Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. (The Apostle Paul, explaining his philosophy of ministry in Acts 20:28-31.)
– John C. Maxwell (born February 20, 1947) is one such man to warn against. Maxwell is a high-profile author, former pastor (3,500-member Skyline Wesleyan Church, San Diego, 1981-1995), and founder of The INJOY Group, a company whose main purpose is “… to help churches and church leaders to realize their full potential.” Currently residing in Atlanta, he conducts leadership training conferences across America, speaking to more than 250,000 people each year, and claims to have a “lifelong commitment to evangelism.” He has been dubbed: “America’s expert on leadership” and “Dean of Christian Leadership.” He is featured on the “peoplesuccess.com” Internet resource, along with other humanistic, self-motivation, self-help figures such as Zig Ziglar, Og Mandino, etc.
Maxwell grew up in Ohio, where he made a profession of “faith in Christ at the age of three, and reaffirmed that commitment when he was 13.” He holds a BA degree in Theology (1969, Circleville Bible College—Church of Christ affiliated), a Master of Divinity (1989, from the hyper-charismatic Azusa Pacific University), a Doctorate of Ministry (1993, from the notoriously apostate Fuller Theological Seminary), and five honorary Doctorates of Divinity (including ones from the California Graduate School of Theology and Liberty University). Maxwell has authored more than 30 books, some of which have achieved best-seller status. His more recent and/or best-selling publications include:
Leadership Promises for Everyday (2003)
Developing the Leaders Around You (2003:rev.)
Thinking for a Change (2003)
Attitude 101 (2003)
The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player (2002)
Your Road Map for Success (2002)
Leadership 101 (2002)
The Maxwell Leadership Bible (2002)
Running with the Giants (2002)
Be All You Can Be (2002)
The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork (2001)
Developing the Leader Within You (2001:rev.)
Failing Forward (2000)
The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader (1999)
The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership (1998 )
Becoming a Person of Influence (co-author) (1997)
The Winning Attitude (1993)
– Major concerns about Maxwell’s material, broadly speaking, are: First, the manner in which Maxwell handles the Scriptures to “teach” his principles is sometimes egregiously mistaken, i.e., the Bible is not teaching the principles that Maxwell contends it is. His handling of the Scripture indicates Maxwell does not know (or at least is not utilizing) the proper methods of Biblical interpretation. Second, Maxwell either implicitly or explicitly endorses some New Age teachers and doctrines. Third, Maxwell employs questionable theological doctrines—such as a mistaken notion of the miraculous, a conspicuous absence of the cross, and various psychological doctrines, including self-esteem psychology and temperaments psychology.
– One of our specific concerns is Maxwell’s frequent misuse of Scripture. Some examples:
(1) Proverbs 29:18 — “Where there is no vision the people perish.” In The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork (ILT), Maxwell asserts, “vision gives team members direction and confidence” (ILT, p. 96). The context shows that Maxwell is thinking of a vision as the ability of the team to “look beyond current circumstances and any obvious shortcomings of current teammates to see the potential of the team” (ILT. p. 95). Maxwell’s use of this verse displays a common misunderstanding that is perhaps created by the ambiguity of the English term “vision” used in the King James Version—the Hebrew word hazon. According to Hebrew scholar Thomas Howe, it is “primarily used in the OT to refer to a divine communication, i.e., when a prophet receives a vision.”The Hebrew word is better translated as (with the complete verse): “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law” (NKJV). Notice the contrasts in the parallelism of the verse. The “no revelation” (no vision) is a parallel contrasting “law” (Hebrew, Torah) and the “cast off restraint” is a parallel contrasting “happy.” One can see this verse is teaching that without the Word of God, God’s people become unrestrained; and only with instruction (Torah) can God’s people be happy or blessed. Thus, the verse has nothing to do with what Maxwell is discussing. Howe comments, “There does not seem to be a single instance where this word is used in the OT according to the popular way the word ‘vision’ is used (the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom, or a mental image of what the future will or could be like).”
