Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Positive Confessions - Research

I am in the middle of researching the subject of Positive Confessions today. (Look at this lady's "My Never Again List" for a good example of what we were taught to say over ourselves. You will find it about half way down the page on the site.)

I am looking at scripture, history, and the different sides.

Would love some input from you all.

What do you believe about Positive Confessions?
Has your faith been strengthened by them?
Have you experienced any hurt from this teaching?
What scriptures do you think apply to this topic?
Any good websites you can point me to? (including a link if you have addressed this already in your own blogs)

You can pick a question to answer from the above list or answer them all. Any input will be appreciated. If you want to devote a post to it on your own blog, please link to it in the comment section.



Rick Gibson said...

You might pick up Escaping the Matrix by Greg Boyd and Al Larson. I picked this up at my local Christian book store's clearance rack for $2.50, not knowing what it was really about. It isn't directly related to positive confessions, but I think there may be an indirect correlation to how they teach you to transform your mind. It has been pretty interesting to read and try some of the exercises.

Sarah said...

This is an interesting topic. I clicked on the link. It seems very formulaic to me - it smacks of religion rather than authenticity. I am pretty enthusiastic about agreeing with what God says, but I think somehow this can get twisted and become very religious and fake. I know for myself, I find it more helpful to tell God "I am afraid. But I want You to take my fear." Or whatever is the issue is. I have a pretty strict policy about being fully honest with God (and try to be honest with myself and others). I don't think that confessing one's fear is the same thing as embracing it (because if that's the case, then we all must live in denial if we are to have "victory". I don't think denial is victory, I actually think it is defeat.) And, I do think a whole lot of people have been hurt by a religious application of 'positive confessions'. But ultimately, it's not the 'agreeing with scripture' that is hurtful, it's the control. Whoever wrote the link you posted struck me as someone who is "in control" of her spiritual life (and perhaps others, who knows). I think that's an illusion. Control is a HUGE stronghold in American culture, the church is no exception.

For me, I wasn't really taught positive confessions in the negative (I will never say "I'm afraid" I will never say "Blah blah blah"), as if something were wrong with me. I was taught to use God's word as a weapon against the lies of the devil about shame, and rejection, and that sort of thing. So it kind of turns it on its head (and is kind of opposite of the spirit of that link you included). So, I confessed scriptures like "I am accepted in the Beloved. I am a child of God. I am righteous and holy and dearly loved. I have been bought with a price. I belong to God. I am His special treasure. I have an advocate with the Father." I haven't done it for a long time. But having come out of an abusive background, I found this very helpful to remind me that I didn't need to feel shame because that's not how God viewed me. It was actually part of my healing process (which is ironic in the context of this post).

I'm interested to hear what others' experiences are, and look forward to reading the other comments!

Sarah said...

I just wanted to say one more thing after looking at the list you linked to. I have to really disagree with the "never again will I confess weakness" - what about the scripture where Paul boasts of his weakness because he says that is where God's power is perfected? "Never again will I confess lack of wisdom?" That seems like a lack of wisdom in itself! If there's anything that scripture shows me again and again, it's that I lack wisdom! Sheesh! Besides, even Paul said he hadn't attained it yet, but pressed on toward the goal. This list of confessions makes it sound like she's attained it. Sounds like a recipe for extreme spiritual pride if you ask me (more evidence of religion). I hate religion. Jesus hates it too, by the way. ;)

abmo said...

Hi Barb,

this is just my opinion and as always I can be totally wrong :)

I do not like positive confession. I believe it is an attempt to compensate for nagging doubt. As I read the bible I see God interacting with real people, who did what God wanted them to do. They also doubted, complained and overall bitched a lot. They looked around and cried out: "Where are You, o God??? Why have You left me??" Of course God never left them, but that was what they experienced. Their "negative" confession had no impact on the Reality that is God.

I know faith has a lot to do with "things not seen", but it is grounded in "what is seen or experienced." Let me explain: Let's say I stand to close to the road and a car hits me and rips my arm off. Positive Confession then says: "It is not my arm lying there in the street. This is not blood running down my side." That is just stupid. Jesus did not hang on the cross and say "This is not happening. My senses must be lying to Me"

Faith can only come from honesty. Honesty about what you are experiencing. If your life is crap, then you tell God "It is crap" Not some airy fairy "this is not happening." Faith is not an escape from this life.

My wife says we use God like a slot machine. We insert the correct coin(bibleverse)and now He HAS to do what we EXPECT. Sick? Here is your coin. "With His stripes I am healed" (Isaiah 53:5).
Worries and frustrations? Here is your coin. "Casting all my cares upon Him, who careth for me" (1 Peter 5:7)

I've read the link you gave and to me it is a green light to live as a fake. Let's add to the burden of the lonely, the sick and the downtrodden. What happens after 5 years of confession and the person still feels lonely? "Perhaps they need more faith. Where is the faith verse in the Bible again?"

Positive confession is a safety guarantee. It offers A WAY to get what we need. It offers A WAY out of this life. An escape. A WAY not to struggle. A WAY to NOT experience "what is happening".

