and adapt. We could also ensure that everyone can participate in a sustainable economic system rather than a growth model, have healthcare and safety, shelter, modes of self expression and encourage a sense of belonging in local communities. At the very least, we can avoid situations that harbor extreme absolutist mind-sets or practices - even create disincentives if a real danger to broader tolerant cultural values is immenient. Or, we could all just move to Canada or Denmark.

    So, what do we do with this information? How does it relate to A New Earth? Of course, we step back and put it in perspective.

    There seems to abit of confusion on the healthy development of consciousness on this blog. It would help to realize there is place for religion in the world. . Mostly, it is ignorance of the process.

    As Tolle has discussed in Power of Now and A New earth, the sublimation of the fear of death into the unconscious is what drives people to attach and identify with forms (symbols representing protection worth, and meaning).

    Or, more accurately, the development of symbolic strategies of protection keeps the conscious anxiety of our vulnerability at bay. We also get our self esteem, worth and security through group approval by adopting prevailing values. It is difficult for people to understand and feel because most people HAVE successfully adopted cultural symbols that staves off the feelings of anxiety. Some people just will not let go of cherished beliefs. But, the dangerous and evil result is that unconscious acts of aggression are acted out when the symbols are threatened by other mutually exclusive symbols or just taken away from us (Suicide at loss of a job, or when very compelling world view mentions “your religion”, even the impluse to prove another wrong because you become the winner or just giving up on the common good for self-interested belief)

    Lets get real here. You can help another by affirming Christ’s love, and his promise of paradise. You can also lead a healthy and happy life within a Hindu, Islamic, Buddhist, etc. subculture. You can even die with sense of salvation. The point is there are many cultural world views that assist people to live healthy happy confident life. Its the teaching of absolutism that is destroying the world.

    In an increasingly “globalized” world whose cultural boundaries are blurring, there is last stand of intolerant teachers the continue to set up invariant believers to judge, distrust or even hate others.

    The insistence that belief in a divine Jesus is the only way to peace, self esteem and confidence is ultimately evil and damning of otheres just as the belief in a unlimited american dream is our birthright. Greed for prestige and forms above and beyond what is required for a healthy, happy and educated social life is destroying our world.

    Jesus had many insights. He taught to look beyond institutionalized ritual and look inward toward the individual's relationship to the to God. In that way, he shared the same self-reflective insights of Buddha, Mohammed, and Lao Tsu, et. al. Since his teaching emphasis was the relationship between old Judiac ritual and a fresh view of self-reflective salvation he found no need to teach tolerance. Thus, the tragedy is: we have been handed down intolerance ie "I am the way, the truth the life. Only through me will you go to heaven (paraphrase). All ideologies or activities with which we identify harbors intolerance, but many of worlds religion's explicitly teach intolerance.

    The paradox is, that we absolutely need to develop some “healthy” anxiety displacements to develop self esteem and confidence in growing up. Sometimes children need to know their is a “guardian angel” protecting them from the “boogey man” in the closet. in Religion has its place. In fact, a lack of magical thinking destroys creativity - we lose the ability to fluidly associate and marshal genius. However, when the displacements become rigidly absolute, people will become very aggressive in defending them. There seems to be a healthy arc of development that involves a increasingly generalized worldview.

    1) Identification with parental heros and development of self esteem by their early unconditional love and then getting their approval from successful negotiation of the social rules they present.

    2) Differentiation from the parents by successfully identifying with and negotiating cultural rules or societal expectations - Tolle’s “world of form”

    3) Getting a sense of approval and belonginess from subcultures that are relatively more aligned to broader accepted cultural values. Choosing heros, beliefs, activities and groups that allow some sense of security, direction, personal expression and sense of worth and significance within the culture.

    4) Realization that there is way beyond form (Presence) in which can get a sense of security and that your way or anyone else’s is not absolute. We finally separate imaginery status symbols from the actual biological requirements of healthy and happy social life.

    To clarify and review, the mechanism of denial the death
    drives our cultural institutions and economic systems. If you remember the answer is that, individually, on an emotional level, and collectively through institutional conventions, we deny the bodily
    perception (or true awareness) that we will actually die. Perceptions are bodily feelings and senses that can be more attuned to reality than mere IDEAS or concepts. This is real physiological reason for our gross
    aculturized behaviors. This includes scientific culture.

    Rationality itself is a system of logical thought that is powerful tool in controlling the environment and by default, our security and safety. Thus the irrational will to live and/or be significant/have meaning drives most everything.

    Our culture and economy is based on the assumption of infinite growth and dominance of the natural environment. Science and technology is part of the madness that assisted us. We are finally beginning to see the limits of these assumptions.

    Since our logical and symbolic abilities IMAGINES that the status (love and recognition) that we receive from others when we acquire possessions, titles, power to influence others, the ability to travel, and be “free” is somehow going to forestall the inevitabilty of death we must somehow provide this need as much as we need food, water, shelter and self-expression.

