The New Age Movement
The term "New Age" seems to be saturating the media these days. One can hardly turn on a talk show without being bombarded with some aspect of the "New Age", be it "channeling", or "holistic health", or "astral travel", etc. The so-called "New Age" is big business. " Time Magazine" of December 7th, l987, reported some very interesting facts, namely that Bantam Books reported a tenfold increase in New Age titles in the past decade. Also that New Age Bookstores have doubled in the past five years to total about 2,500. The "Grammy Awards" have a special prize now for "New Age music."
Shirley MacLaine has written five books on the subject totaling 8 million copies. Her recent 15-city tour brought her an estimated income of 1.5 million, and she plans to open a 300-acre retreat in Colorado. She is quoted in this same "Time Magazine" as saying,
"I want to prove that spirituality is profitable". Also "If you don't see me as God", says MacLaine, blithe as ever, "it's because you don't see yourself as God". (page 68, Time Magazine 12/7/87).
One thing is certain. People are flocking to the New Age Movement, or to various parts of it, looking for answers in this life, and the Christian must be prepared to deal with New Age concepts and understand them, if we are to offer these honest, seeking persons, a better alternative.
DEFINING THE NEW AGE MOVEMENT
It is difficult to place a firm definition on the New Age Movement, because it encompasses so many concepts. It mixes revived Gnosticism and Eastern mysticism with health and well-being treatments, and includes astrology, and even mediumship or channeling. Not all persons believe all aspects of the New Age, but practice some of them. We will therefore briefly list some of the identifying marks of the New Age Movement, and present a Christian, Biblical perspective.
SURFACE "RESPECT FOR ALL RELIGIONS"
Christians will notice right away, how difficult it is to witness to a person who has had various experiences in the New Age. When presenting Christian counsel, the New Ager will often reply, "I'll allow you your truth, and you allow me mine". This "reasoning" flies in the face of the meaning of the word "truth". The Doubleday Dictionary defines "truth" as "conformity to fact or reality".
The Christian will wish to use the Bible as "fact" to establish "truth", while the New Ager will wish to use his "experience(s)" to establish "truth". He may even deny reality altogether. New Agers do not want to hear that anything is necessarily "right" or "wrong", "good" or "evil", as each wants to be god and make his own decisions. In our experience, we have usually had to wait until the New Ager has had a bad "trip" with his seeking, and has succeeded in finding out that he no longer has control. He wants help, and he wants out! Persons out of a Christian background involved in New Age activities are often convicted of violating Bible principles when these are lovingly pointed out to them, with real concern.
NEW AGE VIEW OF GOD
The New Age Movement has the Eastern view of God, namely that "God is All" and "man is god". Since they believe that God is the sum total of all things, then there is no evil, nor any standards to live by, according to their reasoning. They are constantly trying to draw closer to the "godforce" or "energy" by their various techniques, indeed, they hope to enter the Godhead. The Bible view is the exact opposite. We worship a personal God, who is the Creator of all. Romans 1:20-23 says,
"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man...."
There is only one scripture in the Bible where humans are told they can become gods, and that was Satan the Devil lying to the gullible and foolish Eve! (Genesis 3:4,5).
NEW AGE VIEW OF THE PERSON OF
New Age teaching presents Jesus Christ as a "world teacher", an "ascended master", a man with "Christ principle", a "cosmic Christ". The Bible presents Jesus Christ as Almighty God manifest in the flesh. (See John 1:1,14). Quite a difference!
I like to ask New Agers, would Jesus Christ teach truth or error? They admit that He would teach truth. Then the Christian is in a position to present the claims of Jesus Christ as to who He is. We recommend the chapter "Defending the Deity of Jesus Christ to the Cults" in our book "Coping With The Cults".
