The Seduction of Christianity – Program 2

By: JJohanna Michaelson, Dave Hunt; ©1985
Think and Grow Rich, Positive Mental Attitude, sounds great, but where did the information for these ideas come from?

The Power Behind the Lie

Ankerberg: Welcome! We’re glad that you joined us tonight. We have two very important people that are talking about a lie that is sweeping across America. They are calling it a “seduction.” And it’s taking place among some of our top political people in government; it’s taking place among our medical people, those in psychology, those in the United Nations, those in science; and it is also bridging over into the Christian Church. All the denominations. A lie, a seduction is taking place. Mr. Dave Hunt—who has just written a book talking about the seduction—and Johanna Michaelsen is here with us as well, who has lived part of this lie and experienced the results of what happens when you accept this lie. Now, we just started a little bit last week and we talked, David, about a man on the secular side of the tracks who was giving advice to big business and a lot of people in big business have accepted that advice. It came from Napoleon Hill out of his book, Think and Grow Rich, and his other books. Why don’t you tell us, Where did he get that information that is in that book?
Hunt: Well, again, it’s incredible to say, but it’s true. Napoleon Hill himself says it, I didn’t make it up, that he got the formula for success that he gave to the world, he was chosen by the “Masters” of a “School of Wisdom” who can disembody themselves and who materialized in his study and told him he’d been under their guidance. He gave a formula of success that they gave to him to the business world which became the foundation of the whole Success Motivation, Positive Mental Attitude world out there.
Ankerberg: Clement Stone picked it up and put it into PMA, and what did Clement Stone say? What were some of the things that he said concerning what he had said?
Hunt: Well, that was a book that W. Clement Stone co-authored with Napoleon Hill, Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude. And this Positive Mental Attitude is the secret to the whole thing, because they said that our minds basically have all the power to create our own world. And that what we need to do is have a healthy ego, a self-esteem. We’ve got to build up our sense of our self-worth…
Ankerberg: To look inside ourselves.
Hunt: …because we are “It.” And ultimately, as we will see later, our goal is to become Masters of ourselves. This is what the “Masters” taught him. And we will ascend up to this higher plane through mind power and become masters of ourselves. So the whole thing centers in Self. This is what the Human Potential Movement is about, that we have an infinite power within us. Gloria Steinem, for example, editor of Ms. magazine, says, “By the year 2000, I have hopes that we will be able to educate our children to no longer believe in God, but to believe in human potential.” To believe in themselves, you see.
Now, that is what psychology is all about. All psychology can deal with is the self. It comes right out of the same occultism, actually, that Napoleon Hill got his information from. Carl Jung, for example, said that the whole subject of psychology is the human psyche. We’re studying the psyche. Psychology: knowledge about the psyche. But then it admitted that we don’t know what the psyche is. And we don’t know how it works and we’re trying to experiment and none of our experiments work. So finally we go into Eastern mysticism, which is what happened. So, this idea of “You’ve got to love yourself; you’ve got to have a high sense of self-esteem,” and so forth, has come into the Church.
Now, that began with another man, even earlier than Napoleon Hill, from the same source. His name was Freidrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche, of course, was a primary inspirer of Hitler. One of Nietzsche’s greatest books, titled Antichrist, that book begins with these words: “We must see ourselves for who we are.” And he goes on to explain who we are. It was Nietzsche who said, “Your problem is that you don’t love yourself enough. You actually hate yourself. Everybody’s born with a sense of self-hate.” That was elaborated upon by a psychologist named Erich Fromm. In 1947 he wrote a book called Man for Himself, and he elaborated on this theory that we all innately hate ourselves. “We need to, first of all, love ourselves—that’s the primary need that we have.” And he said, “Even Jesus taught this when He said, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Well, that’s not what Jesus said.
Ankerberg: No, it’s not.
