February 05, 2007
My friend Gary Allen alerted me to "The Secret" about a month ago and I ordered it and watched it. He has asked me on several occasions to formulate an evaluation and comment from a Christian perspective. I am finally getting to that. Gary, a Christian himself, has some good applications on his blog, specifically Things I Try to Do Each Day.
"The Secret" is the product of the folks (at least one of them) that brought you Chicken Soup for the Soul and is based upon the Law of Attraction.
"The Law of Attraction" is an idea that is widespread in New Age and New Thought
philosophy. It posits to never dwell on the negative, as the metaphysical principle of life is embodied in a "law of attraction': "you get what you think about, your thoughts determine your destiny.""
That the Law of Attraction is rooted in "New Thought" and "New Age" thinking and will find comfort there cannot be disputed. It presupposes an impersonal god called, "The Universe" without specific will or personality that is more like "The Force" than God.
There are forces in the universe that God created and set into motion. I am reluctant to employ them without first acknowledging their/my Creator and understanding His will. They can make me effective and successful without being centered in His purposes. I don't want that.
James Allen wrote about the principles that The Law of Attraction identifies in As A Man Thinketh based upon Proverbs 23:7 ( For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:)
“Dream lofty dreams.
And as you dream, so shall you become.
Your vision is the promise of what you shall one day be.
Your ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil.
The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream.
The oak sleeps in the acorn, the bird waits in the egg; and in the highest
vision of the soul, a waking angel stirs.Dreams are the seedlings of realities”
More than that, the Apostle Paul expounded on them:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9, (New International Version (NIV)Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society)
The speakers in "The Secret" assume a neutrality from God with regard to direction and intentionality. This brings the philosophy into conflict with biblical Christianity. God has purposes and designs and invites us to join Him in those purposes in ways that He intends for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28)
Having said that, babies and bathwater are worth separating before the discard process begins. Positive thinking is a biblical principle and should not be relegated to the realm of philosophical anachronism. It is taught throughout the scriptures, especially in Proverbs and is tempered by a hearty Christian understanding of sin, the fall, and the need of redemption. It is also a strong Christian principle that God has both permissive and perfect will for the universe.
Now, that being the case, the universe does exist and certain spiritual laws are in place that are available for everyone to plug into. That does not negate the need of reconciliation with God through the act of redemption in Christ. Nor does it prove that life can be lived to the fullest outside of a connection with God through faith and commitment.
But this stuff works and it works better when it is defined by faith and grounded in truth.
The universe is not God, but it points to the God who created it.
A lesser quality version of the film can be viewed at Google Videos by the discerning. I was inspired and encouraged by it, but I had to do a lot of translating from its context into my faith. I recommend it with a word of caution. These teachings work because the God who has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ has ordained that they should work.
I offer this hermeneutic for understanding the power of thinking positive thoughts to attract positive things:
- Not everything good and positive is best. You can get the good and the goods by thinking better thoughts, but Christians must never settle for what is good at the expense of God's best. Our vision of the best is wrapped up in God's will.
- To implement practices that produce results without grounding in relationship with God is equivalent to usurping God's power for our own ends. It is possible, in fact, to do that, but to do so is sorcery rather than Christianity.
- The Law of Attraction is an overlap between science and spirituality. It exists within the created realm and is activated by forces that are created rather than supernatural. Thank God for the reality and don't leave Him out of the process of implementation.
- Truth is truth no matter who is communicating it or what hermeneutic or philosophical system has led them to that truth. When you receive an insight, as a Christian, thank God for it and realize that it is inevitable that these insights will be in broader circulation.
- Be careful about confusing "how' with "why." The message of "The Secret" is about how things work. Only revelation tells us why we are here and what the meaning of life is.
- Center your life in Jesus Christ and learn even more secrets to successful and purposeful living.
I recommend, "Hearing God" by Dallas Willard and "Experiencing God" by Henry Blackaby as a balance here.
Friendship: The Laws of Attraction
The Law of Attraction and Christianity