Ligon Duncan on the Non-Negotiables of the Gospel

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  • Wednesday, June 18, 2008

    Tolle vs Christianity

    Since we have had a lot of comments here that say that Tolle and Christianity are saying the same things, let's have a quick comparison.

    Nature of God:
    Tolle - God is an impersonal force and/or cumulative energy of the universe.
    Christianity - God is personal,sovereign, transcendent, knowledgable, and interested in the universe.

    Nature of Creation:
    Tolle - Everything in the universe is interrelated as the same underlying consciousness and energy, and constitutes God.
    Christianity - God is the creator of the universe and is separate and distinct from the universe.

    Ontology of God and creation:
    Tolle - All reality is a one unified consciousness called God, and everything that exists is part of God.
    Christianity - God is outside of the time/space dimensions of the universe.

    Nature of truth:
    Tolle - Truth is within the person. ("Your very Being is the truth"). Your version of the truth depends on your state or level of consciousness, and that affects how you view reality.
    Christianity - Truth is what is revealed by God in His Word. 66 books written by human authors inspired by God over thousands of years with one central ground motive, creation, fall and redemption.

    Nature of Reality:
    Tolle - Reality is ultimately illusionary and temporary, and one can create their own reality by achieving a higher level of consciousness.
    Christianity - Both the physical and spiritual world and has absolute form and existence. Denying either realm of reality has real consequences.

    Tolle - Right and wrong is relative. It depends on your inner self what you consider right and wrong.
    Christianity - Man is created in the image of God, and that includes an absolute sense of right and wrong as God-given. The Bible serves as an explanation of God's moral law.

    Tolle - All that exists is a self-propagating evolutionary system.
    Christianity - God created all that is by the power of His Word, with universal and transcendent laws to govern His creation, subject to decay after the fall.

    Nature of Man:
    Tolle - Humans are part of the overall spiritual consciousness, along with everything else that exists, with the potential to reach a god-state.
    Christianity - Man is made in the image of God, but is fallen into a state of sin.

    Humanity's problem:
    Tolle -Unaware of his own potential because he is in a underdeveloped state of consciousness.
    Christianity - Original sin that made man unrighteous before God, no matter how many good things he does.

    Salvation (solving humanity's problem):
    Tolle - Become conscious of your own self, reach higher levels of consciousness through self-awareness and disposing of thoughts in the ego.
    Christianity - Believe in and trust in the substitutionary atonement of Christ, through the free gift of faith through grace from God.

    After death:
    Tolle - The self dissolves and becomes part of the greater universal consciousness again.
    Christianity - The soul passes on to judgment before God and an everlasting existence in heaven or hell.

    It is clear that the teachings are significantly different and mutually exclusive. While Tolle quotes Christ, what he teaches is by no means compatible or related to Christianity.

    For those calling themselves Christians, it is decision time. Who will you follow?


    swordbearer said...


    This is a perfect example of why your posts are so valuable - clear, concise, to the point.

    There's no way a reasonable person can read this and then come away saying Tolle is saying the same thing as the Bible.

    You've shown the "FORK" in the road with great clarity. The question now is "Where will each individual put their trust?"!

    jazzycat said...

    It is amazing at what our post-modern culture will accept as logical and true.

    Puritan Lad said...

    Lesson learned: Doctrine does matter.

    db said...

    Choose who you will follow? 40 years of faithful following Christ. To the ends of the earth. Literally. And my choice?

    Give me Tolle.

    He provides a clear alternative to the Bible. For that we can all be grateful.

    August said...

    db, thanks for the comment.

    While I am saddened by your choice, at least you have the honesty to say that Tolle is an alternative to Christianity.

    What made you choose Tolle over Christ?

    rt said...

    I really don't understand why it has to be either/or, and personally I like both. I guess that makes me a wishy washy Christian but I don't care and quite frankly doubt Christ is all that upset with me either. I find a lot of meaning in Tolle's idea of living in the present moment and I am finding less and less meaning in staying stuck in past paying penance to my transgressions. I am also learning to be okay with who I am right now, not always striving to be "more". So I guess I disagree with your idea of a fork in the road, and I will keep walking right down the middle with both of these men as my teachers.

    swordbearer said...


    Thanks for your comments and openness concerning your position.

    1. What do you mean by staying "stuck in the past and paying penace for my transgressions"? (Are you suggesting this is a Christian position?)

    2. How can you agree with both teachers when one reveals that the substitutionary atonement of Christ was necessary and the othere suggests it wasn't?

    Anonymous said...

    I agree with rt--why must we choose one or the other. I think Tolle's teachings are very compatible with the teachings of Christ, although they are written differently.
    I feel closer to the Lord when I can clear away mental noise and simply "be".
    Christ's forgiveness and salvation parallels Tolle's teaching of "letting go of the past".
    Christ's teaching of "not worrying for tomorrow" is the same as Tolle's teaching of "being present in the moment"
    Christ's teaching of "being in the world, but not of the world" is the same as Tolle's teaching of "detaching ourselves from the notions and concepts we derive from the world".
    Christians need to stop being so close minded keeping God in the box of "Christianity". Mere religion cannot capture the vast wisdom and love of the Father. Perhaps Tolle has an alternate interpretation of the bible, just like so many "christians" interpret the bible differently.
    Stop being so fearful, Christians