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NEW THOUGHT

by D.J. Quinn

Also See

Esotericism and Biblical Interpretation

Roots of Evil

While the majority of people may be unable to define New Thought, hundreds of thousands are increasingly becoming influenced by it, since it is the cornerstone for most of the formulas for happy and successful living. Reduced it to it’s essentials, New Thought very simply believes that your thoughts play a crucial role in the kind of life you experience. It is unlikely that many Christians are aware of the common roots of some popular beliefs in the church and the New Thought beliefs without. From Clement Stone’s Positive Mental Attitude to Robert Schuller’s Possibility Thinking and Oral Roberts’ seed-faith principles, they all stem from common sources.

What Is New Thought?

“New Thought, as defined in the dictionary, is a modern spiritual philosophy stressing the power of right thinking in a person’s life, the idea that our thoughts and attitudes affect our experience and that God (or whatever other name a person might have for a Higher Power) is within the individual.

New Thought is a logical and scientifically based understanding and method of changing our experience by changing our thinking. New Thought is simple and easy to learn. It has a tradition that reaches back over one hundred years and is founded on principles that embrace many of the world religious and spiritual practices spanning thousands of years.

New Thought recognizes that human beings function on many levels: that the individual is a mental, spiritual, emotional and physical being. In realizing our fullness, our wholeness and maximizing our potential we are, in essence, finding fulfillment…..

New Thought teaches people tools, which put us on the path to fulfillment. The natural extension of this fulfillment is that as an individual’s life is better, their family’s life is better, their community’s life is better and this extends out across the planet”. (ANTN. Affiliated New Thought Network. http://www.newthought.org)

The Origins of New Thought: New Thought originated in part with an unschooled Maine clockmaker and inventor named Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, who believed that he had rediscovered the lost healing methods of Jesus. The loosely organized movement that began with him eventually became known as New Thought, and consisted of a number of independently developed branches such as Unity, Religious Science, and Divine Science. (New Thought: A Practical American Spirituality by C. Alan Anderson and Deborah G. Whitehouse. Chapter 1). However there were other influential people in the progress of New Thought… See Roots of Evil:

Teachers: Two of the best known teachers of New Thought today are Mary Manin Morissey (Living Enrichment Center, Wilsonville Oregon) (on television every Sunday morning) and Della Reese… co-leader of the organization called Upchurch, who has been showcased as a Christian Minister. (See related article [See Touched by an Angel].

New Thought And The Bible: New Thoughters superficially appears to be in tune with Christian doctrine by selectively quoting from the Bible, but a complete reading of the very Scriptures that they maintain forms their “primary textbook” would nullify all their claims. There is no intellectually honest way to carve up the documents according to ones own liking and philosophical preferences. There is overwhelming historical reliability of the extra-biblical and biblical source documents concerning the Bible and Jesus’ life. (See Section A Remarkable Book ).

The simple question could be asked… Whose word is more reliable? Those closest to Jesus who, walked with Jesus, were eyewitnesses, who signed their testimonies with their lifeblood, or those (like Quimby) who are often two thousand years removed from the events and have absolutely nothing to back up any of their claims or teachings? (See The Uniqueness of Jesus and Jesus Plain And Simple).

A ‘Metaphysical’ interpretation of the Bible is little more than an excuse not to respond to the demands of its message, and is often based on preconceived theories, which are themselves unproven or unproveable. (See Esotericism and Biblical Interpretation)

The frequent references to Scripture to back arguments, and the effort to show Jesus to be one with New Thought doctrine is dangerously deceptive. The sheep’s clothing on the outside hides a deeper and more sinister wolf, one that without doubt needs to be kept as far as possible from the pulpits of Christ. Below I have taken some of New Thought’s fundamental beliefs and weighed them against that which the Bible preaches, showing beyond doubt that the two are not only incompatible but are in fact adversaries.

Some New Thought Teachings

THERE ARE ABOUT 20 MORE NEW THOUGHT TEACHINGS AT THE LINK BELOW

New Thought is expressed in Romans 12:2, “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” New Thoughters seek nothing less than total life transformation, empowerment through changing their thoughts and keeping them changed. The linchpin of New Thought is the Law of Mind Action: thoughts held in mind produce after their kind. (1)

Unfortunately this is a classic case of taking a verse completely taken out of context thereby altering the meaning.. “ Conversion and sanctification are the renewing of the mind; a change, not of the substance, but of the qualities of the soul. The progress of sanctification, dying to sin more and more, and living to righteousness more and more, is the carrying on this renewing work, till it is perfected in glory…. The work of the Holy Ghost first begins in the understanding, and is carried on to the will, affections, and conversation, till there is a change of the whole man into the likeness of God, in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness”. (Matthew Henry. Emphasis Added)

Romans 12:2 is only a continuation of Romans 12:1 which says “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service”.

Neither verse has anything to do with ‘empowerment through changing ones thoughts’ but a transformation from sin to righteousness.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new”. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

“New Thought is what all Christianity could have become if it had been able to avoid the stultifying tendencies needed to become a religion capable of competing with mystery religions for the title of official religion of the Roman Empire. It is what all Christianity could have become if it had allowed freedom of belief, concentrating on following the loving, healing example of Jesus rather than developing a rigid superstructure of teachings about Jesus”. . (1)

No one could show as much love and compassion for humans as the Lord did. Besides dying for us it is true that He healed many many people. However it is selective reading at its best to focus solely on His ‘loving, healing example’. He devoted more than half His parables to God’s eternal judgment on sin. “Of the twelve uses of the word gehenna (the strongest word for hell) in the New Testament, eleven come from the lips of Jesus himself! In fact, the Savior taught more about hell than He did about heaven! Of the more than 1850 verses recording the words of Christ, 13% pertain to the topics of judgment and hell. Of the 40 or so parables uttered by Jesus, more than half relate to God’s eternal judgment on sin. Surprisingly, the much beloved “Sermon on the Mount” contains some of Jesus’ most straightforward words about hell”. (Rick Rood) (See Section on Hell )

Additionally Jesus was a Jew, born to into a religious system that is perhaps one of the most structured and demanding in history. Nowhere in the Bible does it indicate that Jesus deviated from His commitments as a Jew; much to the contrary we see several examples of Jesus attending the Synagogue, participating the Passover rituals and regularly going to the Temple.

Not only did Jesus command His followers to keep the Old Testament law, He made it harder to do. A classic example of this is the Old Testament commandment “Thou shalt not commit adultery”;

“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart”. (Mat 5:27-28)

“Fundamentalists might have difficulty with the idea that the only Power in the universe is good. New Thought teaches that evil is insubstantial, that it is only immature or misused good. The Devil is the invention of our minds, and goes as fast as he comes. When you walk into a dark room and turn on the light, the darkness vanishes; you don’t have to chase it away. (1)

In the light of such ‘philosophically profound’ belief I find myself at a loss for words. The misguided belief that good is the only force in the universe is indeed an interesting concept, especially when one takes into consideration the book of Job.

“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” (Job 1:6-7)

Now according to new thought philosophy, God (the “good power”) Himself is not only having a conversation with ‘immature good’ or an ‘invention of His mind’ and asking where it has come from, but astonishingly, the “immature good” replies to God and says it has been walking to and fro in the earth. An amazing achievement for a thought. Surely God being God should have known that all He had to do was ‘turn a light on’.

