Theology | Culture | Race | Politics
The Secret is Out: Part 1
This morning I am embarking on a three-part apologetic mini-blog series on Rhonda Byrne's book entitled, The Secret. I will examine The Secret on its own terms, its framework, plausibility, and blasphemy. In so doing, I will uncover the presuppositions that Byrne holds, while simultaneously demonstrating the inevitable incoherence of The Secret in view of the Christian faith, which interprets the world as it truly is.My sole intention for writing this blog series is for the edification and upbuilding of the universal church. Jude exhorted us long ago, "to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ" (Jude 3-4).
Since the release of Rhonda Byrne’s, The Secret in November 2006—coupled with a significant endorsement from Oprah Winfrey—the new-age philosophy it propagates has infiltrated the church.The Secret has shipwrecked the faith of many and rendered the faith of some anemic at best. The author gathered twenty-four modern day teachers, philosophers, and authors to share their insights regarding “the secret.”
“The secret” is the “law of attraction,” which teaches that our thoughts have a frequency, and what you send out to the universe, either positive or negative thoughts, is what you will receive. You can be, have, or do anything you want through the power of positive thinking, visualization, and action, because you are God. There is no sphere of life that is exempt from the power of “the secret”. Money, health, and wealth are a few of many areas which are governed by the law of attraction. You are in control of your destiny, and only you have the power to create and reconstruct your present reality.
The Secret Examined
Rhonda Byrne uses the mythological story of Aladdin and the Genie as a metaphor to explain what the secret is and how it works. Aladdin asks for what he wants, and the Genie is there to do his bidding. Metaphorically speaking, you are Aladdin and the law of attraction is the Genie. According to Byrne, “the law of attraction is always present and always listening to everything you think, speak, and act. The Genie assumes that everything you think about, you want! That everything you speak about, you want! That everything you act upon is what you want! You are the Master of the Universe, and the Genie is there to serve you. The Genie never questions your commands.”
Observe the way that Byrne describes the law of attraction, by ascribing to it anthropomorphic and transcendent capabilities. She assumes that it has the ability to hear all things and is also omnipresent. But how does she arrive at such a conclusion, given her admission that “the law of attraction is a law of nature. It is impersonal and it does not see good or bad things. It is as impartial as the law of gravity”? Her metaphor betrays her earlier claim that the law of attraction is impersonal, for if it is as she claims, then it cannot “listen” or regard anything said by you or anyone else for that matter, because to do so would contradict the impersonal and impartial nature of said law.
Let us briefly consider the law of gravity, since Byrne makes mention of it. In order for a law of nature to be such, at the very least it must be universal and empirically observable. For example, if I drop a glass of water from my hand in America and did the same thing in Africa, the result would be the same—shattered glass and water would be strewn on the floor. When Byrne describes the law of attraction, she is not describing a law of nature as she purports. Rather, she is explicating her subjective belief in the non-empirical, the law of attraction—which by the way is not named among the laws of nature. How did she come to import God-like attributes into a supposedly “impartial” law of nature? Could it be that she is projecting the attributes of the one true God she knows into the so-called law of attraction? We will answer and explore these questions in greater detail as we progress, but for the moment, suffice it to say that there is more to the proverbial story.
Let us continue to examine the rest of Byrne’s statement. Based on her metaphor, the Genie is there to serve you and give you everything that you think, act, and speak about. You are the master and the universe is your servant; it does not question your command, but fulfills it. In this statement, there is self-deification language, not unlike what happened in Genesis 3:5 when the serpent said, “for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” In their pride, Adam and Eve willfully dethroned God as their Master and Lord—and ascribed to themselves the title that is His alone. This sinful act resulted in the Fall, and with it, all humanity has inherited sin, guilt, shame, misery and separation from the God with whom our first parents once walked intimately. The noetic effects of sin are evident in Byrne’s statement. She is espousing an idolatrous mode of thinking in which the creature (self) is to be worshipped rather than the Creator, to whom all worship is due. If this idolatrous thinking is left unabated, she will inevitably plunge deeper into her delusion—and incur the judgment of eternal separation from God.
