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Think on These Things Articles

 

The Secret Critiqued – Part 2

(August 2007 – Volume 13, Issue 8) 

 

The Secret’s Links with Christianity

New Thought

In my research for this paper I was surprised to find that we have been down this road in the past. As a matter of fact, virtually the whole “secret” was revealed in the mid-1800s beginning with Phineas Quimby who taught that “physical diseases are caused by wrong thinking or false beliefs. Disease is merely an ‘error’ created ‘not by God, but by man.’ Eliminate false beliefs, Quimby taught, and the chief culprit for disease is thereby removed, yielding a healthy body.” [1]

The New Thought movement developed from Quimbly’s ideas in the late 1860s. “According to New Thought, human beings can experience health, success, and abundant life by using their thoughts to define the conditions of their lives. New Thought proponents subscribed to the ‘law of attraction’ [the same law behind The Secret] which is the idea that our thoughts attract the things they want or expect.”[2]

In New Thought, God is a universal force. God is pantheistic and man is viewed as divine, therefore man has unlimited potential.[3] And death is nonexistent, being an entry into the fourth dimension of life.

Three major religious movements were spawned from New Thought: Christian Science, United Church of Religious Science and the Unity School of Christianity. These are collectively known as the “mind sciences.”[4]

We know therefore from history what the law of attraction attracts; it attracts false religious systems, systems Paul called “doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1).

Word of Faith Movement

The Secret teaches that we can “create [our] own happiness through the law of attraction.” Whether it is cash, health, prosperity or happiness, all can be ours if we will just learn to use The Secret. We are told, “Disease cannot live in a body that is in a healthy emotional state.” But be warned: “If you have a disease and you are focusing on it and talking to people about it, you are going to create more disease cells.”

Such rhetoric should sound familiar to anyone faintly aware of the Word of Faith Movement, often termed, “The Prosperity Gospel.” This group has been infiltrating biblical Christianity for years and is now the fastest growing segment of Christianity in the world. Some have estimated that up to 90 percent of those claiming to be Christians in Africa are of the Prosperity Gospel variety.

Well-known personalities within the movement include Kenneth Hagin (deceased), Kenneth Copeland, Robert Tilton, Paul Yonggi Cho, Benny Hinn, Marilyn Hickey, Frederick Price, John Avanzini, Charles Capps, Jerry Savelle, Morris Cerullo and of course, Paul and Jan Crouch.

As is implied by the title “Word of Faith,” the supporters of this movement believe that faith works like a mighty power or force. Through faith we can obtain anything we want — health, wealth, success, whatever. However, this force is released only through the spoken word. As we speak words of faith, power is discharged to accomplish our desires.

In Christianity in Crisis, Hank Hanegraaff summarizes Hagin’s theme as found in his booklet How to Write Your Own Ticket with God:

In the opening chapter, titled “Jesus Appears to Me,” Hagin claims that while he “was in the Spirit,” Jesus told Hagin to get a pencil and a piece of paper. He then instructed him to “write down: 1, 2, 3, 4.” Jesus then allegedly told Hagin that “if anybody, anywhere, will take these four steps or put these four principles into operation, he will always receive whatever he wants from Me or from God the Father.” That includes whatever you want financially. The formula is simply: “Say it, Do it, Receive it, and Tell it.”

1. Step number one is “Say it.” “Positive or negative, it is up to the individual. According to what the individual says that shall he receive.”

2. Step number two is “Do it.” “Your action defeats you or puts you over. According to your action, you receive or you are kept from receiving.”

3. Step number three is “Receive it.” We are to plug into the “powerhouse of heaven.” “Faith is the plug, praise God! Just plug in.”

4. Step number four is, “Tell it so others may believe.” This final step might be considered the Faith movement’s outreach program.[5]

Kenneth Copeland states the faith formula this way: “All it takes is 1) seeing or visualizing whatever you need, whether physical or financial; 2) staking your claim on Scripture; and 3) speaking it into existence.” [6]

Paul Yonggi Cho, borrowing from the occult, has developed what he calls the “Law of Incubation.” Here is how it works: “First make a clear-cut goal, then draw a mental picture, vivid and graphic, to visualize success. Then incubate it into reality, and finally speak it into existence through the creative power of the spoken word.”[7]

If a positive confession of faith releases good things, a negative confession can actually backfire. Capps says the tongue “can kill you, or it can release the life of God within you.” This is so because, “Faith is a seed . . . you plant it by speaking it.” There is power in “the evil fourth dimension” says Cho.

