A few years ago I attended an intense, week-long seminar (six 12-hour days) entitled, “Date with Destiny,” by Anthony (Tony) Robbins. Many people, including several famous celebrities, attended. Joe Berlinger, an Academy-award nominated director, attended to film and document the conference. His documentary focused in part on the use by Robbins of music, mass psychology, and entertainment to sway attendees to Robbins’ agenda. Although Berlinger later indicated that there were parts of the seminar that made him uncomfortable, his resulting documentary did not seem to either “defend or debunk” Robbins.
I do not seek to support or criticize Robbins either. To the best of my knowledge, Robbins’ focus on self-empowerment does not stress that God or Christ are essential to success, spiritual health, or happiness. Robbins sells his services and products for profit, charging substantial fees for his seminars and personalized coaching. Yet what resonated with me most about the “Date with Destiny” seminar was the sophistication, effectiveness, and emotional power of Robbins’ mass delivery techniques and the sheer number of his devoted followers. Millions of people each year have paid to attend his seminars. He has met with many high-profile celebrities, including President Clinton, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa,and Oprah. Whatever else you may think about Robbins, his charisma and ability to access, attract, and influence individuals and crowds is impressive.
But Robbins isn’t the only individual — and his business empire isn’t the only institution — that effectively uses mass psychology techniques for their agenda. As effective mass psychology techniques and technologies evolve and become more sophisticated, they are being utilized increasingly by individuals, institutions, and governments to shape public opinion, including social, religious, and political cultures and ideologies. Depending on the agenda, this can be either a good thing or a bad thing. Depending on the ethics of the speaker and the degree these techniques may either mislead or subordinate free will, it can be dangerous.
Christ warns us that there will be many false prophets and teachings, both within and outside the church: “Beware of false teachers who come disguised as harmless sheep, but are wolves and will tear you apart. You can detect them by the way that they act, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit. You need never confuse grapevines with thorn bushes or figs with thistles. Different kinds of fruit trees can quickly be identified by examining their fruit. A variety that produces delicious fruit never produces an inedible kind. And a tree producing an inedible kind can’t produce what is good. So the trees having the inedible fruit are chopped down and thrown on the fire. Yes, the way to identify a tree or a person (implied) is by the fruit produced.” (Matthew 7:15-20) “…the decisive question is whether they obey my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
It is not my purpose to judge for others whether Anthony Robbins (or any other speaker) may say or do anything that is inconsistent with God’s will. However, it is my purpose to recommend that when mass psychology techniques and technologies are employed in any setting, non-religious or religious, it is important to step back and analyze what is being said critically — in the context of that speaker’s lifestyle — and listen to your heart to insure it is consistent with the Bible and what Christ teaches us. If not, that speaker — and at least parts of his or her message — may pose dangers to your spiritual well-being.
For what is inconsistent with God’s will, is consistent with eternal separation from God.
And what is consistent with eternal separation from God is no friend to you or God at all.
Morefield, Kenneth. “Has Tony Robbins Preached at my Church?,” Christianity Today, June 10, 2016.
Schnall, Marianne. “Tony Robbins Sets the Record Straight About Fire Walk ‘Controversy,” Huffpost, December 6, 2017.
Tony Robbins, Date with Destiny, photograph may be subject to copyright.