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Understanding the New Age

Written by: Watchman Fellowship    Posted on: 05/02/2003

Category: Cults / Sects / Non Christian Religions and Topics

Source: CCN

                    Understanding the New Age                               by                   The Watchman Fellowship, Inc.                         P.O. Box 19416                       Birmingham, AL 35219

To many people, the New Age Movement conjures up thoughts of Shirley MacLaine, crystals, channelers, and generally an assortment of freakish and faddish practices and people.

Yet, in fact we are seeing a dramatic cultural shift taking place, a movement which has significantly permeated every area or field of culture - education, psychology, economics, physics, medicine, art, sports, entertainment, politics, the business and corporate community, and even the church.

Someone once said that "behavior or actions are the blossoms of ideas."  The Bible says that "As a man thinks, so he is" (Proverbs 23:7).  The New Age Movement is a philosophy or world- view, a way of defining reality and living.  It is a way of defining the nature of man, the material and immaterial universe, God, and all of their intrinsic relationships.

The New Age philosophy is alien and hostile to the Judeo- Christian world view of the nature and relationship of all things.  Therefore its beliefs and implementation will only produce death, both individually and collectively as a culture.

The New Age philosophy is basically a synthesis, in varying degrees, of Hinduism, Buddhism and Western materialism.  It is known by terms like Eastern Mysticism, New Thought, Higher Consciousness, Occultism, and the Human Potential Movement.

Its popularity and challenge to the cause of Christ is formidable.  Christians must become informed and responsive individually and collectively as the church.

Dr. Norman Geisler said in his preface to FALSE GODS OF OUR TIME, "I have been a Christian and a professor of theology and apologetics for almost 30 years, and I am convinced that the twin threats of atheism and pantheism (New Age) are the biggest threats facing Christianity in America today".

The New Age Movement offers quite an assortment of selections for the seeker.  It is like a cafeteria with many entrees for a spiritually starved world, starved by the emptiness of secular humanism or distorted and anemic expressions of Christianity.

This diversity ranges from the overtly religious expressions such as Unity, Christian Science, and Hare Krishna, to the secular in appearance such as EST (The Forum), Lifespring, Silva Mind Control, subliminal tape series, human potential training, and some stress reduction programs.

In many cases what was seen twenty years ago as the dabblings of a fringe group of eccentric weirdos, reading Tarot cards and holding seances, has moved into generally accepted mainstream culture, even into corporate boardrooms.

The sophistication of this movement can be seen in the foreword to the popular basic New Age primer, THE AQUARIAN CONSPIRACY by Marilyn Ferguson, as Max Lerner writes, "...we are in the midst of a knowledge revolution that shows signs of breakthrough: that researchers in the human sciences are moving independently in converging lines toward common targets; that they are discarding traditional models of the cosmos and ourselves - of the nature of nature and the nature of human nature - and reaching for new ones; that they have been spurred on by recent work on the brain hemispheres, on molecular biology, and biochemistry, on the genetic code, on primatology and ethnology, on biofeedback and altered states of consciousness, on medicine and psychotherapies, on archaeology and astronomy, on the evolutionary process, on the structure of language and the nature of meaning, on leadership and power, and on the governance of peoples and nations(P. 12).

If we are not experiencing such a radical demonstrative shift in world-views, then why did a recent national poll suggest that almost thirty million Americans believe in reincarnation (UNDERSTANDING THE NEW AGE, Russell Chandler, p. 20)?  Another poll demonstrated that 60 million (25% of population) believe that reincarnation is a distinct possibility (THE NEW AGE RAGE, ed. Karen Hoyt, p. 19).

.PG Gallup polls, SRI International research, University of Chicago and Northern Illinois University researchers found the following incredible statistics:  14% of the U.S. population believes in spirit mediums; over 10 million are actively involved in eastern mysticism (1978); 67% of Americans read their horoscopes regularly; 36% believe that astrology is scientific, between 1978 and 1984 belief in astrology among school children rose from 40% to 59%; channelers (mediums) are drawing crowds of over 1000 per engagement for $300 - $1,500 per person.  New Age publishing is a billion dollar per year business including Shirley MacLaine's series of 8 million sold, and 7 million of astrologer LINDA GOODMAN'S SUN SIGNS.  Americans spend over $100 million annually on crystals (Chandler, op.cit.,pp. 130-133).  This is just the tip of the iceberg but it is a good indication of what has been happening in the 80's.

The New Age is certainly not new.  It gets its name from the belief that our world is about to enter into a new astrological period, the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.  Thus we are on the brink of an evolutionary leap into a whole new existence - one of personal and world bliss and peace.

Early on the movement began to establish itself in America through the influences of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), English transcendentalists like Thoreau, and Emerson in the early 1800's, Spiritualism, New Thought and Theosophy introduced by Madame Helena Blavatsky (1831-1891).  In this atmosphere grew organized churches like Christian Science and her daughters, Unity School of Christianity and Religious Science (THE NEW AGE RAGE, pp. 22- 25).

The decade of the sixties witnessed a revival of eastern mysticism as traditional values and institutions were being challenged.  Zen, Carlos Castanada, the Beatles and Transcendental Meditation, Yoga, and Timothy Leary with LSD, all became popular ways to answer the perceived dismay and despair of the times (Ibid, p. 27).  Shirley MacLaine's autobiographical series and T.V. mini-series threw gasoline on a fire that was well underway.