(2) John 2 — On pages 12-13 in The Winning Attitude (TWA), Maxwell uses the story of Jesus at the Cana wedding to illustrate several principles. Maxwell’s discussion here is illustrative of how many teachers misuse the Bible, especially if the passage in question is historical narrative. Rather than taking the narrative at face value and trying to understand what it is saying, Maxwell often “allegorizes” or “moralizes” the text. This means taking the elements of the story and trying to make each element symbolize some aspect of the Christian life. Here, for example, Maxwell takes the overall “lesson” of the story to be obedience. Maxwell tells us that we are to obey Jesus even if “you are not in the right place” (TWA, p. 12), and takes the fact that Jesus performed His miracle at a wedding instead of a church to mean we can expect “some of God’s greatest blessings will be at ‘other places’ if we are obedient to Him.” Maxwell goes on to point out how other elements of the narrative illustrate obedience in our Christian lives. One should be obedient (1) when “you have lots of problems,” (2) when “you are not encouraged,” (3) when “you have not walked with Him very long,” (4) when “you have not seen Him work miracles in your life,” and (5) when “you don’t understand the entire process” (TWA, p. 13). These principles supposedly are taught in the narrative when the characters (1) run out of wine, (2) when Jesus says, “My hour has not yet come,” (3) because the disciples had just met Jesus, (4) because this was Jesus’ first miracle, and (5) because the characters did what Jesus commanded even in light of not knowing what Jesus was up to. While these might be useful points in some sense, they have nothing to do with Jesus at the Cana wedding.
(3) 1 Samuel 17 — In The Winning Attitude, Maxwell says, “When Goliath came up against the Israelites, the soldiers all thought, He’s so big we can never kill him. David looked at the same giant and thought, He’s so big I can’t miss” (TWA, p. 31; emphasis in original). This again is an example of missing the real reason why the narrative tells us a story. To take Goliath as if he is illustrative of problems or obstacles in our lives, the Israelite’s reaction as negative thinking, and David’s reaction as positive thinking, is to completely violate sound principles of Biblical interpretation regarding historical narrative. Maxwell’s use of this passage has nothing to do with why God’s Word tells us this story.
(4) Romans 10:7 — “Faith conies by hearing …” Maxwell discusses how the negative and positive words we hear can either encourage or discourage us (TWA, pp. 56-57). What he thinks Romans 10:7 has to do with this is not clear in his discussion. One can only assume he thinks it is relevant since he quotes part of the verse as a heading introducing this discussion. There is also an issue of the categories of “positive” and “negative” in these discussions, but let it suffice to say here that Paul’s point in Romans 10 has nothing to do with positive or negative words and the impact they might have on us being encouraged or discouraged. Rather, Paul is concerned with the truths contained in the Word of God and how the hearing of God’s truths can give rise to faith in God. Taking Romans 10:7 the way Maxwell does ignores the context, reduces Paul’s words to a mere platitude, and misses Paul’s meaning altogether.
(5) Proverbs 23:7 — “For as he thinks within himself so he is.” Here is another example of a verse that is commonly taken out of context to say something it clearly does not mean. As Maxwell discusses one’s self-image, he comments, “It is impossible to perform consistently in a manner inconsistent with the way we see ourselves. In other words, we usually act in direct response to our self-image” (TWA, p. 61-62). Whether this pop psychological concept is true or not (it is not), this passage from Proverbs has nothing to do with one’s self-image. When one reads this verse, a question he should ask is, “Who is the ‘he’ referring to?” In answering the question about what is the antecedent of the pronoun, we have to look to the context. Consider the fuller citation: “Do not eat the bread of a miser, Nor desire his delicacies; For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. ‘Eat and drink!’ he says to you, But his heart is not with you” (vv. 6-7). It should be clear that this passage has nothing to do with self-image. Rather, the writer is warning that though the miser outwardly seems to be hospitable, inwardly he resents the fact you are eating his food. So, the counsel goes, do not be deceived by his hypocritical outward actions, but be aware that how he is inwardly toward you (as he thinks in his heart) is his true disposition. Further, Maxwell recounts a testimony where one uses this passage as a commentary on how one sees the world around him—how one’s attitude can make a difference (TWA, pp. 132-134). Again, it should be clear this has nothing to do with the passage.
