Magic Self-Deification and the Everlasting Gospel
Robert Schuller's "gospel of success" is a prominent example of this false teaching. For him the "unchristian strategy of attempting to make people aware of their lost and sinful condition" is "destructive to human personality and, hence, counterproductive to the evangelism enterprise" (Hunt and McMahon, p. 15). This although Christ Himself said that He came to call sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32)! On an Amway motivational tape to its sales force Schuller said, "You don't know what power you have within you!. . You make the world into anything you choose. Yes, you can make your world into whatever you want it to be" (p.25). This concept is presented by Schuller and other prominent "Christian" preachers and teachers as quite compatible with the Bible. They encourage us to become wealthy, healthy and happy by such means as "commanding prayer" ordering God to do our will in "faith" that He will and must obey us!
Why, then, did our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ refuse to "command" the Father to send His angels to deliver Him, but rather prayed at Gethsemane, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done" (Luke 22:42)? Why did He not consider equality with the Father a thing ~o be grasped at" (Philippians 2:6)? True Christianity is to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God (I Peter 5:6) that He may exalt us in due time (the time set by Him). Christ taught us to pray to our Father in Heaven, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10).
The chief technique taught at business management seminars, weight loss "behavior modification" classes, government training sessions and, alas, among huge numbers of Christians today is "imaging" or "visualizing" one's desired goal. "Image" yourself strong, wise, healed, slender, successful, rich, freed from childhood traumas and hang-ups it works? "Image" another person doing what you want him to, such as making a contribution to your church or missionary outreach it works! Hunt and McMahon cite a striking example of this technique by the congregation of "positive thinking" preacher Norman Vincent Peale (p.148). Nevertheless, `imaging" or "visualizing" the state of altered reality you desire is, as Hunt and McMahon show, an ancient "shamanistic" or witchcraft technique. To seduce Christians into accepting and practicing it, bold promoters of the "gospel of success" will even call Christ Himself the greatest "shaman" (sorcerer, witchdoctor) or "positive thinker" of all times, the possessor of "psi power" (p.131). Such teaching stands condemned under Mark 3:22-30, where Jesus warns us that "he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation." Christ is not a witchdoctor any more than He is an "avatar" in "New Age" or Eastern pantheist religious thought.
Belief in evolution is an integral part of this false gospel of magic self-deification. For example, an advertisement in the Los Angeles Times by the First United Methodist Church of Hollywood promoted the appearance of "SHRI MATAJI NIRMALA DEVI . . . She will awaken in you the force thai will change your life and change the world. This awakening. . grants inner peace, health and joy. It is the last evolutionary step, promised by traditions that stretch back to the beginnings of human spiritual awareness ..." (p.75). A founding father of this false gospel of self-deification is the late evolutionist priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. His disciple Robert Muller, Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations where he has worked for thirty-six years, "builds his speeches around Teilhard's philosophy of global evolution and of the birth of a collective brain to the human species' "(p.77). Muller considers himself and is accepted by Catholic educational circles as a bonafide Catholic Christian; he was the keynote speaker at the 82nd annual convention, religious education congress and exposition of the National Catholic Education Association in St. Louis on April 8-11, 1985. This congress also featured other leading "New Age" personalities such as Carl Sagan and Robert Theobald. Some effect of their thinking upon Catholic parochial school education is inevitable.
Teilhard's disciple Jean Houston is director of the Foundation for Mind Research of Pomona, New York. Besides conducting seminars at Catholic institutions such as Kansas Newman College, Wichita, in February 1984, and being a workshop leader at the 1984 National Catholic Education Association convention, she also instructs businessmen and high government official in Washington in "self-realization" techniques. She has groups act out purported memories of their evolutionary advance from fish to amphibian, reptile and early, furry human, and might then tell them "to extend yourselves even further-into. . the next stage of your own evolution" (Hunt/McMahon, pp. 75-76). Houston conducts workshops and seminars around the world. The wealthy Institute for Conscious Evolution in San Francisco offers "evolutionary counseling services" and provides "courses in Conscious Evolution toward M.A. or Ph.D. degrees" (p. 93p.
Besides evolution, the perennial "gospel" of magic self-deification rests upon the pantheist premise that all is one, including God. Of course the "God" of pantheism is not the God of biblical Christianity, Magic self-deification must reject God as the Creator and absolute, sovereign Lord of the Bible, because He could not be "altered" or "commanded" by man's magic methods, nor could fundamental reality as His creation Out of nothing by His Creative decree in the beginning. To their great merit, Hunt and McMahon stress this point repeatedly. You must have a pantheist-evolutionist world if you would magically manipulate the guiding "forces" or "spirits" of this world to be your own god.
