Q: Does the popular book The Secret, promoted on Oprah's television show, contain any biblical truth?
A. My seminary professors used to tell me that if we look hard enough, we'll discover redemptive elements that illustrate biblical truth in all good film and literature. For instance, Harper Lee's classic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, emphasizes the inherent dignity of humankind regardless of skin color. Even pop culture's quintessential joker, actor Jack Black, emphasizes the importance of inner beauty over physical beauty in his cinematic comedy Shallow Hal.
The Secret, a presumptuously titled bestseller by Rhonda Byrne, is no exception: Her book contains a few positive—some would even argue sound—ideas, such as an emphasis on gratitude. However, the "secret" of The Secret—its "Law of Attraction"—isn't even close to the biblical concept of gratitude.
Wallace D. Wattles originally conceived the Law of Attraction in his 1910 manual, The Science of Getting Rich. This "law" asserts we have the power to persuade the universe to do whatever we want; that we can essentially manipulate our circumstances simply through changing our thoughts. If we visualize ourselves as slender, we'll "attract" a svelte body to ourselves. Conversely, if some chunky chick walks into our line of vision, we need to look away; otherwise chubby thoughts will "attract" cellulite to us. If only I'd known I could squeeze back into my skinny jeans by conjuring up images of Jessica Alba. Instead of working out,
I could've just pondered "thin thoughts" while gorging on Krispy Kremes and saved my middle-aged body plenty of blood, sweat, and tears.
What Does God Say About This?
Unlike the Law of Attraction, which espouses a benevolent universe that promises we can click our mental heels and, like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, have our wishes granted, the Bible tells us we live in a broken world polluted by sin. This planet isn't our true home, nor is it a place where we can invoke continual bliss: "For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us" (Romans 8:22-23, NLT).
Furthermore, while the Law of Attraction encourages us to focus on becoming self-centered cool-stuff magnets, the Bible teaches us to focus on becoming God- and others-centered: "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" (Matthew 6:3, ESV). And, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves" (Philippians 2:3).
Finally, the Law of Attraction implies material
possessions and personal achievements bring joy and fulfillment. But God's Word makes clear the only thing that satisfies a hungry heart is a loving relationship with God through faith in Jesus: "Jesus said, 'I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever'" (John 6:35, The Message).
How Does This Affect Me?
Recently a friend gave me a book to read, but warned me first, "There's some sweet fruit in here, but you'll have to spit out many seeds to get to it." Adapting her folksy warning to The Secret, I say, "There's a smidgen of fruit in here, but be careful, because you could choke on its gigantic seeds!"
Any philosophy that diverts our attention from the sufficiency of Christ to self-sufficiency is dangerous. In my opinion, not only is the Law of Attraction unbiblical, it's mostly a bunch of metaphysical hooey!
Lisa Harper has a Masters in Theology with an emphasis in biblical studies from Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis. She's a sought-after speaker and has written several books, including Holding Out for a Hero: A New Spin on Hebrews (Tyndale) and What the Bible Is All About for Women: A Book of Devotions (Regal). Visit her at www.lisaharper.net.
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