The Power of the Spoken Word: Biblical or Occult Law? (Part I)
By: Frances Swaggart
Many today in both the secular world and professing church world claim that there are universal spiritual “laws” which exist and that any person may learn to utilize, causing the spirit realm to work on their behalf. Supposedly, these “laws” will work for anyone from any walk or persuasion of life, whether Christian or non-Christian. One of the most popular and all-encompassing of these laws is what New Agers refer to as the “law of attraction.” You will hear it mentioned, however, under a variety of different terms. In the business world, you may hear it termed “the power of positive thinking” or “unlimited human potential.” In the church world, you may hear teachings such as the “word of faith,” the “fourth dimension,” or the “confession principle.” In witchcraft, it is the formula, “as above, so below” (meaning, as it is in the spiritual, so it is in the natural). And, as you may have already realized, these teachings actually go much deeper than mind science religions and philosophy. It is clear that these so-called spiritual laws originated in the occult world and came directly from Satan himself. We will discuss exactly how in more detail later.
THE LAW OF ATTRACTION?
Essentially, the “law of attraction” works by a concentrated focus upon a desire that one longs to have manifest in his life. This focus, of course, must eventually tap into the spirit realm in order to bring the desire into the physical realm. Part of this process involves the person developing a “consciousness” of belief that the benevolent “universe,” which many consider to be “god,” is bringing that desire to him. And, to ensure that his newfound faith doesn’t waver, the individual must think about, speak about, dream about, and even visualize his desire until it materializes in the physical/natural realm. According to one self-proclaimed pagan witch and supporter of the earth-goddess movement, “To work magic is to weave the unseen forces into form, to soar beyond sight, to explore the uncharted dream realm of the hidden reality . . . to leap beyond imagination into that space between the worlds where fantasy becomes real; to be at once animal and god . . . Spells [and magic] . . . require the combined faculties of relaxation, visualization, concentration, and [mental] projection . . . To cast a spell is to project energy through a symbol.”1 Oprah Winfrey has recently promoted a book entitled The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne, which teaches this “law of attraction.” In it Byrne says, “Nothing can come into your experience unless you summon it through persistent thoughts.”2 Another important aspect of practicing this law is the belief that there is power in the words you speak. You see, the words we say are considered the tangible version of the thoughts we are thinking. Our words, therefore, have the power to create or destroy our destinies. So, in order to successfully practice this, one should confidently declare the “faith-thoughts” he has been meditating upon, even, at times, speaking about them as if they have already come to pass. Anything else is considered doubt in “god” or the “universe” (or doubt in “oneself,” since some believe that “god” and “self” are one in the same).
In fact, one must never speak a negative word or thought aloud because such can bring negative things into one’s life. In essence, they say, people will attract into their lives whatever things they consistently think and feel. “The law of attraction is the law of creation . . . You create your life through your thoughts.”3 And what becomes of the sin problem in this case? Well, a confession of sin would be considered a “negative confession,” so one would simply deny that there is even any sin in his life to worry about. People are led to believe that if they think about sin, they will bring more sin into their lives. Under this law, the confession and repentance of sin is eliminated! Therefore, Salvation is eliminated as well! “Science of Mind teaches that there is a favorable physical reaction, an effect, which follows a pattern of thought incorporating ideas of health, for the law of cause and effect governs everything. Similarly, it is held that right thinking will result in a greater experience of success and abundance. A successful person thinks success, and the law of mind that reacts has no other choice than to produce an effect corresponding to the causative idea.”4 It’s similar to the idea of karma, except that the action which brings the result is the person’s meditative (spiritual) thoughts. Actually, the dangerous reality of what can occur when a person repeatedly thinks and speaks the same thoughts is a state of altered consciousness. It is really a form of self-hypnosis brought about by mantra-like repetition and an obsession with one’s desired goal. The inspiration of the Holy Spirit is astounding as the Bible warns us of such a practice: “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do . . .” (Mat. 6:7). For example, many motivational/success tapes, lectures, and seminars start you off by helping you make your thoughts repetitive. Altered consciousness is another subject in itself, which we may also discuss in more detail later. It may cause a person to perform certain tasks with much greater efficiency. It may also act as a defense mechanism for dealing with the uncertainties and hardships of life by giving someone an ability to simply deny a problem even exists and continue on in their state of blind confidence, hence the reason many have ended up with some serious consequences such as total bankruptcy or the loss of a marriage! Most importantly, in this case, altered consciousness is a door into the spirit realm.