Why is the New Age so seductive, widespread and destructive?  The New Age basic beliefs are exactly the same temptation Satan used to cause the destructive fall and alienation of man in the beginning.  The temptation appeals to the primordial nature of man.

This is demonstrated in Genesis 3:1-7.  We are first reminded that Satan is far more crafty than all.  We are reminded in the New Testament that he can even appear as an "angel of light" in his disguises and seductions (2 Corinthians 11:14).

Satan came to Eve subtly questioning the character of God - His goodness, benevolence and wise rule (Genesis 3:1).  He also tempts Eve to question the validity of God's Word (Genesis 3:1,4).  Satan has continued this pattern in many of our seminaries and churches today, causing the obvious death of liberal churches.

Satan's third ploy was to declare that there is no death, no consequences to sin or disobedience (Genesis 3:4).  And finally, Satan proclaims that if Eve partakes of this hidden and secret wisdom (Gnosticism), man will be as God (Genesis 3:5).

In other words, Satan attacks the essence of God's revelation and relationship to us.  Satan wants to destroy the nature of faith - man's total dependence upon the Eternal God as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Instead he beguiles man to believe that he doesn't need God but he himself can "sit in the seat of God" (Ezekiel 28:2).

Adherents to the New Age are at varying levels of commitment and understanding.  Therefore they may express themselves with an inconsistent mixture of Christian truth and eastern ideas.  Some people may even disavow the New Age yet be involved because some of its deceptive and disguised expressions.

Many people with Christian backgrounds are being drawn into the New Age because the group or literature may use Biblical expressions like God, Jesus, Christ, Spirit, meditation, spirituality, etc., and they may even quote the Bible.  This is the pattern of a counterfeit.  Some examples noted are Christians reading and studying Unity's "Daily Word", and medium-transmitted A COURSE IN MIRACLES.

The basic postulate of the New Age is Monism/pantheism - the belief that there is one essence of reality.  There is no God who is a transcendent personal Being and Creator.  Everything is impersonal or an undifferentiated energy or force - often called God.  God is all, and all is God.  In Hinduism, it is expressed Atman is Brahman and Brahman is Atman.

.PG The corollary to this is that there are no real distinctions or polarities between right and wrong, male and female, humans and other creation, between finite and infinite, etc.  These apparent distinctions are only illusions (Hinduism's Maya).  Since man is God, he creates his own reality, making relativism an absolute. There are no moral absolutes.  Since man is God, and Self determines everything that happens, there are no victims and man is unlimited in his potential.  This view not only creates the seedbed for anarchy and apathy, but it dismisses the need for a Savior since there exists no real ethical (sin) and metaphysical separation from God.

All of the thousands of gurus, groups, and therapies have these operating assumptions.  What distinguishes the various groups are the spiritual technologies or methods they teach in order to get the person from his current state of consciousness, to the "Highest" state, God/Self.

This infinite consciousness is called many things depending on the group:  God consciousness, self realization, cosmic consciousness, Higher Self, Enlightenment, I AM, Brahman, Nirvana, or even Christ consciousness (Jesus to the New Age is a man who ascended to be a Master through reincarnation.  The state of Enlightenment is called "the Christ" state, and we are all "the Christ" inherently).

In many corporate Human Potential and training seminars, as well as in some public school program-progressive relaxation (meditation) and guided visualization techniques, coupled with New Age operating assumptions, are used with promises of unlimited potential, less stress, and heightened creativity.

The steps found in most groups to achieve this state usually involve some of the following:  altered states of consciousness (various forms of meditation), reincarnation, yoga, spirit contact, new "revelation" from Akashic records on the astral plane, etc.

The fact that the New Age is a counterfeit of true spirituality is summarized well by Doug Groothuis in CONFRONTING THE CULTS:

1.  Evolutionary optimism/A counterfeit kingdom; 2.  Monism/A counterfeit cosmos; 3.  Pantheism/A counterfeit god and humanity; 4.  Transformation of consciousness/counterfeit conversion; 5.  Create your own reality/counterfeit morality; 6.  Unlimited human potential/counterfeit miracles; 7.  Spirit contact/counterfeit revelations; 8.  Masters from above/counterfeit angels; 9.  Religious Syncretism/counterfeit religion; and I would add, 10.  Reincarnation/a counterfeit gospel.

There is much being written now concerning the New Age movement, giving a Christian analysis and response.  Some of it is good and some not as good.  There are conspiracy theories tied to a particular end-time view which promote more sensationalism, speculation, fear and paranoia than hard facts.

Watchman Fellowship wants to steer a wise course between apathy on one side and sensationalistic paranoia on the other.  That is why we recommend certain books over others.  Ask for our book list.  Also inquire about documentation concerning any of the names or issues.

Discernment is vital now for parents, grandparents, and Christians in general.  Never before have we seen the degree of the prevalence of the signs of the end times (Matthew 24:3- 5,11,23-25; Revelation 17:1-13; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 4:3,4).

We need to be able to clearly communicate the differences between Christianity and Eastern mysticism so that the New Ager know that he has a choice to make and cannot blur the distinctions.

We need clarity and discernment in order to separate the wheat for the chaff.  And we need to truly understand and practice our authority in Christ, spiritual warfare, and discipleship with a comprehensive world view in order to reverse this movement, and see multitudes find life in the true Jesus Christ. ----------------------------------------------------------------- Copied with permission from the Watchman Expositor.  For a free subscription to this monthly newspaper write the Watchman Fellowship office nearest you:

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