(This originally appeared in the Winter 2000 edition of the MCOI Journal beginning in page 6)
Continuing his string of bestsellers after Conversations with God: Books 1,2, and 3, author Neale Donald Walsch has coauthored another book with “God”: Friendship with God. As shown in a previous article for the MCO Journal on Conversations with God, Book 1, there is no reason to assume Walsch is actually transmitting messages from God, although this is what he believes. Desiring friendship with God must take a back seat to examining what this God is saying. If this really is not God, then all the advice given by Walsch and his “God” should be disregarded, since the source would be a liar.
In spite of the verbosity of this book, no new ideas are revealed. It all boils down to the same old story: We are all one, we are one with God, truth is based on your feelings, thinking must be put aside to experience spiritual truth, there is no right or wrong, and there are many ways to God.
Since it is not clear that this is the true God, Walsch’s God will be referred to as “G” throughout this article to avoid confusion and for the sake of brevity.
Walsch’s Fear of God
Walsch goes into detail about his background and various experiences as to how he applied lessons learned from people or circumstances. We gain insight on why Walsch has been so desperately seeking a kinder, gentler God when we learn that his Catholic background, rightly or wrongly, taught him to fear God. He recounts several episodes from his childhood, including one in which his aunt tells him that his mother will be punished by God for “trafficking with the devil” by reading Tarot cards.1Neale Donald Walsch, Friendship With God: An Uncommon Conversation, (New York: G.P Putnam’s Sons, 1999), p 07 Walsch was only six at the time. This fear was reinforced at a Catholic school, where Walsch and the other students had it drummed into them to go to Mass, say the rosary, go to confession weekly, take Holy Communion, etc. in order to avoid God’s anger. Walsch attacks the rules he says dominate religions around the world. Though he does not name names, he makes reference to other branches of Christianity and to Islam.
Walsch assumes his experiences to be true for everyone and apparently has never questioned this. His misunderstanding of Christianity and apparent ignorance of the Gospel of Grace lead him to reject the Judeo-Christian God and set him up as a perfect target for what seems to be new spiritual freedom offered by an entity claiming to be God.
We Are All One
That we are all one and that we are one with God is the central, recurring theme of this book. Walsch asserts it even before his friend G starts talking, and it is repeated often. Since we are one with God, we are divine. G tells Walsch in one of his little ditties, “Your Will and Mine, is that will which is Divine …”2Ibid p224 This impresses Walsch, as does much of what G tells him, although many of the sayings are shallow or are mere repetitions of previous New Age and Eastern clichés. Walsch has come to the great understanding that life is an illusion, and we are creating the reality around us. This idea, originally from Hindu beliefs, was adapted into the New Thought teachings found in Christian Science and the Unity School of Christianity years ago, as well as becoming part of New Age thinking. However, Walsch is just now experiencing what he calls “the Ultimate Reality of Oneness, with You and with everything and everyone.”3Ibid pp225-6
Not surprising, we learn that, as part of Walsch’s spiritual journey before writing the G books, he spent time with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross whom he claims taught him about a God who would never judge. Then he explored several religions, including Buddhism, finally becoming an enthusiastic follower of a woman named Terry Cole-Whittaker, who was a minister with The United Church of Religious Science (another New Thought church). While he was on staff at her church, he absorbed her teachings on “a God of unconditional love” and on the “power of God” which resides “within all of us. This included the power to create our own reality and to determine our own experience.”4Ibid p284-5
Feeling separate as an individual is an illusion, an illusion we maintain with our “drama” so that we can “play out … all the various versions of Who You Are,” according to G.5Ibid pp288 & 290 It is up to us whether to experience the illusion or live outside it and experience Ultimate Reality. And how do we do that, asks Walsch. G replies:
“Be still, and know that I am God. I mean that literally, Be still. That is how you will know that I am God, and that I am always with you. That is how you will know that you are One with Me. That is how you will meet the Creator inside of you …”6Ibid p291
Later, when Walsch is told that to apply this message, he must “be it,” not “do it,” G says, “Is it not written: And the Word was made flesh?”7Ibid p294 Walsch asks how he can know that for sure, and G tells him “You are, quite literally, the Word of God, made flesh … Speak the word, live the word, be the word. In a word, be God.”8Ibid p395 Walsch, trying to understand this, asks if he is supposed to be God. G tells him he is not supposed to be anyone, he’s just telling Walsch “Who You Really Are.”9Ibid p395
Once Walsch can really live out this truth, and be one with “All That Is,” then others may call him “God, or the Son of God, or the Buddha, the Enlightened One, the Master, the Holy One—or, even, the Savior.” Walsch will be saving everyone from forgetting their Oneness10Ibid p409 since we are all “The Alpha and the Omega.”11Ibid p249
And since one’s self is God, loving one’s self is loving God. “Love your Self, for God’s sake,”12Ibid p344 G tells Walsch.