There are even more example of the personification of the devil in the Bible … the most notable being …

“And when the tempter came to him, he said, if thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread … (Mat 4:11) then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.” (Mat 4:3-11)

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:’ (1Pet 5:8)

“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Rev 2:10)

Is one truly expected to believe that the Devil is merely a wrong thought, when faced with the Bible’s indisputable evidence to the contrary? In the Matthew quotation the Devil comes to Jesus and speaks to Him, takes Him to the highest points of earth, tempts Him and eventually leaves Him; In the Peter quotation the Devil is referred to as a roaring lion that seeks to devour/destroy Christians; In the Revelation quotation the Devil casts Christians into prison and makes them suffer tribulation. Thoughts are not capable of roaming the earth, they are not capable of casting someone into prison and persecuting them, they are not capable of physically coming and going of their own accord and they are not a roaring lion (singular) that seeks to devour believers. One of the Devils greatest achievements is to make humanity believe that he does not exist, that he is merely a thought or an invention of the human subconscious, after all why fear that which does not exist… right? To that end New Thought philosophy is in perfect alignment with his strategy and to the believer at least is very dangerous.

The Bible was written by Oriental minds for Oriental minds, and most of it was never intended to be taken literally. Jesus cast out demons, which is to say in the language of today, that he straightened out people’s thinking; and our fear thoughts are demonic indeed”. (1)

The Bible itself contradicts this notion over and over again. The Gospel message contained in the Bible is essentially concerned with God’s future plans for the earth and for mankind. The Bible is the record of God’s continuing activity, centered in the work of His Son Jesus, and leading ultimately to man’s redemption. The Bible is the Word of Salvation, which draws a road map for humanity to come out of the world of sin and into harmony with the will of God. The Bible is God’s will and has a purpose to achieve and will not stop until it has achieved that purpose.

Isaiah 55:11 ‘So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.’

Furthermore God had every intention of the Gospel being spread through out the globe, a fact that clashes with the concept that the Bible was written by Orientals for the Oriental mind.

‘And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.’ (Matthew 24:14)

‘And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.’ (Mark 16:15)

“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” (Revelation 14:6) All emphasis added.

God over and over again stressed to ancient Israel that they must keep His commandments, that the disobedience would bring the strictest punishment and that the wages of sin is death.

“Therefore shall ye keep my commandments, and do them: I am the LORD.” (Lev 22:31 )

“Ye shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and his testimonies, and his statutes, which he hath commanded thee.” (Deut 6:17)

“But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD charged you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Josh 22:5)

It would have been more than unfair of God to demand obedience to commandments that were ambiguous and hard to understand. God’s commandments were given very clearly and the people understood them perfectly, hence totally negating any possible argument that God’s Word is not to be taken literally. The Bible also comes with a very strict warning about the Scriptures, one that should be carefully considered before deciding to add ‘meaning’ to the recorded words …

“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” (Deut 4:2 ‘)

Also see Scientific Facts In The Bible (For those who believe that the Bible is merely symbolic)

Casting out of demons: If Jesus’ casting out of demons was merely straightening out people’s thinking how did the herd of swine come into it? Did the persons wrong thoughts beg Jesus to send them into the swine who then proceeded to commit mass suicide? (Matt 8:28-33). Perhaps the swine’s wrong thinking was that they imagined they were lemmings.

Fear Thoughts: If our ‘fear thoughts’ are demonic I wonder what the Lord meant when He said

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge”:(Proverbs 1:7)

“The fear of the LORD prolongeth days” (Proverbs 10:27)

“…fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell”.(Matthew 10:28)

But New Thought does not concern itself with most religious doctrines. If the Virgin Birth literally happened, wonderful; if it didn’t, that’s fine, too. (1)

Of course New Thoughters do not concern themselves with religious doctrines… it does not serve their interests to do so. Christianity believes that Christ was the promised Messiah; a fact that depends heavily on His fulfilling ALL the prophesies of the Old Testament, including His being born to a virgin. Likewise Christianity rises or falls on the resurrection and should it be true that Jesus did rise from the dead then the implications are enormous. He is no longer the ‘way shower’ but Almighty God Himself. As C.S. Lewis once said “

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg – or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.” (‘Mere Christianity’) (See The Empty Tomb and The Resurrection)

If this is a universe of thought, then changing one’s thought changes the universe, at least a smidgin”. (1)

Reading this comment I had two thoughts… both interesting. The first is what would happen if a New Thoughter found himself/herself in the place of Job, standing before the thunderstorm and God spoke, saying

“Who is this who darkens counsel, by words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding …” (Job 38:2-4).

Somehow I find it difficult to believe that even the greatest disciple of New Thought knows the treasury of snow or can send out lightning or restrict the sea to its boundaries. To believe that merely by thoughts man can change God’s eternal plan is not only dangerous and arrogant it also puts man on a collision course with the God of the Universe.

Secondly New Thoughters must have a very ugly vision in mind for the world. With the significant numbers of New Thoughters springing up worldwide surely this earth must be (by now) a mirror image of the sum of their thoughts. A beautiful place of crime, drugs, wars, violence and hate; a world that is rapidly spiraling out of control, on a one-way, nonstop track to Armageddon. Contrary to New Thought doctrine the condition of the world as it is today is a perfect fulfillment of Jesus’ prophesy of the end of times as told in the book of Matthew (Mat 24). See How Old Is Grandma?

http://www.inplainsite.org/html/new_thought.html

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE WORD OF FAITH

exwordoffaith.blogspot.com

I used to wonder why Shepherding reappeared in the Charismatic churches considering that the founders pretty much shut it down around 1990, and publicly repented. It didn’t make sense why it not only lingered, but began thriving again. I have lately found out why it reappeared. It snuck in through the teachings of the Word of Faith, one of the most influential movements since the Azusa Street Revival of 1906. The Word of Faith may be influential, but it is also an apostasy, and carries Shepherding clinging to it like a leech.

I was a follower of the Word of Faith doctrine from 1990 until 2005. Even when I began to break with the Word of Faith over the extremes of the Prosperity Gospel, I still maintained connections with them. I was a licensed minister through a Word of Faith church from 2004 through 2007, and my wife worked for Kenneth Copeland Ministries from 2003 until late 2007. During that time, I noticed more and more spiritual abuse, things that reminded me of Shepherding. I began to wonder, “Is the Word of Faith in general, and Kenneth Copeland Ministries in particular, Shepherdist, or merely spiritually abusive, or am I nuts?”

Early this year (2008), I found out that I am not nuts!

In his book A Different Gospel, D.R. McConnell points out the origins of the Word of Faith. This is not a rant by a Fundamentalist preacher. This book began as McConnell’s master’s thesis when he was a student at Oral Roberts University. He is a Charismatic pastor, so this is an insider’s look at something he finds disturbing.

McConnell says that today’s Word of Faith preachers (Kenneth Copeland, John Avanzini, Creflo Dollar, etc.) base their doctrine on the works and teachings of Kenneth Hagin. We knew that.

McConnell then says that Hagin based (some say plagiarized) his doctrines on the works of E.W. Kenyon. We knew that, too.

But then McConnell drops a 2,000 megaton bombshell, ripping through my views of the Word of Faith like a lawnmower through Bermuda grass. He states that Kenyon based his teachings and beliefs on what he was taught in college, at the hands of teachers who were Gnostic and Christian Scientist.