Hunt: This was picked up by Robert Schuller, then. The first one in the Christian world, really, who wrote the book, Self-Love: The Dynamic Force of Success. And you will hear today from the best pulpits across America that our primary need, first of all, is that we’ve got to learn to love ourselves before we can love others or we can love God. Now, the person who says, “I hate myself! I’m so ugly! I’ve got such bad acne! I’m so fat! I’m so skinny! I just hate myself!” I say, “You don’t hate yourself. Were you ever upset because somebody you hated was ugly?” If you really hated yourself, you would be glad that you were ugly. The truth is, you love yourself and that’s why you’re concerned about your appearance. Don’t give me this nonsense about hating yourself. I’ll hang in there with the Bible. The Bible says, “No man ever yet hated his own flesh but nourisheth it and cherisheth it.” [Eph. 5:29]
Ankerberg: Okay, a lot of people jump off of the verse, though, Jesus said, “Love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, mind and soul and thy neighbor as thyself.” [Deut. 6:4; Matt. 22:37] So therefore they are saying, “You can’t love your neighbor until you love yourself, so therefore you have to have self-esteem in order to build up yourself and that’s biblical.” What would you say to that, Dave?
Hunt: Well, we are self-centered. This is why Jesus said to deny self. We are self-centered, self-serving individuals. We love ourselves. Jesus couldn’t say, “Do unto others as you would have them to unto you,” [Luke 6:31] if we all hated one another and were wanting to do ourselves in. We’d do others in, too. He couldn’t say, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself,” [Matt. 22:37] unless we already loved ourselves. Yet you’ve got any number of Christian psychologists that will tell us, “Our sense of self-love and self-worth is defective. We’ve got to build it up.”
Now, there’s a psychologist, David G. Meyers, who wrote a book called The Inflated Self. And in that book he says Jean Paul Codol, he was a French psychologist, “conducted 20 experiments with French people ranging from 12-year-old school children to adult professionals. Regardless of those involved in the experimental methods, the people’s self-perceived superiority was persistent constantly.” Now, they’ve given similar tests to American students, for example, those who take the SAT when you graduate from high school. And 829,000 high school seniors evaluated themselves in this particular test. In the ability to get along with others you had to evaluate yourself—how you get along with others as compared to how others get along with others—“Zero percent of the 829,000 students who responded rated themselves below average, 60 percent rated themselves in the top 10 percent, and 25 percent saw themselves among the top 1 percent.” Now, Dr. Meyers comments after—I mean, this is only one. I can give you any number of these things—he says, “Note how radically at odds this conclusion is with the popular wisdom that most of us suffer from low self-esteem. Preachers who deliver ego-boosting pep talks to audiences who are supposedly plagued with miserable self-images are preaching to a problem that seldom exists.”
You see, we’ve always known that “pride” is the besetting sin of the human race. I mean, I’ve been on my knees praying for humility and thought I got it and the next thing I knew I was proud I’d become so humble. Now, that’s the problem that we all have. We always knew that pride is the besetting sin. But the psychologists are telling us, “Oh, no, that’s not the problem. It’s not that you think too highly! We all think too lowly of ourselves! We all have a bad sense of self-worth and a bad self-image and we’ve got to build it up.” Otherwise, we couldn’t believe that God loves us unless we’re worth His love, you see?
Ankerberg: Give us an exact quote out of Possibility Thinking that you feel is in direct opposition to biblical theology.
Michaelsen: Well, I’ve got one right here. Where Dr. Schuller said, “Don’t fear pride. The easiest job God has is to humble us. God’s almost impossible task is to keep us believing every hour of every day how great we are as the sons and daughters on planet Earth.”
Hunt: I would say that’s just the opposite of what the Bible says.
Michaelsen: That’s exactly the opposite. Second Chronicles 7 says, “If my people will humble themselves before me, then I will listen….”
Ankerberg: Okay, to be fair, I’ve read the article that Schuller wrote. and I think that he would come back and he would say something like this, Dave. It’s not that he doesn’t believe that men have these problems. He does believe that they have it. What he’s saying is that he’s got a whole bunch of people saying, “I’m in Suicide 101 here! I have so many problems, I’m ready to cut out. I need help!” He’s saying, “You don’t help them by laying another guilt trip on them by saying ‘You’re going to hell! The fact is that your sins are going to pull you down and you are a dirty sinner,” and major on the sins. It’s not that he’s saying that he doesn’t believe that. He is simply saying we’ve got to take that and put it into a context for the secular mind to believe. So we’re going to talk about the potential that you have and we’re going to talk about how we can, with God’s help, make you a better person, etc. What would you say to that?
