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."
"Out with the old, and in with the new" is Walsch's basic theme and he presses it with vigor. His conversational style couched with the familiar phrases of the self-esteem movement appears to soften the impact of his argument. Nevertheless, Walsch's vision in Tomorrow's God is nothing less than a deliberate subversion of Christianity's central truth claims.
According to Walsch, Tomorrow's God will not need our service, is completely opposed to organized religion, and is bemused that human beings have developed structures such as government and law. Walsch's invented deity does not need or desire to be worshipped and thus demands no reverence. This newly-designed deity is also free from the Law of Non-contradiction, and gladly embraces contradictory "truths" without conflict. This aspect of Walsch's thinking demonstrates his dependence upon Eastern modes of spirituality and his rejection of the Western understanding of truth and language.
With all the excitement of a would-be visionary, Walsch points to the coming age of a "New Spirituality" that will be marked by intellectual humility, unapologetic inwardness, world peace, and harmony among all peoples.
This New Spirituality will dictate a new form of world government as well, and Walsch spins out a vision of a one-world government that would make the most ardent devotee of the United Nations blush. Walsch promises a world wide deliberative body charged "to look, on behalf of humanity, at issues of global concern and to then, by consensus vote, recommend courses of action to the various national deliberative bodies, which will, in turn, and also by consensus vote, make a recommendation to the national electorate." Once this is done, all the people of the world will cast a vote on a single day, with a two-thirds affirmative vote required of every nation in order for a measure to pass. "This is just one way all this might be done. There could be a hundred different proposals put forth now on how all this could come together. The central idea, though, and the idea emerging from the New Spirituality as I begin to feel it, would be to move the power from the hands of the select few into the hands of the many--of all the peoples of the earth." Tomorrow's God reads like a version of the Communist Manifesto produced by a drug-smoking anarchist without enough sleep. World peace is achieved, economic prosperity is enjoyed by all, and the lion lies with the lamb. The need for national defense has disappeared and the Pentagon will be transformed into the "Office of Shared Solutions." A "Peace Room" will replace the White House's "War Room."
Beyond all this, the greatest transformation Walsch promises is within the self, rather than without. Tomorrow's God will banish fear and guilt and make clear that he will never punish anyone. "There is no such thing as Right and Wrong--and that is something your children would do well to learn, so they do not perpetuate the Right/Wrong paradigm when they grow up and run the world." Well, that would certainly make parenting an easier task--no need for discipline, moral training, or moral discernment.
Unsurprisingly, Tomorrow's God is an avid proponent of same-sex marriage, and merely encourages people to make whatever connections seem right at any given time. Since right and wrong are no longer useful categories, sex is simply a matter of individual expression for no higher purpose than pleasure. "In the days of the New Spirituality, human sexuality will be experienced as the joyous celebration of life and the glorious expression of Godliness that it was always meant to be, it will be expressed without embarrassment or shame or guilt and without restrictions or limitations of any kind, except those that are voluntarily self-imposed."
Well, there it is. Tomorrow's God presents a New Age deity custom designed for an age of moral relativism, sexual anarchy, and protean self-esteem. The entire project would be laughable, if not for the fact that millions of Americans will read the book and find in it all the reassurance they need to remain secure in their New Age inwardness and moral rebellion.
In tomorrow's world--as described in Tomorrow's God--with right and wrong banished forever from the human vocabulary, all people should be free to express themselves by stealing Walsch's book, refusing to pay his royalty payments, and expressing the self at his expense. Of course, we can be certain that the author of Tomorrow's God would surely retaliate with today's rules. In the end, that's all you need to know in order to understand what Walsch is really all about. As we all learned during the Watergate crisis--follow the money.
Albert Mohler is an author, speaker and President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. This article first appeared on Crosswalk.com's Weblog page.