Whoa! That makes the whole doctrine pretty much suspect from the beginning!

Kenyon attended the Emerson School of Oratory in 1892. There, he was under the influence of Charles Emerson, a Christian Scientist; R.W. Trine, a Gnostic who wrote one of the major books on New Thought; and M.J. Savage, a Unitarian whose church Kenyon attended.

Let’s look at those beliefs and see how the Word of Faith dovetails into them.

Gnosticism is a complex system of beliefs hammered together from earlier ones. It has existed as far back as before the time of Christ and was a real problem to the Church as early as the time of John and Peter. To summarize Gnosticism, it believes that salvation is through knowledge of mysteries (gained through intuition), that all matter is evil and that only spirit is good (a belief called Dualism), that Jesus could not have been purely good because He was in a human body, that Jesus was a mere man, that God created lesser gods, and that only Gnostics, “people who knew,” were guaranteed salvation. They also believe that God could only be reached through gnosis, through the divine revelation of mysterious knowledge. Gnostics also believe that God is a hermaphrodite; half male, half female. Gnostics believed in a divine formula, that once understood, would destroy the power of evil.

Gnosticism’s more modern offshoot, New Thought, states that Spirit is the ultimate reality, the true human self is divine, divinely attuned thought is a positive force for good, most disease is mental in origin, and that right thinking has a healing effect. While that may sound Biblical, it is actually a form of early Humanism, and was founded on pantheism, occultism, spiritualism, and the basics of Gnosticism.

Christian Science is founded on the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy. This system believes a lot of things that are Biblical, but some of the things that they believe that aren’t include “mind over matter,” the idea that all things are spiritual and the material world is an illusion, and the denial of physical ailments. Please note that Christian Science is not Scientology.

Hmmm … I see parallels already. Let’s review some of them.

The Word of Faith believes:

— Divine Revelation: well, I believe in it, too, but all divine revelation has to mesh perfectly with the Bible. Word of Faith preachers teach that they are the dispensers of this revelation, and imply that only they are capable of giving it. They will rely more on what “God told them” than on what was written in the Bible, despite their insistence that we, the congregation, must find three scripture verses to support what we want to do. This is not unlike the Gnostic belief in mysterious knowledge.

— They put God in a box: Word of Faith preachers deny God’s sovereignty and actually mock the concept. They make God a slave to “spiritual laws” that even He can’t break. They teach that we can twist God’s arm to get what we want, enabling us to write our own ticket with Him (Kenneth Hagin’s term), or turn God into a vending machine (Richard Roberts’ term). The concept of spiritual laws and the idea that God is at our beck and call is definitely Gnostic.

— Jesus died spiritually: while the idea that Jesus went to Hell is as old as the Church, the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds do NOT say that Jesus died spiritually and had to be born again. If Jesus did die spiritually, then Jesus was a mere man, and not God incarnate. Again, this is a Gnostic belief — that Jesus was a mere man.

— Spiritual laws: Word of Faith is founded on the concept that there are spiritual laws in the Bible, that even God is bound to obey. These spiritual laws include things like reciprocity, sowing and reaping, the law of sin and death, the law of the tongue, etc. Once these laws are understood and worked with, then Satan has no more power over the Christian. That may be true, and I’m not saying that it is, but it sounds an awful lot like the Gnostic belief in divine formulas.

— God is as much female as He is male: I don’t know where they get this from Biblically, but more than one Word of Faith has said this. They also teach that Adam was both male and female at the same time, and God removed Adam’s female half, not just a rib. If this were true, then the pronoun for God in the Bible would be either “it” or “s/he,” not “he.” A hermaphroditic view of God is pure Gnosticism.

— Man is equal with Jesus and God: the idea that we are made in God’s image is Biblical, but the Word of Faith teaching that we are little gods, or that we are made in God’s class is not. Being equal with God is Gnostic at best, Lucifer’s rant at worst.

— Our words can change time, space and matter: this is known as “Name It and Claim It.” Sure, our words can change attitudes and maybe our bodies, but not to the extent that we are the “prophets of our own lives.” This is Christian Scientist “mind over matter,” retooled for modern times.

— Emphasis on Dominion over the Earth instead of forgiveness of sins and the need to love others: Most Word of Faith theology is rooted in having dominion over the Earth, and that Adam was the god of this planet. Do I have to go into that? Gnostics believed that they were gods.

— The reality of sickness and sin is denied: The Word of Faith says that they do not deny sickness and sin, but deny sickness and sin’s place in their bodies. It’s the same thing. Christian Science denies sickness, often to the point of dying instead of taking medicine. Word of Faith preachers do the same thing, often mocking doctors and medicine, despite having them on their daily television shows.

— Prayer is replaced by confession: Prayer connects us with God. Confession connects us with us. In other words, confession, whether it is what we desire or a Bible verse, is a Gnostic practice of mumbling chants and spells, replacing God with our own minds, because we have the knowledge it takes to save ourselves.

— God can only be pleased by faith: This is based on a verse in Hebrews. The implication is that if we are not standing on three scriptures from the Bible, believing we receive, and holding God to the spiritual laws, then God is not pleased with us. This is very similar to the Gnostic concept that the only way to God is through gnosis (in this case, the only way to God is through the strict definition of faith that the preacher uses). This totally rules out the concept that the way to God is through Jesus Christ.

— Dualism: The Word of Faith stresses that everything is spiritual, and that the physical is not important. They mock education and creatitivy and the five human senses. They hate sex (Kenneth Copeland said that we were supposed to speak our children into existence, Gloria Copeland said that sex was a product of the fall of Adam, and Benny Hinn said that women were originally supposed to give birth from their armpits). Despite their obsession with healing, they hate the human body, calling it an “earth suit.” Dualism is a Gnostic belief. Sure, you find the same teaching in the works of St. Augustine, but remember, he was a Gnostic before becoming a Christian.

I should have seen all this from the beginning, but I didn’t. I fell for the teaching that I could get rich quick and that I didn’t have to be sick a day in my life. There is a sucker born every minute! The reason the Word of Faith fooled me, and millions of other Christians, is that there is a lot of Biblical truth in it. Much of what Word of Faith preachers teach is sound. But what they teach that is sound is nothing more than the truths found in the Pentecostal movement of 1906 and the Charismatic Renewal of 1967. It’s the rest that’s poisoned; the part that orginated with Kenyon, was modified by Hagin and has been perpetuated by Copeland.

Another reason the Word of Faith fooled me, and millions of others, is that the preachers are genuinely sincere Christians who love Jesus! Kenyon, Hagin, Copeland, Dollar and others have helped millions of people know Christ better. They really believe that what they preach is totally Biblical. Unfortunately, it isn’t. Kenyon fought against the metaphysical religions of Christian Science and New Thought, denying their more obvious unbiblical teachings. Yet, he ended up embracing enough of these unbiblical teachings to turn the Word of Faith from what should have been a new branch of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement into a genuine cult.

I know, I know … there are Word of Faith apologetics that refute every one of these observations. The thing for me is this — I was an insider and saw this firsthand. I saw the abuses, and the apostasies, and people running around chanting their mantras, and I had enough. McConnell’s claims make sense to me. They explain what I saw. You have to decide for yourself.

