CA writes: “My sisters combine the ‘theology,’–and I use that term loosely–of the book, The Secret, with solid Catholic teaching. They both have devotions to the saints, the rosary, go to Sunday Mass, etc. That’s why I find it so troubling. Something in my gut tells me this book’s advice cannot be fully reconciled with the Truth found in our Church. . . . (D)o you have any information that specifically addresses the issues of using the mind to “create a life,” and how does one factor in God’s will into that?”
The teachings found in The Secret stem from a thoroughly New Age philosophy known as the human potential movement. This movement includes a long list of self-help and motivational training programs that promote a human-centered psychology based on the belief that a person is in complete control of their destiny. All they have to do is realize their own divinity and then take steps to either claim it or develop it, etc.
According to the Church, “The Human Potential Movement is the clearest example of the conviction that humans are divine, or contain a divine spark within themselves.” (Pontifical Council for Culture, Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Jesus Christ The Bearer of the Water of Life: A Christian reflection on the ‘New Age, Section 4)
The belief that humans are divine is not Christian. Some point to the section in the Catechism which quotes St. Athanasius as saying: “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God” (No. 460) to argue that this is the same as the New Age quest for divinization.
However, the two concepts could not be further apart. As number 1988 of the Catechism explains: “By the participation of the Spirit, we become communicants in the divine nature. . . . For this reason, those in whom the Spirit dwells are divinized.”
In other words, we are partakers in the divinity of the Holy Spirit – not in our own divinity – because we are not divine by nature. New Agers believe we are divine by nature, and just need to discover this within ourselves. Big difference!
However, this age of the uncatechized has left few people equipped to see the sometimes subtle theological errors in books such as The Secret. This is especially true when Christian terminology is deliberately used to whitewash the basic underlying belief of this movement – that the mind is God and we can create our own reality by our thought processes.
“You are a magnet attracting to you all things, via the signal you are emitting through your thoughts and feelings,” says Rhonda Byrne, author of the The Secret. All you have to do is buy her book for $12.99 and she’ll teach you how “to become a powerful magnet for the creation of personal wealth.”
In her latest book, The Power, she writes: “At the point of creation, a great power was released . . . this power is within everyone and everything. Those who harness the Power change the world . . .”
This is hardly a Christian concept!
For one thing, purporting to have some kind of secret knowledge about God, humanity and the universe of which the general population is not aware is just a repackaged version of one of the oldest heresies in the Church – gnosticism. It can be traced back to a variety of sects that taught all kinds of novel beliefs about God and the world, such as Manicheanism, whose adherents believed that salvation is achieved through knowledge rather than from the Truth of Jesus Christ.
As for how The Secret teaches people to use the mind to “create a life”, check out this witness from a devoted reader of the book who says she “finally realized the power of The Secret and my own ability to create, by changing my thoughts, feelings and by singing.”
The Secret website is filled with testimonies from people who believe they have “created a life” for themselves simply by willing it and then “letting go” to let it happen. One testimony was from a man who believed he made it rain!
How does one factor God’s will into this? While we know that everything that happens to us is the result of either God’s permission or direct will, adherents to The Secret believe they have all they need to create the kind of life they want. Who needs God when you can make it all happen all by yourself?
Some Christians may try to pull God into this (perhaps to quiet their conscience), but the practice of using the mind to “will” reality contradicts belief in the Lordship of Christ. Yes, He gave us this mind, but we are to use it to love Him and serve Him in this world – not to devote it to the advancement of our own personal agenda.
The Secret and what it teaches is nothing more than a repurposed ancient delusion that is (sadly) enjoying a revival in today’s human potential movement.