Imagination and Visualization

by Dr. Dave Hunt

Occultism has always involved three techniques for changing and creating reality: thinking, speaking, and visualizing. The first one is the most familiar, having been promoted in the world and the church as "Positive Thinking" by Norman Vincent Peale and as "Possibility Thinking" by Robert Schuller. The second is mostly known among charismatics. It is the "Positive Confession" (or Positive Speaking) of the Faith movement.

The third technique is the most powerful. It is the fastest way to enter the world of the occult and to pick up a spirit guide. Shamans have used it for thousands of years. It was taught to Carl Jung by spirit beings, and through him influenced humanistic and transpersonal psychology. It was taught to Napoleon Hill by the spirits that began to guide him. Agnes Sanford was the first to bring it into the church. Norman Vincent Peale was not far behind her, and his influence was much greater. He wrote:

Suppose a trusted friend... said, "There’s a powerful new-old idea... a concept available to all of us that can shape and change human lives for the better in an astonishing way...."

You’d say, "Tell me about it!" wouldn’t you.

That’s what I want to do in this book—tell you about it.

The concept is a form of mental activity called imaging. It consists of vividly picturing, in your conscious mind, a desired goal or objective, and holding that image until it sinks into your unconscious mind, where it releases great, untapped energies....

The idea of imaging... has been implicit in all the speaking and writing I have done.... But only recently has it begun to... be recognized by scientists and medical authorities.… 1

This occult technique has invaded the church. Certain leaders have been teaching visualization for years. In his booklet, The Power of the Inner Eye, Robert Schuller (like Yonggi Cho and others) perverts Scripture by claiming that it advocates the occult technique of visualization. He writes:

In the May, 1985, issue of Psychology Today, there was a wonderful article entitled "In the Mind’s Eye." [It] deals with... visualization.... This is the vision that the Bible is talking about in the verse, "Where there is no vision the people perish."...

I have practiced and harnessed the power of the inner eye and it works.... Thirty years ago we started with a vision of a church. It’s all come true.

On the contrary, Solomon (Proverbs 29:18) is not encouraging the occult practice of visualization! Does Schuller really credit what his church is today to harnessing "the power of the inner eye" through visualization? What did God have to do with it? And if God was involved at all, was it because the practice of visualization somehow compelled Him to do it?

Destroying True Faith in God

Michael Harner declares that primitive shamanism is being revived in the Western world through the use of ancient occult techniques under modern names and for modern purposes: in medicine and psychology, in mind dynamics courses, and in motivational training in the business world. As one professional journal noted, "Ancient shamanic practices are currently being adapted for contemporary use in healing illnesses…." 2 The major shamanic practice, of course, is visualization.

We now have an "American Association for the Study of Mental Imagery" (visualization). The "First World Conference on Imagery," presented by Marquette University and the Medical College of Wisconsin, was held in San Francisco during June 20-23, 1985. Others have followed. These conferences cover the use of visualization in medicine, psychology; education, business, and other areas. Yale University Professor of Medicine Bernie Siegel said years ago, "... applied to physical illness, the most widely used and successful [technique] has been... imaging or visualization." 3 Says Phil Jackson, "Visualization is an important tool for me.…" 4

Visualization has become an important tool among evangelicals as well—which doesn’t purge it of its occult power. Yonggi Cho has made it the center of his teaching. In fact, he declares that no one can have faith unless he visualizes that for which he is praying. Yet the Bible states that faith is "the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). Thus visualization, the attempt to "see" the answer to one’s prayer, would work against faith rather than help it! Yet Norman Vincent Peale declared, "If a person consciously visualizes being with Jesus that is the best guarantee I know for keeping the faith." 5

Calvin Miller, one of the most highly regarded evangelical authors today, has said that "to follow Christ we must create in our minds God’s unseen world, or never confront it at all. Thus we create in our minds the Christ." 6 This is blasphemy. Richard Foster and many others teach basically the same occultism. Listen to Miller again:

Still, imagination stands at the front of our relationship with Christ... in my conversation with Christ… I drink the glory his hazel eyes… his auburn hair….

What? Do you disagree? His hair is black? Eyes brown? Then have it your way.... His image must be real to you as to me, even if our images differ. The key to vitality, however, is the [imagined] image. 7

Once more, this is contrary to Scripture. Of Christ, Peter said, "Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Peter 1:8).

In the previous verse he refers to a future "appearing of Jesus Christ." John likewise speaks of "when he shall appear" (1 John 3:2), and Paul speaks of loving "his [future] appearing" (2 Timothy 4:8). Visualizing Jesus would seem to be an unbiblical attempt to have Him appear before the proper time—unless, of course, one insists that it is only imagination. Yet those who are involved attribute results to this process that could scarcely be explained as resulting from fantasy conversations with oneself.