This does not make the Word of Faith a heresy. Heresy is a rebellion against the doctrines of an established church. The Word of Faith is its own denomination, so it has nothing to rebel against. It is instead, an apostasy! An apostasy is nothing less than a rebellion against God Himself.

It gets worse.

There is a direct link between the Word of Faith and Shepherding.

Tricia Tillin, in her online testimony, shows this direct link. She lives in Great Britain, and was involved with KCM and the Word of Faith during the latter part of the 20th Century. In her blog, she writes that in 1985, she visited the UK headquarters for KCM and had a conversation with the worker there. During this conversation, Mrs. Tillin brought up how she was relieved that Kenneth Copeland was so opposed to Shepherding. Mrs. Tillin expected the worker to agree with her. Instead, Mrs. Tillin writes “She was evasive, would not condemn Shepherding doctrines, and then said that there had been a change of heart and the Copeland ministry would now be working more closely with the Shepherding leadership, and we should be praying for unity between them. This was devastating! Formerly they agreed Shepherding was in error, but now they’d changed their minds, and were going to work alongside each other!”

Then there is Stephen Parson’s book Ungodly Fear. Parson writes that in 1985 (the same year that Mrs. Tillin visited the KCM headquarters in Great Britain), at a convention of the Network of Christian Ministries, Kenneth Copeland said the Word of Faith and the Shepherding doctrines ought to be merged.

So, two different sources identify that the Word of Faith and Shepherding married each other. This does, at least to me, explains what I saw during my tenure with KCM and the Word of Faith. If the Word of Faith was so far from the truth to begin with, then it’s easy to understand how it could so easily embrace another apostasy like Shepherding.

And it also explains how Shepherding has made so many inroads into the Charismatic churches and ministries. Kenneth Copeland is a highly respected and influential teacher among many Charismatics. They are simply doing what they see his ministry and church do.

http://exwordoffaith.blogspot.com/2008/02/truth-about-word-of-faith.html

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Gnosticism of the 20th Century: The New Age Or An Old Lie?
Craig Branch

Many people are becoming aware of what is commonly referred to as “The New Age Movement.” To most people, these diverse beliefs and practices seemed to grow out of nowhere.

The term “New Age” is somewhat misleading as it actually refers to a coming new era, a new state of existence – the “dawning of the Age of Aquarius.”

Adherents claim that this new state of utopian global bliss and consciousness will occur when enough people are converted or initiated.

Actually the beliefs and practices are very, very old. Their root lies in the dawn of time and began to grow and branch out throughout Biblical and modern history.

As Brooks Alexander writes, “…these presuppositions have been systematically expounded in such esoteric disciplines as astrology, alchemy, reincarnation, yoga, magic, Taoism, tantra and Zen. Today, because of the wide spread cross-fertilization of these and other schools of thought, new forms of this basic world view are being created,” (Special Collection Journal, Spiritual Counterfeits Project, Vol. 6 Number 1, 1984, p. 14).

This basic world view states that all reality is one undifferentiated cosmic energy or consciousness (monism). There is no personal God, but all is God; or God (an impersonal force) is all (pantheism).

Man is therefore a divine entity and “salvation is equated with the discovery of this higher Reality with its laws,” (Ibid, p. 16).

The attainment of this experiential knowledge (gnosis) leads to self-realization which “Leads to the mastery of spiritual technology and the attainment of psycho-spiritual power,” (Ibid).

Matter, sin, and finiteness are therefore an illusion.

Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines gnosis and gnosticism as the gaining of spiritual knowledge reserved only for special initiates, “Distinguished by the conviction that matter is evil and that emancipation or salvation comes through this special knowledge.”

Closely related and associated with gnosticism is occultism.

Classically the word “occult” means hidden or secret teachings and practices. But “by `secret’ it is not meant that the positions taken are not available in most instances. Rather, the beliefs and practices are secret in the sense that performance of the rites is considered to be effective only when performed by those who are deeply initiated in the lore of the cult,” (Cults, World Religions, and the Occult, Ken Boa, p. 139).

Therefore, a working definition of the New Age would be a revival of ancient eastern mystical/occult beliefs and practices based on gnostic roots.

It involves the belief that spirituality or godhood is gained by the use of magical/mystical practices which transcend the illusory physical universe and senses.

This pagan philosophy has its historical root in Genesis 3:1-5. Satan in his temptation of man seduces Eve by questioning the character, benevolent rule and word of God (vs.1).

Satan also denies the reality of death (as does reincarnation), and promises that if man partakes of the forbidden, secret knowledge (occult/gnosis) then he will be raised up on the level of God, independent of Him (vs. 3-5).

“…the tempation of the autonomous and infinitized self remains the alpha and omega of spiritual pride,” (Special Collection Journal, p. 22).

From this unfortunate beginning, the embodiment of this philosophy can be historically traced through the Bible. Ancient Babylon in its mystery religions consistently reflects this heresy.

Throughout the Old Testament, these practices are exposed and condemned (Deut. 18:10-14; Isaiah 47:8-15).

For instance, the Ziggurats of Babel (Genesis 11) and the entire Chaldean culture were deeply rooted in the esoteric science of astrology.

This philosophy expressed in the Samarian and Egyptian cultures as well. God lays bare the deceitfulness of this paganism in Isaiah 47:8-10.

Eschatologically, mystery Babylon demonstrates that it is preeminently a religious system throughout the ages culminating in the final judgment (Revelation 17 and 18).

Continuing to trace the history of this heresy, Paul addresses the Stoic philosophers at Athens (Acts 17:16-34) who were the pantheists of that day. Paul also confronted this heresy in Ephesus (Acts 19:17-20).

Sections of the New Testament, especially in Colossians and 1 John were written specifically responding to the gnostic beliefs of that day.

In more modern times, this gnostic/occultic philosophy has continued to evolve in expressions like Indian Shamanism, transcendentalism, spiritism and spiritualism, New Thought, Rosicrusianism, Theosophy, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Zen, Kabala, Sufism, Yoga, Christian Science, Mind Sciences, Unity, Silva Mind Control, Edgar Cayce, Transcendental Meditation, Witchcraft, firewalking, Church Universal and Triumphant, parapsychology and many more.

“That which has been is that which will be, and that which is done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun,” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

Historically the effect of the perennial heresy has always been death and so it will be in the future: “For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong,” (Revelation 18:8).

As C.S. Lewis cogently remarked, “And Pantheism in that sense has, in the long run, only one really formidable opponent – namely Christianity,” (Miracles, pp. 84-85).

http://www.watchman.org/reltop/gnostic.htm

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This Assemblies of God position paper is a response to what the denomination considers to be extremes in the Faith Movement. The denomination is obligated to distance themselves from errors and extremes that have their roots in Pentecostalism.

The Believer And Positive Confession

The Life of Faith

The Assemblies of God from its early days has recognized the importance of the life of faith. It has been given prominent e-mphasis because Scripture gives it prominence.

The writer to the Hebrews points out that without faith it is impossible to please God. Then he describes faith as believing two things–that God is, and that He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

All the blessings which God has for His people are received through faith. Salvation (Acts 16:31), baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:15-17), divine preservation (1 Peter 1:5), inheritance of the promises which include healing and provision of material needs (Hebrews 6:12), and motivation for witnessing (2 Corinthians 4:13) are among the many provisions of God’s grace.