Hunt: Well, I’ve dealt with such people myself. Here’s a typical case of a man who was threatening suicide because of all the mistakes he had made in his life; a wasted life, and so forth. And he said, “I hate myself!” Well, I said, “If you hate yourself, you would only be too glad to stand in a public courtroom and expose yourself and admit all that you’ve done wrong and go to prison for it; and you’d be happy to see yourself suffer in prison, if you really hate yourself. But you’re doing everything you can to twist your way out of this and not admit it. But you keep saying you hate yourself. You don’t hate yourself! You love yourself!”
Now, we had a young man, for example, hang himself in a tree on a university campus just a block from where I live. Why did he go to the university campus and hang himself? Well, suicide, to a lot of people is an escape method. You don’t help somebody you hate “escape;” you’d rather see yourself tortured by living. Why are you going to help yourself escape if you hate yourself? But it’s the ultimate act of self. It’s a twisted, demented view, but that young man was delivering a message to some professor on that campus.
I used to own a convalescent hospital. I’ve seen elderly patients literally will themselves to die and refuse to eat, not because they hated themselves, but because they were getting back at their children who put them in there and wouldn’t come and visit them. You see? It’s the ultimate act of self.
Ankerberg: Okay. What is the biblical answer? Because we’re not trying to punch holes at anybody here and we’re certainly not trying to be divisive. You have brought this up because you simply believe it’s not biblical. So what is the biblical answer to this?
Hunt: What we need to do is turn that person from themselves, either self derogation or building up self. Let’s be done with self and let’s turn from self to the Lord. And let’s get our eyes upon Him and realize that as a Christian I am crucified with Christ. The power is not in me and myself. Jeremiah 10:23 says, “For I know it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” The answer is not in me; it’s in the Lord. And if he doesn’t know Christ, he needs to invite Christ into his heart. But to start building up his sense of self-worth and self-esteem is absolutely the opposite you will get anywhere in the Bible.
For example, the turning point in Job’s life, how did that come? Job said, “I’ve heard of thee with the hearing of the ear. Now mine eyes seeth thee. Wherefore I hate myself and I repent in dust and ashes.” [Job 42:5-6] And I don’t read that God said, “Job, you’ve got a bad self-image. We’ve got to build it up.” That was a turning point in his life. And if you want to get an accurate self-image, don’t look in the mirror and build up yourself, but get a view of Him. And Isaiah said in Isaiah 6, “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw the Lord… high and lifted up…. And I saw His glory, and I said, ‘Woe is me! I am undone….” [Isa. 6:1-5] So, we need to realize that we are sinners. We need to realize that we cannot do it. And Paul said, “When I am weak, then am I strong.” [2 Cor. 12:10] And Jesus said to him, “My strength is made perfect in your weakness.” [2 Cor. 12:9] But we’re being deprived of the power of God in our lives by building up self. And it’s not biblical.
Ankerberg: Okay. Dave, I can hear people out there that are saying, “Hey, you’re trying to drag us back to that old ‘worm’ theology. You’re trying to put us into the negative pits! Why are you so negative? How can you be against all of the good Christian guys on television that are trying to lift our spirits and build up self? You know, I really appreciated what they did and now you’re giving me the opposite side and putting a guilt trip on me. How can you do this to me?”
Hunt: Well, that’s what a lot of people say. And they’ll say, for example, “Well, I don’t see how anything could be wrong with what he or she teaches, because he’s so positive.” I don’t like those words “positive” and “negative.” You’ve just punched a button in me, John. It sounds like electricity. It has nothing to do with morals. It has nothing to do with whether it is biblical or whether it is true or false. It is a smokescreen to keep us from realizing the real issue is, is what they are saying biblical or not? Is it true or is it false? And people come out with this, “Oh, it’s so positive.”
