Read part 1 first
The Threefold Appeal
One of Dyer’s recent books is Being In Balance: 9 Principles for Creating Habits to Match Your Desires. Part of the description states: “In this inspirational work, New York Times best-selling author and lecturer Wayne W. Dyer shows you how to restore balance in your life by offering nine principles for realigning your thoughts so that they correspond to your highest desires.”
As with so many New Age products, there is a strong sensual appeal. One description entices with these words: “The book is a ‘Soft touch puffy’ hardcover book filled with colorful pages featuring enchanting imagery. A lovely, inspiring book – perfect for gift-giving!”
Several years ago, a Christian woman emerging from her New Age past told me that part of her difficulty in leaving the New Age was how beautiful and appealing it was, and how she loved the high quality and prettiness possessed by New Age books and paraphernalia. This is very true. It is reminiscent of how Eve was tempted in part by how delicious the fruit on the forbidden tree appeared. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate” (Gen. 3.6, ESV).
This forbidden food seemed to have it all! It had pragmatic appeal (“good for food”), sensual appeal (“delight to the eyes”), and spiritual/mental appeal – the same appeal used in motivational principles today (“to be desired to make one wise”). All three of these appeals are built into the new spiritual teachings today. They are matter-of-fact (for example, Unity bills itself as “practical Christianity”), sensual (attractively packaged books and products, often very inspirational, tender, and moving), and motivational (an appeal to self-empowerment, wisdom, and advancing one’s spiritual self and psyche through various methods and by faith in Self) [See note at end of article on Self]. *
Contrast with Christianity
Appeal One, Pragmatics: Christianity is the answer to the sin problem, but it is not normally pragmatic for getting along with the world. Rather, surrendering to the God-Man Jesus who atoned for sins is an act of faith that may not bring any practical advancement in this world and may actually bring ridicule or persecution. We are told to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness,” not much of a concern on worldly agendas! Trusting in Christ puts Christian believers against the flow of things in the world – hardly a pragmatic stance. But this should be understood by Christians. Success by the world’s standards is usually not success by God’s standards. The goal is instead “…so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1.10).
Appeal Two, Sensual Appeal: Our sinful nature and fallen desires are painfully exposed in God’s word and in the perfect light of Jesus Christ. We are to be careful about desires and appetites that lead to self-indulgence, greed, and actions that steer us away from God.
Appeal Three, Motivational: In God’s word, there is no encouragement to depend on our own powers; rather we are told that man’s wisdom is foolishness to God (1 Corinthians 1.20, 25), and that it is in our weakness that God works His strength (2 Corinthians 12.9-10). Christians are to grow less dependent on themselves and more dependent on God. This passage about man’s wisdom does not mean, however, that we are not to use reason or intellect. In fact, the Bible calls us to use our mind; reason, logic, and intellect are rooted in the character of God. Rather, the Bible’s statements about man’s wisdom pertain to that wisdom which replaces God with man, and which ignores, defies, or rejects God’s Being, goodness, power, and word.
First John 2.16 states: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world” (NASB). Here two of the appeals (temptations) of the New Age are elucidated: sensual appeal in the “lust of the flesh and the eyes,” and motivational-pride appeal in “boastful pride of life.”
By “world,” this passage is speaking of the system that sets itself against God’s will – a system that is man-centered, and is focused on man’s pride, sensual greed, and materialism. This is not a matter-spirit duality but rather a contrast between man’s innately selfish desires and systems versus the desire to be submitted to God’s truth.
God’s word tells us that we can never be satisfied by seeking to fulfill worldly or fleshly desires. Proverbs 27.20 states: “Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, Nor are the eyes of man ever satisfied.” (NASB). And Ecclesiastes 1.8 addresses the perennial disappointment man experiences in seeking lasting happiness from the world’s pleasures, “All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing” (NIV).
True satisfaction comes only through knowing Jesus Christ, who is the bread of life and who offers the water of life (John 6.35, 7.38). Dyer and other new spiritual motivational speakers offer that which greatly appeals and may temporarily gratify but can never fully satisfy: practical steps to worldly success, affirmations that fuel pride in one’s supposed goodness and power, and beautiful words that veil a false spirituality. It is the continuation of the temptation in the Garden.
The Wisdom of Man Rejects the Wisdom of God
Dyer has accomplished much, giving a misleading validity to his allure. However, Dyer has cast his lot with Eastern and New Age spirituality: “Dattatreya Siva Baba has served as a spiritual teacher to Dr. Wayne Dyer, whose book, Manifest Your Destiny, is based on Baba Sri Siva’s teachings. Indeed, Dr. Dyer dedicated this book to Baba Sri Siva as ‘Guruji.'”
Dyer’s wisdom is the wisdom of man, a postulation that proclaims man’s innate divinity and does not acknowledge the true God, man’s separation from God through sin, nor man’s inability to redeem himself, and which rejects reconciliation with God through faith in Jesus Christ. This wisdom will never be gratified, satisfied, answered, or restful.
Ultimate satisfaction, wisdom, and rest are found only in the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who makes this appeal to you: “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11.28-30).
* Note on why “Self” is capitalized: This concept of Self with a capital “S” is rife in the new spirituality and in many motivational teachings. The true “Self” is considered sacred. This is even taught in the Contemplative Prayer movement – that at the center of every person is a true, sacred “Self,” sometimes called the “true Self” or the “sacred Self.” (See CANA article on Contemplative Prayer: Keating capitalizes Self, and states, “God and our true Self are not separate. Though we are not God, God and our true Self are the same thing”). This concept is inherent in Eastern beliefs, which teach the divine Self in all men, the Atman (Hinduism), or that our true self is Buddha nature (Buddhism). There is no such sacred Self according to the Bible, because our “self” is fallen, and though we are redeemed through faith in Christ, and are a new creation in Christ, there is never a “Self” untouched by sin. Being indwelt by the Holy Spirit does not turn Christians into God. Nor does it deify Christians in the sense that the human nature merges ontologically with God or takes on God’s nature. Christians are imputed with the righteousness of Christ, and although Christians are being conformed to the image of Christ, this is by the power of the Holy Spirit, and the Christian does not ever cease being human. God is present but distinct from believers. However, due to teachings coming into the church for the past few years, including mystical teachings on the “true Self,” these kind of views about a sacred Self may become pervasive.
“…but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts.” 1 Thessalonians 2.4
“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.'” John 6.35
“Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 1.24b
Topic One: Links on the formation of the canon of Scripture:
“How and When Was the Canon of the Bible Put Together?”
“The Christian Canon” by Don Closson
Topic Two: Links on The Council of Nicea
“What Occurred at the Council of Nicea?”
Topic Three: Links on The Gnostic Gospels and the Gnostic Christ
“What Are the Gnostic Gospels?”
“Gnosticism and the Gnostic Jesus” by Douglas Groothuis
“The Gnostic Gospels, Part Two” by Douglas Groothuis