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Jeff Johnson – OneNewsNow – 3/27/2008 8:00:00 AM

A Christian author who was saved out of the new age movement says media icon Oprah Winfrey has become a false prophet for a false Jesus.

Oprah WinfreyOprah Winfrey identifies herself as a Christian. But she says that, when she was a young woman, she was disturbed by a pastor’s declaration that the God of the Bible is a jealous God. “And something about that didn’t feel right in my spirit because I believe that God is love and that God is in all things,” she told her television audience. “And, so, that’s when the, the, the search for something more than doctrine started to stir within me.”
 
Warren Smith, author of
Reinventing Jesus Christ: The New Gospel, is a Christian who was saved from the new age movement. He says Oprah’s search led her to Marianne Williamson and the new age teachings of A Course in Miracles.
 
“Marianne Williamson was on Oprah back in 1992 with her book about the Course in Miracles,” Smith recalled, “and back then, Oprah said, ‘I believe that the principles of A Course in Miracles can change the world’ — and she’s saying the same thing today.”
 
Williamson is now promoting A Course in Miracles through daily classes on Oprah’s XM satellite radio channel. “I will be on Oprah & Friends every single day talking about the ideas in A Course in Miracles,” Williamson said during a promotional announcement for the program. “We can have miracles. We can have greater inner peace. We can shift from an experience of fear to an experience of greater love.”
 
Oprah told her audience that she has no problem reconciling the differences between the new age religion she is now promoting and the Christian faith she claims. “I reconciled it because I was able to open my mind about the, um, the absolute, indescribable hugeness of that which we call ‘God,'” Oprah said. “I took God out of the box.”
 
But Smith, appearing on the March 11 edition of the
AFA Report, said the false teachings of A Course in Miracles should be obvious to any Christian. “Here are some of the lessons: Lesson 29, ‘God is in everything I see.’ Lesson 186, ‘The salvation of the world depends on me.’ 253, ‘My self is the ruler of the universe.’  337, ‘My sinless-ness protects me from all harm,'” Smith said, quoting from the lessons. “This is the Bible upside-down.”
 
Smith also criticized Oprah for the selection of Eckhart Tolle’s new age book A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose as her book of the month.
 
“It reminds me of Jeremiah 5 where he says, ‘A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land, the prophets prophesy falsely and my people love to have it so,'” Smith explained. “What is more wonderful these days than Oprah? A wonderful and horrible thing is happening in the land, the prophets prophesy falsely. Oprah — by now teaching this class with Eckhart Tolle — is no longer a pointer to deception. She is a false prophet and part of it herself.”
 
Christians have an obligation, Smith concluded, to point out the error of Oprah’s new age “christianity,” even if doing so means risking public ridicule.
 
“Unfortunately, Oprah does so many things that are really good [that] people make the mistake of thinking that she’s on to something with this whole spiritual deal,” Smith argued. “What she’s doing is, she’s creating a new worldview. They’re calling it a ‘shift’ that will prepare people for when the next shoe drops.
 
“And this will be the way that world peace would be achieved,” he said,
explaining the new age philosophy behind A Course in Miracles, “by everybody adopting this view that ‘we’re all one because we’re all god, we need to come together, we need to be in unity.’
 
“And the only people who are going to hinder that are the people who are saying, ‘No, we’re not God. Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior.’
 
Internet evangelist Bill Keller, appearing on Fox News Channel’s Cavuto Report, echoed Smith’s warnings, calling Oprah the queen of the new age gurus. “These new age teachings are really sucking in millions of people to these false philosophies, these false theologies, and they’re literally leading people to Hell,” Keller said. “Oprah, whether she knows it or not, is really being a conduit to lead people to Hell.”

Note to the Reader

When I began writing Reinventing Jesus Christ: The New Gospel in August 2001, I obviously had no idea that the tragic events of September 11, 2001 were about to take place. Because my book was to be a much needed update on the false Christ of the New Age Movement, I watched in amazement as key New Age leaders suddenly appeared on primetime television providing spiritual commentary regarding September 11th. Most viewers had no idea that these spiritual “experts” were really New Age leaders, and that their seemingly positive comments actually cloaked a New Age spiritual agenda—a Peace Plan founded upon cleverly repackaged New Age teachings. These reinvented New Age teachings were now being described as the “New Gospel” of a “New Spirituality.”

New Age leaders were all over the media after September 11th with their synchronized sound bites and spiritual analyses, emphatically declaring that terrorism is not to be defined by what people do, but by what they believe. They argued that terrorism is a spiritual problem that requires a spiritual solution. And while this statement is not untrue, their spiritual solution—a New Age Peace Plan—was no solution at all. For hidden away within this Peace Plan, and buried beneath all of their positive exhortations for love and peace and oneness, was another plan—a plan that was unknown—even to many of them. It was a plan to eliminate biblical Christianity and all of its followers. The New Age/New Gospel Peace Plan promised peace and safety to those who went along with their plan, but persecution and death to all who opposed it. And while this “selection process” was never publicly discussed on Oprah, Larry King Live, or Good Morning America, it was clearly documented in their New Age writings.