The idea that positive is always right and negative is always wrong, where did that come from? Go back to the Garden of Eden. You want to know who was negative there? God was as negative as you can get. He said, “There’s a tree in the middle of this Garden and if you eat of it, I’m warning you, it’s going to kill you.” [Gen 2:17] And the positive guy was Satan. He said, “Don’t worry about it. It’s okay. Everything’s going to be all right. You’re going to become gods.” [Gen 3:4-5] You go to Matthew 16 and Jesus was very negative. He said, “You know, I’m going to Jerusalem and they’re going to kill me.” [Matt. 16:21] And Peter was very positive. He said, “Oh, no, Lord. I know it’s been going tough for you lately and you’re really down, but you’ve got to keep a stiff upper lip and look on the bright side of life and have a Positive Confession and it’s going to be okay.” [Matt. 16:22] And you know what Jesus said to him, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” [Matt. 16:23]
So, this “positive-negative” you won’t find in the Bible. Of course, that rings a bell with ideas like “Positive Thinking,” because, you see, the power’s in our minds. So if we think positive thoughts or if we think negative thoughts, it’s going to make us what we’re thinking.
Ankerberg: People will even use the verse, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” [Prov. 23:7] and say, “You’ve got to program your mind with positive thoughts. What’s wrong with that?”
Hunt: Well, you’ve just misquoted the Scriptures. And I have never yet found a theologian, a pastor, anybody who quotes that right. I mean, I’ve asked a large audience of a thousand people and not one could tell me how you misquoted it and you did it deliberately. That’s the way everybody says it, and you’ve heard it wrong so often, you don’t know what it really says. And the impression is that “As a man thinketh,” well you can change what you are by changing your thinking. But it doesn’t say that. That’s Proverbs 23. And Solomon is giving a specific example and he is saying to his son, “You know, after I’m dead and you’re head of state and you’re out there hobnobbing with big wheels—you know, kings and so forth—and they invite you in to a feast and this man says, ‘Eat up and fill yourself and we’ll be buddies and we’ll make a pact and so forth,’ don’t believe what he says. You cannot go by what he says by his words, for as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Far from telling you that you can change yourself by changing your thinking, he is warning you that you don’t know what is really going on in a person’s heart and you’d better be very careful.
Ankerberg: And yet we use that verse all the time to reinforce the fact that if you can change the thoughts in your mind, you can change yourself, which is not even biblical.
Hunt: It’s taken out of context. Another one is, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” [Phil. 4:13] I believe that. That’s a favorite verse that people quote. But they don’t give you the context. Paul is writing that from prison. I just spent some time in the Soviet Union a few weeks ago, and I can tell you, I visited Christians who are suffering. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” but he wrote it from prison and he says, “I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content. I know how to be abased and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be empty, both to abound and to suffer need.” [Phil 4:11-12] Then he says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” [Phil. 4:13] Obviously, he is emphasizing the suffering, the deprivation. But the people who quote this only give you one side of this. It’s always success, power, positive.
Michaelsen: And the rationale is, “Well, look, all the people in the world have been so bludgeoned and bloodied by people slamming their Bibles at them and saying, ‘Thus saith the Lord!’” You know, I’ve had people to approach me that way, Dave, when I was involved in the occult and seeking to better myself and to think positively and to overcome my problems. And they would come to me and they would say, “Turn or burn,” you know “thus saith the Lord.” And I said, “Forget it!” So that when somebody like Schuller comes and says, “Look, the people out in the world want to hear that they are on a better path. They want to hear that things are going to get better. They don’t want to hear that they are sinners on their way to hell. What we’re going to do is slip the Gospel in. Positivize it. Make it appealing to them.”
And so they’re buying that; and yet what he has done is given them a terrible disservice. He’s given them half the Gospel. Sincerely, not meaning to offend people, but he’s given them half the Gospel. Because unless you tell people the truth—that Jesus said, “Unless you believe I am He you will die in your sins;” [John 8:24] unless he tells people that Jesus said, “There is a terrible place, and you don’t want to go to it. Iam the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by Me.” [John 14:6]
That may seem very narrow-minded, dogmatic and negative to many people, but it’s the truth. And unless we speak that truth, we have not loved them, we have not given them the Gospel and as positive as we may have wanted to be, we’ve done them a terribly negative disservice.
Ankerberg: You also have to think of the fact that if he is sincere in trying to attract them to the Gospel, there has to be a time when you do tell them. Let’s say they come in, okay. There’s a time when everybody’s got to hit that verse that Jesus said, “If you want to follow me, you must deny yourself, take up the cross and follow me daily,” [Luke 9:23] okay? And you’ve got to get around to that.