LOOKING FOR MESSIAH
Most New Agers are expecting Messiah to reveal himself any day now. Most believe he is already alive and living somewhere in the world. Those believing the date 1982 for his revealing already have "egg on their faces" for spending thousands of dollars to take out a full-page ad in major newspapers in major cities worldwide, to announce the arrival of the "Maitreya" or "Messiah". Followers were blamed for the failure, for not creating enough positive "energy", so the date has been moved forward, rather indefinitely at this point.
This view does not surprise Bible students as they have been forewarned in 1 John 4:1-3
"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming and now it is already in the world."
We sincerely believe that New Agers have been deceived into anticipating the arrival of the Antichrist.
NEW AGE "SALVATION BY SELF"
The New Age Movement is extremely humanistic. Since each person believes he is a god and in charge of his own universe, it follows that he can "work out his own salvation", and has no need of a savior. He is therefore continually "turning in" with meditation, and striving to become part of the godforce. While missing the true Jesus Christ of the Bible, he tunes in various "spirit guides", and accepts the experiences they give him as "truth". He imagines he is making progress towards salvation, or self-realization. The Bible, once again, presents the opposite view. Rather than being self-sufficient gods, the Bible teaches that we are humans who have all inherited sin from our common forefather, Adam. Romans 5:12 reads,
"Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned."
We truly cannot save ourselves. We may seek in various experiences for light, but Jesus Christ is the true light. John 1: 9,12,13 reads
"There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. But as many as received Him (Jesus Christ), to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
Those seeking for a better life can find it in the person of Jesus Christ who promises in John 10:10,
"...I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly".
CHANNELING - AN ENLIGHTENING EXPERIENCE
OR A DANGEROUS PRACTICE?
Channeling is a popular new word for an ancient experience, that of allowing oneself to be a spirit medium, and have voices supposedly from the dead speak through that person. The person lapses into a trance and has no remembrance of the experience after. No matter how famous or obscure the medium is, the messages delivered are all similar. Namely, that you are god, there is no sin or punishment, good or evil, and Jesus is not the only son of God. Egos are often inflated by claims that the person was somebody famous in a past life. Great wisdom from ages past is supposedly imparted, but, in fact, is usually vague and disjointed.
The Bible strongly warns against contacting spirits through mediums. Leviticus 19:31 says,
"Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God."
God lovingly protects us from demon spirits (New Age word is "entities"), and anyone foolish enough to dabble in the occult in this manner is asking for, at the very least, demon oppression, and very possibly, demon possession. Deliverance is possible, however in the name of the true Jesus Christ.
TUNING OUT WITH
EASTERN MEDITATION AND MANTRAS
Emptying the mind in an altered state of consciousness and calling on Eastern gods or entities will result in the entities visiting you, to guide you spiritually into new, and often frightening experiences.
Bible meditation is the filling of your mind with the truth of God's word and reflecting on what you have learned. True meditation, done God's way, will protect you from the dangerous, counterfeit meditation, of the New Age movement.
Other similar practices to avoid are regression to supposedly former lives, hypnosis, subliminal, suggestive tapes, soul (astral) travel, rebirthing, sensory isolation (floating tanks), or any other practice designed to alter your consciousness. Do not allow your mind and body to be used by demonic "entities". Heed the warnings in the Bible.
HOLISTIC HEALTH WARNINGS
On the surface, holistic health sounds wonderful. It makes sense to treat the whole person, spirit, soul, and body to ensure good health. However, many questionable practices have crept into the movement to treat the whole person. Often, one finds a medically untrained psychic doing the diagnosis, perhaps with the aid of a "spirit guide" or an "entity" posing as a doctor from a former life.
Often Eastern meditation is prescribed, or a diet lacking in essential nutrition. Medically unproved practices abound, such as Iridology (examining the iris to diagnose ailments all over the body), or Kinesiology (the testing of muscles and body balances), and Homeopathy (the treating of ailments with small amounts of poisons to build up a resistance), or Reflexology (the treating of all bodily ailments by massaging various areas of the feet). Of themselves, these treatments may be of some help, but one should examine carefully the beliefs of the practitioner.