Widely introduced in the media after September 11th, the New Age Peace Plan was a definite sign of the times. The New Age Movement and its reinvented “Christ” hadn’t gone away; the leaders were moving full speed ahead. What had only been a theoretical New Age threat prior to September 11th was now a very real New Age threat—and it was coming right at the church.

Observing what was going on at the time, I tried to faithfully convey what I was learning about the New Age/New Spirituality and the emerging Peace Plan. The first edition of this book exposed the false New Age “Christ” behind the New Age Peace Plan. It also uncovered some of the key New Age leaders who have popularized his teachings in the world. I carefully documented how this New Age “Christ” and all of these New Age leaders were now on the same page and saying the same things. I explained how this dedicated group of New Age leaders had formed a single unified organization—the Global Renaissance Alliance—to push their Peace Plan forward.

Reinventing Jesus Christ also described how this New Age/New Gospel Peace Plan was purposefully designed to deceive the world and the church. My original book asked some hard but necessary questions concerning church leadership. Why had so many church leaders become strangely silent about spiritual deception and the New Age movement? Why were these same church leaders starting to sound more and more like their New Age counterparts? Were they being seduced by the very teachings they should have been exposing and renouncing? Had they somehow been blinded to what was really going on? Were they actually falling for the New Age Peace Plan and the New Spirituality? Were they unwittingly walking the church into a spiritual trap?

In October 2002, just four months after Reinventing Jesus Christ was first published, Rick Warren published his bestselling book The Purpose-Driven Life. What became apparent to me, after reading his book, was that he seemed to be leading the church into the very trap I had just warned about in my book. Deeply troubled by many of the things this popular pastor was teaching and alluding to—including his own “P.E.A.C.E. Plan”— I wrote Deceived on Purpose: The New Age Implications of the Purpose-Driven Church. It was published in August 2004.

Reinventing Jesus Christwas written and published before I had ever heard of Rick Warren or his “Purpose-Driven” movement. It was based on what I was observing in the New Age movement during the fall of 2001. It was a simple but straightforward warning to the church about the deceptive purposes and plans of the New Age “Christ.” But to this day, most Christian leaders still continue to ignore the spiritual deception that is in their midst. As a result, the New Age/New Gospel/New Spirituality has accelerated its move into the church.

In this online presentation of Reinventing Jesus Christ I have also included new updated material at the end of each chapter. Much has happened in the last four years. If Reinventing Jesus Christ is read prayerfully and carefully, one should be able to understand how a very real false Christ is effectively convincing the world and the church into accepting his New Age Peace Plan and his New Gospel/New Spirituality. Hopefully, by understanding the deception, the reader will be better equipped to stand fast against it.

Warren Smith
July 2006

To read the book Pl go to http://www.reinventingjesuschrist.com/

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By Nathan Busenitz

Today’s article is a continuation of our series on why we can trust the reliability of the New Testament gospels. Today we will consider an eighth reason the biblical account of Jesus’ life can be trusted.

Eighth, the main points of Jesus’ life as presented in the NT gospels accord with other non-biblical sources.

It should come as no surprise that the major events of Jesus’ life would be noted by more than just the writers of the New Testament. As Paul told Festus, speaking of King Agrippa, “The king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner” (Acts 26:26). The early Christians were to be witnesses “in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8); hence the message about Jesus quickly spread throughout the Roman Empire.

We would expect, of course, the testimony of the early church fathers and the Christian catacombs to reflect what is taught by the New Testament gospels. And that is indeed the case. Ignatius (c. 35–107), as just one example among many, wrote of “the birth, and passion, and resurrection which took place in the time of the government of Pontius Pilate, being truly and certainly accomplished by Jesus Christ.”[1] Time and again, Ignatius affirmed the basic tenets of the New Testament gospels. For instance, in his Epistle to the Smyrnaeans, he wrote:

I glorify God, even Jesus Christ, who has given you such wisdom. For I have observed that ye are perfected in an immoveable faith, as if ye were nailed to the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, both in the flesh and in the spirit, and are established in love through the blood of Christ, being fully persuaded with respect to our Lord, that He was truly of the seed of David according to the flesh, and the Son of God according to the will and power of God; that He was truly born of a virgin, was baptized by John, in order that all righteousness might be fulfilled by Him; and was truly, under Pontius Pilate and Herod the tetrarch, nailed [to the cross] for us in His flesh. Of this fruit we are by His divinely-blessed passion, that He might set up a standard for all ages, through His resurrection, to all His holy and faithful [followers], whether among Jews or Gentiles, in the one body of His Church.[2]

