Tomorrow's God ... Today's Heresy
- Monday, March 15, 2004
The postmodern world is filled with shamans, gurus, and hucksters, but few can hold a candle to Neale Donald Walsch. Author of the best selling Conversations with God series, Walsch is now back with Tomorrow's God: Our Greatest Spiritual Challenge. Given the fact that at least two of his books have hit the New York Times bestseller list, Walsch's Tomorrow's God is likely to be tomorrow's bestseller as well.
The publication of Conversations with God was one of the milestones of the New Age Movement of the 1990s. A former reporter, public relations officer, and radio talk show host, Walsch claimed that God had channeled revelation through him in the form of conversations he was then able to produce in written form. As he tells the story, these events began in 1992 when Walsch was experiencing personal failure and deep unhappiness. Intending to write a letter to God, Walsch claimed to have found his pen "moving on its own." The result was Conversations with God--and the rest is publishing history.
The New Age Movement promises spiritual meaning without theological content or intellectual rigor. Indeed, the closer you look at the New Age books and phenomena, the more ridiculous they appear. Nevertheless, millions of Americans were willing to buy Walsch's books and his vision of New Age spirituality--complete with personal liberation, sexual freedom, and a utopian social concept. As was then clear, millions of Americans preferred the user-friendly deity presented in Walsch's "conversations" to the God of the Bible.
In Tomorrow's God, Walsch takes his conversational presentation to the next level--and suggests a new deity for our future. As the new book begins, 'God' declares the need for a new deity. "In truth the old God, Yesterday's God, might have made individual lives work here and there--perhaps even many of them--but that God was never able to create a just society or a joyful, harmonious civilization, to say nothing of a peaceful world. And that God can't do that even today."
As soon becomes clear, Neale Donald Walsch's conversations with 'God' are actually conversations with himself. He admits as much in language attributed to 'God,' when Walsch is told not to "worry about whether people believe you are having an actual conversation with God or conversation with yourself. You and I know that they are one in the same. There is no God separate from you." Consistent with postmodernism's focus on the autonomous self, Walsch demands that we find God within--for this is the only God that matters.
Walsch does have a place for Jesus among the religious teachers of past ages, but he insists that we are to connect with God "with Jesus" rather than "through Jesus." According to Walsch, Jesus was indeed divine, but so is each human being.
In his earlier works, Walsch instructed his readers to trust experience rather than words--a strange recommendation coming from a man who has made a fortune writing books. Nevertheless, sticklers for intellectual consistency should probably read another author's works. In keeping with the priority of experience over words, all scripture and doctrine are relegated to minor significance, if not irrelevance. In Tomorrow's God, Walsch points his readers away from the Bible, characterizing the Bible as "old paradigm thinking."
"It was Yesterday's God whose total message was said to be found in one book, in a single sacred text," Walsch explains. "Those who know of Tomorrow's God would never make such a claim."
At this point Walsch directs his attack at the very core of Christianity. "Indeed, that is the claim that made Yesterday's God so dangerous. Because if you did not embrace one specific doctrine, brought forth by one individual source, recorded in one sacred book, you were not part of the 'community of believers' and were disapproved of, derided, shunned, outcast, condemned, oppressed, attacked, and killed." Walsch assures his readers that "Tomorrow's God will make no such claim of singularity of source, and the concepts of the New Spirituality will contain no such doctrine of exclusivity. The New Spirituality is an open system, not a closed one, ever growing, ever expanding, ever becoming what it is next going to be, sourcing itself from Life Itself, and the cumulative experience of those living it."
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