(6) Numbers 13 & 14 — Maxwell uses the story of Israel’s failure to enter the Promised Land in Numbers 13 and 14 as illustrative of how “negative thinking limits God and our potential” (TWA, p. 122). Besides false notions of “positive thinking” and “negative thinking,” Maxwell’s use of this passage misses the real reason why Israel failed to reap God’s promises. It had nothing to do with being “positive” or “negative.” Rather, Israel’s failure was due to unbelief. There was no question that God repeatedly had promised Israel that He was going to give them this land. This promise constituted God’s inauguration through Abraham of His relationship with His chosen people (Genesis 12:1-3). The difference between the two reactions of the spies and the nation of Israel was that Caleb and Joshua believed God’s promise, and the others did not. It is as simple as that. The lesson is profound. The issue of believing God resounds throughout the entire Bible. In fact, our very salvation is a function of believing God (Romans 4:3-5). To reduce the Numbers passage to the categories of positive and negative thinking, rather than belief and unbelief in God, is to tragically miss the whole point of the passage and neglect a perfect opportunity to teach a very important Biblical doctrine.
(7) Matthew 21:21 — “If you have faith and do not doubt you shall say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and it shall happen.” Maxwell employs this passage to teach that “the only thing that will guarantee the success of a doubtful undertaking is the faith from the beginning that you can do it” (TWA, p. 139). There are several things wrong with taking the passage this way. First, one’s faith is not to be in one’s self. I need not have faith that I can do it. Rather, faith should be directed toward God. He is the one who can do it. But what is it He can, or will, do? This is the second problem with Maxwell’s use of Scripture here. Faith is believing what God has said. If the mountain is to be cast into the sea, it will only be because that is God’s will. We do not bring it about simply because we believe it. First John 5:14 says, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” If something is not God’s will, then no amount of my believing it or having “faith” in my ability to do something will be able to bring it about. But, how are we to know whether God has willed it? God’s will is fully revealed in His Word—the Bible. If we pray and ask according to the Bible, we can know God will grant our petitions. This is not to say that we cannot pray for things about which the Bible is silent. We are invited to “cast our cares upon Him” (1 Peter 5:7). However, we must be willing to accept God’s will even if it conflicts with ours. We cannot presume that God would give us anything we ask if He has not promised it in His word.
– Also of great concern is Maxwell’s use of New Age teachers and philosophies. The following examples may cause some believers not only to embrace the material Maxwell presents, but also view these teachers and doctrines as harmless.
(1) Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking: On several occasions, Maxwell favorably quotes or refers to Norman Vincent Peale (TWA, p. 47, 172). In fact, in The Winning Attitude, Maxwell recounts an episode that illustrates one of the dangers of endorsing writers such as Peale. He says, “My father has always been a positive influence in my life. Once, while visiting my parents back east, I noticed he was reading Norman Vincent Peale’s book The Power of Positive Thinking. When I noted that he had read this book previously, he replied enthusiastically, ‘Of course! I must keep building my attitude'” (TWA, p. 47). It is sad how many professing Christians consider Peale’s doctrine to be consistent with the Christian worldview. A more thorough examination of Peale’s teachings is presented in another BDM report, but a few examples here should suffice to show that the doctrines of The Power of Positive Thinking are not Christian:
(a) Many mistakenly think Peale’s “positive thinking” is merely an encouragement to be optimistic in one’s outlook on life. Many mistakenly think all Peale is saying is that one should try to look for the good in every situation. This is not “positive thinking.” But even if it were, it is still not a Biblical. The Bible encourages us to think truly—not optimistically. Philippians 4:8 ff says, “Finally brethren, whatever things are true … meditate on these things.” In the Bible, sometimes God was very “negative”: “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die'” (Genesis 2:16-17). And sometimes Satan was very “positive”: “Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die'” (Genesis 3:4). The categories of “positive” and “negative” do not necessarily track the categories of “good” and “evil.”
