The Secret, A Course in Miracles, and Oprah Winfrey
I believe any individual today who does a moderate bit of research over the internet regarding some ideas they’ve heard expressed on the Oprah Winfrey show, or to follow-up on certain individuals she’s had on the show will find a great deal of hubbub going on regarding these practices and ideas she’s promoting. Even without being a viewer of the Oprah Winfrey show many people today are catching wind of some very influential books on the market such as The Secret, A Course in Miracles, and New Earth.
This has made a significant ripple in the Christian world as well. Many different Protestant and Catholics have been quite outspoken regarding the ideology of these movements of thought and the individuals behind them as well. Names like Ekart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, and sometimes Esther Hicks speak of individuals who have become very influential not only in the secular world but among many Christians as well. The raging debate with the methods being taught by these individuals and the Christian collective is most starkly summed up, from a Christian standpoint, as the fight between New Age and Christianity. This new movement of thought permeates Christian thought on a much more widescale level because this latest movement incorporates many ideas of Christianity and yet reconstructs its tenants to also incorporate other world faith views and ideas as well as New Age beliefs. Through an a la carte potpourri of tenants, ideas, and world religious mantras, this new breed of spiritual self-help guru’s is having a widespread effect on the beliefs and ideas of the Christian populace.
In order to clarify this position and to create a factual basis for these statements, I’ve selected a short list of quotes regarding this movement and its influence.
First, I’ll discuss The Secret. It deals, primarily, with what’s called the Law of Attraction. According to a foremost former New Age “evangelist” Sharon Lee Giganti the Law of Attraction was “the premiere teaching of a channeled spirit called Abraham” whom Giganti herself used to follow. She also states that, “although this was only mentioned once or twice in The Secret the media picked up on this and it was dubbed, ‘the Secret behind The Secret.'” The spirit “Abraham” was channeled through Esther Hicks. Esther Hicks was a narrator and star of the original version of the film The Secret, as well as a central source of the film’s inspiration. The Hicks’ books, including the best-selling series The Law of Attraction, are — according to Esther Hicks — “translated from a group of non-physical entities called Abraham (Hicks describes what she is doing as tapping into “infinite intelligence”). After a contract dispute with the writer of The Secret the source of the inspiration for it, Abraham – via Hicks – no longer appear in the film version.
“A Course in Miracles (which encompasses a textbook, a workbook for students, and a manual for teachers), [was] authored by research psychologist Helen Schucman. Dr. Schucman maintained that between 1965 and 1972 an “inner voice” (which she identified as Jesus) dictated the material to her, which she took down in shorthand and transcribed into what was eventually published as A Course in Miracles.”  “It’s been widely promoted by Oprah, and as of January 2008, she now has Marianne Williamson, the Course’s leading spokesperson, teaching this “Course” on her world-wide XM radio show.”,
“The teachings of A Course in Miracles [claims] that: Jesus was NOT God, the devil does not exist, and there’s no such thing as evil, or “sin” especially original sin, that man’s fall from Grace in the Garden of Eden never happened— (preface, pg. xiii) and that Holy Scripture cannot be trusted, as Christ’s apostles misinterpreted his message and taught in error. (text pgs. 94 & 95) Everything you see around you is an illusion,(lesson #14 and throughout) that sin and guilt are not real but, “solely an invention in your own mind”(lesson #70) that, you can neither hurt others, nor be hurt (text pg. 96 and throughout)… that “you can and should deny any belief that error can hurt you”… the false promise that: if you see your neighbor as sinless, “you will be released entirely from all effects of sin” (text pg. 474) that “the reality of everything is total harmlessness” (text pg. 158) … that you alone are the sole cause of anything hurtful that’s ever happened to you (lesson #23, #304, and throughout) … that, “The world you see has nothing to do with reality. It is of your own making, and it does not exist.”(lesson #14 and throughout) ”  One of the more startling teachings within the course as “the 14th lesson, which is to be accepted as true by the student, reads as follows: “With eyes closed, think of all the horrors in the world that cross your mind. Name each one as it occurs to you, and then deny its’ reality. God did not create it, and so it is not real. Say for example: God did not create that war, and so it is not real. God did not create that airplane crash, and so it is not real. God did not create that disaster, and so it is not real. Suitable subjects for the application of today’s idea also include: Anything you are afraid might happen to you, or to anyone about whom you are concerned.” Another startling teaching for anyone familiar with the gospel of Mark 5:9 and Luke 8:30 is the teaching included in the teachers manual that states, “helpers are given you in many forms… their names are LEGION.”
