Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ellen G. White and the Positive Thinking Movement

Christian approaches to the role of the mind and the power of positive thinking may seem like odd bedfellows to some. Nevertheless, Norman Vincent Peale (Power of Positive Living,) Robert Schuller (Move Ahead With Possibility Thinking ,) and Joel Osteen (Your Best Life Now) are examples of past and present Christian ministers who brought this approach to large numbers of people.

The secular world also has its gurus that promote positive thinking. Louise Haye (You Can Heal you Life Now), Wayne Dyer (Inspiration : your Ultimate Calling) and of course, Rhonda Byrne (The Secret).

Without having read Schuller's work I became aware of his popular book in the early 70s as I was canvassing door to door with Adventist literature. One of the couples I met spoke to me enthusiastically about the power of positive thinking. I had already been thinking along those lines although I cannot pinpoint how I arrived at such an attitude. I know I believed deeply in positive thinking as I had just converted the year before to Christianity and everything seemed suddenly sunnier in spite of the imperfections of young adult life continuing in my own life.

Actually, come to think of it, a year before the encounter with the lady who was a Robert Schuller fan, I had taken part in The Positive Way at Atlantic Union College. Most of it was based on Glenn Coon's system of claiming bible promises. The other significant component was Ellen G. White's Christ Object Lessons. However, because of limited free time due to school work it was not actually studied in the course even though it was handed out as one of the seminar materials.

I lost my original paperback copy years ago and I recently purchased a hard cover version of this excellent book. I read it for a bit then became sidetracked with other spiritual books, and the greatest side tracker of them all, the Bible.

In Ellen White's time the positive thinking movement, or the New Thought Movement, had its beginnings. I know that because contemporaries of Ellen White's are the ones mentioned in Rhonda Byrne's The Secret. One example might be William Walker Atkinson (1862–1932) who wrote and published Thought Vibration or the Law of Attraction in the Thought World. Three of its tenets that can be found in Ellen White's work are the following: 1) divinely attuned thought is a positive force for good, 2) all disease is mental in origin and 3) right thinking has a healing effect.

My recent fascination with wanting to read Christ's Object Lessons stems from trying to find these and other New Thought movement influences in Ellen White's work, especially Christ's Object Lessons. Of course, she focuses on Christ's parables and not just on positive thinking for the sake of positive thinking.

Recently I reached for Christ's Object Lessons again and am looking forward to studying its life-affirming chapters because of a fascination with how Ellen White approaches the positive thinking lifestyle.


Anonymous said...

I'm wondering about "The Secret" and how it explains bringing things to people by "asking the Universe" instead of asking the Lord. The Universe is an inanimate object. Is this a violation of the first Commandment: "Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me"? I believe in the Law of Attraction, but I fear I may be involved in idol worship. Please respond!

Raul Batista (Varonelo) said...

Dear Anonymous,thank you for taking time to visit my blog and ask a question.

I believe The Secret is a stepping stone for those who do not have a religious framework in their lives. The book is written very carefully so as not to scare off those who don't believe in God, but it tries to cater to believers as well by including "Ask and you shall receive" from Matthew 7:7.

If you are a Christian, you would be better off if you consulted any of the books I mention in the post under consideration. I like Joel Osteen's books quite a bit and like watching him weekly on his tv program. It encourages me and helps me to keep the positive principles of the Law of Attraction from a Christian perspective.

Once you are aware of the basic principles of the Law of Attraction and Positive Thinking, you will be amazed as you read the Bible, especially the Psalms, and find lots of examples of The Law of Attraction right in the bible. My favorite example is "Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life ..." Psalms 23. If that is not The Law of Attraction in practice, what is?

It sounds like you are concerned about breaking the first commandment. It's good to have such a concern. I wish you God's blessings as you realign your way of thinking towards a Christian version of the Law of Attraction.