(b) The second problem with Peale’s position, even if he were talking about being optimistic (which I contend he was not), is that we have no right to encourage anyone to be optimistic unless and until that person has believed on Christ for eternal life. If we help the lost person to gain an optimistic attitude, he will be discouraged from seeing his need for a Savior. The lost person should not be optimistic because he is doomed without Christ.
(c) There is a conspicuous lack of the cross in Peale’s “positive thinking.” He does not link the fruits of “positive thinking” to an acknowledgement of one’s own sin and the provision that God has made through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. So, even if Peale’s point were that one should have an optimistic attitude toward life, this still would be misguided because of the greater need that one have a realistic, or true, attitude and recognize that one is entitled to genuine optimism only if one has believed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
(d) An optimistic attitude toward life is not what Norman Vincent Peale’s Power of Positive Thinking is all about. Rather, this “power” is something by which one can “rise above obstacles which ordinarily might defeat you” by “channeling spiritual power through your thoughts.” For Peale, this power is not merely an attitude, but is a real power that resides in us. Peale encourages his readers to “believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.”Peale likens this power in other places as a “Higher Power” that “is constantly available (AA’s 12-Step Higher Power?). If you open to it, it will rush in like a mighty tide. It is there for anybody under any circumstances or in any conditions.” (Even in the condition of unbelief?) Tragically, Peale wants to relate this power to God. He credits a friend of his for making him realize that he should “practice resting … in God [for] His support and power. Believe that He is giving it to you now and don’t get out touch with that power. Yield yourself to it—let it flow through you.”
(e) In relating this power to God, Peale comments, “Contact with God establishes within us a flow of the same type of energy that re-creates the world and that renews springtime every year. When in spiritual contact with God through our thought processes, the Divine energy flows through the personality, automatically renewing the original creative act.”This type of thinking should sound familiar to anyone who has studied New Thought, New Age, or Occult philosophy. For Maxwell to favorably mention Peale in his material is misleading at best and potentially heretical at worst.
In both The Winning Attitude and Becoming a Person of Influence (BPI), Maxwell uses the categories of “positive” and “negative.” He talks about the positive and negative influences on us (TWA, p. 44), our positive and negative influence on others (BPI, p. 8-11), positive and negative words and attitudes (TWA, pp. 57-58), and positive and negative thoughts (TWA, pp. 119 ff.). But the categories of “positive” and “negative” are impotent to capture a proper understanding of reality vis-à-vis our personal and spiritual lives. Rather, “positive” and “negative” are better suited to a discussion of an energy like electricity. In terms of a discussion of spiritual matters, “positive” and “negative” bespeak more of New Age and Occult philosophy. Because New Thought, New Age, and Occult philosophies hold that the spiritual realm is an “energy” of sorts, one finds the categories of “positive” and “negative” used extensively in such literature. Instead of “positive” and “negative,” the Bible speaks in terms of “true” and “false,” “good” and “evil,” “righteous” and “unrighteous,” and “godly” and “ungodly.”
(2) Positive Mental Attitude Pioneer Napoleon Hill: Concerns about Maxwell quoting Napoleon Hill in The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader (p. 69) are similar to concerns about him quoting Norman Vincent Peale, except Napoleon Hill is much more overtly Occult. Hill is the author of Think and Grow Rich, which is probably one of the most widely read “positive mental attitude” and success-motivational books around. The thrust of the book is that success is a function of one’s attitude. Specifically, Hill teaches there is a “Supreme Secret” that is the key to life. The secret is: “Anything the human mind can believe, the human mind can achieve.”In other words, the power of the mind is the key to bring what is needed in life. Worse is Hill’s testimony as to how he learned this secret (via an Occult vision of a disembodied “Master”). Maxwell never warns his readers of these Occult teachings when he references Napoleon Hill.