Hunt: But that’s negative, John. That’s awfully negative.
Ankerberg: That is negative. But the thing of it is that that is also the truth, alright.
Hunt: Right!
Ankerberg: So where do we tell them that story? Do we entice them in with the good things and then when they get in we say, “Now let me tell you the real scoop”? That would be unethical. But let’s move on. The fact is this positive-negative thing goes back into the occult world which parallels this kind of thinking. Can you give us an illustration?
Hunt: Well, what the occult world is seeking to do is to manipulate reality; in fact, to create reality. It’s based upon an old Hindu belief that there’s nothing out there. It’s maya, it’s an illusion. This, of course, is where Mary Baker Eddy got the idea there’s no sin, pain, disease or death; it’s an illusion of mortal mind. It’s the Adam-Man thinking this. And there are three methods in the occult—been there for thousands of years—for manipulating reality. Thinking—we’ve been talking about it; the thoughts you think will make you what you are. More powerful is speaking—if you enunciate it, this is making a “positive confession” now, and you speak this out, that is going to change reality….
Michaelsen: Because the vibrations themselves have power. That’s the whole basis for mantras and repetition over and over again, to generate enough psychic force and power so that you create it and bring it into existence by the force of your words.
Hunt: Right. I could quote any number of leaders out there in the Christian world who say….
Ankerberg: Just give me a few.
Hunt: Well, Charles Capps, for example, says, “Words are the most powerful thing in the universe.” Now we’ve got a thing even more powerful than God called “Words.” He says, “Words are containers. They contain faith. God is a faith God.” Well, who does God have faith in? You see, faith is no longer in God, but it becomes a power that we aim at God to make God do what we want Him to do when we believe that He is going to do it. So, basically, it’s mind power. If I can make anything happen by believing it will happen, that has nothing to do with the grace of God or the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, but my mind power, you see?
Michaelsen: And mind power translates that into “witchcraft,” because that’s precisely what you’re talking about: the manipulation of a neutral force—what Ernest Holmes called “The Thing.” “Learn to manipulate and deal with ‘The Thing’ itself”—this great force, which, of course, is the basis for Norman Vincent Peale’s….
Ankerberg: Okay. We’re going to go into this more in depth because we’re losing some people on this and I don’t want to hurry through it. But give us a “positive” word; give us a word of affirmation from the Scripture, if you will….
Michaelsen: A “positive confession”?
Ankerberg: Yeah. I see people are getting frightened by what you are saying. Because if this is creeping into the Church, and it’s not biblical, we’ve got to come back to why is that creeping into the Church, and you’re saying that this is part of the “big lie,” which we’re going to get to as we go on through these programs. But I want a word that brings us back to the truth. Can you give us that, Dave?
Hunt: Well, we need to get back to the Word of God. Don’t take my word for it. Be like the Bereans, who wouldn’t even accept what the great Apostle Paul said because of who he was, but they “searched the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” [Acts 17:11] And part of the problem is, we’re following some great person on television or in a pulpit or whatever. We need to get back to the Word of God. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them,… and a stranger they will not follow but will flee from the voice of strangers…. And I give my sheep eternal life and they will never perish.” [John 10:5, 27-28] And it’s very significant that Jesus talks about people who in that day will say, “Lord, Lord, didn’t we do miracles in your name? Didn’t we prophesy in your name? Didn’t we cast out devils in your name? I will say to them, ‘I never knew you.’” [Matt. 7:22-23] And Jesus said, “This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” [John 17:3] We’ve got to want to know Him, and He said, “When you seek for me with all your heart, you will find me.” [Jer. 29:13] Instead of seeking ourselves, trying to get in touch with ourselves and finding out who we are and in touch with our feelings, which is what the New Age says—you are separated from your higher self—we’re separated from God by sin. We need to have a thirst and a passion to know Him and come to Him for who He is and on His terms.
Ankerberg: Okay, we’re going to talk in the next weeks to come about the parallel lines here between the occult as well as what’s happening in the Church. What’s happening in the secular society and the New Age movement, as you term it, as well as what’s happening in the Church and such things as the Positive Confession movement and other things. So please stick with us.

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