Now, Religion in the News: a report and comment on religious trends and events being covered by the media. This week’s item consists excerpts from a column from The Ladies Home Journal, March 2005, with the headline, “Learn to Love Yourself, by Rick Warren— Self-esteem still wobbly after all these years? These five simple truths will show you that you don’t need to be perfect to be priceless. Carnival fun houses have distorted mirrors that can make us appear taller, fatter, or shorter than we really are, but this doesn’t bother us because we know we are getting an inaccurate picture of ourselves. It’s just a bit of harmless fun.
“What’s not fun is the fact that many of us look at ourselves through a different kind of distorted mirror. We let other people in our lives—from parents and siblings to friends and co-workers—create a reflection of who we are, but it’s rarely accurate. To truly love yourself, you need to know the five truths that form the basis of a healthy self-image: Accept yourself, love yourself, be true to yourself, forgive yourself, and believe in yourself.”
Tom: Dave, a number of weeks ago—actually for a month or two—we went over, as you know, “self” teaching. And in that, we said that these are teachings that were in the world, yet have come into the church—that they were promoted from pulpits all around the country, and where these ideas came from and they were not biblical, and so on. And now, as Gary said, this is The Ladies Home Journal, March, just right out. And we have Rick Warren presenting these things. Now I don’t know—well, I do know where he got it—he definitely got it from his mentor in this area, and that is Robert Schuller. This has Robert Schuller written all over it.
Dave: Yeah, Tom, it’s really disappointing, because this is warmed-over psychology…
Tom: Well, it’s pop psychology, which Rick says he’s against.
Dave: …which has been refuted so many times. Now we live here in the state of Oregon, remember? In California, Tom Vasconcellos, assemblyman—he set out to show that all problems in this world are because of a poor self-image and low self-esteem. And he got together the Self-Esteem task force, you remember, in California.
Dave: They spent a lot of money on that.
Tom: They spent our money when we were down there. [chuckles]
Dave: Yeah. They worked at this, and what conclusion did they come to? Well, they came to the conclusion that it was bunk; it’s just simply not true. You’re not doing poorly in school because you have a bad self-image. You’re doing poorly in school because you’re not working hard enough, you’re not studying enough, and so forth. And even some of the kids became disillusioned with this. They said, “What’s the point? No matter what you do, they praise you! You know, you don’t even have to do anything and they’ll praise you!”
So as I said, we live here in Oregon, and I remember an article in The Oregonian, I think it was, saying, “California, you had better get with it!” They have done all kinds of secular psychological tests to show that this doesn’t work. Now, it’s really disappointing, because this has been popular in Christian circles, and now Rick Warren is giving us the same warmed-over stuff. You know, Tom, I even hesitate saying this—you’re the man that brought in this article. But here it is, Ladies Home Journal, March 2005: we ought to be able to talk about it. People get really upset if we dare to question anything Rick Warren says. Well, this is just—I’m sorry, I’ll be blunt—nonsense! It isn’t true. Even secular psychologists will tell you it’s not true.
Tom: Right. But as we have talked about for weeks, Dave, how contrary this is to the Word of God. I want to go down these five points, and you just give me a couple of comments about it. “Accept yourself?” It says, “God accepts us unconditionally, and in His view we are all precious and priceless.”
Dave: Well, we’re precious and priceless, I guess. But you know, it’s like the homosexual or a drunkard, or somebody who is into drugs: “Well, just accept me as I am. Accept me as I am.” No, God doesn’t just accept everybody the way they are. He’s willing to offer forgiveness to them, but He’s not happy with the way they are, and they need to repent and receive His mercy.
Tom: “Be true to yourself”—in this part he says, “Don’t deny your weaknesses. We all have a bundle of them. Be content with them.”
Dave: Tom, it doesn’t make sense. Just think about it for a minute. Okay, so I am doing a lousy job at school, or whatever—on the baseball field. I’m supposed to be a pitcher, and I’m just doing a lousy job—well, I just accept it. No, I should work harder. I should try to improve. But, “just accept yourself, love yourself, you know, be true to yourself…” It doesn’t make sense, Tom.
Tom: “Forgive yourself. God doesn’t expect perfection, but He does insist on honesty.” What does that mean, forgive myself?
Dave: Tom, as I look at these things, it’s sad, because the Bible is all about [how] Christ died for sinners; it’s all about redeeming us from our sins; it’s all about changing us. In this, there’s no repentance. There’s no recognition that, as the Bible says, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Not a question of accepting myself, it’s how I am in God’s eyes, and I have come far short of what He intended me to be, and I need to confess that.
Tom: And the way this is usually promoted—you see, because God has forgiven you, you need to forgive yourself. Dave…
Dave: Tom, that’s nonsense!
Tom: “Believe in yourself.” Dave, he mentions that people are kind of thinking back where they were put down, or they’re listening to tapes from the past where they’ve failed, and so on and so forth. Then he says, “How do you reverse this? Start affirming the truth about yourself.” Wow! “The truth is God has created you with talents, abilities, personality, and background in a combination that is uniquely you.”
Dave: Well, Tom, we have pointed out that his mentor, really, was Robert Schuller, and there are many Schullerisms in his writings, which he denies. “Believe in yourself…” I remember the book Robert Schuller wrote: Believe in the God Who Believes in You. No, God doesn’t believe in me. And Paul writes in Philippians , “We have no confidence in the flesh.” We don’t trust men, we don’t trust ourselves; our confidence is in God. This has just got the Bible backwards. It’s sad, because it is leading people astray because he is so popular.
Tom: Dave, he concludes, “It’s your choice: you can believe what others say about you, or you can believe in yourself, as does God, who says, ‘You are truly acceptable, lovable, valuable and capable.’” This is Ladies Home Journal. “We’re just trying to get these women to feel good about themselves.”
Tom: You know, it’s anything but the gospel, Tom, and if he can get an article in the Ladies Home Journal, why doesn’t he present the gospel of Jesus Christ instead of making them feel good about themselves? By the way…
Tom: He has a chance, Dave, because this is a column, so we can keep looking.
Dave: …by the way, let’s not just blame him. I remember when James Dobson said, “If I had a prescription for every woman in the world, it would be a heavy dose of self-esteem administered three times a day.” That is the opposite of what the Bible teaches, and I hope James Dobson doesn’t teach that anymore.
Tom: Dave, the article concludes with a box that says, “Visit our spirituality guide,” and it gives the web page for ladieshomejournal.com/spirituality. The spirituality is so pagan, so contrary to the Word of God, it’s—I don’t know, I think Rick’s in trouble here.
Dave: It doesn’t sound like he’s helping them. He’s certainly not presenting the truth— in contrast, the very errors.