(3) Mystical “Christian” Writer Richard Foster: In The Winning Attitude, Maxwell quotes New Age mystic writer Richard Foster (TWA, pp. 174-175). One of Foster’s works is Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. Foster is also co-director of Renovaré, an international, New Age, ecumenical organization that emanates from the religious traditions of Quakerism, whose message is that today’s Church is missing out on some wonderful spiritual experiences that can only be found by studying and practicing the “meditative” and “contemplative” lifestyle “of early Christianity.” In actuality, Renovaré espouses the use of the early pagan traditions of guided imagery and visualization, astral projection, “Zen” prayer techniques for meditation (i.e., Buddhism), and Jungian psychology (i.e., a blend of Eastern mysticism and Roman Catholic mystical spiritual tradition, which nicely fits the New Age model), all as means of obtaining “personal spiritual renewal” in the lives of believers. (For a more detailed analysis of Renovaré and the teachings of its co-directors, psychologist Richard Foster and William Vaswig, see Media Spotlight‘s Special Report of March, 1992: “Renovaré: Taking Leave of One’s Senses”):
(a) Foster teaches techniques of meditation by saying, “the imagination is stronger than conceptual thought and stronger than the will. In the West, our tendency to deify the merits of rationalism—and it does have merit—has caused us to ignore the value of the imagination.”He goes on to advocate listening to our dreams. “For fifteen centuries Christians overwhelmingly considered dreams as a natural way in which the spiritual world broke into our lives.”He suggests that “we can specifically pray, inviting God to inform us through our dreams. We should tell Him of our willingness to allow Him to speak to us in this way.” But then Foster adds, “At the same time, it is wise to pray a prayer of protection, since to open ourselves to spiritual influence can be dangerous as well as profitable.”Further, Foster thinks if one practices at meditation. he can develop his skills in order to internalize and personalize the Scriptures. For example, He claims that in meditating on a parable of Jesus, one enters “not as a passive observer but as an active participant; remember that since Jesus lives in the Eternal Now and is not bound by time, this event in the past is a living presentment experience for Him. Hence, you can actually encounter the living Christ in the event, be addressed by His voice and be touched by His healing power.”
(b) Foster advocates the Occult teaching of out-of-body experiences. He teaches: “In your imagination allow your spiritual body, shining with light, to rise out of your physical body. Look back so that you can see yourself lying in the grass and reassure your body that you will return momentarily. Imagine your spiritual self, alive and vibrant, rising up through the clouds and into the stratosphere. Observe your physical body, the knoll, and the forest shrink as you leave the earth. Go deeper and deeper into outer space until there is nothing except the warm presence of the eternal Creator.”
(c) Foster also endorses New Age writer Agnes Sanford,author of the book Healing Gifts of the Spirit.He says, “This advice, and much more, was given to me by Agnes Sanford. I have discovered her to be an extremely wise and skillful counselor in these matters. Her book The Healing Gifts of the Spirit is an excellent resource.”Agnes Sanford is a Pantheist. She says, regarding the earth, the sea, the clouds, the birds and the sun, “all these God made and He made them out of Himself.”Further, Sanford teaches: “You see, God is actually in the flowers and the growing grass and all the little chirping, singing things. He made everything out of Himself and somehow He put a part of Himself into everything.”Regarding the baptism of the Holy Spirit, she says, “But no experience ever equaled in bliss this baptism of pure light and power that came to me from God, not through the medium of man counseling and praying with me, but through the sun and the waters of the lake and the wind in the pine trees.”Sanford appeals to the New Age writer Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s works The Phenomena of Man and The Divine Milieu as authority for her own teachings.
