Ligon Duncan on the Non-Negotiables of the Gospel

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  • Friday, June 20, 2008

    Dr. Wayne Dyer vs. Christianity

    Dr. Wayne W. Dyer is another of the self help gurus touted by Oprah. Let's compare him with Christianity.

    Nature of God:
    Dyer - God is an energy field. God can also be equated with soul, spirit, cousciousness. God is always creating and loving and it excludes no one. It is a source that has no judgment.
    Christianity - God is divine. God is personal. God judges between right and wrong, good and evil. Only those who walk in truth and righteousness may abide with him.

    Nature of Creation:
    Dyer - Everyone and everything that shows up in the world of form in this universe originates not from a particle, as quantum physics teaches us, but from an energy field.
    Christianity - God (a personal, intelligent, creator-designer) is the creator of the universe. In Him we live, and move, and have our being.

    Nature of the Universe:
    Dyer - The universe is friendly.
    Christianity - The world was created good, but due to sin displays a curse as evident in such things as simply as loss and deterioration but also in destruction and death.

    Providence:
    Dyer - Attitude is everything, so pick a good one. Attitude determines things. So, it's really about modeling it and letting people know you are an inspired person, a person who is in spirit, and then those forces that Carl Jung called synchronicity begin to show up and, lo and behold, the universe provides for you.
    Christianity - God preserves and governs all his creatures and all their actions. God is sovereign and controls all things regardless of man's attempt at "positive thinking".

    Ontology / Future:
    Dyer - Man came from nowhere. We show up, and we are now here. It's all the same. It just is a question of spacing. While we are in the "now here," we all contemplate where we are going. Where we are going is back to the "nowhere."
    Christianity - Man was created by God, possesses real being (soul & body), and will be raised at the final judgment to spend eternity with God or in hell.

    Nature of Man:
    Dyer - You are a divine, infinite creation making the choice to be on purpose and to be connected to the power of intention. It all revolves around your being harmoniously connected to your Source. who you are is a piece of God—who you are is a piece of the source
    Christianity - Man is a finite creature subject to limitations, whose purpose is derived from and directed toward his creator, who is the source of all life, sufficiency and truth.

    Humanity's Purpose & Philosophy:
    Dyer - Happiness. Enjoyment. Feeling good is what you should be doing every day of your life.. Enjoy the moment, because that is all you have. You never are going to arrive someplace else.
    Christianity - Glorify God. Holiness. Our present choices have consequences. Our future is real.

    Purpose in Business:
    Dyer - Retailers should not be filling their minds with all the things that are wrong, with how the economy is going, or with trying to get someplace in the business world. They should enjoy being in this moment and in this day and serving the people who come in.
    Chrisianity - In serving God through business, wisdom does not deny or reject evaluation and assessment of what is revealed in providence. In addition to serving God and serving others, there is a place within righteousness for goal setting.

    Humanity's problem:
    Dyer - Not being in harmony with his inner self.
    Christianity - Not being in harmony with God (Creator, Ruler, Judge).

    Guilt:
    Dyer - Guilt from everything you did in the past should not affect the present moment.
    Christianiity - Guilt does not go away simply by wishing it away. Removal of guilt involves confession, redemption, restitution, etc.

    Salvation (solving humanity's problem):
    Dyer - Man simply needs to go to the source of himself and get realigned
    Christianity - Man needs to look outside himself to the gift of salvation that God offers based on the substitutionary atonement of Christ.

    Dealing with Fear:
    Dyer - Just say "I want to feel good."
    Christianity - "Ultimately" God works all things for the good of those who love him. While humanly speaking there are reasons to fear, a purpose for fear, and even good that can result from fear (physically speaking); in the end God has not given his people a spirit of fear, but of love, power and discipline.


    Dyer thinks he's received riches because he's gotten in touch with himself and therefore the world serves him. The truth is he's received riches because he speaks the message of the world to the world and they reward him for telling them what they want to hear - "God does not judge"; "Sin and guilt are not a problem"; "Man's only goal is to be happy"; "Man can achieve this happiness and the problems he faces are not problems, just issues they can deny or quit creating."

