Seeking Christian Perspective Regarding ‘The Four Agreements’

By January 8, 2013

Hello, and thank you for your wonderful website! I was wondering if you could give some feedback from a Christian perspective regarding the book “The Four Agreements,” a popular self-help book. It has been recommended to me, and is referred to as a Toltec wisdom book. I was looking to see if you had any thoughts regarding this. Thank you very much! – Norma K.

Norma K.,

This book was touted by Oprah Winfrey, so it became popular. Actually, I think there are several books in the series now, all written by an MD named Ruiz, who is also Mexican/Toltec. It’s not Christian, but Native American in its spirituality.

The four agreements are:

Be impeccable with your word.
Don’t take anything personally.
Don’t make assumptions.
Always do your best.

Agreements 1 and 4 could be problematic for people with eating disorders, because they have a legalistic flavor about them. In other words, obsessive people can ruminate about whether they were perfect in stating what they meant with total honesty, and they can punish themselves where they fall short. The onus in this book is on us–human beings–to do what is right, without a deep understanding of brokenness, grace, and forgiveness.

In Christian spirituality, it is Jesus who is faithful to complete the good work that he began in us, whereas in “The Four Agreements,” WE are responsible in our brokenness for our own development. I am being a little bit simplistic when I make this characterization, but there is truth in it.

As such, as a Christian, I would tend to lean away from reading this book unless I was very clear that I was not reading it as a self-help book, but primarily as a study of other cultures and religious views.

Edward Cumella, PhD