Recently I took the time to obtain a number of books by Neale Donald Walsch, author of Conversations with God (www.cwg.org). For a while it looked like I would have the opportunity to respond to Walsch’s contentions in a televised setting, but he has now declined that engagement. So, I did not want the investment to go completely wasted, so I will note a couple of issues relating to these books here on the blog, hoping that some of you who have family susceptible to such New Age style materials will be helped.
Walsch’s books are based upon his claim that God (please define that in a sufficiently nebulous, New Age/Eastern mysticism form to fit this less-than convincing “conversation”) has engaged in a number of “conversations” with him, which he has dutifully written down (in an almost automatic writing style). He is currently making a healthy living selling these “conversations” in an ever-growing number of books, doing seminars, and in essence making his fortune through repackaging, yet again, the “same ol’ same ol'” of New Age theology regarding God and creation.
When I purchased “Book 1” I went to my favorite Mexican restaurant with my daughter, Summer, and started scanning for “give-away” topics in the book. It did not take long to run into a glowing example of where Walsch’s “God” flunked basic history. Now remember, this is supposed to be a “conversations” between Walsch and God. I will put Walsch in italics:
The Bible writers were witnesses to the life of Christ, and faithfully recorded what they heard and saw.
Correction. Most of the New Testament writers never met or saw Jesus in their lives. They lived many years after Jesus left the Earth. They wouldn’t have known Jesus of Nazareth if they walked into him on the street.
The Bible writers were great believers and great historians. They took the stories which had been passed down to them and to their friends by others—elders—from elder to elder, until finally a written record was made.
And not everything of the Bible authors was included in the final document.
Already “churches” had sprung up around the teachings of Jesus—and, as happens whenever and wherever people gather in groups around a powerful idea, there were certain individuals within these churches, or enclaves, who determined what parts of the Jesus Story were going to be told—and how. This process of selecting and editing continued throughout the gathering, writing, and publishing of the gospels, and the Bible.
Even several centuries after the original scriptures were committed to writing, a High Council of the Church determined yet one more time which doctrines and truths were to be included in the then-official Bible—and which would be “unhealthy” or “premature” to reveal to the masses.
And there have been other holy scriptures as well—each placed in writing in moments of inspiration by otherwise ordinary men, none of whom were any more crazy than you. (p. 67).
Here we have the standard New Age attack upon biblical sufficiency, accuracy, and history, this time under the guise of the poor benighted human learning from God that what he had heard all along was all wrong (shades of Da Vinci Code again). Walsch’s “God” turns the eye witness accounts into distant recollections; they are only recording oral traditions passed down to them (note the confusion here, not recognizing the difference between, say, the passing down of information that becomes collected into an historical work in the Old Testament and the recording of the gospel accounts themselves). Then we have the ever-present “some stuff is missing” story, always laid at the feet of the “church” or “churches” of the early centuries. The fact that the farther and farther back we push our knowledge of the manuscripts of those very accounts only confirms the primitive form of the text as that which has been passed on to us somehow escapes “God’s” notice. And then, as if Shirley MacLaine didn’t get enough mileage out of her fanciful histories of the church, a wonderfully nebulous “High Council of the Church” (you’d think “God” would at least be able to tell us with some specificity when and where this allegedly happened) performed a final “edit” and suppressed even more “truth.” Evidently, “God” does not have to provide any factual basis for such claims, even when they fly in the face of all known facts, and in fact, are directly contradictory to the state of the New Testament text today.
This is followed by one of many, many passages where “God” lays the foundation for people viewing Walsch’s meandering fictions as “Scripture,” which, in fact, is his long-term goal. One of the books I obtained, from 2002, is titled, The New Revelations: A Conversation with God. The cover proclaims, “One of the most important spiritual statements of our time.”
There will be no end of these new “gurus” claiming special knowledge and conversations with “God,” so how can a Christian be prepared to respond to all their individual quirks and viewpoints? Obviously, no one can become a master of all false teachers. Instead, knowing the truth about the history of the text of the Bible, the canon, the transmission of the text over time, etc., will allow you to respond to all of these gurus as they come, making their fortune, and fade from view.
Toward that end I’m pleased to note that we are truly hoping to have Scripture Alone available for shipping around the first of October (rather than later in the month as we expected). We should start taking pre-orders soon. Keep an eye on the column to the right for an announcement of when we will start taking pre-orders for signed copies, and plan on helping us get this work, which defends the inspiration, inerrancy, sufficiency, and perspicuity of the Bible, by getting it in the hands of your elders, or, if you are a teacher, your students.