Have you ever met someone who is a Posivitist? What is a positivist? Someone who will only allow positive thinking (c.f. mindfulness), affirmations, self-empowerment, promotes a “positive space,” displays or writes positive plagues or mantras, advocates acts of kindness, feels and uses ‘energies’ and never accepts critique or realism. This is a positivist and positivism is positively growing in our society!
When I first encountered a positivist I was—frankly—confused. Where is this coming from? What does this person believe? How widespread is this and what effect is this having on our culture? Without knowing more I was unequipped to deal with it as a Christian.
Where does such thinking come from?
There are a number of possible sources by which some might arrive at this way of thinking:
Simply put Positivist believe that fostering “a positive mental attitude, supported by affirmations, will achieve success in anything.” How one thinks is central to tapping into the spiritual universe to bend it to your will. Spirituality is impersonal and self-focused.
What affect is it having on our culture?
In a culture that desires to appear spiritual and fix their problems themselves Positivism offers a lot of perceived benefits (chiefly feeling spiritual without God). If you look around it has worked its way into self-help workshops, schools, counselling, stress management, corporate practice, preaching, etc. You might say it is ‘everywhere’ and its way of thinking is so prevalent bits of it can be absorbed into our way of thinking often without even realizing it.
A Biblical Critique/Alternative
Now certainly the Bible would have much to say against ‘impossibility thinkers’ as it related to faith and hope in the God of the impossible; yet the Bible is also a realistic book (we call this truth) and often speaks in the negative concerning sin or lies (“thou shalt not”), while positively endorsing what is right and true (“Honour your father and mother”).
On key questions that religions and worldviews address, Christianity and Positivism are more often than not at complete odds:
How can we share the Gospel with a Positivist we may know or love? Certainly there are inconsistencies, certainly upon what objective truth one basis their belief needs to be considered; yet ultimately we share the Gospel with gentleness, respect and conviction and let it reverberate against their worldview. They are looking for someone; it’s Jesus. Point them to him as the answer to their spiritual quest.
this is impossible; such practices are deeply rooted in Eastern religions. Such a lie is simply meant to ensnare the unsuspecting in an ultimately unhelpful and spiritually harmful exercise.
How did Western culture move from the Lord’s Prayer to Eastern Meditation? Two basic things: a) as many Christian churches became nominal and prayer became lifeless people sought for an alternative to meet a most basic human need, and b) during the 60s, and through the influence of groups such as the Beatles, the West was introduced to Eastern Transcendentalism, or the practice of meditation. This fit very well with the reactive Hippy years.
Now meditation is now wrong, it just depends on how we define it. Eastern meditation involves “emptying” whereas Christian meditation involves “filling.” Both are aiming at peace but only one can achieve true and lasting peace. Christian filling produces a peace that comes from getting right with God through belief in the Gospel, a peace that comes from asking God to fill you with more of His Spirit, a peace that comes from seeking forgiveness, knowing Him, and bringing your deepest longings and needs before Him, a peace that comes from worshipping Him in thanksgiving. Christian meditation is the exact opposite of Eastern meditation. Likewise, when Scripture speaks of meditation, we think or ponder upon God’s character as revealed in His word; we meditate upon Scripture, its meaning and application (Josh 1:8).
In Lk 11 Jesus told the story of a person who had a demon cast from them, yet the troubling sequel of how, “finding the house swept and put in order,” that demon went and found seven of its nastiest friends and returned! (Lk 11:24–26). I’ve often likened this story to the ejection of nominal Christian in Canada and its replacement with many false religions more dangerous than the falseness of nominal Christianity. More specifically, if we meditate and let our mind “float,” “drift” and be open and free, what spiritual force are we opening ourselves up to be filled by (other than the living God)!
Rather than following the CAA article’s 5 steps, allow me to recommend 5 better and biblical steps:
 Nigel Scotland, The Baker Pocket Guide to New Religions. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2006), 193.