    As August so astutely put it in regard to Tolle, the same applies to Dyer and those confronted with the difference between Christianity and New Age Philosophy: It is decision time. Who will you follow? There's a fork in the road. It matters where you put your trust!

    9 comments:

    August said...

    Good work swordbearer.

    It is a fork in the road indeed.

    Pro 1:28 Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me.
    Pro 1:29 Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD,
    Pro 1:30 would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof,
    Pro 1:31 therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices.

    ImAskepticToo said...

    From one skeptic to another re the question of cults:

    The indoctrination practices of Christianity are indistinguishable from any other cult.

    How can I qualify this statement?

    According to the Grolier Encyclopedia, brainwashing involves two aspects: the confession of past crimes or errors, and re-education to new beliefs. Victims of brainwashing are "brought to confess" by "isolation from familiar surroundings", and a "routine requiring absolute obedience and humility", and "social pressure" from other victims with whom they are in contact. "The last includes mutual criticism and self-criticism sessions, which play particularly on the generalized guilt feeling that all people have to some extent. At the same time regular indoctrination sessions are conducted. The acceptance of the new ideas is again fostered by group pressure and the anticipated reward of freedom."

    These are the methods of Christianity.

    More from Grolier Encyclopedia: "Improved understanding of psychology and neurophysiology have enabled modern totalitarian regimes to create extremely effective brainwashing programs. Some of their techniques, however, have been used for centuries; the INQUISITION, for example, elicited confessions from alleged heretics by similar methods. In the context of religion, some scholars have noted a parallel between brainwashing for political purposes and the techniques used by some religious groups to generate religious excitement and conversion."

    Again, Christianity. The parallel is observable in religions that use physical means (such as scourging, singing, rhythmic movement, dancing and drumming) to induce a trancelike state in which the individual is open to conversion. It is also apparent in the mind-control practices of some of the modern religions prevalent in the United States and elsewhere, most notably the People's Temple group of Guyana, whose 900 person membership committed mass suicide in 1978.

    What happens to individuals who have been psychologically abused and morally betrayed by
    fundamentalist cult-like churches? How can they recover from the damage done? Physically leaving a church is relatively easy, but the emotional and psychological departure can take months or even years. This is why it is hard to understand how any person can stay under a state of religious influence - much the same way that people fail to see how battered women stay with their abusers.

    Such dysfunctional and destructive cults of religion (whether Hari Krishna's, Moonies, Branch Davidians, Heaven's Gate or Fundamentalist Christians) often use manipulation, fear, and deception to maintain a hold on members. They also shower their prey with unbelievable amounts of affection and approval for staying in the group and meeting their expectations ("love-bombing"). The religious cults discourage members from receiving information from the outside. Thus it becomes a sin to read any "worldly" publications or "spiritual pornography." Cults establish their own distinction between right and wrong, good and evil; everything in the group is positive (godly), and doubts, and serious questions are not tolerated. The authority of the group's leadership is virtually absolute. All problems are oversimplified and deflected either away from the group or back towards the individual (this is a methodology that is called conflict isolation).

    It is no wonder, therefore, that the religiously abused frequently suffer from emotional and psychological problems. It is high time that our society recognizes and deals with religious abuse as a social-psychological disorder in itself.

    swordbearer said...

    Your argument has been dealt with before. All one has to do is google "Christianity cults" to see various sites that deal with it, such as http://www.rationalchristianity.net/xian_cult.html, etc.

    It's evident why you arrive at the conclusion you do, it begins with your presupposition... you even begin by suggesting Christianity is a cult. (or at least that it's indoctrination practices are indistiguishable from any other cult", ... without any discussion or distinguishing of truth from non-truth, or addressing motives, end results, etc., and other things which differ between Christianity and cults.

