The Dangerous Return of Manifestation

In 2006, a woman named Rhonda Byrne wrote a book called The Secret, in which she detailed her “trade secrets” for attaining everything that she wanted in life. It’s based on a few ideas including the law of attraction, manifestation, new thought, and the idea that one’s thoughts can directly and decisively change one’s life.

On a recent episode of The Cale Clarke Show, Cale began by saying he never thought he’d have to talk about these pseudo-spiritual ideas again, but they’re sweeping the nation once again as people search for answers to their problems.

This so-called law of attraction, presented as if adjacent to the laws of gravity or thermodynamics, states that you can attract anything that you want to yourself simply by thinking about it. In another sense, it’s essentially saying that you can control the universe to give you what you want by commanding it with your mind.

“So, if you want love, if you want cash, if you want a new Bentley, just use these techniques and all of this will come to you. But here’s the problem,” said Cale. “There’s no such thing as the law of attraction. It doesn’t exist.”

He continued by saying that there’s an “ugly underbelly” to this idea of the law of attraction. Consider the possibility that things are not going well for you. Let’s say that you get into a terrible car accident, or you lose your job, or you get diagnosed with cancer. The law of attraction would imply that that’s your fault. You were emitting “bad vibes” into the universe, or you weren’t committed to your goals of health, wealth, and prosperity. If you were doing it right, things would be going well for you. It’s a real-life take on the Staples “Easy Button”.

So, what set off this chain of events, to begin with? Who started this “new thought” movement? Although these ideas really found their popular foothold in this generation, their origin actually goes all the way back to the early 19th century with a man named Phineas Quimby and a follower of his named Mary Baker Eddy, the eventual founder of the Church of Christian Science.

Their ideas mainly stemmed from the idea that God, in the form of infinite intelligence, is omnipresent in everything and everywhere and there is no truer reality than the spirit in everything. It is an expansion on the ideas of the heresy of Gnosticism: Gnostics believed that only the spirit is real, and the physical world is intrinsically evil and a fallacy. In doing so, they deny the goodness of creation, the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the reality of the sacraments, and the idea that God can work through us.

This new thought and law of attraction, founded on heretical ideas, is not only misleading but highly blasphemous. It is telling people that they can be like gods by controlling the universe through their thoughts. Ring a bell? That was the original temptation in the Garden of Eden that led Adam and Eve to their downfall.

Somewhere along the line, Quimby’s idea morphed from an idea of spiritual and physical wellness into a path to financial wellness. Long before Rhonda Byrne’s book, Napoleon Hill wrote Think and Grow Rich, a personal development book allegedly based on the lives of famous business magnates. Byrne and Hill had the same idea, believing that if you ask for something and believe that it will come to you, it will.

When The Secret was released in 2006, it was unsurprisingly scrutinized, especially by religious people and Christians. But Byrne tried to pass off her book as though it was based on the word of Jesus.

“Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.” (Matthew 21:22)

Now, as years have passed, there are new gurus on the scene writing new books for the millennial generation. Roxie Nafousi, an Instagram personality, wrote Manifest: 7 Steps To Living Your Best Life. Gabrielle Bernstein, a podcaster, wrote The Universe Has Your Back. Lacy Phillips founded a digital manifestation program called To Be Magnetic. And of course, you have Gwyneth Paltrow and her company goop, which is based on many of the same, make-believe ideas.

“Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours.” (Mark 11:24)

“Just look at the Bible,” they’ll say. “Even Jesus was into manifesting.” But there’s a crucial problem with cherry-picking passages from scripture. As Cale always says, “You can make the Bible say anything you want it to.” But you only get the full truth by understanding it in its entirety and with the guidance of the Magisterium. They’re leaving out the most important factor in those passages: God’s will. If it is in accordance with God’s will, it will be done.

“I’m sorry but no methodology, no book, no matter how many times you say it in the morning with your cup of coffee, it’s not going to happen if it’s not God’s will.”

Tune in to The Cale Clarke Show weekdays at 5pm CT

John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at relevantradio.com and on the Relevant Radio® app.