Sunday, October 21, 2007

Critical Book Review- It Is No Secret

I wrote the following book review for Rhonda Byrne's, "The Secret," a few months ago and recently have seen the book and DVD popping up in stores such as OfficeMax, Wal-mart, and Target once again(or maybe they never left!). I once again wanted to encourage readers of this book to proceed with caution and to encourage the believer in Christ to challenge their non-believing friends with the Gospel, which should NEVER be a secret!

It Is No Secret

The classic hymn, “It is no Secret” includes the following line:

“It is no secret, what God can do. What He’s done for me, He’ll do for you”

If Rhonda Byrne, best-selling author of The Secret, would have penned these words the classic hymn may be changed to something like as follows:

“It is no secret, what god can do. Just ask him or her, because god is YOU!”

After reading some excerpts from Byrne’s book, it almost makes me miss Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code! Almost…

The author, Rhonda Byrne, learned the “Law of Attraction,” in which The Secret is based on, from a book written in 1910 by Wallace Wattles entitled The Science of Getting Rich. Apparently, Byrne was at a crisis point in her personal and professional life and was given Wattles’ book. The book promises that by using the “Law of Attraction” that the reader can attract anything that he or she wants -money, love, success, health, weight loss, anything! So Byrne’s book is nothing more than an old (we’ll get to that later) false teaching repackaged and cleverly sold as The Secret.

How The Secret or “The Law of Attraction” Works

According to Byrne’s writings, every object and mind in the universe operates on its own frequency, and minds can attract matter. She writes: “Thoughts are magnetic and thoughts have a frequency. As you think, those thoughts are sent out into the Universe, and they magnetically attract all like things that are on the same frequency. Everything sent out returns to its source. And the source is you.” She goes on, “You are the most powerful magnet in the Universe! You contain a magnetic power within you that is more powerful than anything in the world, and this unfathomable magnetic power is emitted through your thoughts.”

Albert Mohler, in his blog, writes the following: “If you learn to operate by the Law of Attraction, she (Byrne) promises, you can attract anything you want. Success, riches, material objects, weight loss, acclaim…all these are to be yours if only you believe. Food doesn’t make you fat- thinking food makes you fat makes you fat. You are not sick; you only think you are sick. Reverse the thought and you will be well. If you are not rich it’s because you are trapped in negative mental patterns.” (1)

In Byrne’s view, your thoughts, quite literally, create your reality.

The Secret: You are God

There are many TV preachers and self-help authors/speakers today who are very vague when they refer to God and His nature. However, Rhonda Byrne is very clear regarding her belief about who and what she believes “God“ to be:

“You are God in a physical body. You are Spirit in the flesh. You are Eternal Life expressing itself as You. You are a cosmic being. You are all power. You are all wisdom. You are all intelligence. You are perfection. You are magnificence. You are the creator, and you are creating the creation of You on this planet.” (2)

Yes, you read that correctly! Further, as if our culture needed anymore reason to be self-centered, consider this teaching from the book:

“The earth turns on its orbit for You. The oceans ebb and flow for You. The birds sing for You. The sun rises and it sets for You. The stars come out for You. Every beautiful thing you see, every wondrous thing you experience, is all there for You. Take a look around. None of it can exist, without You. No matter who you thought you were, now you know the Truth of Who You Really Are. You are the master of the Universe. You are the heir to the kingdom. You are the perfection of Life. And now you know the Secret.” (3)

When I was a child, I enjoyed the cartoon He-man and the Masters of the Universe and upon reflection, He-man’s famous words do fit quite well with The Secret’s main premise: “I have the power!” Unfortunately, those who are mislead by the teachings in The Secret will eventually find that there is no more truth in this book than there is in Eternia, the make-believe land that He-man inhabited.

The Reasons this Teaching is Dangerous

1. One of the most exciting things I experienced when I became a Christian was the freedom that Christ brings when He shows you that you simply can’t live a life pleasing to God outside of Him and His sacrifice on the cross. You are to give Your life back to Him and trust fully in Him and what He did on the cross; trust Him to live through you.

