This is the third part of an examination of The Secret. The first two parts are available here and here. Now that we've explored what The Secret looks like, what are we to do with it? Some of you who are Christian might think it's no big deal; it appears to be another passing fad. But I think many Christians will find The Secret attractive and attempt to implement aspects of it into their faith system.
I mentioned in a previous post that I watched an episode of Oprah where she rehashed The Secret. A woman who claimed to be a Christian expressed some reservations about these principles; the woman felt The Secret contradicted parts of her Christian beliefs. Oprah tried to assure the woman that you do both: adhere to The Secret and be a Christian. Ms Winfrey claimed it worked for her, and it could work for all Christians.
So are The Secret and Christianity compatible? After closely examining this belief system, I'm convinced that they are not.
The Secret comes across as positive and uplifting. It encourages people to make the most of their lives, to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. On the surface, this would seem to be a good thing- an opportunity for people to clean up their lives and develop a sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately, the suggested path and goals of The Secret are rather anti-Biblical; it's the antithesis of the Christian faith.
There are numerous reasons as to why The Secret is harmful for followers of Christ and a hollow spiritual path. Allow me to offer up three for now.
1) The Secret elevates materialism as the goal for living. Supporters might want to refute this, but it seems to be the main selling point. Throughout the film the were references as to how The Secret could transform your life by providing you with whatever you want. To illustrate the point in the movie, they even do a short segment about a boy who imagines getting a bike. Eventually, his grandfather brings by a bike.
You can find numerous texts within Scriptures that speak against materialism [Matthew 19:16-30 is a good starting point]. But despite it's anti-Biblical tendency, does it make the world a better place? If the focus on your faith system is your personal well being and fortune, it doesn't leave much hope for the rest of the world. Which brings us to . . .
2) The Secret suggests that we set ourselves up as gods. According to its principles, you become the most important being in your universe. Teachers may claim that you need to use the universe which is the greater power but, in reality, you're the one calling all the shots. You choose what you want. Secret teacher James Arthur Ray claims, "Put any label on [the Universe]; you choose the one that works best for you," i.e., you're in charge. Esther Hicks puts it even more bluntly as she teaches teaches, "You are eternal beings, you are God force, you are that which you call God."
This is the difference between egocentric theology and theocentric theology. When you're focus is on yourself, you're an idolater and you aren't worshipping God; you're not bringing Him glory.
3) The Secret promotes a hedonistic worldview. The Secret encourages people to live however they see fit. In the movie, we are told that there are two types of thoughts: good and bad. We're supposed to dwell on good thoughts and avoid bad thoughts. Interestingly enough, one of the negative thoughts listed was guilt. So The Secret teaches guilt is a negative thought to be avoided. While most of us are uncomfortable with guilt, it is usually rightly deserved; it's your conscience kicking in as a reaction to sin. So while Christianity teaches that will need to react positively to guilt, The Secret teaches that it's to be ignored as negativity.
Esther Hicks adds, "the better you feel, the more in line you are." Rhonda Byrne, author of The Secret urges viewers to "give thought to what you want . . . and only focus upon that." Again, when we're only focused on fulfilling our own desires, we're not in line with the will of God.
An additional warning here for Christians examining their spiritual walks. This past week I happened to tune into a television evangelist who was smooth and encouraging. As he spoke words that he claimed were the words of God, it was actually more reminiscent of things I've heard while watching The Secret film. There is no difference between The Secret and the flawed Name it/Claim It theology. If this is how you view God, like some huge blessings pinata that you beat to get what you want, then you ought to reexamine your faith.
There will always be issues and fads that force us to think critically about our faith. We may feel challenged and uncomfortable, but it's an important step in our personal growth.