Almost Heaven

Imagine a society cleansed of all sickness, crime, and poverty. Sounds a lot like heaven, doesn't it? Heaven on earth is what one popular novelist is promising--and millions of readers are eagerly lapping up his false gospel. James Redfield's new megahit, The Tenth Insight, has been riding the bestseller lists since it was published last April. The novel opens with Redfield's hero intoning words from the Book of Revelation: "And I looked and saw a new heaven and a new earth." But Redfield's heaven is a New Age one ushered in when we discover that we're all part of God. In The Tenth Insight, Redfield's unnamed hero travels to Appalachia, where he meets other people attempting to get in touch with their spiritual side. The group hits a kind of spiritual critical mass and goes into another dimension, where they tap into the divine. In Redfield's cosmic vision, before birth we're all part of a great spiritual force that pervades and guides the universe. We can reconnect to this force--Redfield calls it achieving "union with God"--by recalling what it was like to be part of God before we were born. How do we recapture this knowledge? We do it, Redfield says, by tuning into the "spirit within"--to the fragment of the universal spiritual force that supposedly remains in all of us. As soon as enough people find union with this universal spiritual force, Redfield claims, society will be transformed. Sin will disappear; poverty and disease will be wiped out. We'll all live in perfect harmony, just as the Book of Revelation promises. The problem with this scenario ought to be obvious to any Christians with a couple of Bible verses under their belts. Redfield is not only embracing pantheism, he's doing away with the entire concept of sin. He's offering salvation without sin, without repentance. This is nothing new. It's a promise almost as old as Christianity itself. Back in the second century, a heretical sect broke off from the church and became known as Gnostics. Gnostics claimed that all men are divine and that redemption comes through a mystical knowledge of our own inner divinity. You might say that in the New Age movement, the ancient Gnostic heresy has made a comeback. Just like in the second century, people are tempted by any promise that we can be saved without having to give up our sins. It's a promise that a lot of people are embracing. Redfield's first novel, The Celestine Prophecy, has sold more than five million copies, and a movie based on Redfield's books is in the works. That means millions more people will be exposed to Redfield's false gospel. When we hear our friends discussing The Tenth Insight, you and I have to remind them of what the Bible says: that we're not going to find heaven on earth. Nor are we going to find a shortcut to salvation that allows us to hang onto our favorite sins. And that anyone who says we can is a spiritual Wizard of Oz--nothing but a humbug.    


Chuck Colson


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