Byrne is truly a chip off the old block, following in the disobedient footsteps of her first parents. In order for her to live in the alternate universe of her own making, she has chosen to disregard and deny God’s self-revelation. This is what sin does: it makes us utterly irrational. “It is what robs us of being truly human; it is what is always at work to dehumanize us.” We exchange what the Triune God has revealed to us as true, good, and perfect for that which is false, despicable, and corrupt. Byrne is correct when she says, “you are the Master of the Universe.” Indeed, you are the master and creator, but only of the illusory universe within God’s Universe which He created in the beginning (Gen. 1:1). Therefore, it comes as no surprise that in this illusory world, the Genie—which is an idol—never questions your command, because he has been created by Byrne and made in her own image and likeness (Exod. 20:3-4).
In fact, Byrne’s god sounds eerily like Satan when he said to Jesus, “all these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me” (Matt. 4:9). And worship she does. Regardless of Byrne’s futile attempts to uphold her illusory universe and deny the Triune God, He does in fact question our requests when they are riddled with selfish motives (Jas. 4:3). Ironically, in her illusory universe, there is a feeble attempt to uphold the Creator-creature distinction while simultaneously rejecting this reality in the Triune God’s universe. She is recapitulating what she knows to be true, yet she suppresses this truth by erecting an illusory universe—in which she is the creator and God is the creature. Coram Deo is an inescapable reality for all image-bearers; therefore, this illusion is nothing more than an exercise in futility, because the Triune God is revealing Himself to His creation at every moment.
Additionally, embedded in Byrne’s metaphor is a presupposition of sinlessness and autonomy. The idea that sin has stained our whole being and hindered our ability to think, act, speak, and emote is absent from her metaphor and the pages of The Secret. “Trust your instincts. It’s the Universe inspiring you. It’s the Universe communicating with you on the receiving frequency. If you have an intuitive or instinctive feeling, follow it, and you will find that the Universe is magnetically moving you to receive what you asked for.” What would happen if everyone were to follow Byrne’s advice and fulfill every instinctive desire they felt? This world would be thrown into complete and utter anarchy. Only animals live by instincts alone. This is exactly what our first parents did; they trusted in themselves and the serpent over against the Triune God and the Fall was ushered in (Gen. 3). Byrne is advocating the same, when she says you should trust your instincts. “A little autonomy involves absolute autonomy, and a little reality set free from the plan of God involves all reality set free from the plan of God.” Our fallen world is still reaping the sinful effects of autonomy.
What Byrne fails to acknowledge is that we are all born in sin and shaped in iniquity (Ps. 51:5; 14:2-3). We are descendants of Adam, united to him, and enslaved by sin (Rom. 5:12; 6:16, 17). We are all guilty before our Holy God and our conscience bears witness to this truth (Rom. 2:15), but God being rich in mercy sent the second Adam, Jesus Christ, to fulfill righteousness on our behalf (Rom. 6:17-19), so that those who believe in Him are no longer slaves to sin, but to righteousness (Rom. 6:18). Those who receive this salvation are given a new heart (Ezek. 36:26, 27) and are a new creation; the old man has passed away and the new man has come (2 Cor. 5:17). Though we are made new, we live in the “already-not yet.” We have been made holy in the sight of God due to Christ’s finished work, but we still have indwelling sin that remains (Rom. 7)—we are simultaneously saints and sinners. Consequently, we do not rely on our autonomous reasoning, because it is fallen. Instead, we are “fearlessly anthropomorphic” and rely wholly on the self-revelation of the Triune God given to us in the Bible. Cornelius Van Til elucidates this point when he says, “man as the creature of God needs supernatural revelation, and man, become a sinner, needs supernatural redemptive revelation.”
 Rhonda Byrne, The Secret (Hillsboro, OR: Beyond Words Publishing, 2006), 11.
 Since the Byrne uses the terms, “the secret,” and “the law of attraction” synonymously, from this point forward, I will do the same.
 Ibid., 46.
 Ibid., 13, 43.
 Also known as “the Universe,” “the law of attraction,” “god” or any label you choose is fine, so long as it works for you (page 46).
 K. Scott Oliphint, “The Irrationality of Unbelief: An Exegetical Study,” in Revelation and Reason: New Essays in Reformed Apologetics, ed. K. Scott Oliphint and Lane G. Tipton(Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2007), 70.
 Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2008),134.
 Van Til asserts that the problem is not with God’s revelation to us, rather our sinfulness is the problem. Therefore, when it is difficult for us--as creatures—to reconcile God’s eternal decree and His will of command we must be “fearlessly anthropomorphic,” that is embrace our creatureliness and fully trust our Creator-God when there are things we don’t fully understand. In so doing, we honor Him and recognize our finitude; this is the sense in which I use the term.
 Cornelius Van Til, Christian Apologetics (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2003), 194.