It was on Oprah, so it must be true, right? part 1

Christine is looking at The Secret as any good Berean should, and measuring it against scripture. Yay!! She is asking our thoughts, and as I have several, I though it best to not hijack her comments. So goes Kelly's woefully inadequate analysis of "The Secret"

I am really torn about this, because I hate to spend money on something like this. I shall, however, in the interest of fairness. I have made it about one hour into this movie, and here are my initial thoughts. I shall measure this against scripture, but that will most likely come in a later post, as I have a couple of e-mails out to trusted spiritual mentors.

1) One of the first quotes came from Bob Proctor, listed as a "philosopher." He states, "The secret gives you anything you want." This quote sets the theme for "The Secret"-- self. Everything is about what you want, what you think, what you feel. Hmm...

What does the Bible have to say about self? Let's see:

Luke 9:24-26 (New International Version)

24For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? 26If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

John 12:24-25 (New International Version)

24I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

Googling "Death to Self" pulled up an interesting Bible study from Acts 17:11 ministries. Worth reading.

2) The problem of the "Reverend" Dr. Michael Beckwith. This is from the Agape International Spiritual Center's own website:

Is Agape a church, and do its members follow a mainstream religious teaching based on scripture?
Agape’s teachings embrace a Reality the world’s scriptures and sacred texts endeavor to describe, even as they acknowledge the impossibility of such a task. Some call it God, Great Spirit, Hashem, or Allah, while others simply prefer to leave it nameless. Agape teaches that this Spirit is the Source of our life, that we are made in its image and likeness, which makes us co-creative participants in the three-dimensional world in which we live.

Through Agape’s teaching of the New Thought-Ancient Wisdom tradition of spirituality, individuals are taught the universal principles, cosmic laws, meditation, prayer and visioning techniques that have been practiced by spiritual seekers for thousands of years, teachings which to this very day are practical in meeting humanity’s challenges of 21st century living. Agape’s universal truth teachings point the way to how an individual may cultivate their own unique relationship with the Ineffable, live their life from a place of conscious connection with the already enlightened essential Self, and be of authentic service to the planet.

In Agape’s services and classes we refer to the world’s scriptures and sacred texts, as well as the writings of ancient and contemporary mystics, teachers, sages, philosophers, pundits, scientists, and even the enlightened person next door!

In everyday parlance, “church” is associated with Christian denominations and their houses of worship. Agape’s founder has designated Agape as a trans-denominational spiritual “center” and community because this terminology best describes the inclusiveness for which Agape is known.
Is Agape Christian? And what about the Bible and Jesus?
No, and yes.

Yes, some Agape members are Christian, and their personal encounter with the spirit of Jesus as an embodiment of the Christ Consciousness richly informs their spiritual lives.

No, if by Christian you mean the acceptance of Jesus as the only savior and Christianity as the only path to God and eternal salvation. Yes, in the sense that New Thought- Ancient Wisdom history includes the Gnostic teachings of the earliest Christian mystical sects, as well as the founders of the uniquely American New Thought Movement including Emmanuel Swedenborg, Ernest Holmes, Howard Thurman, and transcendentalists such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and others.

The Bible is referenced in Dr. Beckwith’s services and Agape’s classes. However, the version that is used is a metaphysical, Gnostic-inspired edition translated and interpreted from the original Aramaic, rather than the Greek translation used in traditional Christian churches such as the King James version, or the Saint Gregory version used by the Catholic church.

Agape teaches that Jesus was not the great exception, but rather the great example. Classically, the New Thought-Ancient Wisdom tradition of spirituality regards Jesus an enlightened being, one who attained cosmic consciousness, or liberation from a sense of separation from the Source of all that is. Jesus is revered as a wayshower, as an exemplar of unconditional love, selfless service, and self-mastery.
Can I still practice my Judaism/Christianity and become a member of Agape?
Absolutely. Many within the Agape community maintain their Jewish/Christian faith, while others continue to practice the teachings of Jesus, Buddha, or other spiritual master teachers of past or present generations. As a result, mixed-tradition couples and families often find common ground at Agape without compromising other loyalties.

(h/t Devin)
Um, yeah. So this one was easy. What does the Bible say?

John 14:6 (New International Version)

6Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

How, pray tell, can one maintain Christian faith and "find common ground" at Agape? For that matter, what common ground is there? Scripture is pretty clear on this issue, don't you think? Interestingly enough, a pastor once told me that the book of John was anti-semitic and to be pretty much taken with a grain of salt. Needless to say, my husband quickly removed us from this man's sphere of influence. I will never forget him accusing me of "limiting God" by embracing scriptural truth. But that is for another day.

So what is The Secret? Well, it is the "Law of attraction" Like attracts like. The metaphor of a magnet was used several times. This is ironic, because a magnet is NOT an illustration of like attracting like. Like poles on a magnet actively repel each other. Duh.

The Secret is about "creating" your own reality. It is about creating your life and commanding the universe to respond to your desires. Really, the secret is about getting zhlubs to pay five dollars to watch a movie on a website.

More to come...


Rachelle said…
Wow, Kelly, this is amazing. Back before I was a Christian I used to actually attend Agape in West L.A.! Michael Beckwith was my pastor! I have often looked back on those days and rolled my eyes, shaking my head. Even when I was there, I loved the singing and the messages seemed so full of love and wisdom, yet it REALLY bothered me that they NEVER say the word "God" in their services. I wasn't a Christian yet but God was already calling my name.

One thing though... you asked about finding common ground... "what common ground is there?" Truthfully, there was a lot of common ground. One of the things I enjoyed was the diversity of people's faith backgrounds, everything from Southern Baptist to Buddhist to Jewish, etc., but the common ground was a search for meaning and truth. And a genuine desire to love -- God and others. You wouldn't get so many people of different heritages in the same "church" if they all weren't striving to be truly loving toward their neighbors and if they all weren't truly seeking God.

You are right that one cannot truly practice Christian faith and go to that church. But many of the members call themselves "Christians." It's a heritage and an identity more than an actual faith.

Perhaps the folks at Agape have it wrong -- they haven't found the whole Truth yet. But most of them are seeking it, and that's better than nothing. I know Christ reached me through that environment.
I have no doubt that Christ can reach anyone in that environment, but I am inclined to say that it is not because of Rev Beckwith, but despite him.

The one problem with "christian" as an identity and heritage is that we are not born into Christianity. I was raised in a Christian home, by Christian parents, but I had to stand up and decide for myself to become a Christian. Not matter who your daddy and momma are, the process of becoming a Christian is the same (unlike Judaism, in which your family identity can circumvent certain things).

In a future post, I will talk about what is being said in The Secret which is not leading people to God, but to themselves.

Thanks so much for your comments, Rachelle!
Christine said…
Kelly, Way to go! I'm going to link back to your post when I am able to sit at the computer for more than a few minutes at a time. I am looking forward to digging into this scripturally. I'll be on tonight to do that. Blessings on your day. Oh, and BTW, I love your new design!!

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