Of note is the fact that a great number of early Christians were so convinced of the truthfulness of the gospel accounts, that they gave their lives as martyrs as a result. (Ignatius himself died as a martyr.) It is impossible to imagine they would have done so for something they knew was a fable. “The disciples’ [and by extension the early Christians’] willingness to suffer and die for their beliefs indicates that they certainly regarded those beliefs as true. . . . Liars make poor martyrs.”[3]

Second, we would expect to find details about Jesus in Jewish literature, since the Jews were eyewitnesses to the events of Jesus’ life and death (cf. Luke 24:18). Peter underscored the Jews’ familiarity with Jesus in his sermon on the day of Pentecost, “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:22–23). If such momentous events actually occurred, as are found in the gospel accounts, it would follow that the Jews made mention of such things.

And they did. Jewish sources such as Josephus (37–100), the Mishna, and the Bavli (Babylonian Talmud) indicate that the Jews were familiar with Jesus, His miracles, His death, and the claims regarding both His virgin birth and His resurrection. While they did not respond to these things in faith, they also never responded in a way that questioned the historicity of Jesus. Rather, their testimony only adds credibility to the reliability of the New Testament accounts. In the words of Princeton scholar Peter Schäfer, “The rabbinic sources (again, particularly the Bavli) do not refer to some vague ideas about Jesus and Christianity but they reveal knowledge—more often than not a precise knowledge—of the New Testament.”[4] In other words, the depiction of Jesus in rabbinic literature (although negative in its opinion about Jesus) accords with the picture of Jesus presented in the biblical gospels.

Ancient Roman sources, too, confirm the historical validity of the main points of Jesus’ life. Thallus (first century), Celsus (second century), Lucian of Samosata (115–200), Porphyry of Tyre (b. A.D. 233), Suetonius (c. 70–130), Pliny the Younger (c. 63–113), and others provide secular Roman testimony to the fact that Jesus really lived. The details they share about Jesus, though sometimes sparse, coincide with the New Testament gospel accounts. As New Testament scholar Gary Habermas observes, “We should realize that it is quite extraordinary that we could provide a broad outline of most of the major facts of Jesus life from ‘secular’ history alone. Such is surely significant.”[5]

As one example, the Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus (c. 55–120) wrote about the fact that Jesus was a real historical figure and that He was put to death under Pontius Pilate. In referring to “the persons commonly called Christians,” Tacitus recounts that “Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius.”[6] This, of course, corresponds to the accounts given by the New Testament writers (cf. Matt. 27:2; Mark 15:15; Luke 3:1; John 18:29).

For the sake of space, we will not belabor this point much longer. However, the fact is that when we include both the biblical and non-biblical sources, “what we have concerning Jesus actually is impressive. . . . In all, at least forty-two authors, nine of them secular, mention Jesus within 150 years of his death.”[7] Moreover, the ancient non-biblical sources affirm the major tenets of Jesus’ life as told in the New Testament gospels. In the words of historian Edwin Yamauchi:

Even if we did not have the New Testament of Christian writings, we would be able to conclude from such non-Christian writings as Josephus, the Talmud, Tacitus, and Pliny the Younger that: (1) Jesus was a Jewish teacher; (2) many people believed that he performed healings and exorcisms; (3) he was rejected by the Jewish leaders; (4) he was crucified under Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius; (5) despite this shameful death, his followers, who believed that he was still alive, spread beyond Palestine so that there were multitudes of them in Rome by A.D. 64; (6) all kinds of people from the cities and countryside—men and women, slave and free—worshipped him as God by the beginning of the second century.[8]

Thus, the testimony of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is collaborated by a veritable cloud of non-biblical witnesses.

From Pulpit Magazine.

* * * *

Notes: 

[1] Ignatius, Epistle to the Magnesians, chapter 11 (shorter recension). We would follow the opinion of William R. Schoedel, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, 3:384-385, who contends that the shorter (middle) recension of Ignatius most accurately reflects his original letters.

[2] Ignatius, Epistle to the Smyrnaeans, chapter 1. Shorter recension.

[3] Gary R. Habermas and Michael R. Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2004), 59.

[4] Peter Schäfer, Jesus in the Talmud (Princeton University Press, 2007), 122.

[5] Gary Habermas, The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ (Joplin, Mo.: College Press, 1996), 224.

[6] Annals XV, 44; cited from Josh McDowell, The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1999), 120-21.

[7] Habermas and Licona, 127.

[8] Edwin Yamauchi, “Jesus Outside the New Testament: What Is the Evidence?” in Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995), 221.

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