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A Christian Response to the New Age: Part 3-6

Part 3: God within you – The only way out is in

God within you

The only way out is in. Kneel to your own self. Honour and worship your own being. God dwells within you as You. Swami Muklananda. Quoted in Dave Hunt The Cult Explosion (p. 106)

Apart from the influence of pantheism there is a strong humanistic influence in the New Age movement. Humanism declares, No deity will save us; we must save ourselves. Denying the doctrine of original sin and the saving work of Christ, humanism believes In the basic goodness of man and that the goal of history is our evolution towards perfection through education, enlightenment and social change. This idea is also basic to Marxism and is clearly expressed in the Internationale, the Communist battle hymn:

No Saviour from on high delivers, No faith have we in prince or peer, Our own right hand the chains will shiver, Chains of hatred, greed and fear.

However as we approach the end of the 20th century the optimistic secular humanism with which the century began which expressed the view that humanity has come of age and we are the captains of our fate no longer seems credible.

Most recently the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe has shown the bankruptcy of the atheistic materialist world view. Christians might hope that those who are disillusioned with secular humanism and Marxism would repent and believe the Gospel, but. the evidence seems to be that many are moving towards a new humanism invested with a spiritual dimension which must inevitably produce an even more anti-Christian world view. I believe the New Age movement is ready to fill the spiritual void left behind by disillusionment with our materialistic culture, both the consumerism of the West and the communism of the East. It offers those who seek its enlightenment unlimited potential through achieving union with the life force, the energy within the Gaia system of which we are a part. This involves a definite rejection of biblical Christianity.

The God within

The myth of the Saviour out there is being replaced by the myth of the hero in here, its ultimate expression is the discovery of the divinity within us… In a very real sense we are each other. Marilyn Ferguson in Yoga Journal. (Jul-Aug 81).

New Agers seek to make this discovery through various means – yoga, meditation, bodily disciplines, use of drugs, occult practices, shamanism (witchcraft). Many people are. in fact unaware of how close much of this comes to straight witchcraft, as New Age writer. Miriam Starhawk has openly stated: Witchcraft is a religion… To reclaim the word witch is to reclaim our right, to know the life spirit within as divine. The longing for expanded consciousness has taken many of us on a spiritual journey to the East and to Hindu, Taoist and Buddhist concepts. Eastern religions offer a radically different approach to spirituality than Judeo- Christian traditions. Their goal is not to know God but to be God. In many ways these philosophies are close to that of witchcraft. (Yoga Jownai May/June 1986).

New Agers speak of drawing on the power within us which has been lost by modem civilisation, to rediscover our divine potential and bring about our own spiritual awakening. At a New Age meeting I went to, the speaker told us that as this revelation dawns on people all over the world it will bring about the New Age as humanity learns to live in telepathic communication and the revitalization of the planet takes place. People will discover the ability to live intuitively, using psychic powers to overcome situations they cannot cope with naturally. In the film Star-Wars, Luke Skywalker being instructed telepathically by the dead Obi Wan Kenobi to use the Force to destroy the Death Star is a clear example of this in popular culture. This idea is attractive not only to the counter-culture but also to many in business, education, politics and social services, who organise courses and seminars designed to increase their employees ability to handle difficult, situations by releasing their own potential and discovering latent psychic powers. It also affects the holistic approach to health care which is increasingly influential in mainline as well as alternative medicines.

In the book Holistic Healers (p. 20) Reisser says: The innate intelligence that runs the body is connected to the universal intelligence that runs the world, so each person is plugged into the universal intelligence through the nervous system. Techniques like acupuncture and reflexology seek to make the connection with this universal intelligence in order to bring about physical healing. Many ideas and therapies of psychiatry, particularly Jungs idea of the collective unconscious are also running along parallel lines.

Christian Response

The Bible contains a radically different view of humanity from that of both secular humanism and the New Age movement. It affirms the value of every human being, so great that the Lord Jesus was willing to become man and lay down his life for our redemption. It also leaches that without faith in him we are lost, separated from a holy God by the huge gulf caused by our sins. Trying to cross this gulf by our own effort or by discovering supernatural power within ourselves is as futile as trying to swim across the Atlantic Ocean. Our only hope is to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ who has crossed the gulf from Gods side by taking the punishment for our sins at the cross, so that those who believe in him might experience forgiveness and new birth which makes us children of the living God. In our natural condition God is not within us. In fact Paul says we are by nature “objects of wrath” who “followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient” (Eph.2:2).

God has to be invited into our lives from the outside when we repent and accept Jesus as Saviour and Lord:

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husbands will, but born of God” (John 1:12-13).

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me” (Rev. 3:20).

The New Age view of becoming as God is as old as the serpents lie to Eve in the Garden of Eden:

“You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen, 3:4) .

