Back in the early 1980’s the Christian church clamored over this thing called the New Age Movement. Books and articles poured out, warning Christians about this dangerous worldview that was a mixture of Eastern religion, occultism, and chicanery. Now, mention the New Age movement to a church Sunday school class, maybe two out of a group of twenty will be able to tell you what it was. Has the New Age disappeared? Was the church successful in disarming this counterfeit worldview? Well, maybe the term New Age isn’t popular anymore, but it popularized something that has become a given in Western society: relativism. Everyone claims their own personal spirituality. Everyone is his or her own guru.
Perhaps the greatest vehicle keeping New Age mysticism and relativism alive and well is the Oprah Winfrey Show. Oprah aired a few shows on The Secret, a New Age method promising happiness and success created by Rhonda Byrne. By knowing The Secret, you can create the life you want: getting out of debt, finding a better job, or finding your true love. Rhonda discovered The Secret in 2004. She states it can be traced from 3500 BC to the present. The Secret explained is the law of attraction. It is the universal law that like attracts like. It is said to be the most powerful law in the universe, at work all the time.
Oprah’s website claims, “The principle explains that we create our own circumstances by the choices we make in life. And the choices we make are fueled by our thoughts which means our thoughts are the most powerful things we have here on earth.” Imagine telling Stephen as he was being martyred that he wasn’t giving out positive thoughts to attract others to him. When Jesus taught in John 6, almost everybody left him because of what was preached. In The Secret, the sovereignty of God becomes the law of attraction. Choices made by negative humans control their own destinies.
The Secret is a New Age version of the prosperity gospel. Everything a person experiences is attracted to us by ourselves. Within each of us is an absolutely unlimited power to control our destinies. All one has to do is learn gratitude for what one has already, be it success or failure. One of Oprah’s guest’s stated, “If you think about it, the universe has a conveyor belt of presents lined up for you, and until you receive the one and fully are grateful for it, the next one can’t come out of the chute. It’s all lined up.”
The Oprah show wants you to know The Secret doesn’t contradict Christianity. One of the shows stated, “The Secret isn’t about contradicting religion it supports it. ‘It actually goes underneath the culture and explains to you the sacred laws that these wonderful teachers have brought to us…’ The Secret is about supporting the great spiritual traditions in a more modern form. ‘It really is just putting Christianity, Judaism, all the great teachings into a current vernacular.’ ” A guest from Oprah’s audience asked if The Secret was compatible with the Christian understanding of heaven, hell, and a final judgment:
“As a Christian, Maureen says she believes in heaven and hell, and she’s concerned that The Secret’s promotion of free will and personal choice imply that you do not face a final judgment.
James [Arthur Ray] says that while he honors Maureen’s Christian belief system, he suggests looking at the concepts of heaven, hell and judgment in a different way. ‘Jesus the Christ said the kingdom of heaven is within. He didn’t say it was out there somewhere [he said] within. And so is it possible to consider that the kingdom of hell is within as well?’ he says.
‘The kingdom of God is actually in us, and what comes out of your mouth, what you think about, how you express you’re either participating in the realm of ever-expanding good or you’re cutting yourself off from the realm,’ Michael [Beckwith] says.
Michael [Beckwith] suggests that instead of living a life preparing for some ultimate reward, you should live in the now. When you’re anticipating some future good, you’re preventing that good that is all around you from expressing through you, he says. ‘[Don’t] put life on the layaway plan and try to anticipate that it’s going to get good in the future.’ “
The first part of the response says the Christian belief system is honored. If honor implies respect one would think that a Christian understanding of heaven, hell, and judgment would be presented. Oprah’s expert suggests looking at these concepts in a different way. The kingdom of heaven represents the good thoughts inside of us. The kingdom of hell represents the bad thoughts inside of us. Don’t look for a future reward; enjoy what you deserve now by putting forth the good. Heaven? Hell? Who cares. Eat, drink and be merry.
Notice the context of the Biblical phrase kingdom of God was completely devoid from the answer. In Luke 17, the Pharisees wanted to know when the Kingdom would come. When would God’s people see their prophesied theocratic leader? Certainly Jesus didn’t believe God’s kingdom was within these religious leaders. He considered them religious hypocrites. In Romans 14:17, Paul states, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves God this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.” Jesus is actually rebuking the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, pointing out that the kingdom is an inner righteousness, not an outward righteousness of eating and drinking, rules and regulations. We are given Christ’s righteousness in justification. The Holy Spirit performs his work of sanctification, making our works pleasing to God. The answer given by the Oprah show does more than misquote a Bible verse. It denies the Gospel.
Since these Oprah shows aired, the local chain bookstore near my house said not only are they sold out of The Secret, but also the publisher has to print more to meet the demand. This doesn’t surprise me. The Secret assumes the unity of all religions, Christianity does not. The Secret assumes a universal law of attraction channeled by each persons choices; the Bible declares the sovereignty of God. The Secret teaches you how to live a life of glory; the Bible explains your life will be identified with the cross. The Secret gives each person the power of performing good and evil; The Bible describes humanity as enslaved to sin. The thrust of The Secret is a blatant denial of the Gospel, and incompatible with Christianity. If someone tries to tell you The Secret, I suggest countering with the revealed truth of Jesus Christ.