    Getting away from the
    denial of death and the denial of physical limits and our addiction to the behavior of comparitive behaviors - that constant newsreel assessment of each other in terms of whos up and whos down - must change. This behavior
    drives the collective madness and consumes the limited resource base of the planet. This madness that eventually that will lead to global warming and a total environmental breakdown.

    Experiments on the economic decision making seems to point to the force of feeling of “what is in for me” - either logically, in terms of real financial gain or by the social advantage and social consequence of the decision. Since our culture determines that arbitrary heroic values can bring social advantages as well as finanicial we leverage the latter to effect the former. We create governmental institutions that promote cooperation, respect, tolerance, a sense of belonging, taking only whats needed, more conscious egalitarian ethics. Look to Denmark as a model. They have been consistently measured as the happiest most contented country on the earth

    So, the surprising conclusion is one which the Beatles sung about! All We Need is Love. We need social policy that engenders our community involvment, nuturing of self expression, research into economic models that provide for
    the care, love, belongingness and respect of everyone despite the
    presence or lack of talents, special powers or prestige.

    We need to minimize competition and increase cooperative and sustainability principles in our economic models, religions and governments.

    Only then can we come to the realization that our economy can based on sustainable and mass balance principles. Of course realigning an economy based on cooperative principles rather than competitive principles is going to take the adoption of the this new kind of consciousness.

    I have been told that the current situation is thus:

    - Easy to extract crude oil is mostly used up now. What remains will be harder and more expensive to extract. All the oil in Alaska, ANWAR included, and offshore for the U.S. won’t make much difference. ANWAR, best case, would provide 5% of the U.S. daily oil case. Not enough to make up for the declines in output we’re seeing

    - For about 500 years we’ve been able to base our society on
    continuous growth, because there were new continents to fill in. Those days are over. We can’t realistically plan on growth elsewhere, since it would take more energy to move 100 million people to Mars than there is energy from all sources in the Earth’s crust (oil, gas, uranium, thorium, etc). We gotta make it work right here, on a planet
    about 8000 miles in diameter and it’s not going to grow anymore.

    - There *is* a blueprint of sorts for what comes next; there’s a
    school of economic and scientific study around the “Steady State
    Economy” (Google it, one leader is World Bank economist Herman E.
    Daly). Interestingly, the platform for social change cuts across traditional liberal and conservative lines. In a nutshell, SSE features no *physical* growth, but the *qualitative* growth continues. i.e., every 10 years your refrigerator is recycled and your new refrigerator is more amazing than ever.

    The free market would work in the context to these limiters on growth and would force qualitative (not quantitive) improvement in our lives.

    (1) Maximum and minimum limits on personal income, and a ceiling on personal wealth

    (2) Transferable birth licenses

    (3) Depletion quotas for natural resources including pollution costs

    Read for more information

    BPmmx said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    BPmmx said...

    ha ha ha

    incredulous said...

    Clap, clap, clap, Moderator. Well said and finally a breath of fresh air and (new age!) truth to this tired place of closed minds and fear-based beliefs. I grew up in a cult like this and if it weren't for people like Tolle, Oprah, Wayne Dyer, Denise Lynn, Louise Haye, Debbie Ford, Neale Diamond Walsch, Abraham (the list of these "false teachers" is endless, THANK GOD!), my mind would still be closed and my spirit trapped in the fear-based cage of this narrow-minded ancient way of believing. I love learning new things and I feel so blessed to living in this New Age (sorry, folks, I know you all hate that sinful phrase) with a mind and spirit that know no bounds :-) And most especially, NO FEAR OF "HELL"; NO FEAR OF "SIN"; plus the absolute LUXURY of knowing that it is my BIRTHRIGHT to be loved by my Creator!! My joy and ultimate salvation are not dependent on my ability to accept some loony story that originates with a "virgin birth"; I no longer fear each big world event as "a sign that the end is near" where crazy monsters are going to be killing people and fire is going to engulf us all and "all hell is going to break loose." The list of crazy beliefs attached to this lunacy is as long as my beloved list of "false teachers" ;-) Does anyone ever stop to wonder WHY these supposed "false teachers" are so popular? It's because their messages FEEL RIGHT. THEY ARE NOT SCARY. THEY ARE NOT SHAME BASED. THEY JUST ARE. This board is right, people ARE "waking up regarding Oprah." They are seeing a very respected, generous, gracious loving woman STEP OUTSIDE OF THE TINY BOX OF CHRISTIANITY, AND ALLOWING HER SPIRIT TO SOAR! Sorry folks, I hate to disappoint you, but the loss of a mere 7 percent ratings caused by narrow minded fundamental Christians who are now her worst critics pales in comparison to the amount of personal growth she is embracing and instinctively wanting to share with others. Don't flatter yourselves and don't waste too much time worry about Oprah. At the end of the day, I'm pretty sure she'll be just fine :-)