In fact, the purpose of life according to G, is “to create your Self anew, in the next grandest version of the greatest vision ever you held about Who You Are.”13Ibid p174 This phrase is repeated ad nauseam throughout the book.
The New Gospel
Rather early in the book (page 50), G tells Walsch there is no Judgment Day and no condemnation or punishment except that which we inflict on ourselves. This is another major theme that is asserted and illustrated over and over. At one point, G tells Walsch the idea of a God who does not punish is considered heretical, and that he (Walsch) might have to “abandon the church in order to know God. Without a doubt, you will have to at least abandon some of the church’s teachings.”14p67 There is no reference to other religions. G is unusually preoccupied with abandoning “the church’s teachings.”
G takes out the specter of the forbidding, angry God from Walsch’s childhood, waves it in front of him, and asks how anyone could be friends with that God. Then G compliments Walsch on his courage to explore non-traditional ideas, taking millions of others along with him through his first book, Conversations with God.
Since life is an illusion, so is evil, and we should accept everything, even things we disagree with. “You would have us embrace the devil himself, wouldn’t You?” challenges Walsch. To which G replies: “How else will you heal him?”15Ibid p321
Walsch starts pushing G on this, asking if it’s true that no one should be punished for anything. G replies that is something we have to decide, but “highly evolved societies” have learned that letting someone suffer consequences for their action is better than punishment.16p313 Consequences are suffered on the inside of one’s self, which is more effective than outside punishment. Walsch never asks who or where these “highly evolved societies” are.
G is able to get by with a lot using high-minded sounding phrases and big words that seem to get Walsch off track. Walsch never asks the obvious questions, such as: “Should we open the prison doors and let everyone out?” or “Should we do away with all our laws?” Walsch is satisfied when G pontificates on punishment and the need for one to experience consequences without going into the practical details. In fact, the conversation quickly takes a turn into Zen-like statements about being “fully present, in every single moment” in order to be totally loving.17Ibid p317
There is a climactic message all this talk about no right or wrong is leading into which finally is stated as “The New Gospel.” It is introduced after G first states there are “a thousand paths to God” which all get you there.18p357 G declares in “The New Gospel” that no one way is better than another: “There is no master race. There is no greatest nation. There is no true religion … or one and only way to Heaven … Only the truth I give you here will save you: WE ARE ALL ONE.”19Ibid p359 Walsch is directed to carry this message “far and wide” around the world.
This New Gospel, according to G, will do away with wars, conflicts, turmoil, and disharmony on earth. The New Gospel will also take away our fear that we will not survive, because G assures us that our survival is guaranteed, and “death is only a horizon.” 20Ibid p359
Since he is “One with everything,” Walsch wants to know if it’s okay to swat a mosquito? G evades the question for several pages, giving speeches on love and liberally quoting from the Bible—sometimes changing the words. Walsch finally reminds G he has not answered this question. G replies that, since all life is one and acts together, Walsch actually cannot kill the mosquito “against its will.”21Ibid p371
Walsch at least recognizes the danger here, and points out this could create “behavioral anarchy” which would allow people to do whatever they wanted. Coyly, G replies we already have that, because we are already doing what we want. Walsch then points out our doctrines and laws of good and evil, right and wrong, etc. would be done away with by G’s message, and we would need a new message to replace our old system. There is a new message G announces, to replace the old one. It is the message that will bring us back to God, “The New Gospel: WE ARE ALL ONE” which is a “new message of total responsibility” telling us that we are all choosing together what happens. The only way to change what happens is to make these choices together.22Ibid p375
Immediately afterwards, G adds to “The New Gospel” this phrase, “OURS IS NOT A BETTER WAY, OURS IS MERELY ANOTHER WAY.”23Ibid p404 This is a phrase (always in all-caps) introduced earlier in the book without explanation, that is now declared to be part of “The New Gospel.” There will be a “shift” to this thinking, G announces, although those opposed to “The New Gospel” might cause “chaos.”24Ibid p373
Of course, in blatantly rejecting that any religion teaches any truth, including the idea there is only one way to God, G is passing judgment on such teachings. He offers his “New Gospel” as the way to end conflict on earth, stating that it is the “only message that can change the course of human history”25Ibid p381 —a statement that his “New Gospel” is superior. Thus, G proves he is not above making judgments as he said he was. In fact, he is contradicting what he has said about himself and what he has been teaching Walsch.
Late in the book, G seems to become peeved by Walsch’s statement that G keeps repeating himself. “You keep repeating yourself.” G responds, “Your whole history has been a repeating of your own failures—in your personal life, and in the collective experience of your planet.”26Ibid p381 Gee, G, I thought you didn’t condemn anyone for anything!