Today, as in every generation, it is important for believers to be mindful of the example in Scripture of being strong in faith (Romans 4:20-24). They must be on guard against anything which would weaken or destroy faith. They need to pray for its increase (Luke 17:5) and constantly seek to cultivate it through reading the Word of God (Romans 10:17).

The life of faith is the life of victory (1 John 5:4).

The Believer and Positive Confession

Occasionally throughout church history people have taken extreme positions concerning great Biblical truths. Sometimes teachers have advocated these extremes. On other occasions followers have gone beyond the teachings and reflected adversely on the cause of Christ.

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Positive and negative confession are expressions which in recent years have received acceptance in an extreme form in some circles. Both the definition in writing and the pattern of usage give some insight into the implications of these terms.

The fact that extremes are brought into focus does not imply rejection of the doctrine of confession. It is an important truth. The Bible teaches people are to confess their sin (1 John 1:9). They are to confess Christ (Matthew 10:32; Romans 10:9, 10). They are to maintain a good confession (Hebrews 4:14; 10:23, ASV).

But when people, in emphasizing a doctrine, go beyond or contrary to the teaching of Scripture, they do not honor that doctrine. Conversely, they bring reproach upon it and the work of the Lord. For this reason it is important to call attention to these excesses and show how they are in conflict with the Word of God.

Some Positions of the Positive Confession Teaching

The positive confession teaching relies on an English dictionary definition of the word confess: “to acknowledge, or to own; to acknowledge faith in.” Confession is also described as affirming something which is believed, testifying to something known, and witnessing for a truth which has been embraced.

This view goes a step further and divides confession into negative and positive aspects. The negative is acknowledging sin, sickness, poverty, or other undesirable situations. Positive confession is acknowledging or owning desirable situations.

While there are variations of interpretation and emphasis concerning this teaching, a conclusion seems to be that the unpleasant can be avoided by refraining from negative confessions. The pleasant can be enjoyed by making positive confessions.

According to this view, as expressed in various publications, the believer who refrains from acknowledging the negative and continues to affirm the positive will assure for himself pleasant circumstances. He will be able to rule over poverty, disease, and sickness. He will be sick only if he confesses he is sick. Some make a distinction between acknowledging the symptoms of an illness and the illness itself.

This view advocates that God wants believers to wear the best clothing, drive the best cars, and have the best of everything. Believers need not suffer financial setbacks. All they need to do is to tell Satan to take his hands off their money. The believer can have whatever he says whether the need is spiritual, physical, or financial. It is taught that faith compels God’s action.

According to this position, what a person says determines what he will receive and what he will become. Thus people are instructed to start confessing even though what they want may not have been realized. If a person wants money, he is to confess he has it even if it is not true. If a person wants healing, he is to confess it even though it is obviously not the case. People are told they can have whatever they say, and for this reason great significance is attached to the spoken word. It is claimed the spoken word, if repeated often enough, will eventually result in faith which procures the desired blessing.

It is understandable that some people would like to accept the positive confession teaching. It promises a life free from problems, and its advocates seem to support it with passages of Scripture. Problems develop, however, when Bible statements are isolated from their context and from what the rest of Scripture has to say concerning the subject. Extremes result which distort truth and eventually hurt believers as individuals and the cause of Christ in general.

When believers study the life of faith and victory God has for His people, it is important, as in all doctrine, to seek for the balanced emphasis of Scripture. This will help to avoid the extremes which eventually frustrate rather than help believers in their walk with God.

Believers Should Consider the Total Teaching of Scripture.

The apostle Paul gave an important principle of interpreting Scripture which calls for “comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:13). The basic thrust of this principle is to consider everything God’s Word has to say on a given subject in establishing doctrine. Only doctrine based on a holistic view of Scripture conforms to this Biblical rule of interpretation.

When the positive confession teaching indicates that to admit weakness is to accept defeat, to admit financial need is to accept poverty, and to admit sickness is to preclude healing, it is going beyond and is contrary to the harmony of Scripture.

For instance, King Jehoshaphat admitted he had no might against an enemy alliance, but God gave him a marvelous victory (2 Chronicles 20). Paul admitted weakness and then stated that when he was weak, he was strong because God’s strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9,10).

It was after the disciples recognized they did not have enough to feed the multitudes and admitted it that Christ marvelously provided a more than adequate supply (Luke 9:12, 13). It was after the disciples admitted they had caught no fish that Jesus directed them to a most successful endeavor (John 21:3-6).

These people were not told to replace negative confessions with positive confessions which were contrary to fact. They stated conditions exactly as they were rather than pretending they were something else. Yet God marvelously intervened even though they made what some would call negative confessions.

Comparing Scripture with Scripture makes it clear that positive verbal expressions do not always produce happy effects nor do negative statements always result in unhappy effects. To teach that leaders in the early days of the Church such as Paul, Stephen, and Trophimus did not live in a constant state of affluence and health because they did not have the light on this teaching is going beyond and contrary to the Word of God. Doctrine will be sound only as it is developed within the framework of the total teaching of Scripture.

The Greek word translated “confess” means “to speak the same thing.” When people confess Christ, it is to say the same thing as Scripture does concerning Christ. When people confess sin, it is to say the same as Scripture does concerning sin. And when people confess some promise of Scripture, they must be sure they are saying the same thing about that promise as the total teaching of Scripture on that subject.

The words of Augustine are appropriate in this regard: “If you believe what you like in the gospel and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.”

Believers Should Consider Adequately the Will of God.

When the positive confession doctrine indicates a person can have whatever he says, it fails to emphasize adequately that God’s will must be considered. David had the best intentions when he indicated his desire to build a temple for the Lord, but it was not God’s will (1 Chronicles 17:4). David was permitted to gather materials, but Solomon was to build the temple.

Paul prayed that the thorn in his flesh might be removed, but it was not God’s will. Instead of removing the thorn, God gave Paul sufficient grace (2 Corinthians 12:9).

God’s will can be known and claimed by faith, but the desire of the heart is not always the criterion by which the will of God is determined. There are times when the enjoyable or pleasurable may not be the will of God. James alluded to this when he wrote, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (James 4:3). The word translated “lusts” does not refer to perverted desire but to pleasure or enjoyment; that which the heart desires. Several translations use the word “pleasure” rather than “lust.”

In Gethsemane Jesus asked that if it were possible the cup might be removed. That was His desire, but in His prayer He recognized the will of God. He said, “Nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).

The Bible recognizes there will be times when a believer will not know what to pray for. He will not know what the will of God is. He may even be perplexed as Paul sometimes was (2 Corinthians 4:8). Then, rather than simply making a positive confession based on the desires of the heart, the believer needs to recognize the Holy Spirit makes intercession for him according to the will of God (Romans 8:26, 27).

God’s will always must have priority over the believer’s plans or desires. The words of James should be kept constantly in view: “Ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that” (James 4:15).

Getting what the believer wants is not as simple as repeating a positive confession. Pleasant things might be out of the will of God; and, conversely, unpleasant things might be in the will of God. It is important for the believer to say as Paul’s friends did, “The will of the Lord be done” (Acts 21:14)–more important than to demand a life free from suffering.

Believers Should Recognize the Importance of Importunate Prayer.

