Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Secret.....? trust God

Several of you made comments yesterday about the Secret, so I thought I'd pass on the review, taken from "The Stranger". Wherever you find Christians embracing such teachings in their entirety, it's because all the promises made to Abraham and Moses are now presumed to belong to the church. While it's true that we are, indeed, children of Abraham, it's not true that the blessings of God are manifest the same way today, in the church, as was the case then, when blessings were manifested always through physical well being. Paul shows us, numerous times and places in the New Testament that one can be blessed spiritually, and still face manifold physical trials.

But let's grant for a moment the possibility that we will use the Old Testament promise of God given to Moses as the basis for claiming physical well being. We still come up against inconsistencies that force us away from any formulaic approach to claiming health and wealth. Job is an instance. God's refusal to let David build the temple is another.

"Claim" wealth and healing? I don't think so. Jesus offers a different path - a path that invites me to involve myself in His interests, trusting that as I do so, He will involve Himself in my interests, so that I won't need to worry about 'what shall we eat, what shall we drink, what shall we wear, etc." This perspective strikes a balance between fatalistic passivity, and arrogant 'claiming' of wealth and health, promises which ring hollow to at least 4 billion of the worlds people. And yet, the health and wealth proponents continue to draw millions of American followers to their uniquely capitalistic, consumerist version of the gospel. It's no surprise really, that "The Secret" has been "Christianized." What else could one expect when Jesus is marketed as the guru of all things related to self-fulfillment. Perhaps the marketers missed this little secret of Jesus': I'll only find myself to the extent that I'm willing to lose myself.


At 19/3/07 20:54, Blogger Brendan said...

I went to the other day and saw "The Secret" featured on the homepage. Very interesting.

As for your comment on the blessings given to Abraham and Moses, I've always thought that the promises were twofold: certainly, the giving of the promised land in this world to the Isrealites, but also the "health, wealth, and happiness" we'll experience in Heaven as children of God. This is a much different idea of an earthly conception, as we'll have our perfect bodies and won't need to consume like we do now.

At 21/3/07 10:05, Blogger BenMc said...

I think the "health, wealth and happiness" you speak of are specifically located in the resurrected Jesus. It's not really that different from the way you describe heaven, Brendan, but it's more of a focus on the new creation, new heavens and _new earth_ that will happen when Jesus is "revealed." I think the resurrection bodies will be able to eat and consume (Luke 24 and John 20/21) but they won't need to/be able to reproduce (Jesus vs. the Sadduccees on the 7-fold widow). What will be reversed is decay and corruption, and the parts that go along with consumption will be corrected. And definitely, what will be defeated is death, so as much as consumption and death go together, yeah, I think consumption will be gone in the new creation.

Israel always had a problem once the first temple fell looking back to the promise God made to David and figuring out how it could still be true. To their credit, they continued to trust that it was true.

It always strikes me that the promise was fulfilled in a way greater than anyone imagined (for all nations and to the ends of the earth), but also in a way (the cross) that no one really imagined (except Isaiah, but we'll chalk that up to revelation!). That's the way God works, and it's the exact opposite of the "name it and claim it" "secret."

I'm afraid Oprah's jumped the shark on this one. has a pretty good critique of it as well.


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