For example, some years ago I went to a Chiropractor for a neck problem. He professed to be a Christian but had Eastern-type posters on his wall, saying things like, "The Force be with you". When questioned closely by me, he admitted that he was trying to align my spine so my "energy flow" would be attuned to the universal energy, and not be impeded. I promptly left. Christians need to inquire carefully beyond surface appearances. and choose treatment that will not violate their Christian values, or open them up to oppression by the forces of darkness.
BELIEF IN REINCARNATION
Many today are turning their attention to practitioners who promise to "regress them to their past lives" and deal with lingering traumas from past lives, so they will feel better today. This practice is based on the Hindu doctrine of reincarnation, that when you die, your soul is reborn in another human. In other words, you recycle after death, no heaven or hell, just go around again!
New Agers claim without one shred of evidence that the teaching of reincarnation was removed from the Bible at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. What nonsense! The Council of Nicea dealt with the Arian heresy and the Deity of Jesus Christ. Also, if this claim is correct, then how come recent finds of extremely ancient copies of the Biblical scriptures contain no references to reincarnation? I would suggest that New Agers spend some time in their local libraries finding out the truth about this important matter. The Bible, in fact, teaches the opposite of reincarnation. Hebrews 927 plainly states
"It is appointed unto men to die ONCE, and then the judgment".
BY ALTERED STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS
Hypnotism plays a large part in so-called regressions to a former life. Admittedly, some have been regressed, and have given correct details of a former life. Could this be because the demons have knowledge at their disposal to deceive man? The Bible warns in 1 Timothy 4:1,
"But the (Holy) Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons".
If souls merely recycle (to new humans only according to reincarnation), why then is the world's population increasing, if the same number of souls are going round and round. Also, the birth rate exceeds the death rate, so where are these supposedly newly reincarnated souls coming from? Also, shouldn't we see some evidence of our natures improving after so much purifying?
Beware of the misuse of Bible texts to try to prop up these non-biblical teachings. In context, there is not one scripture to support this belief. It is clearly not of God, and should be avoided.
THE LIST GOES ON AND ON
New Agers also involve themselves in astrology, reading crystals, color therapy, dream studies, tarot cards, physic readings, faith healings, physic surgery, ESP, and even UFO's. Not all New Agers participate in all things, but it is certainly a mixed bag, and a mixed group.
GROUPS ENCOMPASSING SOME ASPECT OF NEW AGE THEOLOGY
This is not a complete list by any means, but we hope it helps you identify some of these groups
Theosophical Society, Christian Science, Unity School of Christianity, Findhorn, Chinook Learning Center, ESP, TM, Eck, est (the Forum), Silva Mind Control, Lifespring, Pacific Institute, Numerology, Scientology, Yoga, Academy of Universal Truth, Kabalah, Masons, Astrology, Baha'i Faith, Aetherius Society, Anthroposophical Society, Edgar Cayce (Association for Research and Enlightenment), Astara, Baba Ram Dass (Hanuman Foundation), Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship, The Holy Order of Mans, "I AM" Movement, Inner Peace Movement, International Community of Jesus (The Jamilians), Jainism, Megiddo Mission, Psychiana, Radha Soami Society, Rajneesh, Rosicrucians, Ruhani Satsang, Sathya Sai Baba, Self-Realization Fellowship, Spiritual Advancement of the Individual Foundation, Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship, Spiritualists, Occult, Sri Chinmoy Centers, Still Point Institute, Subud, Sufism, Summit Lighthouse, Swami Kriyananda Taoism, Unitarian-Universalist Association, Zoroastrianism. There are many others.
The New Age Movement is not new at all, but is Eastern Mysticism and the occult, blended in with humanism. The Christian should not have part in any aspect of it. It has even crept into the Christian church, with some TV teachers promising you can be "a god", and some "inner healing" seminars dabbling in areas they should be avoiding. Christian Bookstores should take responsibility and rid their shelves of Eastern-influence books masquerading as Christianity.
"Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?" (2 Corinthians 6:14).