Having received a poor review from critics, The Secret: Dare to Dream, received an audience score on Rotten Tomatoes of 85% – indicating it is popular with movie-goers. In fact, the marketing blurb tells us that the film is an inspiring and heart-warming film that shows how positive thoughts can transform our lives. In these difficult times, this seems like such an attractive, harmless and even helpful proposition. It is described as a story of love, hope and faith – which makes it sound irresistible to a good Christian movie-goer. There is, however, nothing Christian about this movie.
The movie is based on the best-selling book by Rhonda Byrne, The Secret. This is a self-help book that claims to reveal a secret of the universe that will transform our lives. The book has sold 30 million copies worldwide and teaches the belief of the law of attraction, which claims that thoughts can change a person’s life. In essence, it says (using pseudoscience and quasi-spirituality to persuade the reader), what we think about is what we will attract. To be successful, we need to think about what we want in life and by so doing we will attract it and make it a reality. Byrne was heavily influenced by the book The Science of Getting Rich, by Wallace D. Wattles which itself often quoted Scripture, but selectively and out of context. It is a philosophy that has been promoted widely by the likes of Oprah Winfrey, who promoted the book heavily on her show.
Is this message compatible with Scripture?
Scripture has much to say about the power of our thinking and the need for our lives to be transformed, not only by the power of the Holy Spirit but by our thought patterns (Romans 12:2). It speaks of the need to guard our hearts and our thoughts. We are told faith is important and to believe what we do not yet see (Hebrews 11:1). This all could sound like the message The Secret is preaching but it most certainly isn’t.
“There is, however, nothing Christian about this movie.”
Understandably many Christians could be deceived by such writings; after all, in many ways, the central tenet is not too dissimilar from the foundational premise of the Word of Faith message. This teaches that faith is a principle or law, that God has set in place in the universe. It is a law to which even God Himself is bound. Therefore, if we speak something in faith it is bound to happen because God is bound by the law of faith. This teaching is erroneous in so many ways and makes God a slave to our faith and causes people to place their faith, not in God but in their own faith.
Those who promote the message of The Secret include Michael Beckwith, founder and pastor of the Agape International Spiritual Center. It has been suggested that he is the “most troubling” of the Secret teachers, “because he represents a pseudo-‘Christian¬ity.’ He has the greatest ability to be used to deceive those whom God has touched by His Gospel.” (Russ Wise, “The Secret: Creating One’s Reality,” Christian Information Ministries, p.2)
Scripture tells us to meditate on the things above and to live for the next life, not for this one. The desire for wealth should not be our driving force but a desire for the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). In prison, Paul did not write that if he thought about freedom he would get it, but rather that we should rejoice regardless of circumstances (Philippians 4:4). In Hebrews, the heroes of the faith include the ‘destitute, persecuted and afflicted’ not just the wealthy. We could go on but we can see that a proper total view of Scripture paints a very different picture to this book.
The New Age thinking of The Secret also leads to a place whereby I essentially become God. I have the power and I deserve to be wealthy. It is a message that is directly opposed to the gospel. In his review of The Secret, Donald Whitney (theology professor and author) says, “It is no exaggeration to say that this book implicitly (and sometimes explicitly) denies virtually every major doctrine in the Bible.”
What can be said about this movie?
Ignoring any commentary on its artistic merit, its message is one that we should absolutely reject as believers. If you need something to encourage and uplift your spirits, rather try something else.
Michael serves as an Elder in Joshua Generation Church where he teaches the Bible, pastors people and is actively involved in theological writing and training. You can follow him on Facebook or check out his personal blog.
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