New scientific research is shattering conventional wisdom about the human body and offering fascinating insights into how we can all unlock our body’s superpowers to fight illness, perform better and even reverse the aging process.1Disney Plus Originals description of Limitless with Chris Hemsworth
The New Age Movement is like a sponge that attempts to absorb all religions and beliefs from different cultures into one spiritual, socio-economical unified system. The problem is sponges soak up the bad as well as the good.2“The New Age Movement”; Let Us Reason Ministries
I recently watched the six-part National Geographic series Limitless on Disney+. Not surprisingly, the show promotes the New Age Movement by advocating for the human potential movement, neuroplasticity, mindfulness, Aboriginal shamanism, Shugendō Buddhism, and the panentheism of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. It also touched on the positive death movement, which is not based in any specific religion. However, the rising interest in Buddhism has introduced alternative concepts of dying into the movement, which are now being presented to vulnerable patients and families by death doulas.3“The Positive Death Movement Comes to Life,” John Leland, New York Times; June 22, 2018
Chris Hemsworth, who plays the Norse pagan god Thor in Disney’s Marvel Comics superheroes film franchise, is the perfect subject for the Limitless documentary series. At 39 years old, he is in peak physical condition and represents how all of humanity can unlock its divine powers to slow down the aging process and possibly cheat death.
Limitless is not a program children should watch without the guidance of their parents. In addition to the concerning religious practices promoted in the show, it also highlights how extreme and dangerous tasks can allegedly increase your longevity. Most of the “scientific” evidence of longevity provided in the show has not been validated and should be taken as preliminary conjecture only.
Maximizing Human Potential
This science is put to the test by Hemsworth, who, despite being in peak superhero condition, is on a personal mission to learn how to extend our health, strength and intellect further into our later years. Undergoing a series of epic trials and extraordinary challenges in order to understand the limits of the human body, he’ll learn firsthand how we can live better for longer by discovering ways to regenerate damage, maximize strength, build resilience, supercharge memory and confront mortality.4Disney Plus Originals description of Limitless with Chris Hemsworth
The Human Potential Movement believes that man is omnipotent and has dominion over his own reality and the ability to change his world. It promotes a self-focused gospel where various man-made spiritual techniques are claimed to lead to higher consciousness. Within Limitless, Hemsworth undergoes various training sessions promoting “the powers of the mind, teaching that we all have unlimited abilities.”5This is a Human Potential Movement concept that is implied but not directly stated in the series
In his book Game of Gods: The Temple of Man in the Age of Re-Enchantment, Carl Teichrib points out:
“selfism, a product of the human potential movement, feeds our desire for meaning while stroking our ego. The Self rises as a divine spark. We are each divine selves, masters of destiny and voices of self-authority.”6Teichrib, Carl. Game of Gods: The Temple of Man in the Age of Re-Enchantment (p. 84). Whitemud House Publishing; Kindle Edition.
John C. Maxwell argues that “concepts that promote ‘humans having unlimited potential’ or ‘depending totally on themselves for success’ go against God’s teachings of a fallen world of sin and dependency on Him through Jesus Christ.”7“The Sky’s the Limit: An Overview of the Human Potential Movement and Motivational Seminars,” Marcia Montenegro, MCOI Journal, Fall 2003, online posting, April 12, 2016, accessed 1/25/2023 Human potential now morphs into divine potential, “monastically adopting the unique attributes of God the Creator. This is classic Nature worship, which eliminates God, the transcendent and separate Creator.”8“37: Esoteric Spirituality,” Peter Jones, truthxchange, May 29, 2007, accessed 1/15/2023 God now becomes mere energy, a force, that can be manipulated to cause certain miracles to occur.9“Wells Without Water: Errors of the Word-Faith Movement Pt. 3,” Tricia Tillin, Banner Ministries, accessed 1/25/2023
What Did the Apostle Paul Mean by “Disciplining His Body”?
You will never be a conqueror until you confess you are one. If you wait to become a conqueror first to believe you are one, you are mistaken. You have to confess it first to become one. Faith’s confessions create reality. (Kenneth Hagin, Word of Faith Movement)
Limitless has a whiff of the false health and wealth gospel of the Word of Faith Movement. Hemsworth espouses the monistic mantra of “mind over matter,” thinking that supposedly will unlock his body’s “superpowers to fight illness, perform better and even reverse the aging process.”10Disney Plus Originals description of Limitless with Chris Hemsworth But you may be asking, “isn’t this what the Apostle Paul was doing in 1 Corinthians 9:16-27 when he spoke of ‘disciplining his body’”? Our bodies are God’s temple, right? What’s wrong with being a steward of God’s temple?