When the positive confession view teaches that believers are to confess rather than to pray for things which God has promised, it overlooks the teaching of God’s Word concerning importunate prayer. According to some who hold this view of positive confession, God’s promises are in the area of material, physical, and spiritual blessings; believers are to claim or confess these blessings and not to pray for them.

The instruction not to pray for promised blessings is contrary to the teaching of God’s Word. Food is one of God’s promised blessings, yet Jesus taught His disciples to pray: “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). Wisdom is a promised blessing of God, yet Scripture states, if any man “lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not” (James 1:5). Jesus called the Holy Spirit the promise of the Father (Luke 24:49), and yet He also taught that God would give the Holy Spirit to them that ask (Luke 11:13).

While there were times God told people not to pray, as in the case of Moses at the Red Sea (Exodus 14:15), there are many Scriptures reminding believers to pray, and that, without ceasing (Romans 12:12; Philippians 4:6, 1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Jesus emphasized the importance of importunity in prayer. The illustration of the persistent friend who came at midnight asking for bread to set before his guests became the basis for Christ’s statement, “Ask, and it shall be given you” (Luke 11:5-10). The parable of the widow and the unjust judge became the occasion for our Lord to emphasize importunity in prayer (Luke 18:1-8). These people were commended for importunity and not for prayerless positive confession.

While God’s ways are above man’s ways, and we cannot understand the reason for every command in Scripture, we do know that in His wisdom God has ordained prayer as part of the process included in meeting a need. Rather than an indication of doubt, importunate prayer can be an indication of obedience and faith.

Believers Should Recognize They Can Expect Suffering in This Life.

The positive confession teaching advocates reigning as kings in this life. It teaches that believers are to dominate and not be dominated by circumstances. Poverty and sickness are usually mentioned among the circumstances over which believers are to have dominion.

If believers choose the kings of this world as models, it is true they will seek the trouble-free life (although even kings of this world are not free from problems). They will be more concerned with physical and material prosperity than with spiritual growth.

When believers choose the King of kings as their model, however, their desires will be completely different. They will be transformed by His teaching and example. They will recognize the truth of Romans 8:17 which is written concerning joint-heirs with Christ: “If so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Paul even went so far as to glory in his infirmities instead of denying them (2 Corinthians 12:5-10).

Though Christ was rich, for our sakes He became poor (2 Corinthians 8:9). He could say, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20).

While God in His providence has endowed some with the ability to accumulate greater wealth than others, something is tragically lacking if there is not a willingness to do the will of God and surrender all, if need be, including creature comforts.

Jesus never ceased to be God, and through the power of the Holy Spirit performed many miracles; yet He was not free from suffering. He knew He must suffer many things of the elders (Matthew 16:21; 17:12). He desired to eat the Passover with the disciples before He suffered (Luke 22:15). After His death, the disciples recognized that Christ’s suffering was a fulfillment of prophecy (Luke 24:25, 26, 32).

When believers realize that reigning as kings in this life is to take Christ as the model of a king, they will recognize suffering can be involved; that sometimes it is more kingly to stay with unpleasant circumstances than to try to make all circumstances pleasant.

Paul had been shown he would suffer (Acts 9:16). Later he rejoiced in his sufferings for the Colossians. He saw his suffering as filling up “that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24).

God promises to supply the needs of believers, and He knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation; but reigning in life as Christ did may also include suffering. The committed believer will accept this. He will not be disillusioned if life is not a continual series of pleasant experiences. He will not become cynical if he does not have all the desires of his heart.

He will recognize the servant is not greater than his Master. To follow Christ requires denying ourselves (Luke 9:23). This includes denying our selfish desires and may include admitting our problems.

Problems are not always an indication of lack of faith. To the contrary, they can be a tribute to faith. This is the great emphasis of Hebrews 11:32-40:

And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthah; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; of whom the world was not worthy: they wandered in deserts, and in mountains and in dens and caves of the earth.

And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

To hold that all suffering results from negative confessions and indicates a lack of faith contradicts the Scripture. Some heroes of faith suffered greatly, some even died through faith, and they were commended for it.

Believers Should Recognize the Sovereignty of God.

The positive confession emphasis has a tendency to include statements which make it appear that man is sovereign and God is the servant. Statements are made about compelling God to act, implying He has surrendered His sovereignty; that He is no longer in a position to act according to His wisdom and purpose. Reference is made to true prosperity being the ability to use God’s ability and power to meet needs regardless of what the needs are. This puts man in the position of using God rather than man surrendering himself to be used of God.

In this view there is very little consideration given to communion with God in order to discover His will. There is very little appeal to search the Scriptures for the framework of the will of God. There is little emphasis on the kind of discussion with fellow believers which results in two or three agreeing what the will of God might be. Instead, the desire of the heart is viewed as a binding mandate on God. It is seen as constituting the authority of the believer.

It is true that Jesus said, “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13). But Scripture also teaches that the asking must be in harmony with the will of God. “This is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (1 John 5:14, 15).

“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) is still an important injunction today. God is God. He will not surrender His glory or sovereignty to anyone. No one will compel God to action.

The authority of the believer exists only in the will of God, and it is the believer’s responsibility to discover and conform to the will of the sovereign God even in the things he desires. Paul’s words are still applicable: “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17).

When believers recognize the sovereignty of God and properly become concerned with the will of God, they will not talk in terms of compelling God or using God’s power. They will speak of becoming obedient servants. They will desire to become yielded instruments in the hands of God.

Believers Should Apply the Practical Test.

In reviewing the efforts of those who advocate this positive confession teaching it is evident that the basic appeal is to those who are already Christians living in an affluent society. They encourage a spiritual elitism in which adherents say, “We believe the same things you do. The difference is that we practice what we believe.”

A practical test of a belief is whether it has a universal application. Does the teaching have meaning only for those living in an affluent society? Or does it also work among the refugees of the world? What application does the teaching have for believers imprisoned for their faith by atheistic governments? Are those believers substandard who suffer martyrdom or grave physical injury at the hands of cruel, ruthless dictators?

The truth of God’s Word has a universal application. It is as effective in the slums as in suburbia. It is as effective in the jungle as in the city. It is as effective in foreign countries as in our own nation. It is as effective among deprived nations as among the affluent. The test of fruit is still one way of determining whether a teacher or teaching is of God or of man. “By their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20).

Believers Should Accurately Deal With the Word Rhema.

Because there is very little literature among those who espouse the positive confession teaching concerning the Greek word rhema, it is necessary to consider it as used primarily in oral communication.

A distinction is generally made by proponents of this view between the words logos and rhema. The first, it is claimed, refers to the written word. The second, to that which is presently spoken by faith. According to this view whatever is spoken by faith becomes inspired and takes on the creative power of God.

There are two major problems with this distinction. First, the distinction is not justified by usage either in the Greek New Testament or in the Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament). The words are used synonymously in both.

In the case of the Septuagint both rhema and logos are used to translate the one Hebrew word dabar which is used in various ways relative to communication. For instance, the word dabar (translated, word of God) is used in both Jeremiah 1:1 and 2. Yet in the Septuagint it is translated rhema in verse 1 and logos in verse 2.

