I have a friend who is beginning to travel an ugly road; she has been diagnosed with cancer. She is someone who has friends everywhere she goes and is well liked among her numerous co-workers.
Since this sad news first broke I have been glad to see and hear people rallying around her, supporting her, hugging her and loving on her like crazy. These are the times that a person really needs to know others care.
Something has struck me though; there have not been many who have said they would pray for her as she goes though this terrible time. Many have told her they will be thinking of her, and are “thinking positive” but conspicuously absent has been any mention of prayer.
Is there any benefit to thinking positive for healing? Some people would say so! Those who ascribe to Norman Vincent Peale’s methodology believe that by visualizing health, “seeing” healthy cells devour cancerous ones, and thinking healthy thoughts, you can heal yourself or have a large impact on your recovery.
What is wrong with this kind of thinking? Plenty! Peale is reported to be the person responsible for bringing psychology into the church on a mass scale, through the merger of theology and psychology which is known as Christian Psychology.
Peale said, “through prayer you … make use of the great factor within yourself, the deep subconscious mind … [which Jesus called] the kingdom of God within you … Positive thinking is just another term for faith.” He also wrote, “Your unconscious mind … [has a] power that turns wishes into realities when the wishes are strong enough.”
You will find these threads throughout the self-esteem gospel, and the human potential movement. You will find them in the likes of Joel Osteen and others who proclaim the health and wealth “gospel.”
The center of such theology is “self” and is the antithesis of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Positive Thinking is focused on how I can get what I want, how I can manipulate God into doing things my way and giving me what I feel I deserve. There is no room in this false gospel for sin, suffering, or the sovereignty of God in either one!
God becomes a heavenly bell-boy, a cosmic candy man who exists to do my bidding rather than the Ascendant Holy One who does what He wants with what is His.
This is dangerous, dangerous territory for the Christian and non-Christian alike. The Christian will develop a man-centered theology and find her relationship with God unsatisfying when God fails to perform to her liking. Earthly joy and happiness are the goal and suffering (often God’s greatest tool for sanctification in the life of a Christian) is to be avoided at all costs!
The non-Christian may never hear the whole gospel preached in such a church. She will never understand that God allows pain and suffering to conform us to the likeness of Christ. She will never know who God truly is…
Contrary to the well-wishes and positive thoughts being sent my friends way, she is not okay! In addition to the cancer, she is a sinner in need of a savior… and all the positive thoughts of all the people on the planet won’t change that one bit.