If the concept of “better” does not exist, and there is no right or wrong, G has just violated his own teachings by passing his judgment and offering his solution. G does this elsewhere in the book, but it’s hidden in flowery language or embedded in a speech on another topic. An example of this is when G explains how the illusion of our separate beings came about. G tells Walsch that if he uses the ego as a tool to experience the “Only Reality, it is good,” but if the ego is using Walsch to keep him from that reality, “it is not good.”27p80
It’s as if G is a clever magician who gets the reader’s attention with a shiny diamond in one hand, while he palms a coin in the other. A reader paying close attention can catch on to his technique.
We Can Swallow Better
When We Aren’t Thinking
After each astounding idea, before Walsch can delve into the possible consequences of such thinking, G takes Walsch down another beautiful path and entrances him once again. How can G get readers to accept these ideas? How can he keep us on the path of “The New Gospel?” Well, it would certainly help if we think that thinking will keep us from true understanding. Thinking can only get us to question the fallacies, inconsistencies, and contradictions enmeshed in G’s ideas. Thinking would be something G would prefer the reader not to do, so G sets up the reader to think that thinking is bad.
G tells Walsch that he cannot find any answer quickly by think ing about it. “You have to get out of your thoughts, leave your thoughts behind, and move into pure beingness.”28Ibid p194
G urges Walsch to “awareness,” which is not thinking. “Get out of your mind. Remember, you are a human being, not a human minding.”29Ibid p195
“Thinking is another form of being in a dream state. Because what you are thinking about is the illusion,” says G, so he advises that from time to time, “it might be good to stop thinking all together. To get in touch with a higher reality.”30Ibid p200 Then G gives instructions on how to meditate, based on Eastern techniques, in order to stop thinking.
Our “true state of being” is the “supraconscious”— a place “above thought.”31Ibid p245 The supraconscious is the combination of the superconscious, conscious, and subconscious “rolled into One— and then transended.”32Ibid p245 G impresses Walsch by telling him that they are into very “complex, esoteric understandings” where the “nuances, become very delicate.”33Ibid p246 This is G the magician at work again covering up shallow, meaningless terms by describing them as complex, when in reality they are no such thing. None of G’s ideas are complex so much as they are wordy.
The crowning blow to thinking comes when G tells Walsch how much he loves everyone, that when “My children” sing, there are no “sour notes.” G throws out a line of what he considers poetry: “The soul is that which beholds beauty even when the mind denies it,” a statement which strikes Walsch with awe.34Ibid p385 Temporarily blinded by this, Walsch listens as G continues by telling Walsch to always see things with his soul, because his soul will see the beauty of “my words. Your mind will deny it forever. It is as I have told you: to understand God, you must be out of your mind.”35Ibid p385
If Walsch or the reader really did think about this statement, it might give them pause. What G is really saying could be stated this way: “If something appears beautiful to you, or if I say something that sounds good, go for it; ignore what your mind and powers of reason tell you because that might cause you to see it is not really beautiful.” Could this not be the perfect motto for an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:13-14)?
Walsch’s Call To Action
On a secondary level, this book could be seen as a promotion for many people in what could be called the New Spirituality movement. Some of the people mentioned are: George Lucas, Wayne Dyer, Marianne Williamson, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Ed Asner, Shirley MacLaine, Ellen DeGeneres, Anne Heche, Dr. Gerald G. Jampolsky, Dr. Bernie Siegel, and Gary Zukav. Walsch also mentions the names of books written by those who are authors and gives brief biographies of their accomplishments. At times, Walsch’s praise of these people borders on the slavish, as when he calls one a “Master.”36Ibid p273
G even claims to have inspired both Ken Keyes, Jr. in writing A Handbook to Higher Consciousness and New Age writer John Gray.37Ibid p109 G also takes complete credit for giving filmmaker George Lucas the phrase, “May the force be with you.”38Ibid pp228-9 G agrees with Walsch that the late Keyes is now with G “free of his wheelchair.”39Ibid p110 Walsch is now becoming a “messenger” like Keyes, G approvingly tells him.
Walsch’s closing remarks advocate taking action. He first mentions a program called “Dahnhak,” which he says he has personally investigated and which is designed to help one connect “with the Creator Within.”40Ibid p418 Dahn is supposedly an exercise/meditation program
using the life force “Ki” or “Chi” for physical health and “spiritual awakening.”41p419 The writer of this article typed “Dahnhak” into her search engine and came up with a site for a Dahn retreat center in Arizona. There also were sites warning of the cultic tendencies of some Dahn groups in which people are recruited as free labor for various “masters.” Either Walsch is unaware of these warnings, or he is ignoring them.