In the New Testament the words rhema and logos are also used interchangeably. This can be seen in passages such as 1 Peter 1:23 and 25. In verse 23, it is “the logos of God which . . . abideth for ever.” In verse 25, “the rhema of the Lord endureth for ever.” Again in Ephesians 5:26 believers are cleansed “with the washing of water by the rhema.” In John 15:3 believers are “clean through the logos.”

The distinctions between logos and rhema cannot be sustained by Biblical evidence. The Word of God, whether referred to as logos or rhema, is inspired, eternal, dynamic, and miraculous. Whether the Word is written or spoken does not alter its essential character. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).

A second problem also exists among those who make a distinction between the words logos and rhema. Passages of Scripture are sometimes selected without regard to context or analogy of faith which they claim to speak by faith. In this kind of application of the so-called rhema principle, adherents are more concerned with making the Word mean what they want it to mean than in becoming what the Word wants them to become. In some instances it becomes obvious they love God more for what He does than for who He is.

It is important for believers to avoid any form of Christian existentialism which isolates passages of Scripture from the context or makes some passages eternal and others contemporary.

Conclusion

In considering any doctrine it is always necessary to ask whether it is in harmony with the total teaching of Scripture. Doctrine based on less than a holistic view of Biblical truth can only do harm to the cause of Christ. It can often be more detrimental than views which reject Scripture altogether. Some people will more likely accept something as truth if it is referred to in the Word of God, even if the teaching is an extreme emphasis or contradicts other principles of Scripture.

God’s Word does teach great truths such as healing, provision for need, faith, and the authority of believers. The Bible does teach that a disciplined mind is an important factor in victorious living. But these truths must always be considered in the framework of the total teaching of Scripture.

When abuses occur, there is sometimes a temptation to draw back from these great truths of God’s Word. In some cases people even lose out with God altogether when they discover that exaggerated emphases do not always meet their expectations or result in freedom from problems.

The fact that doctrinal aberrations develop, however, is not a reason for rejecting or remaining silent concerning them. The existence of differences of opinion is all the more reason why believers should continue diligently to search the Scriptures. It is why servants of God must faithfully declare the whole counsel of God.

http://ag.org/top/Beliefs/Position_Papers/pp_4183_confession.cfm

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The Secret Seduction
Dave Hunt
June 30, 2007

The latest occult scam to capture the imagination of the West is called The Secret. The book by that name, a top New York Times bestseller, has quickly sold more than 6 million copies and the DVD over 2 million copies. Both contain numerous errors, misrepresentations, false premises, and false promises. Who cares? You should. With the following information, you could rescue someone from hell.

The numerous misrepresentations begin with the title itself. The Secret is not a secret at all, but recycled Hinduism, shamanism, and New Age folly. One of many huge lies is its claim: “You create your own reality with your mind.” This was the serpent’s false promise to Eve-the promise of godhood (Gen 3:5). Embracing that delusion cost Eve and her descendants Eden’s paradise-and would have barred mankind from heaven had not Christ died for the sins of the world. In the 6,000 years since Eden, the serpent’s promise has not been fulfilled in even one person’s life.

Misinformation and false claims follow one another in a dizzying parade of absurdities. Sprinkled throughout the book and DVD is the claim that the Secret is scientifically proved to be true. For example, “It has been scientifically proven that an affirmative thought is hundreds of times more powerful than a negative thought.”1 When? Where? How?

No scientific tests ever measured positive and negative thoughts, nor could there be any such tests because thoughts are nonphysical and their “power” cannot be measured. Thoughts exist outside the realm of physical science. Nor is there any such thing as “mental science” or a “science of the mind.” That fact is only one of many reasons why psychology could never be a science, in spite of decades of claiming that it is.

The bait on the hook of The Secret is stated repeatedly: “The Secret gives you anything you want: happiness, health, and wealth….You can have, do, or be anything you want….We can have whatever it is that we choose.”2 Common sense replies, “Thanks, but no thanks.” But millions being introduced to the Secret are excited and eager to make it work for them.

The foundational lies are basically that there is no personal God who created the universe and who makes laws that man must obey. The universe has always been here, yet we create it with our minds through numerous occult laws that exist to serve our selfish desires. One of the most enticing is “the law of attraction”: whatever thought (health, wealth, disaster, gain, loss, pain, joy, etc.) you hold in your mind, you will attract to yourself as a reality of your life. We are all gods who create our individual destinies with our thoughts.

The amorality of the Secret ought to be evident to anyone who stops to think. Hitler was no more responsible for the Holocaust than were its victims who collectively created it with their minds. So it was with the Titanic, the crash of every plane, and the victims of every rape and murder.

The book and DVD are based upon nothing more than statements of a number of supposed experts in the area of success motivation and positive thinking. Who are they? A “nonaligned, transreligious progressive…spiritual luminaries…teacher of spiritual metaphysics…Feng Shui master…successful business leaders…founders of the New Thought movement…a modern-day spiritual messenger, et al.” They are certainly not in the same class as Jesus Christ, who proved His deity with His sinless life and miracles, died for our sins, and rose from the dead. The “experts” cited and quoted in The Secret are not a group into whose hands anyone should trust their lives, much less their eternal destiny.

In the book and DVD, like a broken record, the same appealing but transparent lie is repeated over and over: “There isn’t a single thing that you cannot do with this knowledge…the Secret can give you whatever you want…if you see it in your mind, you’re going to hold it in your hand…you create your life with your thoughts…your thoughts are seeds, and the harvest you reap will depend on the seeds you plant…your life is in your hands…what you think about you bring about….You will attract everything that you require. If it’s money you need you will attract it…like Aladdin’s Genie, the law of attraction grants our every command… the moment you begin to ‘think properly’…this power within you that’s greater than the world…will take over your life…feed…clothe…guide…protect…direct you, sustain your very existence. If you let it. Now that is what I know, for sure….”

Now this is what I know for sure: while the historic individuals named and quoted in the book and DVD achieved some temporary material possessions and success, they all failed in that which is far more important: health. Yes, most, but not all, maintained a satisfactory level of good health most of their brief lives, but the health of every one of them eventually failed. One mark of failure they all share: they all died. In the end, the Secret could not keep them alive, though they tried every technique it offered. And those proponents of the Secret still alive today will inevitably suffer the same fate.

According to what these supposed masters of the Secret all declare with great confidence, they should not have died. If the Secret were true and they properly applied it-“The Secret can give you whatever you want”-they should all still be alive. In fact, none of the masters of the Secret even exceeded the normal life expectancy-but they surely should have if the Secret were true. The obvious fact is that the Secret is a deception that offers a false hope, which continues to deceive mankind-and an unconscionably amoral hope at that.

Let’s take a quick look at some of these “masters of the Secret.” Ralph Waldo Emerson is one of the most highly praised. He declared, “The secret is the answer to all that has been, all that is, and all that will ever be.” But Emerson lived in a state of deteriorating health and financial need for his last 10 years. He died at age 79. Surely he wanted to live a longer, healthier, happier life. Why didn’t he hold such thoughts and, by the law of attraction, bring what he wanted into actuality? For the same reason that no one else ever has or ever will. “The Secret” is a lie from Satan, “the father of lies” (John 8:44). It keeps those who believe it from faith in the true God and the salvation He provided for sinners through Christ’s sacrifice for the sins of all mankind upon the Cross.

What about Prentice Mulford, another of the supposed masters of the Secret and a founder of the New Thought movement, which is based upon the same delusion? He said that there is a material mind and a Spiritual mind; a lower self and a higher Self, and the latter receives thoughts from the “Supreme Power.”