(d) Foster even includes himself in the New Age Movement. He says, “We of the New Age can risk going against the tide. Let us with abandon relish the fantasy games of children. Let’s see visions and dream dreams.”
(4) New Age Psychologist James Allen: On page 13 of The Winning Attitude, Maxwell quotes James Allen. Among author Allen’s works is As a Man Thinketh. Allen is another installment of those positive-thinking, New Age writers who carelessly weave verses from the Bible with New Age and Occult philosophy. In the grand tradition of the New Thought Movement, Allen claims, “all that a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is the direct result of his own thoughts.”Further, Allen maintains that “as a being of Power, Intelligence, and Love, and the lord of his own thought, man holds the key to every situation, and contains within himself that transforming and regenerative agency by which he may make himself what he will.”The contrast between this and the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ should be obvious.
– Another area of great concern is Maxwell’s teaching of heretical doctrines. For example:
(1) Maxwell’s Notion of the Miraculous: In The Winning Attitude, Maxwell gives a “four-step formula to handle fear” from Acts 4:29-30 (TWA, pp. 139-142). Maxwell takes verse 30 to say that just as the First-Century Apostles had their ministries attended with miracles, “This must happen in your life” (TWA, p. 141). But the Christian should not expect his life and ministry to be attended with the miraculous the way the Apostles’ lives and ministries were attended with the miraculous. This is not to say God cannot perform a miracle in someone’s life as God sees fit, but Maxwell is missing the significance of the presence of miracles in the ministries of the Apostles. Primarily, miracles are God’s supernatural intervention in the affairs of humans in order to vindicate His special revelation and messenger. Throughout the Bible, God used miracles to prove that a given prophet or apostle was speaking in God’s name. God used miracles to vindicate the ministries of Moses, the Prophets, the Apostles of Jesus, and most significantly, of Jesus Himself. To teach that any Christian should expect the miraculous in his life is to, at best, dilute the significance of the miracles in the Bible.
(2) A Conspicuous Absence of the Cross: In Chapter 14 of The Winning Attitude, titled “The God Above You” (TWA pp. 169-179), Maxwell ostensibly turns to a discussion about how, with one’s security in Christ, “I can afford to take a risk in my life. Only the insecure cannot afford to risk failure. The secure can be honest about themselves. They can admit failure. They are able to seek help and try again. They can change” (TWA, p. 169). Maxwell discusses how one can draw strength from God’s Word, prayer, and the Holy Spirit. What is disturbing about his discussion is that nowhere does Maxwell clearly link these prerogatives to having eternal life through trust in what Christ did for us on the cross. Though he mentions a number of verses, including Paul’s discussion of our security in Romans 8, he says little that could not have been said by a liberal “Christian” or by someone speaking from a generic religious perspective. Maxwell summarizes the change wrought in the disciples’ lives by the Holy Spirit as “changing an attitude” (TWA, p. 178). Throughout Maxwell’s discussion of the power the Holy Spirit gives, Maxwell characterizes that power as a power to be successful rather than a power to live a righteous life and witness for Christ. When the power of the Gospel is relegated to merely a change in attitude, rather than to a saving relationship with God through the cross of Christ and being conformed to the image of Christ through the exigencies of life (cf. Proverbs 15:3 1, Phil. 3:7-15, James 1:2-4), then something is missing.
(3) Maxwell’s Use of Pop Psychology: Maxwell’s writings are laced with pop psychological concepts and methodologies. For example:
(a) Self-esteem Psychology: In The Winning Attitude, Maxwell assumes a self-image psychology (TWA, p. 61 ff.). Sadly, self-image and self-esteem are ideas that are widespread throughout the professing evangelical church. To say the least, such an encroachment of psychology is unhealthy for a growing Christian life. Rather, the Gospel of Christ admonishes us to deny ourselves (Matt. 16:24). It is telling us that Paul’s “self-image” deteriorated as he grew closer to Christ. In 1 Cor. 15:9, Paul describes himself as the “least of the apostles.” Later in his life he says that he is the “least of all the saints” (Eph. 3:8). Near the end of his life, Paul’s self-assessment was that he was “chief of sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15). Paul understood the key to his relationship with God was an increasing love for Christ and an increasing disregard for himself.