When the devil came to Jesus he said. "It is written..." Jesus did not agree with the verses that was quoted. He knew His Father. Quoting verses is perhaps not the best way to get to live a godly life or get to know God or to live a life of faith.

Sorry for the long post.

Anonymous said...

Positive confession reminds me of 'The Secret' that Oprah has been peddling.'If you believe it,if you speak it, it will happen. I can't find THAT in scripture. sue

Mary said...

I can perhaps appreciate the thinking behind positive confession. But it seems like when we do that, we're denying, or lying about, or ignoring, or exaggerating, or diminishing the facts of a situation. I wonder if we do it out of fear. Then, to me, it seems like we're just back in the Garden of Eden and hiding from God because, deep down inside, we know that we're naked and are afraid.

Heidi said...

Barb -

Wow, this is something I never came across in my years in organized religion. I think my mom would identify with it though - she had a lot more exposure to some of the "faith" movement. I remember the story of a family we knew who had a daughter dying of cancer, and they told my mom "only to pray for her if you're thanking God for healing her." There was no room allowed for doubt. You can imagine what happened to their "faith" when their daughter died.

I think from what I read of the link you posted that positive confession sounds like the height of religiosity - pretending, "faking it", putting on a false front as a "good Christian" who has it all together. Reading down the list, I imagined what kind of shame I would have experienced as a kid if that had been put upon me...I have and always have had many doubts and fears. Don't we all? It's in our humanity. And that is where God meets us.

It's one thing to speak the truth of Scripture over your life even if you're struggling to believe it. It's quite another to shut down and deny that you have any doubts or imperfections. That's just ridiculous!

traveller said...

I agree with much of what has been said already. Perhaps as some added thoughts. This seems to me to be the same type of thinking that says if you sow (by giving me money), then you will reap (by God blessing you with more money). It is not only religion, not relationship, it is an attempt to control God. This type of thinking is quite pagan. It fits with many ancient pagan religions that sought the favor of a god by offering some type of gift or sacrifice. I say these words and God must respond in a certain way. It is the same as saying I give god this gift and he must send rain on my crops.

In no way does this mean that God's word is not powerful but it is powerful as the Holy Spirit uses it in our lives in ways that God wishes, not some predictable exchange or trade.

To use any scripture in formulaic ways such as this is to de-contextualize it and denigrate both God and his words.

PJ said...

Hey Former Leader!

I understand your frustration with positive confession. I must say, and I'll post on the power of words as well, that I've been where you were, but was never comfortable with denying reality. I realize there is truth in understanding that the way we perceive things can be the "truth" we live out, but positive confession becomes so radical, it becomes idolatrous and makes us more powerful than we are (in our minds.)

I think that people fall into having faith in faith and not faith in God. I've also said that people have elevated their interpretation of the scripture to such a state that they worship what they believe is the Word, rather the Author.

I believe, like you said, that there is truth in your self-talk and perception of self affect our lives, so we need to renewing and right look at ourselves through the eyes of God we find in scripture. But to use it as a magic formula to get whatever we want in life is simply wrong.

Thanks for broaching this subject. Keep being brave.

Barb said...

Rick, thanks, this sounds interesting. I will try to pick it up.

Sarah, My husband particularly uses the promises of the word in this way. He always seemed to be able to take a subject that there were twists to it and untwist it and apply it to his life in a truer way. Thus he just reminded himself about what was true about himself and God. I see that in how you have written. And your disagreement about never confessing weakness, when Paul did, or never confessing a lack of wisdom made me laugh. You are right…that is just crazy.

Abmo, I love the phrase, “it is an attempt to compensate for nagging doubt.” Reality really is God not our words over a subject. I love your wife’s example. Why do we want to reduce God to a simple machine that always produces exactly what we were expecting?

And NEVER be sorry for a long post. I have not read anything of yours that was not worth thinking about.

Sue, It is very much like The Secret, only my people would have said that the power of the Secret comes from the Enemy, not the Father. Funny when both are used (when used in a formula kind of way) as the same.

Mary, This is brilliant. I think it does stem from fear - fear and then our response of wanting to control our God and our lives and thinking that we actually have the power to do that.

Heidi, much of my daughters problems stem for the fact that this stuff never worked for her and thus for years and years she beat herself up and tried to do better still. The thing that this practice does to a person is put them in bondage to Shame and all its’ friends.

Traveller, You are so right. As I studied this this week I saw how just as sowing and reaping do have their basis in scripture so does this practice of a positive confession or speaking the truth over our lives. But both of these can be twisted into an attempt to control God. You said it all with the sentence, “To use any scripture in formulaic ways such as this is to de-contextualize it and denigrate both God and his words.”

And as a side note, Do you not have your own blog? Your comments here and elsewhere are definitely worth linking to things that you are thinking and contemplating.

PJ, You are so right. It becomes faith in our faith and a worship of what they believe is the Word rather than the Author. Thanks for the comment.