The “Word of Faith” teachers are probably the most recognized in the church world for believing in and practicing this heretical, and formally esoteric, doctrine. You see, until the recent past, formulas such as this were kept hidden from the general public because they would have been identified as sorcery and witchcraft, and the laws of the land would have punished the practice. So, members of such cults and societies were sworn to secrecy. Times are certainly different now; if anything, our society celebrates witchcraft, often believing that there are “good” or redeeming aspects to the practice. But, remember the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” in the Garden? Man wanted to be like God. Man wanted the “knowledge” that would enable him to operate in the spiritual realm. God, however, told Adam and Eve not to eat from any of the tree, whether the so-called “good side” or the “bad side.” God knew the entire tree was evil, and partaking of it eventually brought about the entire fall of man! Today, the church has fallen so far into darkness that she cannot recognize divination when it is practiced right within her own walls. Those who practice “Word of Faith” are functioning by the same occult “law of attraction,” while thinking they have discovered the key to victorious Christian living. They use the “confession” principle, by their definition, meaning that when one confesses a verse of Scripture or a promise from the Lord, the forces of good (God or angels) are released on his behalf. They believe that confessing the words of Scripture activate the Lord’s supernatural Power. “Christ and the Cross are completely ignored, with the avenue of success being ensconced in the proper Scriptures being chosen and properly confessed.”5
You see, teachers inside the professing church will incorporate Scriptures whereas secular society simply uses whatever else they may hold sacred and/or believe to possess great wisdom. However, the practical application and overall philosophy is exactly the same! It is nothing less than practical magic. Popular preacher, Joel Osteen, says “Your circumstances will line up with your words.” “Words are like seeds, they have creative power . . . The more you talk about it the more you call it in . . . You can use your words to bless your life or curse your life.”6 Joel Osteen was influenced by the “Word of Faith” teachings of Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland. Osteen also stated in his best-selling book, Your Best Life Now, “We have to conceive it on the inside before we’re ever going to receive it on the outside. If you don’t think you can have something good, then you never will. The barrier is in your mind. It’s not God’s lack of resources or your lack of talent that prevents you from prospering. Your own wrong thinking can keep you from God’s best.”7 A non-charismatic version of “Word of Faith” teaching may be more along the lines of Robert Schuller’s “positive thinking” gospel. Christians must realize that it is not automatically a noble deed in the eyes of God to believe the positive. Righteousness strives to know what is true, whether positive or negative. Not one of these so-called “spiritual laws” or teachings is found in Scripture! God has already given us the law through which His Power (which is the Power of the Holy Spirit) works: “For the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the Law of Sin and Death” (Rom. 8:2). The Holy Spirit works only through the shed Blood of Christ! Instead, what these men have done is ignore the true Source of Power, which is the Cross, and literally transformed the Bible into a witch’s book of spells. The Wikipedia on-line dictionary defines a spell as “A word or formula believed to have magic power.” “Word of Faith” even goes so far as to admit that the unredeemed can tap into these laws if they follow the right rules. But, make no mistake, the Lord does not function through magic! It completely ignores His Sovereign Will for a person’s life as the individual attempts to operate within particular “laws” to bring about what he desires for his own life. Attempting to operate outside the Will of God and/or rebelling against His Will is witchcraft, pure and simple! “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft . . .” (I Sam. 15:23).