    Your major concern rather than with what society does... should be with God whose word not only speaks to the unbelieving and rebellious nature of those who hold presuppositions like yours (and thereby exhibit the truthfulness of his word) but also speaks to the gracious offer of the gospel and both the condition and power through which you can be transformed for good through the renewing of your mind.

    Benjamin said...

    I happen to LOVE Dr. Wayne Dyer and all of his teachings! And I don't see how they don't fit in with Christianity.
    Anyone who loves Wayne Dyer please visit my new blog at:

    www.LikeFreshAir.blogspot.com

    Hope you enjoy it!

    Puritan Lad said...

    Benjamin: "I happen to LOVE Dr. Wayne Dyer and all of his teachings! And I don't see how they don't fit in with Christianity."

    Response: If you would answer the question that I asked you in the other post, this would become quite obvious. How do the teachings of Dyer and Tolle account for the miserable wickedness of humanity and it need for a holy and righteous God? How would you approach such a God Benjamin? How would anyone dare do so?

    Floyd said...

    Dyer:

    "Your mine and your thoughts are also thoughts of the divine mind." Dr. Wayne Dyer - The Power of Intention. pp 14.

    God:

    For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your way My ways" declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8 NAS

    For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9 NAS

    Hmmm?? Who's right? You decide. Personally I'm going with God.

    Spitfireatme said...

    "How do the teachings of Dyer and Tolle account for the miserable wickedness of humanity and it need for a holy and righteous God? How would you approach such a God Benjamin? How would anyone dare do so?"

    Perhaps we can not think of humanity as being so wicked, as this tends to create a self-fulfilling prophecy of "I'm wicked, therefore I'll do wicked things" instead of "I'm good, I'm going to do good things and trust that others are also good". I also think the paradigm shift needs to be towards a non-violent, non-coercive, unconditionally loving God who doesn't punish us for doing bad things but allows doing bad things to be punishment in themselves (there is an intrinsic punishment for doing bad things which is inflicted within, rather than an extrinsic punishment inflicted from without). Dyer is drawing from a lot of Eastern philosophical and religious traditions, as especially when he says, "Your mind and your thoughts are also thoughts of the divine mind", which relates to the Hindu idea that we are each a self (Atman/Person) of the larger Self (Brahman/God), whereby we are distinct but connected spiritually, just as we are connected in the physical world but separate.

    I think Dyer's work is good and to be viewed as a gift rather than a threat, in which he is saying very good things in much concord with Jesus. Also, according to Kohlberg's stages of moral development, the highest moral level is doing things not because you fear punishment but because you believe them to be right; doing good just to be good. So Dyer is working out of an advanced morality of being in tune with his heart and love. To think positively is to manifest loving actions, which is to "do unto others what you would have done to yourself". No one wants to listen to a sourpuss or someone who is violent in their words; Dr. Dyer is trying to eliminate obligation in order to have us be freely good, as opposed to being good out of fear.

    Peace, love, kindness,
    -Paul!

    Ason said...

    I am sure many of you will find this hard to believe, but reading Dyer and Tolle have actually made me feel closer to Christ and Christianity again. I have long since left the Church because of what I can simply define now as 'ego'. Recognizing the 'ego' in the Church body allows me to look beyond it to God's true message of peace and love and actually appreciate it again. I also believe that some of the points in this blog are incorrect. Dyer doesn't believe that the purpose of life is happiness, he believes that the purpose of life is to fufill the purpose that you were chosen for. (Inspiration). By being "in-Spirit" (or in Christian terms, "Listening to the Holy Spirit"), we will fufill our purpose in this life. I suggest reading his books instead of this blog for an accurate picture. You will find that the two are not so far apart.

    With that said, I don't mirror Dyer or Tolle's beliefs completely (i.e. I do not believe that I AM God), but for me, this is the only material that has appealed to me in a LONG time and for that I am thanking God.

    Puritan Lad said...

    Ason,

    How do you know that the spirit you are listening to is the Holy Spirit? What objective standard will you appeal to in order to answer the most important question?