The so-called “Law of Attraction” has received quite a bit of attention over the past few years, especially since the publication of Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret. Quite frankly, I was somewhat amazed at this sudden cultural infatuation with the Law of Attraction, primarily because it has been around in one form or another for centuries. There is nothing new about the Law of Attraction and certainly nothing “secret” about it.
The Law of Attraction is the power behind the “Positive Thinking” movement popularized by Norman Vincent Peale back in the mid-twentieth century and carried forward by Peale’s disciple Robert Schuller. Before that, one could find these ideas rampant in the New Thought Movement that gave birth to such well known groups and the Unity School of Christianity and Religious Science, to name but a few. New Thought had its origins in the 19th century and drew on ideas much older than that. We can also see the ideas of the Law of Attraction in much of the contemporary “Word of Faith” teachings, although many leaders of the Faith Movement might deny it.
The ideas involved in the Law of Attraction can also be found in ancient Gnostic texts and as far back as Egyptian Hermeticism. In the East one sees the concepts of “The Secret” in Vedanta and even Buddha said that we create our world with our thoughts. No, there is nothing new about the Law of Attraction, nor is there anything secret.
The Christian community has had a mixed response to all this interest in “The Secret.” Some conservative and fundamentalist teachers have denounced it as New Age mumbo jumbo, belched forth from the brimstone bowels of Hell itself. Others have taken an investigative but guarded approach while still others have embraced the Law of Attraction with open arms. Whatever the response, there is ample scriptural support for the ideas underlying the Law of Attraction.
From a biblical perspective, Solomon tells us in Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” On one level, what Solomon was getting at was the reality that a person’s consistent thoughts, especially his deepest thoughts (in his heart) tend to define who that person is. On another level, this verse, as well as much psychological research, tends to point to the fact that our thoughts have a magnetic quality, drawing to us the things we think about most. In practical terms, the Law of Attraction boils down to a simple principle: thoughts become things.
Looking briefly at Genesis 1, we can see that God created the world through his thoughts. The biblical text states that the world came into being at God’s verbal command – his words. In a sense, he spoke them into existence. And what are our words? Words are expressions of our thoughts. The Law of Attraction, from a biblical perspective, is related to the fact that we were created in the image of God. In a sense, we possess similar characteristics as those possessed by God. By thinking repeated thoughts they grow stronger, and, according to proponents of the Faith Movement, when we speak them, they grow even stronger. Through repetition, taken with faith in a positive outcome, what we are speaking will eventually come into manifestation.
Whether you believe the teachings of the Faith Movement is not the issue here. The important thing is that we not throw the baby out with the bath water. The Law of Attraction, like the law of gravity, is a natural part of God’s creation. Our capacity to use the Law was placed in us by the Creator and we should use it in accordance with his laws and his purposes.
Unfortunately, many teachers, especially those associated with the Prosperity Gospel, have appropriated the Law of Attraction to be used for the accumulation of wealth. I don’t personally think this is a biblical position, but I am not the sole source of authority on this. You have to evaluate whether or not God wants you to be rich for yourself. The problem here is the fact that many people who are opposed to the message of these prosperity teachers throw out the method because they feel it is being used for material purposes. I believe this is a mistake.
Still, I have long believed that there are several problems with the Law of Attraction as it is commonly presented in secular venues such as Byrne’s book and video. Whereas I have learned from both personal application and research that the Law of Attraction does have considerable merit and value, two critical facts are often omitted from non-spiritual approaches to the principles involved. These two omissions are:
The Law of Attraction does not operate in a vacuum.
The Law’s creator (God) is left out of the picture.
Whenever you or I use the principles involved in the Law of Attraction, the fact is many other people are using it at the same time. If our thoughts are indeed “things,” there is a lot of thinking going on and, as a result, a lot of “things” out there. My point here is this: when we make positive affirmations, we are not sending them out into a pristine environment. Instead, we are sending them out into an environment crowded with other thoughts, desires, and intentions and this can and often does cause interference with the process.
For example, if a plane crashes killing 300 people, can we say with accuracy that all 300 of these unfortunate victims brought this on themselves through their thoughts? I don’t think so. There has to be other forces at play. I am sure you can think of many other examples of a similar nature. I am not saying that this makes the Law of Attraction invalid. It does not. However, it does mean that we have to take certain issues into account when we use it.
Secondly, it is important to realize that if the Law of Attraction, like the Law of Gravity, exists, then God created it. We can never ignore this fact. Whenever we use the Law we have to take into account God’s plans and purposes and make certain that our agendas are in harmony with God’s wishes.
For those Christ-followers interested in studying and applying the Law of Attraction I would like to highly recommend Ed Gungor’s book, There is More to the Secret. An insightful writer, Gungor takes a balanced approach to the subject of the Law of Attraction and other teachings put for by Byrne and her associates. Gungor especially discusses those areas where Byrne omits critical themes that are crucial to proper application of the law. Among those areas of deficiency discussed by Gungor are the two that I mentioned earlier, the fact that the law does not operate in a vacuum and that God is left out of the equation.
Gungor uses the analogy of the early days of computer programming to describe the impact other’s use of the Law of Attraction can have on an individual’s application of the same law. Back in those ancient days of the late 70’s computers often locked up because they did not have the capacity to run competing programs. Gungor makes the point that the same kind of thing can happen when there are conflicting users and principles at play in the application of the Law of Attraction. Describing Byrne’s description of the anatomy of the Law of Attraction, Gungor relates:
I can’t help but think they are making a similar mistake to that of the early PC program developers. The repeated emphasis in their treatment of the idea is on each person’s individual power and control while using the law of attraction. The problem is, there isn’t just one person using that law – more than one program is running in the universe. We don’t just use the law of attraction in a vacuum – there are other players, other forces in motion.
What many advocates of the law fail to emphasize is this key fact that other players and other forces are at work whenever an individual applies that law. Gungor continues:
Consider the Holocaust. Is it really plausible that six million Jews all “attracted” this unimaginable horror into their lives, all on their own? Or were there other forces in play – such as unlimited power in the hands of an insane dictator named Hitler? And what about the abuse and murder of children? Did the victims “imagine” and “attract” those things to themselves?
Gungor goes on to make equally valid points regarding the removal of God, the creator of the Law of Attraction, from the mix. It is here that the author makes some of his most cogent and well-presented points:
In the Christian tradition there are no genies. Each person is a dream of God come true; a destiny; a planned and purposeful being that God placed in the world as a unique character in his unfolding story. Scripture claims that God “determined the times” in which we would be born and planned “the exact places” that we would live. The psalmist declared, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”…This means that each one of us matters, and how we fit in this world works toward a telos – an “end” – of a goal-directed process concocted by God himself.
Our thoughts contain creative power and can be of great assistance to us in pursuit of godly character and spiritual development. Further, we can use the Law of Attraction to help bring about the Kingdom on earth. If we have within us a creative power that can help with manifesting God’s desires on earth, then we should use it in his service. The key principle to follow is: make sure you are using it for the betterment of yourself and all creation.
(c) L.D. Turner 2009/ All Rights Reserved