How, then, is it possible that people sincerely believing themselves 10 be Christians cannot see that this leaching is the opposite of Christ's and the Bible's? Were basic, indispensable parts of the true biblical gospel of salvation neglected in their conversion and nurturing? Have they forgotten have they never learned in their hearts, minds and souls that salvation in Christ does not include a guarantee of earthly well-being and power, but demands the mortifying -the crucifixion -of our old self? that Christ's promise is salvation from sin and granting of repentance unto eternal life? that true Christianity presupposes biblical creation and man's fall from original perfection in God's image and likeness? that man's goal is to be restored in his original likeness to his Creator by the Holy Spirit? that without repentance and remission of sins thanks to Christ's blood shed at Calvary we are "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1, 5)?
How is it that people professing faith in Christ can be persuaded to turn to faith in themselves by trusting in their own "mind power," "positive thinking," "expanded consciousness" or "the divine principle within them"? How can they not see that our purpose in this life is not to "esteem" or strengthen our own selves, far less to Set up our own selves as gods whose will must be done but rather to die to self 50 we might be made new creations in Christ (II Corinthians 5:15. 17)?
How can Christians not see, professing to know the only true God and Jesus Christ Whom He has sent (John 17:13), that this God neither will nor can serve us as a cosmic slot machine, altering reality to our wish and command when we pull the correct magic lever? Yes, our prayer has power, and we "have the petitions that we desired of Him" if we ask any thing according to his will (I John 5:14-15). I could deeply desire that my prayer could raise up a beloved husband, a beloved child and a beloved grandson from the dead, and grant normal mental faculties to my dear daughter with Down's Syndrome (as a fellow Christian believing in "commanding prayer" once demanded of mel -but His blessed will was and is that my beloved dead be present with Him (PhilippianS 1:23, II Corinthians 5:1, 8), and that my "retarded" child remain childlike and loving in Christ, and relatively immune to temptation all her life. Our God is not merely the earthly satisfier of our earthly desires but the heavenly, eternal Sanctifier of our immortal souls. He is the aweful, wonderful, altogether loving because altogether merciful and righteous God who alone is worthy to be worshipped and praised. His Spirit "makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God" and "we know that all things (including grief, pain, poverty, persecution and death) work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:27-28). We can have power and authority only in Him. not over Him; this is why Jesus told His seventy disciples not to rejoice that the spirits they had cast out in His name were subject to them, but rather "because your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:20).
Our God, our Creator, our holy and righteous God against whom we all have sinned and of whose glory we all have fallen short (Romans 3:23) is unchangeable (James 1:17). He is not the putty god of evolutionist pantheism submitting to magic manipulation so our own will might be done. If He were consider it well we could never trust Him.
Look at our situation if biblical creation were not true, and if God were part and parcel of an ever-changing evolutionist world. Man exercising self-deifying dominion by science or magic (modern science actually arose as a branch of magic, and is now largely returning to it see Hunt/McMahon, Chapters 3 and 8) would be unhindered by absolute standards of good and evil in God's character/law. In any evolutionist universe what is considered "good" today may well be "evil" tomorrow. Realizing that in such a universe I, a "half-Jew" raised in Nazi Germany, could never call Nazism absolutely and always evil first compelled me to seek the God of the Bible. Since man's dominion of the world makes "good" and "evil" meaningless or contentless terms by confounding their absolute difference, it makes man's dominion ultimately meaningless absurd as well. Only dominion under God is ultimately meaningful (Genesis 1:26, 28).
Most ominously, in a pantheist-evolutionist world of magic self-deification "might is right," as the Nazis consistently proclaimed from within that world view. Any benefit to one's self can only be temporary and uncertain as other selves, too, seek to exercise magic dominion over the world for their profit. Moreover, "faulty" magic would backfire against its practitioner, just as do plain material objects falsely used. This means that even in simple "result-oriented" terms, the gospel of magic self-deification is a fraud which can never keep its illusory promises.
The confrontation of our day is clearly between the delusion of self deification by modern magic techniques in an evolutionist-pantheist world, and the full biblical gospel of salvation in Christ founded on biblical creation. It is our Lord's eternal providence and blessed will for our time that the everlasting gospel of biblical creation, too (and not only the enemy's seduction) is proclaimed today around the world as never before. It is the "everlasting gospel" preached by the angel of Revelation 14:6-7: "Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." More than ever before it is evident that the gospel of biblical creation must be presented in truly biblical evangelism, and in truly biblical nurturing of Christian believers. This everlasting gospel is our invincible and indispensable armor and weapon against the satanic counterfeit "gospel" of man's dominion over the world through magic self deification.