(b) Four Temperaments Psychology: Maxwell also endorses Tim LaHaye’s Four Temperaments teachings. (TWA, p. 54) What is disturbing about such an approach is that not only is the four temperaments psychology not taught in the Bible, but one would be hard pressed to find such teaching in any academic textbook on psychology. Educational Psychologist and prolific writer on the dangers of “Christian” Psychology, Martin Bobgan comments: “Christian authors promoting the four temperaments and similar typologies base their ideas on unproven psychological theories and subjective observations which are based on neither the rigors of scientific investigation nor the rigors of exegetical Bible study.” (Must reading for anyone desiring a fuller understanding of teachings on the temperaments would be Four Temperaments, Astrology & Personality Testing, by Martin and Deidre Bobgan, EastGate Publishers, Santa Barbara, CA, 1992, 213 pages.)
– Bible believing Christians should also beware of some more of Maxwell’s unscriptural positions and efforts to promote godless organizations and philosophies. For example:
(1) Promise Keepers: Maxwell “… is frequently asked to speak for organizations such as Promise Keepers and Focus on the Family …”, and his INJOY Group, Inc. “ministry” is listed as a Promise Keepers Ministry Alliance. It is well documented that the PK organization is ecumenical, charismatic, and psychoheretical (and that James Dobson’s Focus on the Family employs a psychological gospel that cannot save and cannot sanctify). PK’s roots are Catholic and charismatic to the core. PK’s contradictory stand on homosexuality; its promotion of secular psychology; its unscriptural feminizing of men; its depiction of Jesus as a “phallic messiah” tempted to perform homosexual acts; and its ecumenical and unbiblical teachings should dissuade any true Christian from participating. Promise Keepers is proving to be one of the most ungodly and misleading movements in the annals of Christian history.
(2) Worldly Models: In his book Developing the Leaders Around You, Maxwell endorses the teachings of behaviorist psychologist Edward Thorndike (p. 124). True Christians reject the man-made, man-centered theory of behavior modification. Although the book is written to “identify and train potential leaders,” Maxwell never mentions the Lord Jesus Christ. Evidently, he feels that God is not a worthy reference point for genuine leadership training. Instead, he refers frequently to so-called management experts, advertising experts, marketing specialists, “success” experts, psychologists, and “leadership specialists.” The Word of God is never quoted. Only Moses and Jethro are briefly referred to for their leadership influence. The plan of salvation is never alluded to in any way, and yet Maxwell claims to have “… the priority of personal commitment to evangelism.”
(3) New Evangelicalism: Maxwell quotes from, and is in sympathy with, such persons as neo-evangelical psychologizers Stuart Briscoe, Billy Graham, Tony Campolo, and Chuck Swindoll; and church growth guru Rick Warren (cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:7, Romans 16:17).
(4) Jesus of Nazareth and the Jim Jones-Hitler Connection: In his book Developing the Leader Within You, Maxwell quotes these words from a non-Christian source: “Hitler was a leader and so was Jim Jones. Jesus of Nazareth, Martin Luther King, Jr., Winston Churchill, and John F. Kennedy all were leaders. While their value systems and management abilities were very different, each had followers.” (Source: James C. Georges, from an interview in Executive Communications.) Maxwell makes no effort whatsoever to point out that Jesus was NOT just another leader with better values and superior management skills. The casual reader is left with the impression that Jesus of Nazareth was just another leadership figure like Hitler or cultist Jim Jones—only with “different” values.