Profile 16: Joseph Murphy

****DISCLAIMER***The following is far from an exhaustive post. Instead, it makes a best effort to answer the question.

Recently someone asked me about Joseph Murphy, Murphy’s doctrine, Murphy’s contributions to the New Thought Movement and Murphy’s book The Power Of Your Subconscious Mind. Below is my response to the individual. Because this answer pertains to a person, this post is under the “profile” umbrella. While this is not as lengthy as the typical “profile” post, it should give enough information to the reader.

MY RESPONSE

Joseph Murphy was born in 1898. He died in 1981. Per the hyperlink (which links to the Wikipedia page on him, a source that perhaps has the most extensive general information on him), he authored about forty books. While his name does not appear often as one of the pioneers of the New Thought movement, his teachings remain present in today’s world.

As far as Murphy’s doctrine is concerned, Murphy has strong ties to the New Thought Movement. Per this article from GotQuestions.Org, the New Thought Movement believes that one’s thoughts create reality. For example, if a person thinks he is rich, he will become rich. It is somewhat similar to the Word-Faith Heresy (a movement that believes one’s words create reality). However, the New Thought Movement places an emphasis on right thinking instead of right speaking. This emphasis, however, is unbiblical. One cannot simply become rich, sinless, successful or the like simply by thinking those very things. No biblical text supports any of this. The Bible says that Adam’s sin has spread death to all men (Romans 5:12; see also Ephesians 2:1-3). No amount of positive thinking can fix that. Instead, Jesus Christ’s shed blood on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins (and only that) cleanses us from all unrighteousness (Romans 5:8; John 1:29, 3:16; 1 Timothy 1:15; Luke 24:36-49; Ephesians 2:1-10; Romans 10:1-21; Matthew 1:21; Acts 4:12; Isaiah 43:11; Hosea 13:4). Needless to say, Joseph Murphy’s doctrine is unbiblical.

One example of Murphy’s unbiblical teachings manifests itself in a book called The Power Of Your Subconscious Mind. I did not read the entire book. However, I do not need to do so in order to detect what is wrong with it. Per the hyperlink in this paragraph (which links to the audio book, in full), the author states at basically the beginning of the video, “Miracles will happen to you too when you begin using the magic power of your subconscious mind. This book is designed to teach you that your habitual thinking and imagery mold, fashion and create your destiny, for as a man thinketh in his subconscious mind, so is he.” Already there is a problem because Murphy explains that your habitual thinking creates your destiny. As mentioned earlier, we were all born dead in trespasses and sins (Romans 5:12; Ephesians 2:1-3). No biblical text anywhere shows that habitual thinking solves this problem. Instead, it is God’s mercy and grace that solve this sin problem by His sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross and rise from the dead to pay the penalty for our sins and purchase a place in heaven for us (Isaiah 53:8; Ephesians 2:1-10; John 1:1,14; Romans 6:23; Acts 16:31; Romans 10:1-21; Matthew 1:21; Acts 4:12; Isaiah 43:11; Hosea 13:4). One does not need to read the rest of his book to see if he redeems himself with sound theology. After all, he states himself his book is designed to help one with his/her habitual thinking. One can safely conclude that this book will feature much about the false teaching known as New Thought. Therefore, it would be wise to mark and avoid this book as well as the New Thought Movement (Romans 16:17). Given Murphy is deceased, I am not sure marking and avoiding him may necessarily apply. Nonetheless, one would be wise to not submit to his teachings.

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