THE NEW THOUGHT MOVEMENT
In The Secret, Byrne “introduces Prentice Mulford (1834-1891) as ‘one of the earliest writers and founders of the New Thought movement’ . . . This quote from Thoughts are Things summarizes his ‘mental and spiritual laws’: ‘. . . In the future some people will draw so much of the higher quality of thought to them, that by it they will accomplish what some would call miracles. In this capacity . . . lies the secret of what has been called ‘magic.’ During the 20th century, such thinking inspired ‘positive thinking’ gurus like Norman Vincent Peale who, in turn, converted Robert Schuller and countless other leaders who are now pastoring churches or marketing the deception through church-related programs around the world. John Maxwell and other global change agents demonstrate the subtle influence of this feel-good, self-empowering ideology.”8 This is exactly the same teaching that motivational trainers like Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, have been saying for years. Hill teaches that “whatever can be conceived in one’s mind can be obtained. He teaches that the desired thing should be visualized in one’s mind, and done so repeatedly.”9 Hill also states: “Christianity is the single greatest force which influences the minds of men . . . it is because of faith.” “Faith is the head chemist of the mind. When faith is blended with the vibration of thought, the subconscious mind instantly picks up the vibration, translates it into the spiritual equivalent, and transmits it to Infinite Intelligence, as in the case of prayer.”10 Another promoter of this law is Yonggi Cho, “pastor” of probably the largest church in South Korea. His term for the power source reached through this universal law is the fourth dimension. “The fourth dimension is the Holy Spirit . . . Men, by exploring their spiritual sphere of the fourth dimension through the development of concentrated visions and dreams in their imaginations, can brood over and incubate the third dimension, influencing and changing it.”11 Norman Vincent Peale was another major proponent. “Peale pioneered the merger of theology and psychology which became known as Christian Psychology . . . Peale said, ‘through prayer you . . . make use of the great factor within yourself, the deep subconscious mind . . . [which Jesus called] the kingdom of God within you . . . Positive thinking is just another term for faith.” He also wrote, “Your unconscious mind . . . [has a] power that turns wishes into realities when the wishes are strong enough.”12 Peale even said this concerning occultic automatic writing: “It little matters if these writings come from Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus of Jane [co-author Jane Palzere], they are all the same consciousness and that consciousness is God. I am a part of God, and Jane [is] part of that same God.”13
BIBLICAL FAITH IS NOT MAGIC
So, now not only do we have the words of Scripture being used as magical spells, we have Faith itself being defined as a magic power. Faith is not magic! Yes, God does send His Power as a result of proper Faith, but Faith is not the Power of God in and of itself. Neither does “speaking words of faith” exercise the Power of God. God exercises His own Power. No human can direct or command the Power of God. Humans only receive what the Lord sovereignly supplies. Also, Faith is not the power of the mind, nor an attitude of mind over matter. Faith is trust and rest, specifically in the Work Jesus did at Calvary! Jesus addressed all our problems there. That is what the Lord wants us to believe in, trust in, and rest in. True Faith is not an exercise of speaking certain words or thinking certain thoughts. It is an assurance of Christ in one’s heart, knowing that because He has paid the price, He will work out everything for our good in His perfect Way and Time. This is the perfect Peace of Christ! “Great peace have they which love Your law: and nothing shall offend them” (Ps. 119:165). When Jesus said to the woman with an issue of blood that her Faith had made her whole, He meant that because she now had the correct Object of Faith (Christ and Him Crucified) that she had all she needed to be whole (Mk. 5:25-34). Jesus did not commend the woman for her positive confession or positive thinking. He commended her for her complete and utter trust that her Source of healing was in Him! It was proper Faith that made the woman whole, not proper confession!
1 (Starhawk, The Spiral Dance. New York: Harper & Row, 1979. p. 62)
2 (Rhonda Byrne, The Secret p.43)
3 (Ibid p.15)
4 (from Visions Center of Religious Science website: http://www.visions-center.com/)
5 (Jimmy Swaggart. False Doctrine Study Guide p.137)
6 (Joel Osteen. “Speaking Faith Filled Words,” Tape # 223 May 2, 2004)
7 (Joel Osteen. Your Best Life Now, ch.1 ‘Enlarging Your Vision’) (http://www.letusreason.org/Popteac29.htm)
8 (Berit Kjos. A New Mask for An Ancient Secret.) (http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/007/secret.htm#1)
9 (Jimmy Swaggart. False Doctrine Study Guide p.133)