Are you thinking “what?!” – But yes, in essence, the roots of this is magic. It is rooted in mystic and occultic subcultures of the late 19th century that were far from Christian. See my review of Joel Osteen’s book here: The Power of I Am by Joel Osteen, book review. In part, I share this:
According to Osteen, words have creative power. They are like electricity. “You have to send your words out in the direction you want your life to go.” (pg 42) You must “invite” good things into your life through the power of your words. Positive words about yourself will bring health, strength, and abundance your way. Negative words invite struggle and lack. “Nothing happens until you speak.” (pg 35)
Whoa, my friends. Whoa. Joel Osteen is a Christian who pastors a Christian church. The book frequently references characters from the Bible, and random Bible verses are referenced to provide support. Analysis of that will follow in part 2. But for now…
Words have creative power and we “send them out” to bring good into our life? As I read Osteen, his words were eerily familiar to me. Why? I recently wrote a book where I researched the history of the positive thinking movement. The philosophy Osteen is promoting about the power of our thoughts/words comes from the “New Thought” mind-power movement of the late 19th century.
Far from Christian, this movement was birthed in occultic and mystical subcultures, with influences from eastern religion as well. The “god” of this movement was viewed as an impersonal force, and not as a personal being. Thoughts were perceived as “things” with a mystical type of causative power to influence reality and “attract” events to your life. Perhaps you have heard the phrase “law of attraction” which has been re-popularized in our day through author Rhonda Byrne and her book The Secret. The seeds of the modern New Age movement are from the late 19th century New Thought movement as well.
Maybe you think I am going off the deep end here. Am I accusing Osteen of being into the occult or New Age? No!
But having recently read original source material from both historical and modern New Thought/Law of Attraction movements, Osteen’s teachings clearly echo it.
Ralph Waldo Trine was a prolific New Thought writer of 100 years ago. Listen to Trine’s words: “Send out your thought–thought is a force, and it has occult power of unknown proportions when rightly used and wisely directed–send out your thought that the right situation or the right work will come to you at the right time, in the right way…”
That. is. Joel. Osteen.
As said, I am truly not saying Osteen is into that stuff. Rather he has been influenced by it, whether he realizes it or not. We have all been influenced by it. The New Thought movement eventually became the positive thinking movement of the mid-twentieth century and transformed American culture.
I think Osteen is a naturally optimistic type of guy, and it was easy for him to inadvertently (?) blend “thought power” with Christianity.
However, that does not work.
When you blend two things whose core teachings contradict each other, this creates a myriad of problems. You end up with a weakened Christianity, whose tenets are undermined, and with distortions of Christian belief.
Learn more in my book, entitled:
Positively Powerless, How a Forgotten Movement Undermined Christianity.
Note that most of the history I present (interestingly done) is in the first chapter. The rest of the book can be described as about practical Christian living. In a culture that encourages us to focus on ourselves and our thoughts, I pray to help you be re-established in a Christ-centered life.
“Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus…” (Hebrews 3:1).