GF writes: “I used to be a fan of Brian Tracy, Joseph Murphy and Terry Cole Whittaker untiI I started recognizing that their teachings seem to deviate from bible principles although their books quote Bible verses to make their point. So I stopped reading their books. I recently purchased a book called The 4:8 Principal, the Secret of a Joy Filled Life by Tommy Newberry. Would you please advise if his motivational teachings are aligned with biblical teachings.”
THIS ARTICLE WAS REVISED AND UPDATED IN APRIL 2020
A “mass hypnosis” event on the Dr. Oz show that occurred several years ago, which featured popular British self-help guru Paul McKenna, has people asking about the neuro linguistic programming (NLP) he claims to use to help people lose weight.
ME writes: “Do you know anything about Earl Nightingale’s “The Strangest Secret”? Is it New Age?”
PM asks: “Do you have any info on ‘The Secret Scrolls’ by Rhonda Byrne. I have a friend who is believing this stuff and I have concerns.”
MM asks: “Have you any information about Steven Campbell, motivational speaker and author of the book Making Your Mind Magnificent: Flourishing At Any Age? Mr. Campbell presented a seminar at our parish. On one level, the book seems to present self-help and motivational strategies for increasing personal effectiveness, and I was planning to read it with reference to my Christian faith. I’m wondering whether the book might present more insidious challenges to faith? Thank you!”
I have not read the book by Steven Campbell, but he has written many articles about his theories that can be found here http://thecommunityvoice.com/archives.php
Campbell, a former college instructor with a masters in Information Systems and a passion for studying how the brain works, believes that the human brain accepts whatever we tell it – which essentially means that a person can do anything that they tell themselves is possible.
This theory dovetails very neatly with the basic premise of the New Age’s human potential movement which teaches a human-centered psychology based on the belief that a person is in complete control of their destiny.
Other examples of books that fall into this New Age category would be The Power of Positive Thinking (Norman Vincent Peale), A Course in Miracles (Helen Schucman), The Secret (Rhonda Byrne), The New Earth (Eckhert Tolle), Silva Mind Control (Jose Silva), The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Stephen Covey), Dianetics (L. Ron Hubbard) to name a few.
These books, and a variety of seminars such as Landmark and The Turning Point, blend psychology and spirituality into a new kind of personal growth movement that is aimed at helping man to discover his own true potential (divinity).
How far Campbell takes this, I can’t say without reading the book. However, he does openly profess to be Christian and distances himself from books such as The Secret. In an October, 2009 interview with Nicolas Grizzle of The Community Voice, Campbell says his concept is no secret because his message focuses more on scientific research and studies. “I want you to get in touch with your mind, and The Secret wants you to get in touch with the universe,” he said.
There are so many of these self-help books out there it would be impossible to read them all, but there are certain qualities that mark them as New Age.
1) They involve the use of mental techniques such as visualization, blanking the mind, or other method of achieving an altered state of consciousness
2) The methods are used to create a new reality, such as making yourself rich, attracting romance, etc.
3) The method claims to be a “secret” – (remember, the meaning of the word “occult” is “secret”)
4) The method enables you to manipulate others to get them to do what you want, such as in Silva Mind Control (see /?p=85 )
5) The method helps you to discover the “divinity within”.
6) The teachings surrounding the method contradict Scripture (i.e., Conversations with God, A Course in Miracles)
7) The method involves “tuning into” vibrations or “energy” in the universe (i.e., Dr. Wayne Dyer, Synchronicity)
8) It relies on, or incorporates, the use of spirit guides or psychic abilities
There are also specific warning signs to look for before becoming involved in any self-help or personal growth seminar (see /?p=59 )
Remember, the mind is a critical battlefield in the realm of spiritual warfare, which is why we’re taught to “be transformed by the renewing of your minds” (Rom 12:2), not so that we can become gods, but so that we “may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.” True transformation of the mind comes through following God’s perfect will, not the imperfect and always ego-seeking ways of the world.
Our booklet, A Course in Miracles, details one of the most dangerous of all the New Age self-help programs, and includes many tips on how to protect yourself against these and other deceptions.
Send your New Age question to email@example.com