Furthermore, a "Christ" who would take on any color of hair or eyes and any form to suit the visualizer is not the real Lord Jesus of the Bible and history. Then who is this entity that appears in response to this occult technique to deceive Christians?

More Than Imagination?

We have noted repeatedly, a major evidence that something more than the imagination is involved in occult phenomena is found in the consistent undergirding philosophy communicated by the visualized entities. Another evidence is found in the fact that the same entities make contact repeatedly around the world and throughout history with individuals who have never heard of them nor had any contact with one another, as well as with individuals who were not seeking contact through visualization. The number of times the Great White Brotherhood or the Tibetan Djwhal Khul or various "saints" and "Mary" and even "Jesus" have appeared to those who were not seeking them at all cannot be coincidence.

Consider, for example, the case of Will Baron. He had lost his confidence in the Bible in high school through the teaching of evolution. Later, through drugs and Eastern mysticism, he had become part of the New Age movement. He was, in fact, a board member of the New Age cult Lighted Way. On this special day Will had been doing his usual morning meditation for only a few minutes when, as he reports:

Suddenly, a physical force that I had never felt before seemed to come upon me. Brilliant light filled my whole being... permeating every cell of my body. My brain, especially, was flooded with light, as if a thousand-watt bulb had been switched on inside of my head....

I felt a deep sense of peace.... My mind, my rational thinking was still functioning normally, with clear and precise, logical thoughts. I had not taken any kind of drugs whatsoever.

Suddenly, a man radiating intense golden-white light stood before me. My first perception was that the mysterious, shining figure looked just like Jesus Christ. Immediately a strong intuitive thought... surfaced that told me this person was Djwhal Khul, the high-ranking member of the White Brotherhood of Masters... who had dictated to Alice Bailey the contents of the metaphysical books she had published…. 8

The director of the New Age cult to which Will belonged was a spirit medium. She had an experience similar to his but with a different entity. At least, whatever it was took a different form. Will remembers vividly her excitement as she told the group:

I was awakened in the middle of the night. To my amazement a man stood right in the middle of my hotel bedroom. I was shocked…. He was about six feet tall and had a dignified bearing of great authority. He said to me, "Get down on your knees!... I am Jesus Christ, and I am going to heal you...."

He is power-r-r-ful. He touched my head... blessing me [then] walked straight through the solid, locked door of my hotel room…. 9

That this was not Jesus is clear to anyone who knows the Bible. Moreover, one need not wait until this "Jesus" decides to come for a visit. He can be made to appear at any time, according to the teaching introduced by Peale and Sanford that has been seducing the church for more than 50 years and is still gaining momentum. Just as shamans visualize their spirit guides, so Christians now by the millions are visualizing "Jesus," and He is literally appearing to them—or so they think. One example of this occult invasion of the church comes from a pastor who tells of his first experience in the occult practice of "healing of the memories," which Agnes Sanford brought into the church:

I began to visualize myself as a boy of eight...

"Now see if you can imagine Jesus appearing," [the seminar leader] instructed. "Let Him walk toward you."

Much to my amazement... Jesus moved slowly toward me out of that dark playground. He began to extend His hands toward me in a loving, accepting manner....

I no longer was creating the scene. The figure of Christ reached over and lifted the bundle from my back. And He did so with such forcefulness that I literally sprang from the pew. 10

That this was more than imagination is clear. The one who originally visualized the image of "Jesus" was surprised when it suddenly took on a character of its own and he realized that he was no longer creating the image. This "Jesus" had its own life and personality. There can be no doubt that real contact had been made with the spirit world. We may be equally certain that this being was not the real Jesus Christ. No one can call Him from the right hand of the Father in heaven to put in a personal appearance. The entity could only have been a demonic spirit masquerading as "Jesus."


1. Norman Vincent Peale, Positive Imaging (Fawcett Cress, 1982), Introduction.
2. Network News, "Shamans with Ph.D.s and Private Practices," in Common Boundary, Mar./Apr. 1986, p. 12
3. Bernie S. Siegel, M.D., Love, Medicine & Miracles (Harper & Row, 1986), pp. 147-49.
4. Phil Jackson and Hugh Delehanty, Sacred Hoops (Hyperion, 1995), p. 121.
5. Norman Vincent Peale, Plus, February 1986, p. 10
6. Calvin Miller, The Table of Inwardness, (InterVarsity Press, 1984), p. 93
7. Ibid., p. 94.
8. Will Baron, Deceived by the New Age (Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1990), pp. 61-62.
9. Ibid., pp. 100-01.
10. Robert L. Wise, "Healing of the Memories: A Prayer Therapy for You," in Christian Life Magazine, July 1984, pp. 63-64.