Tag Archives: new age

Oprah’s Secret isn’t that secret, but it is a lie

The theme of the best seller The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne, is not a secret, it is the same old “you are God / you can become God” nonsense that has been around since Genesis 3.  The claims in the book are false and contradictory, but discernment in this culture seems to be at an all time low.  For example, one of the keys to The Secret is the law of attraction, which demands only this:

  1. Know what you want and ask the universe for it.
  2. Feel and behave as if the object of your desire is on its way.
  3. Be open to receiving it.

There are many flaws with this philosophy.  But one is completely fatal to its premise and nearly self-evident: What if two people want the same thing, such as marrying the same person, or opposite things, such as the farmer wanting rain and the family wanting a sunny picnic?

This flawed worldview is really tragic.  I know a person who is consistently miserable but holds tenaciously to the view that he creates his own reality.  Without me even having to ask, “So, uh, how’s that working out for you?,” he’ll concede that it isn’t working well at all.  He thinks he just has to try harder.  He is immune to logic.

Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason wrote an excellent and important article about the book.  I encourage you to read it all.  Oprah Winfrey’s worldview is based on The Secret and is one of the most popular in the country today.  It is basically a mix of the American prosperity gospel (“God wants you to be rich”) and Hinduism.  With just a little thought people should realize that the premise is ridiculous, but they want to believe it is true.

Oprah Winfrey is the “pastor” of the largest church in the country. “The Church of O,” Christianity Today noted, has a congregation of 22 million vigorous, faithful, evangelistic members, making Oprah Winfrey  one of the most influential spiritual leaders in America.” Oprah’s theology is based on a secret. That secret is in a book: The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne.

. . .

Generally, no spiritual lie is pure falsehood, but rather a clever example of truth twisted. There is always some legitimacy in even the darkest deceptions. That’s what makes them so appealing. It’s  also what makes them so nefarious. The Secret is no exception.

The smidgen of truth found in The Secret is this: If you mentally focus on some end, you are more likely to accomplish that end.

I’ll stick with the Gospel.  It isn’t a secret, but it is true and it has the power to save and transform lives, now and for eternity.  Living according to The Secret is a sure path through the wide gate.  As Koukl notes:

The Secret is a lie because what it teaches is false. It’s appealing because it takes something true (the ability to use thought and language to focus our wills to accomplish important goals) and twists  it into something poisonous by grounding it in a lie: You are God.

. . .

Rather, God is the Creator of the universe. God is the center of reality. We are His rebellious subjects. We are under His judgment. And unless we surrender, we are destined for an eternity of suffering and anguish that will never end, this at the hand of the real Master of the universe.

. . .

The truth is no secret. It is being proclaimed from the rooftops by Jesus’ faithful followers. There is rescue for rebels, forgiveness and eternal friendship with God for those who lay down their arms  and appeal for peace on God’s terms.

And the only “law of attraction” in operation is the one that flows from the cross: “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself” (John 12:32).

Religious pluralism is intellectually bankrupt

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There are two main kinds of religious pluralism.  One is good and one is intellectually bankrupt.

Good pluralism: Numerous distinct ethnic, religious, or cultural groups are present and tolerated within a society.

Bad pluralism: All religions are true and equally valid paths to God.

Pluralism can be a good thing if it means we should tolerate the beliefs of others.  Jesus, who was God in flesh, didn’t force anyone to convert.  So why should we think that we can? 

Christianity should flourish in a society with good pluralism, as the Gospel can be shared freely and there isn’t pressure to fake one’s beliefs.  Sadly, we often get complacent in such atmospheres and Christianity spreads just as well or better in times of persecution.  It tends to weed out false believers and teachers more effectively. 

Of course, there are some truths in each religion, but there are irreconcilable differences in their essential truth claims regarding the nature of God, the path to salvation, their view of Jesus, etc.

Here are some examples:

One of the following is possible when we die, but under no circumstance could more than one be possible:

  1. Reincarnation (Hinduism, New Age)
  2. Complete nothingness (Atheism)
  3. One death then judgment by God (Christianity, Islam, others)

Jesus was either the Messiah (Christianity) or He was not the Messiah (Judaism and others), but He cannot be both the Messiah and not the Messiah.

God either doesn’t exist (Atheism), He exists and is personal (Christianity) or He exists and is impersonal (Hinduism).

Jesus either died on the cross (Christianity) or He didn’t (Islam). 

God either revealed himself to us (many religions) or he didn’t (Atheism, Agnosticism).

Jesus is the eternally existent God (Christianity) or He isn’t (everything else, including the Mormon and Jehovah’s Witness). In fact, in Islam it is an unforgivable sin to claim that Jesus is God, so there is no way to reconcile Christianity and Islam.

Some people hold the view that God will be whatever you conceive him to be in this life.  That is one of the most bizarre religious views I have heard.  I’m not sure how they came to the conclusion that every human gets a designer god and that at death it would be just as one wished.

Consider the view of Mahatma Gandhi and Hinduism in general:

After long study and experience, I have come to the conclusion that [1] all religions are true; [2] all religions have some error in them; [3] all religions are almost as dear to me as my own Hinduism, in as much as all human beings should be as dear to one as one’s own close relatives. My own veneration for other faiths is the same as that for my own faith; therefore no thought of conversion is possible. (Mahatma Gandhi, All Men Are Brothers: Life and Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi as told in his own words, Paris, UNESCO 1958, p 60.)

Yet the exclusive claims of Christianity prove Gandhi’s worldview (that of Hinduism) to be false.  Among other things, the Bible claims at least one hundred times that Jesus is the only way to salvation.  It also commands us not to worship idols and that we die once and then face judgment (it does not hold to reincarnation).  Those are key elements of the Hindu faith.  So if Hinduism is true then Christianity cannot be true.  But if Hinduism is correct in stating that all religions are true, then Christianity must be true.  But Christianity claims to be the one true path, so if it is true then Hinduism is not. 

Also, Hinduism claims that Christianity is true, so if Christianity is false then so is Hinduism.  Either way, the logic of Gandhi and Hinduism collapses on itself. 

When I share the Gospel with people I do so as respectfully as possible.  But I always try to work in examples like the above to highlight that under no circumstances can we both be right about the nature of God and salvation.

I used to hold the position of religious pluralism.  We studied world religions about 15 years ago in an Adult Sunday School class and, sadly, didn’t dig very deep (I was attending church but not really a believer . . . at best I was “saved and confused.”)  Most of us walked away thinking the religions were “all pretty much the same” and with no incentive to go out and make a case for Christianity.  

So why did I – and so many people today, including Christians – embrace bad pluralism?  I think it is typically out of a lack of clear thinking on the topic.  When you examine the essentials of these faiths it is not that hard to show how they are irreconcilable. 

Political correctness and fear contribute as well.  It is easy to deny the exclusivity of Jesus (or the truth claims of whatever faith one follows) if one wants to avoid controversy.  But as unpopular as it is to make truth claims, it is really a rather logical thing to do.  The one claiming all religions are true needs to back up that claim with their evidence and logic.  Just rattle off a list of religions, sects and cults and ask why they are all true.  Just be careful saying things like, “Hinduism has a lot of sects.”  If you say it too quickly people will have surprised looks on their faces. 

Sheer laziness is another factor.  Knowing enough about one’s faith to defend it in the marketplace of ideas is hard work.  Religious pluralism is a great excuse not to evangelize. 

I expect many non-Christians to say that all paths lead to God, but it really bothers me when Christians do so.  They should meditate on this passage, among others:

Galatians 1:8-9 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!