Additional Guideposts Notes

Norman Vincent Peale

-  Norman Vincent Peale died on 12/24/93 at the age of 95. He wrote more than 46 books during his lifetime. His most popular book, The Power of Positive Thinking, was written in 1952 and has sold more than 20 million copies in 41 languages. It was the model for a flood of self-help books that followed. In 1945, Peale and his wife started Guideposts magazine; its circulation now tops 5 million, the largest of any religious magazine. Peale also pastored New York City's (Manhattan) Marble Collegiate Church for 52 years (a Protestant Dutch Reformed church founded in 1628). It had 600 members when he arrived to pastor in 1932; it had over 5,000 by the time he retired in 1984. For 54 years Peale's weekly radio program, "The Art of Living," was broadcast on NBC. His sermons were mailed to 750,000 people a month. His life was subject of a 1964 movie entitled One Man's Way.

-  Peale is also the person who is most responsible for bringing psychology into the professing Church (particularly the false gospel of self-esteem), blending its principles into a message of "positive thinking." (Peale confessed that as a youth he had "the worst inferiority complex of all," and developed his positive thinking/positive confession philosophy just to help himself.) In 1937, Peale established a clinic with Freudian psychiatrist Dr. Smiley Blanton in the basement of the Marble Collegiate Church. (Blanton brought with him the "extensive experience" of having undergone psychoanalysis by Freud himself in Vienna in 1929, 1935, 1936, and 1937.) The clinic was described as having "a theoretical base that was Jungian, with a strong evidence of neo- and post-Freudianism" (Carol V.R. George, God's Salesman: Norman Vincent Peale and the Power of Positive Thinking, p. 90). It subsequently grew to an operation with more than 20 psychiatric doctors and psychologically-trained "ministers," and in 1951 became known as the American Foundation for Religion and Psychiatry. In 1972, it merged with the Academy of Religion and Mental Health to form the Institutes of Religion and Health (IRH). To his death, Peale remained affiliated with the IRH as president of the board and chief fund raiser. Indeed, Peale pioneered the merger of theology and psychology which became known as Christian Psychology. [In 1940, Peale also formed the psychologically-oriented "Foundation for Christian Living," which in 1988 purchased Eternity magazine; by the end of that year, Eternity had ceased to exist.]

-  Peale also advocated such New Age and/or occult teachings as visualization/positive imaging, pantheism, human potential, positive confession, positive thinking, etc. On a 1984 Phil Donahue Show, Peale, a 33rd degree Mason, said, "It's not necessary to be born again. You have your way to God, I have mine. I found eternal peace in a Shinto shrine" (cf. Jn. 3:3). (Shintoism is an ancient Oriental religion that fuses ancestor worship with mysticism.) He also said, "I've been to Shinto shrines and God is everywhere. ... Christ is one of the ways! God is everywhere. ... Just so we think good thoughts and just so we do good, we believe we'll get to heaven" (cf. John 14:6). (Reported in the 12/14/84, Sword of the Lord.)

-  Peale denied the necessity of believing in the virgin birth, and maintained that Jews, Muslims, and other non-Christians worship the true God, and that a person must do good works to get to heaven. Peale did not believe that Christ was eternal God, and thereby, he rejected the Christian doctrine of sin, did not believe that Jesus Christ's sacrifice atoned for sin, and did not believe in the physical resurrection of Christ. In Peale's writings, God is never presented as Judge, nor even as Savior -- he defined religion as: "... a scientific methodology for thinking your way through problems" (Stay Alive All Your Life, p. 147). To Peale, there was no such thing as true religion or even moralism, only self-esteem, self-help, and self-recovery. Peale's "faith" was not faith in God, but "faith in faith," which means faith in your own capacities as a means in attaining the well- adjusted life (1/3/94, Christian News).

-  In an interview with Modern Maturity magazine (Dec-Jan 1975-76), Peale was asked if people are inherently good or bad. He replied:

"They are inherently good -- the bad reactions aren't basic. Every human being is a child of God and has more good in him than evil -- but circumstances and associates can step up the bad and reduce the good. I've got great faith in the essential fairness and decency -- you may say goodness -- of the human being" (cf. Psa. 51:5; Isa. 64:6; Eph. 2:1-10; 4:18; Jn. 6:44; Rom. 3:10-19; 8:6-8; 1 Cor. 2:14; 2 Cor. 4:4).

-  Peale also wrote: "Just as there exist scientific techniques for the release of atomic energy, so are there scientific procedures for the release of spiritual energy ... God is energy." This, of course, is pure occultism -- the worship of creation (natural forces) instead of the Creator. (When a witchdoctor slits a rooster's throat, sprinkles the blood in a certain pattern and mumbles a formula, the spirits must do their part. Occultism operates by the laws of cause and effect.)

Moreover, Peale also endorsed the use of occultic automatic writing: "It little matters if these writings come from Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus of Jane [referring to Jane Palzere, co-author with Anna Brown of The Jesus Letters -- the book was supposedly communicated to Palzere in 1978 and 1979 through "inspirational writing," through a "communicating entity" identifying itself as Jesus], they are all the same consciousness and that consciousness is God. I am a part of God, and Jane and Anna are part of that same God." [The Jesus Letters was also endorsed by psycho-occultist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross. Lines from the book such as "You are not your brother's keeper; you are your brother," and "God does not see evil; He sees only souls at different levels of awareness," are two examples of the true demonic source of the "inspiration."]

-  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." His thesis is obviously false: many atheists are positive thinkers, but Jesus said faith must be in God (Mk 11:22). Peale also wrote, "Your unconscious mind ... [has a] power that turns wishes into realities when the wishes are strong enough."

-  One of Norman Vincent Peale's most "successful" protégés is Robert Schuller. (On Schuller's 1000th Anniversary television show [The Hour of Power, aired on 4/2/89], Schuller's son said of Peale that he was "responsible for dad's possibility thinking.") Schuller teaches that there is no need for one to recognize his own personal sin, no need for repentance, and no need for the crucifixion of self. Concerning the latter point, Schuller teaches just the opposite philosophy -- that self is to be exalted -- which is nothing less than an outright denial of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (See Self-Esteem: The New Reformation, wherein Schuller says, "Jesus knew His worth; His success fed His self-esteem. He suffered the cross to sanctify His self-esteem and He bore the cross to sanctify your self-esteem. The cross will sanctify the ego trip" [cf. Matthew 16:24].)

-  Norman Vincent Peale was an apostate liberal and a Mason who rejected key Bible doctrines (see 10/1/90, Calvary Contender). (Peale served as Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of New York, Imperial Grand Chaplain of the Shrine, and was inducted into the Scottish Rite Hall of Honor in 1991. His oil portrait hangs in the House of the Washington D.C. Temple.) He got his "power of positive thinking" ideas from the Unity healing cult. His Positive Imaging book teaches visualization and other occultic/New Age ideas. A review in the 6/21/93 Christianity Today of a new biography of Peale mentions four "conversion" experiences. It said his key formula was "Picturize, prayerize, actualize." Though calling Peale "a devout Christian who injected vitality into a church that was losing touch with ordinary Americans," the article also said: "Peale always believed his message was biblical, but it lacked much reference to sin, to atonement, or ... to an incarnation. The Christ he preached was very like Alcoholics Anonymous founder Bill Wilson's ambiguous Higher Power." The Christianity Today reviewer thought it revealing that Peale devoted nearly all his time after retirement to motivational speaking at business meetings, and concluded that "the church of Pealism ultimately requires only the lively spirits of a banquet room" (7/15/93, Calvary Contender).

Biblical Discernment Ministries - Revised 5/94