However, The Secret teaches something different entirely. You are God. Your destiny is up to you. Brian Flynn, former New Ager, in his article, A New Secret or an Old Lie, exposes the fallacy of this type of thinking:

“When you are told that you are God and you are in charge, then you are responsible for everything that occurs in your life good and bad. Therefore, if you have any sickness, disease, relationship problems or financial problems it is your fault…The Universe didn’t fail me. I failed the Universe. It was this belief system that left me chronically depressed. I fear that many will buy The Secret, follow the steps and when their dreams don’t come true it will leave them further depressed and dissatisfied than before.” (4)

2. Byrne’s teaching is eclectic, meaning that she believes all religions are all equally valid regarding their authority and teach mostly the same things. This presents a belief that is quite contrary to the teachings of the Lord Jesus Himself who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father, but through me (John 14:6).” If all religions are equally valid and all are a path to heaven, then Jesus’ sacrifice was unnecessary!

In his review of The Secret, Donald S. Whitney explains the seriousness of adopting such a belief system:

“There’s no mention of sin in The Secret. The cause of all the problems in the world and in our individual life is merely bad thinking, specifically the failure to recognize and appropriately use the law of attraction. Therefore the solution to everything lies within us. And that, of course, eliminates the need for a Savior, a Substitute, or a Sacrifice. The cross and resurrection of Jesus become irrelevant.” (5)

Whitney also points out that there is no a single reference to death or the afterlife in the book. One of the contributors to The Secret writes, “no one will stand in judgment of [your life], now or ever.” (6)

The Christian Response

On the surface, it seems The Secret’s teachings would be hard for anyone who was a sincere thinker to take seriously, but the reality is many ARE taking this book seriously and placing their faith in it. This is clear evidence, as Pastor Dave Vance of Faith Christian Fellowship, has stated, that people are seeking and searching for the “something” that will fill the void in their life and heart. As followers of Christ we have the very thing they seek; Jesus Christ and His gospel.

In 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, Paul explains exactly what the gospel is:

“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you-unless you believed in vain. I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep (NKJV).”

Notice in these verses, Paul reminds us what the gospel is and follows with evidence to remind us that our faith is grounded in the fact of the resurrection and in the person of Jesus Christ. Let us follow Paul’s example and share the gospel with those around us who are seeking the truth.

Conclusion

The Secret is a very old lie wrapped-up in a new package offered by the same old serpent. Let us revisit the Garden of Eden:

“And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, “You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die. Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:2-5, NKJV, Emphasis mine).”

I close with the words of Donald Whitney:

“The Secret to everything is God Himself. And God, the “Great Secret,” has been revealed in Jesus Christ, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). God has freely told us in the Bible everything we need to know about discovering the unlimited “treasures of wisdom and knowledge” found in Christ. And He remains an unknown Secret only to those who will not look for Him there.” (7)

Some won’t look not matter what we do, but let’s make sure that they have the opportunity by pointing them to the cross.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad A. Gross

Resources:

1) http://www.albertmohler.com/blog_read.php?id=907, It’s All About You? The Truth about “The Secret,” by Albert Mohler.
2) Rhonda Byrne, The Secret, p. 164, Emphasis mine.
3) Ibid., p. 183, Emphasis mine.
4) http://onetruthministries.com/TheSecret.htm, A New Secret or an Old Lie? by Brian Flynn.
5) http://biblicalspirituality.org/secret.html, A Review of The Secret by Donald S. Whitney, Emphasis mine.
6) Ibid., p. 177, Emphasis mine.
7) ) http://biblicalspirituality.org/secret.html, A Review of The Secret by Donald S. Whitney.

1 comment:

Lavinia4truth said...

Thanks for the book review. I just read an article by Greg Koukl regarding this book in his Solid Ground newsletter (July/August 2010). I liked the way he made comparisons of the Christian worldview versus the worldview displayed in the book ,"The Secret", which was pantheistic monism. Both of your book reviews pointed to the fact that it boils down to the same old lie (perhaps re-packaged) that took place when Satan tempted Eve in the garden (Genesis 3:4-5). "The Secret" is one book that I will definitely avoid reading.