This is our 2nd part in a 4 part week series entitled, “Does it Matter What I Believe?”. It is my hope that during this series you will be strengthened in your faith and deepen your understanding of what a relationship with God is all about. Each week we are also looking at alternative belief systems that are tripping up our family and friends and our culture. Last week, we talked about 4 specific truths that inform a healthy worldview:
A Healthy Worldview
1) Truth matters
2) Faith alone is not enough
3) The object of your faith makes the difference
4) Jesus Christ is the only worthy object of faith
New Age Movement Background
This week we will be looking at the New Age Movement. There are many variants and facets of the New Age Movement. After today you should be able to identify something that has New Age Movement principles in them, regardless of their name or title, and you should be able to recognize where they are at variance with the truth of the Bible. If you are wrestling with the authority or reliability of the Bible, you may want to pursue a tape series in our Resource Center entitled “Basic Bible Doctrine”).
Last week we said that many people follow Islamic spiritual pathways(salvation by works) even though they are not Islamic. Likewise, many people in business, educational, community settings follow and are taught New Age spiritual values, sometimes without understanding the spiritual base of the seminar or system they are being taught or utilizing.
Years ago, I took two young staff members to a training meeting put on by a nationally known seminar company. The topic was managing staff. The first 90 minutes of the seminar was literally nothing but distilled New Age religious thought about human potential, presented in an authoritative and focused fashion to insure that managers practiced the principles of the Human Potential Movement. I went and spoke to the presenter, got a refund, and had an extended conversation with my two young staff members.
Here are a couple looks at New Age realities:
“I direct my thoughts to the world of my inner being. I see world leaders, friends, and adversaries joining together in fellowship to resolve issues, forgiving each other”(not a bunch of feel-gooders; came from the weekly meeting of Pentagon Meditation Club)
One in 7 Americans believe in trance channeling according to USA Today survey reported in January 1987. (where a person goes into a trance and “channels” an ancient spirit or ascended master –typically for a pretty hefty consultation fee; most often found on the West Coast and particularly in the Peoples Republic of California)
“You are part of every atom in the world, and every atom is part of you…the self itself is the ground of all being, that from which everything arises”(EST Training)
Note that all of these teachings find their root in ancient Eastern religious systems which are not as common here in the U.S.(Hinduism, Buddhism), but these Eastern mystic systems have been adapted for commercial use here in the U.S.
Here is a working definition:
New Age: “systems of belief and thought which pursue a mystical interpretation of reality and the pursuit of occult practices to enhance spirituality”
There are some positive things about New Age teaching that are in line with Christian doctrine including concern for the environment, peace, ethics, spirituality, human rights. However, in the New Age movement, reality and truth are negotiable. Some New Age leaders admit that goal of “unitary consciousness” can only be achieved if all hindrances to human potential are removed. For example, John Price (author and New Age thinker) proposes that up to 2 billion people with “lower vibratory rates” might need to be eliminated to achieve global consciousness.
New Age Belief Systems
God: Man’s Higher Self, an inner manifestation of divinity
Jesus: An office, a status of enlightenment (e.g. a representative of higher consciousness)
Man: God in embryo, a divine being whose realization of deity must be awakened
Creation: All that exists is part of God
Redemption: Spiritual awakening or transformation can be achieved by affirming our divine essence and cultivating mystical phenomena.
So I think we should follow the lead of the noted Christian television personalities who, after having been involved in various questionable activities, replaced any references to “sin” with terms like “moral failure,” and “momentary lapse.” Wouldn’t our churches be more cheery places if we all did the same?
Many already are, as the modern rendering of Romans 3.23(“all have sinned)–from the SMNAV (Shirley MacLaine New Age Version)–illustrates: “For all have experienced momentary lapses and have come up a tad shy of the Divine Entity’s absolute ideal, but hey, nobody’s perfect. So don’t worry. Be Happy!” Philip Wiebe in the Christian Leader (April 25, 1989). Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 10.
Knowing Christ is the object of our faith
“Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.”(Colossians 2:18-19)
A fundamental distinction between New Age practices and Biblical Christianity is the object and goal of faith. For New Age, it is connection with cosmic consciousness and inner progress. For Biblical Christianity it is relationship with Jesus Christ, who is the Head of His Body.
What is the object of meditation? Him or You? Who controls visualization? Lord or demon?
Demonic Activity does exist
“You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.”(Acts 10:37-38)
Occult Practices have serious consequences
“When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the LORD your God.”(Deuteronomy 18:9-13)
Ouija boards, seances, psychics, channelers are all mediums for contact with the spirit world.
What Can I Do?
Make Jesus the issue
“Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” ( 1 John 2:22-23)
Find your life in Him
“For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”(I Peter 2:24)