But that “Power” failed him. It gave him the thought that he wanted to be a member of the California State Assembly. Mulford was nominated, but lost the election. Why didn’t his thoughts bring about his desire? The Secret, and New Thought, its mirror image, didn’t work for him, one of the “experts” held up as an example in the book and DVD. Finally, the Secret failed him entirely: he died at the age of 57-surely a shorter life than he had hoped to live.

Or what about Wallace Wattles, a diligent student of the Secret most of his short life and another founder of New Thought? His most famous book was The Science of Getting Rich, yet he lived most of his life in poverty. This crowning achievement of his life was published in 1910. He died in 1911 at the age of 51. Wouldn’t he have wanted to live longer to see the success of that book and to write more about the marvelous benefits of “the Secret,” though it failed him? But he couldn’t add one minute to his life. The Secret didn’t work for Wattles, one of its chief proponents.

The book and DVD also contain factual errors. The statement is made that through applying the Secret, the Babylonians, “became one of the wealthiest races in history.” No, it was through their military might at the cost of the lives, torture, and slavery of multitudes of victims. Babylon was one of the cruelest empires in history. And this commends the Secret? Thankfully, Babylon is no more. Why did it fall? Did the Secret fail the Babylonians, or did they fail to apply it? The evidence is overwhelming: the Secret is a lie.

This delusion that reality is created by the mind has been offering false hope to mankind for thousands of years. It is the standard teaching of Christian Science, the Church of Religious Science, Unity School of Christianity, New Thought, and other Mind Science cults. Never before, however, has it been packaged so attractively and cleverly for promotion to the general public as in The Secret. Disillusionment of multitudes will follow.

Most of the quick spread of this new presentation of the ancient and well-known supposed Secret is due to promotion by Larry King and Oprah Winfrey. Millions of their fans bought the book and DVD. On April 5, 2007, Oprah Winfrey discussed the Secret with alleged nonphysical entities “channeled” by Secret promoter, Esther Hicks. As we have often shown, so-called “spirit communication” with the dead that used to occur in séances (strictly forbidden in the Bible as demonic – Deut 18:11, Lev 20:6) is now called “channeling” and has long been promoted openly on radio and TV.

Anyone with even a small amount of common sense would recognize many moral and practical problems. What The Secret promotes is completely amoral and self-centered: “The law [of “attraction”] responds to your thoughts, no matter what they may be….People who have drawn wealth into their lives…think thoughts of abundance and wealth…nothing else exists in their minds.” “You’ve got to feel good about money to attract more to you….Start to say and feel…I am a money magnet. I love money.” (The Bible says not money itself but “the love of money is the root of all evil” – 1 Tim 6:10).

What about selfless love, kindness, mercy, goodness, charity, compassion, generosity, sharing with others? Such thoughts would interfere with the single-minded goal of drawing wealth to oneself. The Secret, believed and applied, cannot help but increase one’s selfishness and bring those applying it into conflict with one another.

Let’s say that “Jones” believes that the Secret will give him anything he wants. Wanting to be the president of the X corporation where he works, and using the “law of attraction” to get what he wants, Jones holds in his mind the thought, “I am the president of X Corporation.” Will Jones’s thoughts oust the current president and put himself in his place? Suppose there happen to be twenty other ambitious and avaricious people, from factory workers to janitors, from secretaries and bookkeepers to the vice president, who also want to be president of X corporation and are each relying upon the Secret’s “law of attraction” to fulfill their passion. To help accomplish their selfish desire, they each visualize themselves in the president’s chair behind the big desk in his plush office. Will the Secret simultaneously make each of them the president? Who will win this battle of minds in the selfish competition that this ancient, amoral, alleged secret has spawned?

One of the supposedly successful practitioners of the occult principles who is quoted in the book, Lisa Nichols, is described as a “powerful advocate of personal empowerment”-more selfishness. She says, “Thank God that there’s a time delay, that all your thoughts don’t come true instantly.”3 What “God” does she mean? Where would God fit into a universe He neither made nor controls and that is being recreated by human thoughts continually-a universe that stands ever ready to give mankind whatever selfish desires are directed toward it?

Advocates of the Secret and New Thought do not believe in the personal, living God of the Bible, who asks for man’s love and submission to His will. Their god is impersonal, a sort of Star Wars Force or universal Mind that has no mind of its own but exists solely to give us whatever we want. Joe Vitale is another one of the expert practitioners of the Secret quoted in the book and DVD. On Larry King Live a caller asked, I’m just curious, where does God come into “the Secret”?

Vitale responded, “God is all of us. God is the secret and everything about it. This is a law from God.”4 This, of course, is nonsense, the ancient religion of pantheism: you’re God, I’m God, the tree is God, everything is God. Then “God” is both good and evil, death as well as life, has no morals, etc. If everything is “God,” then “God” means nothing. Pantheism is virtual atheism.

Another ancient occult technique used by shamans for thousands of years is visualization: the belief that a mental picture held firmly in the mind will eventually manifest itself in the physical universe. Of course, this too is a delusion. No one has ever been able to demonstrate this ability. If we all had the power that The Secret promises, ours would be a terrifying existence with billions of Darth Vaders and Obe Wan Kenobies zapping one another with mind power!

Many Christians, as we have seen, teach basically the same occultism taught to C.G. Jung by “familiar spirits” (1 Sam 28:9; Isaiah 8:19). Yonggi Cho has taught and practiced the same for years, as have numerous Christian psychologists and charismatic leaders. Visualization to create one’s own reality was the heart and soul of all that Norman Vincent Peale taught and practiced: “The idea of imaging…has been implicit in all the speaking and writing I have done….”5 Robert Schuller has long taught the same occultism: “I have practiced and harnessed the power of the inner eye and it works….Thirty years ago we started with a vision of a church. It’s all come true.”6

Cho, pastor of the largest church in the world, claims that the Holy Spirit told him that he must visualize a clear picture of what he was praying for, or his prayer could not be answered. But all Cho could hold in his mind was the gross outline of what he wanted; he could not “see” or even imagine the atomic structure of these objects, which was their underlying reality.

Anyone who is willing to believe that mankind creates the universe with its collective thoughts (or that any individual, by visualization, can bring into existence anything that would be part of daily experience) has willfully given himself over to Satan and is susceptible to any other lie he offers. Obviously, the universe was here before man. To believe that the vast expanse of the cosmos with its trillions of stars and moons that no man has ever seen, including the many subatomic particles no one has even imagined, is all being created and held together with the collective thoughts of humanity, is to commit intellectual, moral, and spiritual suicide.

Those who believe such lies as The Secret offers have deliberately turned from the true God who has revealed Himself in each conscience and in the universe He made and have opened themselves to demonic delusion that will eventually lead them to eternal separation from the God who loves them and the Christ who died to redeem them. Let’s rescue as many as we can! TBC

Endnotes

1. Rhonda Byrnes, The Secret (New York: Atria Books, 2006), 1.
2. Ibid., 22.
3. Ibid., 194.
4. Larry King Live, March 8, 2007.
5. Norman Vincent Peale, Positive Imaging (Fawcett Crest, 1982), Introduction.
6. Robert Schuller booklet, The Power of the Inner Eye.

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