Fr. Benedict Groeschel, a Capuchin Order Roman Catholic priest, knew the medium Helen Schucman personally — was at her bedside when she was dying— and has stated that, by the end of her life, she was almost completely overcome by rage (against all things spiritual—especially the “Course in Miracles” which she used to curse!) and [was in] the blackest depression he had ever seen. According to Fr. Benedict Groeschel’s point of view, “A Course In Miracles served to undermine authentic Christianity more effectively than just about any other work he could recall…” Fr. Groeschel shares his story concerning Helen in an interview, “No less fascinating to the priest was the sharp distinction between Schucman’s own stated convictions and the contents of A Course in Miracles. ‘I hate that d___ book’, she often told him, and regularly disavowed its teachings. Most troubling to him by far was the ‘black hole of rage and depression she fell into during the last two years of her life’, the priest explained. She had become frightening to be with, Groeschel recalled, spewing psychotic hatred not only for A Course in Miracles but ‘for all things spiritual.’ When he sat at Schucman’s bedside as she lay dying, ‘she cursed, in the coarsest barroom language you could imagine, ‘that book, that g__d___ book’. ‘She said it was the worst thing that ever happened to her. I mean, it raised the hair on the back of my neck. It was truly terrible to witness.’ , 
Ekart Tolle’s book A New Earth was also promoted by Oprah. “Tolle himself doesn’t align with any one religion but blends tenets of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Sufism, Christianity and other faiths. A review in The Vancouver Sun said of Tolle: “His spiritual outlook has become more complex since (his earlier book) The Power of Now, when he dismissed external reality as an illusion and made it sound as if ‘living in the now’ was a panacea for all the world’s problems. …”In addition, Tolle believes outer realities — including politics, war, poverty and even the climate — will magically be transformed when individuals change their inner consciousness. This may be true, but only to an extent.” The reason Tolle’s psychology and spirituality is marketed so easily is that it is an eclectic mix of conventional and unconventional wisdom, and Western and Eastern beliefs, presented in a tolerant, non-threatening and nonsectarian way. In other words, it’s Religion Light, in which one can be spiritual with little down and no credit. Tolle only quotes relatively benign sayings of Jesus, avoiding the more difficult ones. For example, Tolle notes that Jesus taught that the “kingdom of heaven” is already present on earth and can be experienced right now, but Tolle overlooks Jesus’ teaching that one must be born again (by believing in him as the Son of God and Savior) to see that kingdom in the future.”
All of this information comes back to Oprah Winfrey because she is a huge, enthusiastic promoter of these New Age authors. She has promoted The Secret, A New Earth, and A Course in Miracles. As a result, “Since Oprah’s endorsement of Tolle’s book a month ago, about 3.5 million copies of his spiritual self-help guide have been sent out to enlighten the minds of people around the globe. More than 500,000 people in 125 countries have signed up for [a] World Wide Web seminar.” After her promotion of The Secret the sales for that book went through the roof, as well as it did for A Course in Miracles. “Because of the long list of New Age teachers she promotes on her media outlets, she has done more to promote New Age Spirituality than any other person on the planet Earth.” One of the biggest statements out of Oprah indicating her belief as what is called a New Age Christian is a statement of a discussion with audience members where she effectively dismisses and cuts off an audience member who adamantly proclaims (to the applause of the rest of the audience) “Jesus Christ is the only way.” Oprah herself says, “There are many paths to what you call ‘god.’ If it brings [one person] to the same place as [another person] it doesn’t matter if [they] call it God or not. Does God care about the heart or does God care if you call His Son Jesus?” I feel the woman’s final answer to Oprah regarding this (contained at the end of the video) and the individual who posted this video make weak points in their view of to what Oprah is saying. However, these statements and her enthusiastic endorsements of New Age Christianity should call into the mind of every Christian an earnest wariness.
I believe many Christians today are fooled into the idea that Oprah is a true Christian. I also believe many Christians are being duped into believing that these sources of spiritual self-help are harmless. I have even seen these ideas such as the Law of Attraction (your outlook on life creates your reality) drawn into the teachings of prominent Christian ministers and their books. My “beef” isn’t with the idea of trying to think more positively in your attitude toward life. Nor is my argument against seeking out the fruitful things in your life such as God and your relationship with Him, how you approach your own faith tradition inasmuch as it entails embracing God in the closest possible way, or limiting things in your life which call your mind to always be pessimistic or wading in a sea of “negative” thoughts. Everyone wants that, I believe. Everyone has the need and want to be happy and I don’t discourage that. However, the methods mentioned above from the most prestigious promoters of these ideas goes so far beyond just trying to look at the “bright side of life” and gets into very un-Christian beliefs, or their source for designing these methods is obtained as a way absolutely counter to Christian law. (Cf. Det.18:10-12; 1 Sm, 28) I would encourage anyone who believes these sources or these materials to be harmless to speak to the pastor of their church and ask what the standing of their own faith is regarding this. I can guarantee you, as far as Catholicism goes, they have outright condemned these and other highly sought after “fads” such as Yoga, Reiki, Law of Attraction, and many other thoughts that, if studied would bear them out as nothing more than New Age Thought obtained, in certain cases, from “spiritual beings”.
Again, I encourage everyone to take seriously these methods and means of obtaining these ideas into serious question. I don’t doubt that a committed well-established Christian can read The Secret or New Earth and take from it only what one would deem “positive” reinforcement for their own faith and absolutely nothing more. However, when I read deeper into the beliefs of the authors or the sources of their writings like a spirit that calls itself “Jesus” or “Abraham”, I’m much more likely to be too scrupulous as to allow those things a place in my life and I would encourage all honest Christians to seek the true nature of anyone promoting a “new way” of obtaining religious insight.
“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” – Galatians 1:8
The ACIM and relevant information comes from Sharon Lee Giganti’s own firsthand knowledge and more information can be obtained from her website as well as the entire document the excerpts were obtained from.
 (The full article, The Making of ‘A Course in Miracles’ by Randall Sullivan can be read by logging on to www.Beliefnet.com)