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Concerning Cults

March 2004 | by Eryl Davies

Conversations with God

by Eryl Davies

The title sounds good. You may even think it is a reference to prayer. However, you should not be deceived. In subtle and blatant ways these ‘conversations’ contradict the divine teaching of the Bible.

But why refer to them here? There are two reasons for doing so. First, these ‘conversations’ are popular, easily available and are influencing many people.

It was in 1995 that Neale Donald Walsch formed Re-Creation, the Foundation for Personal Growth and Spiritual Understanding.

Early in 2002 this name was changed to the Conversations with God Foundation. Between 1995 and 1998, Walsch published the Conversations with God (abbreviated to CWG) trilogy — three books in which he records answers God allegedly gave him to specific questions he asked.

Millions of copies of the trilogy have been sold. The first volume appeared for five months on the New York Times best-sellers list.

The trilogy has been translated into twenty-seven languages and is sold in over thirty countries. He has other popular books.

A second reason for writing about CWG is to warn against the spiritual blindness and emptiness that characterise Walsch’s life and Foundation. Is this a picture of your life? If so, read on.

I am going to ask five basic questions about CWG.

Mixed up

Here is the first question: Who is Neale Walsch? He was born in Milwaukee in the United States to a Roman Catholic family. His mother encouraged him to fear God and cultivate a relationship with the divine.

But she was obviously confused and did not know the Bible. She rarely went to church and explained to her son, ‘I don’t have to go to church — God comes to me. He’s with me and around me wherever I am’.

The lady was mixed up. Certainly, God is with believers and is also omnipresent. God is not confined to religious ‘temples’. Nor is the church a building — it is a visible company of men and women, young and old, who believe personally in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour.

But believers want to ‘go to church’ — not to visit a building or shrine but to share fellowship with their brothers and sisters in Christ and, even more importantly, to hear the Word of God preached. Believers should not neglect such privileges or live in isolation from one another (Hebrews 10:24).

One thing is clear. Walsch’s mother’s influence on him was profound. Whether in school or in a catechism class, he probed people with his questions about God, religion and spirituality. He wanted satisfying answers.

Emptiness

Sadly, he turned to the writings of different religions; but they did not help. Abandoning his University of Wisconsin degree course, he changed jobs regularly in a restless search for satisfaction, and eventually established his own marketing firm.

He achieved success but at a price — including four marriages and divorces, deteriorating health and homelessness. Despite being re-employed, he felt a deep emptiness and despair in his life.

The year was 1992 and he was desperate. At this stage, he imagined that he had received messages directly from ‘God’. It was these messages he published as a trilogy under the title Conversations with God.

These and other books have propelled Walsch and his latest wife, Nancy, into the public eye. They now travel extensively to proclaim their CWG message.

Not the voice of God

Now my second question: How did Walsch discover his ideas? An incident in his life early in 1992 is important if we want to answer this question responsibly.

Walsch tells us he woke from sleep in despair one night and decided to write a letter to ‘God’. His question was a simple one — ‘What does it take to make life work?’ He scribbled his thoughts down on paper.

The claim is that Walsch ‘heard a voice, soft and kind, warm and loving’ providing him with answers to his questions. This voice and the answers seemed to be ‘inside his head’.

Walsch may have had a known medical condition in which sufferers ‘hear voices’ in their heads. Or perhaps he misinterpreted his own thoughts as the voice of God — a common (though serious) mistake and one that the devil encourages and exploits.

However you explain the ‘voice’ Walsch claimed to hear, it was not the voice of God. For God has spoken in the Bible, giving us an adequate, perfect and final revelation of himself and his purposes.

That is why the Lord Jesus declared, ‘Thy Word is truth’ (John 17:17). It is in and through the Bible that God speaks.

Are you searching for God? Do you want reliable answers concerning issues like life, forgiveness, death, heaven or hell? If so, read the Bible and go to a Bible-believing church where God’s truth is taught.

Foolishly, Walsch turned away from the light of the Bible. Despite his claim that he was engaged in ‘a two-way on-paper dialogue’ that seemed ‘exactly like taking dictation’, what he wrote down were his own thoughts, not God’s.

Recycling

The third question is this: What does Walsch teach? His website (www.cwg.org/en) provides the answer for us. The CWG messages, we are told, ‘can be reduced to four sentences’.

These are: ‘1) We are all one; 2) There’s enough; 3) There’s nothing we have to do; 4) Ours is not a better way, ours is merely another way’ (About Conversations with God, p.1).

All that Walsch is doing is recycling New Age ideas and Eastern mysticism. In fact, CWG is ‘part of an avalanche of Eastern, New Age and occult-literature’.

Basically, the CWG message is that man’s purpose on earth is to ‘realise’ he is God, ‘a divine part of the divine whole’. Each person is ‘the sum of God’.

From this false premise of pantheism, other major errors follow — the fierce rejection of central Christian doctrines like sin, wrath, atonement, conversion, sanctification, heaven and hell.

Seriously wrong

Our fourth question is this: Where is Walsch wrong? The answer is a brief one — everything he teaches is wrong, seriously wrong.

Consider the big and real picture the Bible gives us. God is; he is independent of, and transcends, creation, though he sustains it and rules over it.

There is a huge gap between ourselves as creatures and God as creator: ‘I have made the earth’, God declares, ‘and created man on it. I — my hands — stretched out the heavens…’ (Isaiah 45:12).

God is wholly other — separate from humans and nature. Pantheism, which supposes that nature is God, is a lie.

But God is not only transcendent, he is also holy — he is pure and hates sin (Isaiah 6:3; Psalm 5:4). God’s controlled and necessary response to sin is called ‘wrath’ in the Bible. Sin must be punished.

Walsch found this truth offensive, even as a youngster. He refers to his deeply religious aunt who spoke to him of hell. He was frightened and felt ‘squeamish’ that God knew the shameful secrets of his life. Not surprisingly, he opted for a more comfortable but erroneous creed.

Enmity

Once again, keep the big picture in view. Since the Fall (Genesis 3), sin has pervaded and dominated human nature. All unbelievers naturally rebel and ‘suppress the truth’ (Romans 1:18), refusing to acknowledge the God revealed in creation and in the Bible (v.20).

That is just what Walsch is doing and, possibly, you yourself — because ‘the carnal mind is enmity against God’ (Romans 8:7).

It is only God who can change us inwardly and radically by his Spirit and enable us to ‘see’, and respond to him in believing repentance.

Then, and only then, is the need for personal salvation felt, and Jesus Christ, God’s Son, becomes attractive to us as ‘the one mediator between God and men … who gave himself a ransom’ for us and our salvation (1 Timothy 2:5-6).

Go to Christ

My final question is: How can we respond? If you are not yet a Christian, read in the Bible about the only true, living God. In your guilt and sin, go to Jesus Christ and trust in him alone for forgiveness (Ephesians 1:7; 2:8).

Go to Christ as you are, even today, and he will welcome you — ‘The one who comes to me I will by no means cast out’ (John 6:37).

If you are already a Christian, share the glorious news of the gospel with others. Pray too that Neale Walsch himself may be converted.