Note: Related articles by this writer in past issues of the CSSH Quarterly are:
"Pantheistic Mysticism vs. Created Reality" (IV:3, Spring 1982)
"The Ultimate Evolutionist Model: Evolution by Purposive 'Forces' (IV:4, Summer 1982)
"Denying True Reality Mystic Evolutionism in Practice" (v:1, Fall 1982)
"Self-Image or Created Identity in Christ" (VI:2, Winter 1 983)
"Damned Nonsense" (VI:3, Spring 1984)
A List of "New Age" / "Positive Thinking"/ "Self-Esteem" / "Gospel of Prosperity" Infected Personalities and Ministries (...emerging church; contemplative spirituality; seeker friendly; centering; new age; eastern mysticism)
Source: Dave Hunt & T.A. McMahon, The Seduction of Christianity (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, Third Printing, September 1985)
|Name||Book[s]||Ministry / Organization / Concept|
|Bennett, Rita||You Can Be Emotionally Free||wife of Episcopal priest
|Bristol, Claude||The Magical Believing|
|Capps, Charles||The Tongue - A Creative Force.||"Positive Confession Movement"|
|Cho. Paul Yonggi||The Fourth Dimension
Solving Life's Problems
|pastor of huge church in South Korea
|Clark, Glenn||The Soul's Desire.|| founder: "Camps Farthest Out"
|"Positive Confession Movement"
|Douglass, Stephen B.|| Making the Most of Your Mind (with Lee Roddy)
|Ferguson, Marilyn||The Aquarian Conspiracy publisher.||"Brain/Mind Bulletin"|
|Foster, Richard||Celebration of Discipline.|| professor: Friends University, Wichita. KS
||publisher, "Prophecy and economics Newsletter
|Grubb, Norman||missionary; "Union Life"|
|Hagin, Kenneth||"Positive Confession Movement|
|Hill, Napoleon||Think and Grow Rich||"Positive Mental Attitude" (PMA)|
|Holmes, Ernest||The Science of Mind||Church of Religious Science|
||Mind Games: The Guide to Inner Space (with Robert Masters)
||Foundation for Mind Research
|Kelsey, Morton T.
||The Christian and the Supernatural
||The Whole Christian.
|Praying With Another For healing
(with Sheila Fabricant)
|Lovett, C. S.
||Longing To Re Loved
|Mandino, Og||The Greatest Secret in the World
|Masters, Robert||Mind Games: The Guide to Inner Space
(with Jean Houston)
|Meyer, Paul||Success Motivation Institute|
||The Table of Inwardness
||author; publishes with Word
Publishing. Waco, TX
||Institute of Noetic Sciences;
|Healing||Asst. Sec.-General, U. N.
Success Motivation Institute
"Primal Integration Therapy"
("Christian" version of "Primal Scream Therapy" of Arthur Janov)
|Paulk, Earl||Satan Unmasked|
|Peale, Norman Vincent||The Power of Postrive Thinking
|| minister, author
|Peck, M. Scott
||People of the Lie.
The Road Less Traveled
|Price, Frederick K.C.||pastor, TV minister,
|Prophet, Elizabeth Clare
||"Church Universal and
"I AM" group
||Making the Most of Your Mind
(with Stephen B. Dougleas)
|Romney, Rodney R.
||Journey to Inner Space Finding God-in Us Seattle, WA
||pastor, First Baptist church
|Samuels, Mike, M,D.|| The Well Body Book;
Spirit Guides: Access to Inner Worlds
|The Transformation of the Inner Man
||The Healing Light;
The Healing Gifts of the Spirit;
|author, seminar leader
||Self-Esteem, Living Positvely One Day At A Time; & others
||minister: TV ministry
|Spangler, David||Reflections on the Christ|| Findhorn Foundation
|Stapleton, Ruth Carter
||The Experience of Inner Healing
|Stone, W. Clement||Success Through A Posiuve Mental Attitude
|Stoop, David||Self Talk: Key to Personal Growth||pastor; clinical psychologist|
||Valley of the Sun Books and Tapes, Scottsdale. AZ
|Teillhard de Chardin, Pierre||The Divine Milieu; The Phenomenon of Man
| Jesuit priest (d. 1955)
|Tilton, Robert||pastor, Word of Faith Outreach, Dallas, Tesas
||pastor, Christian Faith Center. Seattle, WA; tape ministry
|VasWig, William L.||l prayed, He Answered||Lutheran pastor|
|Volkman, Bill|| "As Gods" Without Denying Our Humanity
||ESP or HSP? Exploring Your Latent Seventh Sense
||Melodyland Publishers (in southern California)
||Signs and Wonders and Church Growth
|| instructor. Fuller Seminary School of World Missions
|Wise, Robert L.||Heating of the Past.||pastor, author; in Presbyterian Renewal Movement|
|Ziglar. Zig||See You At The Top||"Christian Success Movement"