In context, we never find the Apostle Paul suggesting he was or could become part of god (Romans 1:18-23), which is essentially what Limitless is saying with its holistic approach to longevity. Also, did Paul force himself to swim in freezing cold waters as Hemsworth does in the show? What about running into a burning building, sitting in a sweat bath, or standing under a freezing waterfall until released by a guru? Is this what Paul meant? We find Paul places these as secondary or subservient to training in godliness:
Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:8-9)
Tricia Tillin of Banner Ministries asks:
“was Paul seeking to develop dominion over the natural realm so that he could have victory over the aging process? NO! It is clearly shown that Paul kept his flesh in subjection so that he would not fall into sin, thereby forfeiting his ‘imperishable crown’. This passage has nothing whatever to do with diet and health issues.”11“Wells Without Water: Errors of the Word Faith Movement Pt. 3,” Tricia Tillin, Banner Ministries, accessed 1/25/2023
In “The Rights of an Apostle” David Guzik explains:
“Bring it into subjection,” as used here, means to lead about as a slave. Paul made sure the desires of his body were not going to rule over his entire self.12“The Rights of an Apostle,” David Guzik, Blue Letter Bible Study Guide, accessed 1/25/2023
While we should try our best to remain healthy and be a good steward of God’s temple, at the same time we must not get drawn into a false, self-focused gospel where our will replaces God’s will. Our life is in Christ, not in a spiritual law activated by our words or deeds.13“Wells Without Water: Errors of the Word Faith Movement Pt. 3,” Tricia Tillin, Banner Ministries, accessed 1/25/2023 If you are sick or weak, and actively seeking a solution, it does not mean you are not meeting your full potential and thus you are to blame for your own problems. It may simply mean that God has decided to put a “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor 12:7) as guide rail in your life.
The Christian Handbook to Alternative Medicine warns, “Consider carefully not only the therapy but also the character and worldview of those offering the treatment.”14Donald O’Mathuna, Ph.D. and Walt Larimore, M.D., Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook; Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001, 2007, p.123 as quoted in “Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan,” Warren B. Smith, Lighthouse Trails Editors, July 15, 2013, accessed 1/25/2023 Limitless is essentially promoting “another gospel” of nutritional/medical pseudoscience, and New Age teaching, all under the banner of “God’s provision.” However, if healing systems are based on half-truths or occultism, they are not “from God” (Psalm 33:4 and I John 2:21)15“Alternative Medicine in the Church,” Janice Lyons, Watchman Fellowship, accessed 1/25/2023Ω
Stephanie Potts and her husband, Jim live in Dayton, Ohio, and have been married for 21 years. She worked with the federal government for 15 years as an intelligence analyst and then entered full-time Christian service in 2015. She first joined Haven Ministries in Denver, Colorado, in 2015 and then transferred to Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc in 2021. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Florida State University in Political Science and International Relations and received her Master’s degree in Geographic Information Systems from Penn State University. She is currently working towards her master’s degree in Christian Apologetics through Southern Evangelical Seminary. She specializes in evangelizing to people involved in the New Age, to Muslims, and Native Americans. Stephanie’s personal website: rainbowapologetics.com
© 2023, Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc All rights reserved. Excerpts and links may be used if full and clear credit is given with specific direction to the original content.
|↑1, ↑4, ↑10||Disney Plus Originals description of Limitless with Chris Hemsworth|
|↑2||“The New Age Movement”; Let Us Reason Ministries|
|↑3||“The Positive Death Movement Comes to Life,” John Leland, New York Times; June 22, 2018|
|↑5||This is a Human Potential Movement concept that is implied but not directly stated in the series|
|↑6||Teichrib, Carl. Game of Gods: The Temple of Man in the Age of Re-Enchantment (p. 84). Whitemud House Publishing; Kindle Edition.|
|↑7||“The Sky’s the Limit: An Overview of the Human Potential Movement and Motivational Seminars,” Marcia Montenegro, MCOI Journal, Fall 2003, online posting, April 12, 2016, accessed 1/25/2023|
|↑8||“37: Esoteric Spirituality,” Peter Jones, truthxchange, May 29, 2007, accessed 1/15/2023|
|↑9||“Wells Without Water: Errors of the Word-Faith Movement Pt. 3,” Tricia Tillin, Banner Ministries, accessed 1/25/2023|
|↑11, ↑13||“Wells Without Water: Errors of the Word Faith Movement Pt. 3,” Tricia Tillin, Banner Ministries, accessed 1/25/2023|
|↑12||“The Rights of an Apostle,” David Guzik, Blue Letter Bible Study Guide, accessed 1/25/2023|
|↑14||Donald O’Mathuna, Ph.D. and Walt Larimore, M.D., Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook; Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001, 2007, p.123 as quoted in “Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan,” Warren B. Smith, Lighthouse Trails Editors, July 15, 2013, accessed 1/25/2023|
|↑15||“Alternative Medicine in the Church,” Janice Lyons, Watchman Fellowship, accessed 1/25/2023|
I have long been aware of the “new age” methods that can easily creep into our lives. Even in health care settings, I have warned them about reiki, healing touch, and other devices. I used to go to a rehab for my back. My therapist suggested massage. So I booked one and the man who was treating me started to talk to about “giving me his energy.” I told the therapist about it and he didn’t know what was going on. But, the masseuse was gone soon. Even at some retreats, it starts to sneak in. So, be discerning.
Stephanie, this is right on – thank you!
A couple names come to mind: norman vincent peale, ronald reagan, and donald trump, plus many more. Too many to mention here.
America was actually founded upon these occult beliefs (enlightenment philosophy). The greatest influence of the 1940s, on the right, was Ayn Rand.
I don’t understand how you fit Trump into this? He is a health guru???