Monday, November 24, 2008

More Questions on 'The Secret'

A reader sent some questions about The Secret. This has been the most discussed topic on H-n-T, so I've summarized his thoughts and responded here:

1) He suggests I don’t fully understand the concept of the law of attraction because I haven’t read The Secret; I’ve only watched the DVD.

While the book might have extended content, the DVD contains the core concepts of the law of attraction. Let me offer an illustration: The vast majority of people don't read the vehicle code in order to get a license. Instead, they read the DMV driver's handbook. The vehicle code offers extensive detail, but one doesn't need this background to understand the laws. The summary in the driver's handbook tells us the core, necessary ideas.

I was already familiar with the concept of the law of attraction, and watching the DVD confirmed that The Secret is holding up the idea that people have the power to attract good or bad things in their lives through their thinking. Some of these core ideas are in direct opposition to biblical teaching, as I outline in my blog post, “The Secret” Versus the Bible.

(Some have asserted that I don't really understand what's being said in The Secret. I'd challenge anyone to show how ideas such as "Your life will be what you create it as, and no one will stand in judgment of it, now or ever" and "You are eternal life. You are source energy. You are God manifested in human form" could possible line up with the Bible. These are quotes from the DVD.)

Many people put their faith into the law of attraction after watching The Secret DVD. I stand firm in stating that Christians need to put their faith in God, not in a misguided theory that suggests we trust in our own personal power.

2) He suggests I should look at the points of agreement between the law of attraction and Christianity. He says, “What about the ecumenism?”

Most religions have some points of agreement with Christianity. Many world religions (Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, to name a few) acknowledge Jesus Christ. This acknowledgment could be viewed as a point of agreement. However, the foundational differences between the views are much stronger than the sameness: Some view Jesus as merely an important prophet or a great teacher, but certainly not as the Son of God or the source of salvation. These views of Jesus aren't the same, and the distinctions far outweigh any small agreement.

“Ecumenism” means the promotion of unity between different Christian churches. The Secret is not a Christian concept; it has nothing to do with ecumenism. Perhaps you are referring to universalism, or some belief that all religions are equally valid. World religions are not the same. Some hold there are many gods, others say there is one God. These are contradictory statements; both can't be correct. Some hold that this one God is distant because he is above and beyond us in greatness; others hold that we can have a close, personal relationship with God. Both can't be correct.

Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). Christians hold that the only way to have a relationship with God is through Jesus. The idea that all religions are the same is untrue, and illogical.

3) He suggests that God is the one acting on behalf of the person who employs the law of attraction: We ask God for something, and he gives it to us.

God often does chose to give things to Christians when they ask him. However, this isn’t the law of attraction: The Secret says human beings personally have the power to obtain good things, and avoid bad things. God doesn't factor into The Secret equation.

Much of New Age thought focuses on the avoidance of suffering, either by not “drawing” it to oneself, or by mentally rejecting the concept (convincing oneself that pain doesn't really exist). The law of attraction is more of this teaching; it discusses how to focus on getting good stuff and to not attract bad stuff. But here’s what the Bible says about suffering:

James 1:2: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance."

Note that this says whenever you face trials (as opposed to if you face trials). We will face hardship and suffering. And this is a good thing:

Romans 5:3-4: “… we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

Suffering builds character. God uses suffering to sanctify us (to make us more like Jesus).

If we solely focus on only having good things in our lives, and we are striving to ever avoid pain, we are missing out on opportunities to build character and become more spiritually mature. Jesus suffered. If we want to become more Christ-like, we have to experience suffering, too.

In summary, if you believe every good and perfect gift comes from God, and that you can ask God for good things, you are making a request that is based on biblical truth.

However, if you believe those things, you aren’t practicing the law of attraction. The former says: “I’m thankful for the blessings God chooses to give me: I know God is good and strong. I'm grateful for what he does for me.” The law of attraction says: “I have control of these blessings; I can get them for myself.” They simply aren’t the same ideas.

Thank you for offering these questions and your thoughts, Hiram. I can't argue with your experience of seeing good things in your life come about due to your study of the law of attraction. But I would ask you: As a Christian, do you think studying the law of attraction will bring you closer to God? Is getting good stuff really the ultimate goal you want to seek?

You have the best instruction in the world in the Bible. Through God's True Word, we learn about God's character and his plan for our lives.


Hiram BolaƱos Cacho R said...

