Friday, March 30, 2007

Mohler Ponders The Secret

In today's post on his blog, Al Mohler offers some thoughts on the New YorkTimes bestseller The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, currently taking America by storm in almost Purpose-Driven proportions. The book claims to teach readers how to use "positive thinking" and "mental energy" to achieve physical, mental, financial, and relational success.

Mohler notes that Oprah recently devoted two whole shows to the book, which is why I want to encourage my readers (especially those of you who watch Oprah) to check out his commentary. I'm wondering if Oprah's talk show is having a less-than-salutary influence on the Christians who watch it - especially moms with kids, who are able to catch the show because their home during the day. Could it be that Christians who are also Oprah-watchers are subtly having their world-views bent in an unchristian direction as they absorb humanistic self-help philosophies day-by-day? We're all being shaped by something.

Clearly, Oprah is pushing a vision of the world that does not include the necessity of forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with God, or the Lordship of Jesus Christ. In short, the stuff featured on Oprah is not Christianity. Some of it may include aspects of Christian morality - a la Dr. Phil - but where there's no gospel - "If you confess with your mouth 'Jesus is Lord' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, [then] you will be saved." (Rom. 10:9) - there's no true Christianity.

Mohler goes on to cite a recent USA Today feature which notes that The Secret is just the latest example of older "New Thought" movements, which all aim to equip people "to learn to cope with and overcome any and all obstacles," by teaching them how to think rather than what to think. Mohler says the distinction between how and what is a false one:
They. . . claim to teach how to think, not what to think. This statement implies that the groups offer no doctrine, merely a route to transformed thinking.

But the claim is false -- and must always be false. The distinction between how to think and what to think is artificial. It is sloganeering and advertising, not serious thought. Every pattern of thinking is based on certain presuppositions and leads to certain conclusions. . . . In other words, when it comes to thinking, there is no how that does not include a what.

Mohler points out that The Secret merely "repackages ancient paganism in the guise of positive thinking and mental energy." He goes on to say:

You cannot begin with the presupposition that you are the center of the Universe and then reason to conclusions that are in any way consistent with the Bible. You cannot get from the presupposition that you are a sinless victim of negative thinking to the conclusion that the cross of Christ is the answer to our deepest need. You cannot reason from the presupposition that you can cope with all your problems by the exercise of positive mental imagery to the conclusion that your greatest need is for a Savior. The how is a what when it comes to thinking about anything of importance.

Beware the movement that promises to teach you how to think rather than what to think. A moment's honest reflection should tell you what to think about that.


Kevin Foflygen said...

Yeah, how'd Oprah ever become a spiritual leader? Just shows to go ya, people will buy into anything... ANYTHING, except the truth -- no matter how conspicuous the truth may be.

katydidsmiles said...

I think so many, Christians included, would turn to something like the secret (which obviously has Satanic influence) because of pride. We do not really want to admit we are sinful or that we need anything outside of ourselves. We continue to strive in our own "righteousness" to be found good enough instead of accepting that we will never measure up. And we are left forever striving.

But fortunately to those who believe, like Abraham, our faith is credited to us as righteousness. And because of Jesus, we no longer stand in fear of the wrath of a holy God.

Josh said...

Yeah, I think we're wired for self-justification and even after conversion we tend to slip back into it. And I think you're right about the pride factor - even Christians want to prove (to themselves if no one else) that they can fix themselves. I know I can be very proud.