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As soon as it became clear that The Secret was being read by millions, Christianity Today was inundated with email queries. Writers were pacing nervously, hoping for the chance to pen the first scathing review.

As with many books in the spirituality/self-help genre, it's not hard to spot theological flaws. They jump up and down, crying to be spanked. But the book's flaws interest me less than our reactions to it. What I see—in myself, at least— is disdain and fear.

Disdain starts with Oprah: If Oprah-of-the-Fuzzy-Spirituality likes it, it can't be good. Add to that the picture of millions reading this book, imbibing its positive-thinking, self-absorbed principles—well, we can't help but think of them as naïve, poor slobs who have fallen for the pitch and potions of a traveling medicine man.

We struggle to conceive of the book being liked by anyone of intelligence, certainly not a card-carrying evangelical like one of my friends, a devout Christian and faithful church member, well-read in evangelical literature—the very one who told me how much she liked the message of The Secret.

This brings us to fear. With its sweeping promises of wealth and happiness ("As you learn The Secret, you will come to know how you can have, be, or do anything you want"), The Secret will surely seduce people, perhaps even faithful disciples of Jesus, away from the faith once delivered to the saints.

The Secret says suffering, as the product of bad thinking, is not redemptive but a huge waste of psychic energy. If this book's author has her way, what would happen to the theology of the Cross? Suffering is essential to salvation and spiritual growth, isn't it? I mean Christ died for our sins; we are to crucify the flesh. And ...

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SoulWork
In "SoulWork," Mark Galli brings news, Christian theology, and spiritual direction together to explore what it means to be formed spiritually in the image of Jesus Christ.
Mark Galli
Mark Galli is Editor of Christianity Today in Carol Stream, Illinois.
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