Hagin informs us that if you confess sickness you get sickness, if you confess health you get health, whatever you say you get. The spoken word releases power — power for good or power for evil, is the commonly held view of the movement. It is easy to see why the title “Positive Confession” is often applied to this group.

As you might guess the teachings of the “Word of Faith” movement are very attractive to some. If we can produce whatever our hearts desire by simply demanding what we want by faith; if we can manipulate the universe and perhaps even God, then we have our own personal genie just waiting to fulfill our wishes. The similarities between Word of Faith teachings and The Secret are unmistakable.

A Biblical Response

Satan often will take some truth, a somewhat healthy teaching or practice and mixes his poison in it (2 Corinthians 11:3,14,15). For this reason we are never afforded the luxury of being naïve. We must ever be careful that we are not deceived with the empty imitations and lies that are in our world system (Colossians 2:8).

More to the point, God condemns all forms of divination, witchcraft and sorcery which are attempts to manipulate the spirit world, including God Himself (Leviticus 19:31; Deuteronomy 18:9-14; 1 Samuel 28:3,9; 2 Kings 23:24; Isaiah 8:19-20; Acts 19:18-19; Jeremiah 27:8-9). The Secret definitely falls under this prohibition as it seeks to teach methods of controlling the universe which are forbidden by God.

Even those who have missed the sorcery connection with The Secret should not have missed the selfishness and greed factors, since Scripture so clearly condemns both (Matthew 6:19; 1 Timothy 6:7-10; Hebrews 13:5). In watching the DVD one is clearly struck with the self-centerness and avarice of The Secret. At no point does anyone visualize helping the poor or sick or needy. The things to be attracted are personal health, wealth and happiness. In The Secret “You” are at the center of the universe, even the universe itself. More to the point – you are God. Just in case anyone missed this, read carefully the words of Rhonda Byrne:

You are God in a physical body. You are Spirit in flesh. You are Eternal Life expressing itself as You. You are a cosmic being. You are all power. You are all wisdom. You are all intelligence. You are perfection. You are magnificence. You are creator, and you are creating the creation of You on this planet.[8]

Byrne concludes her book with this statement:

The earth turns on its orbit for You. The oceans ebb and flow for You. The birds sing for You. The sun rises and it sets for You. The stars come out for You. Every beautiful thing you see, every wondrous thing you experience, is all there for You. Take a look around. None of it can exist, without You. No matter who you thought you were, now you know the Truth of Who You Really Are. You are the master of the Universe. You are the heir to the kingdom. You are the perfection of Life. And now you know The Secret.[9]

Still, some might ask, what harm is done? Someone has suggested the following,

The danger to society is not merely that it should believe wrong things, though that is great enough, but that it should become credulous, and lose the habit of testing things and inquiring into them, for then it must sink back into savagery… It may matter little to me, in my cloud-castle of sweet illusions and darling lies; but it matters much to Man that I have made my neighbors ready to deceive. The credulous man is father to the liar and the cheat.[10]

Even more importantly, the teachings of The Secret are unbiblical. To live in the sphere of such lies is to live falsely and, despite The Secret’s disclaimer, there is a Judge of this universe and what we do and how we live matters to Him.

The purpose of life is to glorify God, not self. The great problem of mankind is sin, not negative thinking. With Isaiah we cry, “When they say to you, ‘Consult the mediums and the spiritist who whisper and mutter,’ should not a people consult their God”… To the Law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn” (Isaiah 8:19-20).

 


[1] Ron Rhodes, The Challenge of the Cults and New Religions ( Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001), pp. 104-105

[2] Ibid., p. 105.

[3] Ibid., p. 106.

[4] Ibid., p. 107.

[5] Hank Hanegraaff, Christianity in Crisis (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1993), p. 74, 75.

[6] Ibid., p. 80.

[7] Ibid., pp. 83,84.

[8] Rhonda Byrne, The Secret ( New York, NY: Atria Books, 2006), p. 164.

[9] Ibid. p. 83.

[10] W. K. Clifford, “The Ethics of Belief” found at www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/07-03-07.html

 

Reprinted with kind permission from Pastor Gilley.