Walsch has not been passive with the advice he has received from G. He and New Age advocate Marianne Williamson co-founded the Global Renaissance Alliance for people who desire to use “spiritual principles and social action to change the world.”42Ibid p421 Their Board of Directors reads like a New Age Who’s Who: Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Jean Houston, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Thomas Moore, Carolyn Myss, James Redfield, and Gary Zukav. This organization includes a Wisdom Circle (people answering letters with questions),
a Crisis Response Team (volunteers giving information about their communities and sometimes acting as “lay counselors” to people who call during a spiritual crisis). Also available is a Resource Network (groups of people around the world working on “spiritual and human betterment projects and ideas”43Ibid p422).
Walsch is also staring a new kind of school for children, the Heartlight School, partly with the purpose of helping to lead them “to their own inner wisdom.”44Ibid p423 Walsch foresees these schools opening across the planet. There are also Re-creating Yourself retreats, newsletters, and other ways to be involved to help bring about a “fundamental shift in our collective consciousness.”45Ibid p424 Until we realize that we are all One and speak with the one “voice of divinity within us,”46Ibid p426 we cannot have peace. Not surprising, another book by G and Walsch is planned—Communion with God. Walsch concludes (imitating the pretentious style of his mentor, G): “And that Voice shall be heard across the land—on Earth, as it is in Heaven.”47Ibid p426
Walsch unquestioningly accepts that G is God, although G gives no evidence he is who he says he is. G evades questions, contradicts himself, makes sweeping grandiose statements with nothing to back them up, has trite platitudes for philosophy and schtick for humor, butters up Walsch, and offers shallow advice culled from previous New Age writings. In fact, every single idea offered by G, which seems to strike Walsch as profound wisdom, was an idea this writer studied or read about starting back in the late 1970’s when she was personally involved in Eastern and New Age beliefs. And this is supposed to be God—a gooey, gushing marshmallow of a god with a greeting card mentality?
One has only to compare the depth and beauty of the Psalms and other biblical poetry with some of G’s own offerings—such as “God is life, at its highest vibration” or “It bathes the mind with the wisdom of the soul”—to see the vastly inferior quality of G’s creativity. It must be this lack of talent and originality that drives G to constantly borrow from the Bible and weave it in with his own declarations. In the middle of one speech, G veers off into quoting the famed Ecclesiastes 3:2 passage, “A time to be born, and a time to die,” ending this by saying it is time to awaken to truth because “deliverance is at hand.”48Ibid p230
In fact, maybe feeling he needs more than his usual grandiose and pretentious proclamations with which to end the book, G follows a final speech about how everyone is God by quoting extensively from I Corinthians 13. G concludes the passage with “then you knew in part, now you understand fully, even as you are fully understood. This is what it means to have a friendship with God.”49Ibid p415 A few more remarks are made about love, and the book ends with G and Walsch gushingly adoring each other.
G, who offhandedly refers to Jesus as a Master a few times, apparently rejects the words of Jesus in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” by constantly telling the reader there are many ways to God, and we all will get there since we are all God. In fact, G teaches against everything that Jesus taught, including how our sinful nature is in need of a Savior since, according to G, “there is no saving to be done at all, for love is what every soul is.”50Ibid p211 In contrast, Jesus said,
“You search the Scriptures because you believe they give you eternal life, but the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me so that I can give you this eternal life.” (John 5:39-40)
According to G, God is all-accepting and condemns nothing. Even a Hitler would have to be accepted. Here is a question for Walsch and those who accept G’s advice and solutions: Would you be willing to live according to these principles? Under G’s system, there should be no punishment for anything, you must accept everything, and no one can say anything is better than anything else is since “no behavior is even called wrong.”51Ibid p315 If all beliefs are equal, you cannot judge practices such as widow-burning, cannibalism, pedophilia, Satanism, or female genital mutilation.
To build the “Highly Evolved Society” described by G, you would have to live according to the only real command given and defined by G: Love yourself. You would have to do away with that outdated religious morality G so despises. You would have to live with “anything goes” in sexuality, relationships, and religions—even though this might produce repellent practices.
You would, according to G, have to allow everything and condemn nothing. Are you willing to live like this? Are you truly willing?Ω
Marcia Montenegro, a former astrologer and follower of New Age/Eastern practices, now has a ministry, CANA/Christian Answers for the New Age, PO Box 7191, Arlington, VA 22207. E-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2015, Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc. All rights reserved. Excerpts and links may be used if full and clear credit is given with specific direction to the original content.
End Notes [ + ]
|1.||↑||Neale Donald Walsch, Friendship With God: An Uncommon Conversation, (New York: G.P Putnam’s Sons, 1999), p 07|
|5.||↑||Ibid pp288 & 290|
|8, 9.||↑||Ibid p395|
|19, 20.||↑||Ibid p359|
|25, 26.||↑||Ibid p381|
|31, 32.||↑||Ibid p245|
|34, 35.||↑||Ibid p385|
|46, 47.||↑||Ibid p426|