Dear Holly; You are asking me if as a Christian I think studying or applyng the law of attraction will bring myself closer to God? For sure it will. Becasuse I am asking, doing and geting good things from God for me and the many other persons I can help with this. For me the LOA is for making good, not bad. You are also asking me if is getting good stuff really the ultimate goal I want to seek? I will broad the concept. Good stuff is not only "material" stuff but spiritual light that makes you feel good. Why geting bad things if you can get good stuff? I am tryng my best to be a good person and do good things to my likes, just as Jesus teaches us. The Law of Attraction is about feeling good and good things come to match your feeling. I feel the operative word here is "feeling good". On the LOA you can create in your experience by either allowing in or disallowing the things your feelings are bringing you. Try for instance the "our father" in its original sense, its a metaphisical pray. No doubt of it. Thing bad things and the chances are that you will get the same. The main point with the "Our Father" is that nobody teaches how to use it in your behalf. Yo will have to got to the first christians to know how to apply it. The Christian organized religion preaches that an outside force -- Jesus, God -- brings you your experience, and this "Secret" stresses that you can create your experience asking "God" for it in a "certain way". As for the higher power, some master teachers or philosophers call it nonphysical, and you are a physical extension of nonphysical, so the higher power and you are the same. This can shock a traditional mind for sure, but at the end it feels good to think that your soul is forever and it is part of a higher being; God.
That being said, faith and prayer can have a role. But it's your faith and your prayer, not faith or prayer to an outside-of-you concept, that keeps you safe and brings you what you desire. Faith can be translated as trust, and prayer can be translated as aligning up or lining up with your desires and reaching for good feelings. I rather prefer to think of a Good God than viceversa, a God that punishes. God is Love and Jesus teach us this in many many ways along the Bible. Who has the right "recipe" to be connected with this God of Love? I dont know, but as far as I used the LOA for the good of myself and my likes I am cooperating with him to make a better place for living and this makes me happy. Greetings.

Anonymous said...

The Secret is the latest and by far the worst example of a HIGHLY profitable trend where self-help gurus with fabricated new age titles and little relevant education, credentials or legitimate expertise brainwash us into believing that they know what is best for us, our marriages and our families.

Often their only contribution to society is introducing some exotic sounding, new age philosophy. However, they often cleverly form an incestuous group of like-minded “experts” who cross-promote each other by swearing their success is due to following the beliefs of another member of their “cult!” All the while, they ply the airwaves jockeying for an ever-larger audience by appearing in the national media to garner third-party endorsements.

The Self-Help Movement has become the Self-Destruct Movement by diminishing or destroying our critical thinking skills to choose and evolve on our own. We have given up the freedom to build healthy lives, marriages and families based on our unique history and life experience. Instead many victims, blinded to the value of their own life experiences, are attracted to the latest secret in self-help, in an attempt to find out what they should think, feel and how they should act... this is the definition of a cult.

The solution is a return to our (common) senses! The best way out of this learned “self-helplessness” is to go cold turkey. Stop following ALL self-help gurus now. Begin, instead, to reclaim your natural, God-given ability to think for yourself. The common sense that was once readily available to all of us is still there free of charge and waiting to be applied to just about any challenge we might face in life… all you have to do is use it.

Please, let's all work together to stop the flock of "sheepeople" who blindly move from one UNPROVEN concept to the next, looking for the answers to life's challenges that you already possess and that is the OBVIOUS!

Anonymous said...

Is it necessary to separate Christianity, God and Choice? I am not agreeing with all that you are saying here. God gives us all tools, all people all places ... source is God. Choice is human. Judgement is to be God's purview. Why are you saying that using personal power is anti-Christian? Jesus chose. He even struggled with his choice in the garden of Gethsemene. And then he surrendered.

What we dream of, or desire, I believe God wishes most for us to have. However, sometimes when we have our wish, then we bring other things along. It means that we still have choices in how we react to things.

Jesus died to save us. We are saved because he offered himself as the supreme sacrifice. Yet he spoke in parables, in metaphor. Interpreting things in black/white, logical/illogical, right/wrong ... keeps people from connecting with each other. That is antithetical to Jesus' message that we love one another as God loves us. In fact, this, and no other, message is Jesus' greatest offering to the world. The new covenant that he taught.

Go in love,
Betsy Jordan

Anonymous said...

For a lie to be powerful, you need 70% of truth and 30% of deception...

The secret and other materials have a lot to teach Christians and others about faith... on Mark 11:22-24 Jesus said: anything you say or ask is yours if you believe you have received it... no conditions... He said anything...

However, Holly is right...

New age, new thought, etc. are totally wrong on the person of Jesus, sin and eternal judgment.

Who do you think Jesus is... is more important than learning some of His laws and practicing them...

You can know and practice all the laws of the Kingdom... they bring prosperity... many in the business world know this... but, if you do not believe Jesus is who He says He is... you are lost in your sins, and lost forever.

My take: I want all of Jesus, Knowing Him and all of His laws. I want both.

I don't have to choose between Jesus and a blessed life. If you believe poverty and misery is the will of God... you got to read the Bible again.

The law of attraction is not a New age new trend... it's a law like gravity... one of many God established when He created the universe. It works like gravity or electricity... you break it, you pay. A universal law will not respect if you love Jesus or Satan. Only if you cooperate or break it. It's law.

Conclusion: Know and love Jesus with all of your heart. Seek His kingdom first and understand how the laws of the Kingdom operate.