What Lies Beneath 'The Secret'
By Jennifer E. Jones
CBN.com "The secret is the answer to all that has been, all that is, and all that will ever be.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Do you know The Secret?
Perhaps you saw the two-part special on Oprah or the guest appearances on Larry King Live and Ellen. Perhaps your neighbors bought the DVD and want to lend it to you. Before you take them up on that, you should know that there’s more to this philosophy than meets the eye.
I was first introduced to The Secret like most of the world when I turned to Oprah in early February of 2007. “For years on this show, this is what I’ve been trying to do,” she exclaimed.
She entertained a panel of philosophers and teachers who all participated in the making of the DVD. Together they shared what they believe to be the secret to a fulfilling life.
Chicken Soup for the Soul creator Jack Canfield explained the "secret" as: “The thoughts we think, the images we hold, the things we focus on, what we give our attention to… all of that affects how we feel, and the feelings actually send out a wave into the universe. And anything that’s vibrating at a similar level gets attracted in our life.”
“Because there’s a law in the universe that says what we focus on expands,” Oprah concurred.
The law Oprah is referring to -- and the law that The Secret is built around -- is “the law of attraction.” It claims that you are one with the universe and everything within it. The universe isn’t so much our solar system but a higher, infinite power. Call it God if you’d like. Your feelings and thoughts have an emanating energy that is sending out messages and drawing like things to you. Thus, one’s negative attitude will only continue to bring negative outcomes. However, if you think positive thoughts, those thoughts lead to feelings which lead to actions which lead to the universe bringing that good thing into reality.
I had to know more, so I saw the DVD that Oprah claimed was “sweeping the nation.” For an hour and a half, I watched testimony after testimony of people whose lives were changed by understanding and applying the "secret". They ranged from ordinary, everyday people to Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus author Dr. John Gray, the Agape International Spiritual Center's "Spiritual Director" Dr. Michael Beckwith and popular teacher James Ray.
Among the devoted, hypnosis expert Dr. Joe Vitale appeared frequently on The Secret. There he says, “You are the masterpiece of your own life. You are the Michelangelo of your own life. The David you are sculpting is you, and you do it with your own thoughts.”
In a nutshell, think good things, and good things will happen. Simple enough. In fact, to me, it sounded similar to the prosperity gospel that is preached in many churches today (i.e., “name it and claim it”). However, Christians who know the Word of God would be wise to pull back the layers of The Secret to see what it really is.
While The Secret offers you the life of your choosing, it conveniently omits one major detail: God’s sovereignty.
According to the teachers of the law of attraction, God is more like a cosmic Santa Claus who will bend to your wishes. Dr. Vitale says, “The universe is your catalog.” The DVD features a scene depicting Aladdin rubbing his magic lamp and making a genie appear. If you follow the “creative process steps” (“ask, believe, receive”), like Aladdin, you can have anything you want.
As Christians, we don’t look to the universe or some abstract concept that’s just “out there” for the answers to life. We look to Jesus Christ as the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). He is more than a provider. He is sovereign and holy. As Job found out, He gives and takes away (Job 1:21) and has a plan for our lives that is beyond our comprehension. Yet at the same time, He is personal to us through His Holy Spirit. We don’t need a genie nor a lamp.
The Secret's other downfall is giving the idea that if you always focus on good, only good will happen. “What you think, feel, what manifests, is always a match. No exceptions,” one testimonial claims. Anyone who has breathed on this earth knows that everyone goes through hard times. Life is full of trials. Some come to test our faith; others are just part of a bigger plan to give God glory. If you think that your life can be one good day after another, you will be sadly mistaken, and I fear that believers of The Secret’s concept will have little to cling to when disaster strikes.
The Secret would claim to be Christian-friendly. The teachers describe how most of what we think about is based on what we see (“We live by faith, not by what we see”, 2 Corinthians 5:7 CEV). Dr. Beckwith says, “You can believe that the power that’s in you is greater than what’s in the world”. The Bible says this in I John 4:4b: "Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world."
While ideas from Christianity are mentioned, The Secret embraces all religions in the same manner and mixes them together. It’s Universalism -- the idea that all religions are paths to God, enlightenment or whatever makes you happy. Jesus is lumped in as a religious teacher who was simply privy to the "secret". The film does not acknowledge His deity. Yet, the Scriptures tell us that He is “the way, the truth and the light.” There is no other path to God but through Jesus (John 14:6).
The Secret shoots itself in the foot near the end of the DVD. Neale Donald Walsch, author of the bestseller Conversations with God, makes a statement that is clearly wrong: "There is no blackboard in the sky on which God has written your purpose, your mission in life... Your purpose is what you say it is. Your mission is the mission you give yourself. Your life will be what you create it as, and no one will stand in judgment of it -- now or ever." This flies in the face of biblical truth. Of the numerous Scriptural references to the final days, John's is the most vivid:
"I saw a Great White Throne and the One Enthroned. Nothing could stand before or against the Presence, nothing in Heaven, nothing on earth. And then I saw all the dead, great and small, standing there—before the Throne! And books were opened. Then another book was opened: the Book of Life. The dead were judged by what was written in the books, by the way they had lived. The Sea released its dead, Death and Hell turned in their dead. Each man and woman was judged by the way he or she had lived. Then Death and Hell were hurled into Lake Fire. This is the second death—Lake Fire. Anyone whose name was not found inscribed in the Book of Life was hurled into Lake Fire" (Revelation 20:11-12, The Message)
The Secret is humanism for a new millennium. I suppose if I didn’t believe in an afterlife, then I’d want to make the most of this present life too. However, as Christians, we have the hope of glory and heaven in our hearts. We know that we are loved and cared for by an eternal God who sent His only Son to save us from ourselves. Thus, we can live for Him and love one another. Jesus is the ultimate giver of abundant life… And we don’t need to know a secret to tell us that.
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