We took an afternoon trip to Borders today and I briefly passed through the Religion section on my way to Computers and then on to the Business section. A couple books in Religion caught my eye and this was one of them: Jesus: A Story of Enlightenment by Deepak Chopra.
One of the first things I noticed (as intended by the publisher) was a blurb on the front cover by Eckhart Tolle (I have no idea who he is) that reads:
A gripping tale of one man’s archetypal journey through confusion, doubt, and despair to self-annihilation and the realization of his true identity as the ‘light of the world.’
If you stop and ponder that for a moment or two, and assuming you’ve read at least one of the four Gospels in the New Testament, that should strike you as mildly disturbing. “Journey through confusion, doubt, and despair?” I will grant that Jesus grew in his understanding and comprehension of who he was, fueled largely by much time reading Scripture and in prayer, but still, he was and is God in human form.
If you read the first eight pages that Amazon makes available in their preview you’ll see that Chopra’s intent is far different than this kind of comprehension. In this story Jesus goes on a journey while in his twenties and finds an Eastern “wise man” who apparently helps him discover who he really is. This is bizarre stuff, though I will say that the way he writes is engaging and interesting, which adds to the “danger” factor in the end.
On the back cover there is a selection of quotes that are worth noting as they help to show the direction (orientation) of the book. According to the publisher,
The New York Times bestselling author captures the untold story of Jesus in this surprising, soul-stirring, and inspiring novel.
Deepak himself says,
The Jesus who is left out of the New Testament turns out to be in many ways the most important Jesus for modern times. His aspiration to find salvation vibrates in every heart.
If that doesn’t raise the theological hair on the back of your neck then you haven’t been reading your New Testament enough!
“The Jesus who is left out”? Frankly, the Jesus who is “left out of the New Testament” is the Jesus who only exists in the imaginations of people like Deepak Chopra. “His aspiration to find salvation”? Jesus IS salvation, at least according to Jesus: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Kevin Costner? Really? Actually this is interesting because his parents live (or lived) in the same town I do. Anyway, here’s what Kevin had to say about the book:
Sometimes it takes a person outside the protective circle of religion to articulate the very point that keeps those of faith inside it. If as a Christian you are afraid of what is inside these pages, don’t be. It’s both a creative and thoughtful look at over half the world’s chosen savior. It quietly succeeded in restoring my faith in my own faith.
Every sentence in that quote is worth discussing, but I’ll settle for the final one. “Faith in [our] own faith” in the end has zero value and it doesn’t save us from anything, especially the wrath of God. Faith in Jesus Christ alone, and Jesus as the object of our faith, is really all that matters now and into eternity. Granted, I think I know what he’s trying to say, but then again, I’ve had enough discussions with people over the years who have “faith in their faith” that this causes me to wonder.
Perhaps the most disturbing words on the book are at the top of the front cover: “The New York Times Bestseller.” Many, many people will be forming their ideas about who Jesus is from this book, and other books like it (The Shack, for example), and those ideas, largely formed outside of the Bible are, for lack of a better word, wrong.
If you managed to read this far, accept my apology for the rant. Sometimes I just have to blow a little theological steam when I find something like this.