Reaching Out To an Unknown God
I can’t help notice that many of my non-Christian friends seem a big step closer to God than ever before. Surprisingly it is thanks to something the Christian community thought was anathema.
Increasingly many of my non-Christian friends talk about ‘The Universe’ in the same way that my Christian friends talk about God. They wonder what ‘The Universe’ has in store for them, they thank ‘The Universe’ and also cry out to the ‘The Universe’ for help and provision. One particular friend came to the end of her job contract and wondered aloud on a social media post about what ‘The Universe’ had in store for her.
Pantheism has been around since time immemorial but the contemporary phenomenon of appealing to ‘The Universe’ and using ‘laws of attraction’ I put down to the book called ‘The Secret’ which broke out of the fringe element of the New Age movement and became mainstream.
It was initially available for viewing online and later became a bestselling DVD and book by Rhonda Byrne. Featuring two-dozen contributors, it claims to solve all of life’s challenges through the power of thought. More specifically the key teaching of The Secret is the law of attraction. This states that our thoughts transmit like radio waves, throughout the universe, drawing either positive or negative experiences into our lives, allowing us to create our own reality.
The worldview of The Secret can be described as monistic pantheism—all is one, all is divine. Everything is interconnected ‘energy’. Our positive thoughts tap into this energy and produce positive results in our lives. Our negative thoughts, conversely, bring negativity into our lives.
The book took off after being touted by Oprah Winfrey and after that became a best seller, selling more than 19 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 46 languages.
After exposure like that it’s no surprise that the kernel of the books teaching has made it into popular consciousness.
How Can Falsehood Lead To God?
Getting back to my opening statement, how does this heresy translate into people being closer to God? Firstly let me acknowledge that a substantial part of the attraction to this book is people’s greed rather than a desire to know God. The teachings in the book offer a short cut to wealth and success through manipulation of the ‘Universe’ through the power of attraction (by way of positive thought).
The ‘god’ that is being tapped into serves as a heavenly ATM, from which blessings can be unlocked and favour bestowed. That’s not a bad description of how Christians see God at times, and I’ve been guilty often of treating God like a heavenly butler, doing my bidding for the comfortable Western life I desire to live.
The reason I think it helps place people one step closer is that at the very least they have opened their thinking up to accept the notion of a ‘higher being’, no matter how vague that may be. It’s a starting point as far as I’m concerned and I’ve found that to be the case in conversations that seek to flesh out their beliefs in relation to ‘The Universe’.
Worshipping An Unknown God
Although mixed up with selfishness and false teaching, the acceptance of a higher power can be the starting point of a journey to greater and more specific revelation about the higher power they are appealing to.
The Apostle Paul had the same view of the vague beliefs of many Athenians who demonstrated how careless they were with specifics through establishing a statue that paid tribute to the ‘unknown god’. Paul lashed them for their ignorance and proceeded to flesh out the full revelation and bring a sunset clause on their wishy washiness: “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.”(Acts 17:29).
I would rather that my friends had some belief than no belief at all, and at that I would rather that they were open to the notion of a higher power. That’s my opportunity to emulate Paul in Athens and offer a crucial new layer of revelation to what hopefully is their developing spirituality.
Stan Fetting, Crossover Operations Manager, March 2016