The fact is that when we look within we do not find what a New Ager once described to me as the pure and innocent part of us that was left behind from the Garden of Eden. We discover that we share in the corrupt human nature which is responsible for all the evil that takes place on this planet. Paul passed judgment on his own self in this way:

“I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do… It is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is in my sinful nature” (Romans 7:14-18).

This is why we fail as individuals and why Communism has failed to produce an equal society, why Hinduism has failed to produce an enlightened society and why nominal Christianity has failed to produce a just and caring society. I have no reason to suppose that the New Age movement will succeed despite its promises and its great invocation to let light and love and power restore the Plan on earth. In fact there is every reason to fear that the New Age movement will bring about the most wicked society of all, because it is encouraging people to look for supernatural experiences within and so people are opening themselves up to evil-spirits working through occult practices forbidden in scripture. If we seek the god within us and deny Christ, we will certainly encounter the supernatural but in the demonic realm. New Age writings abound with claims of messages channelled by spirit beings with such names as Ramtha, Seth and Lararis, A leaflet advertising a session with Lararis in Atlanta, Georgia claimed:

Once we have met Lararis he is like an old friend who somehow we have always known, his joy, his insight, his love makes us realise he has always known us too. (Promotional Flyer, Lazaris. Concept: Synergy, California.)

Participants were promised extraordinary experiences and were told Lararis will again guide us through a meditation to re-tune, restore and recharge us mentally, physically, emotionally and psychically. This sounds like demon possession, the result of occult activity which is warned against in the Bible and which is a sign of the last days. “The Spirit, clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and the things taught by demons” (I Tim 4:1). Focussing on the idea of the god within also encourages human pride, which is the root of the original sin. In comparison with God the inhabitants of the earth are as grasshoppers limited in time, space and wisdom (Isaiah 40:22). When one looks at the actual practice of some New Age cults which accept this idea one sees some of the most appalling idolatry imaginable. Gurus are worshipped as gods as their followers abase themselves before them, in some of the worst cases even to the extent of drinking their urine. On the proceeds of this devotion many of these god-men have become extremely rich as their followers shower money and adoration on them in return for promises of paradise which often end in misery and insanity.

For a personal account of one who fell for this trap and later found true peace and enlightenment in the Lord Jesus, I recommend ‘Gods of the New Age’ by Caryl Matriciana. One further result of succumbing to the delusion that we are gods is that we end up making up our own laws. New Age writer Carl Frederick said, You are the supreme being… there isnt any right or wrong. (Playing the Game the New Way, p. 171). David Spangler, a leading New Age spokesman put it even stronger, We can take all the scriptures, and all the teachings, and all the tablets, and all the laws, and all the marshmallows and have a jolly good bonfire and marshmallow roast, because that is all they are worth. Once you are the law, once you are the truth, you do not need it externally represented for you. (Reflections on the Christ , Findhorn Publications, p. 73).

This view ties in very well with the relativistic morality which is basic to our society and which has also seeped its way into much of the professing church with its lamentable failure to stand up publicly for biblical standards of morality. It is also utter folly and we can see the results in the swamp of paganism and confusion into which our society is falling. We accept that there are external laws for driving our cars on the roads and that if we disobey these laws and make up our own laws we will cause accidents. God has given us laws for our good which are unchanging and apply to every generation and age. The result of rejecting Gods laws and making up our own is not liberation and enlightenment, but the most terrible social accidents, sexually transmitted diseases, broken families, unwanted children, terrorism and violence, drug abuse, etc. Far from throwing away the externally represented law given by God in the Bible, the only hope of saving our society from catastrophe is to repent and turn back to God and live in the light of the new covenant with his law written in our hearts and receiving forgiveness through the blood of Jesus shed for our sins.

Questions

  1. In what way does the New Age movement differ from the idea of human nature taught in the Bible?
  2. How docs the Genesis account of the Fall (Genesis 3) relate to issues raised in this chapter?
  3. Why does the New Age view of God and spiritual experience inevitably lead into the demonic realm?
  4. Why do we need Gods law and word externally represented to us? Which biblical passages would you use to support your argument?

Part 4 – The Christ of the New Age

One of the many confusions which may mislead Christians encountering the New Age movement Is the view of Christ which they express. We should not be deceived by statements professing admiration for Jesus, but test whether the Jesus they are referring to is the one revealed in the Gospels. As the New Age teaching bears a strong resemblance to the Gnostic heresies which plagued the Early Church, the tests of true understanding of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ given In 1 John and the exposure of false prophets in 2 Peter and Jude are very relevant to our response to this question.

World Teacher

In the New Age view Jesus was a great teacher, a Messiah for his time, but not the Messiah for all time. Helen Shuchman summed up this view in her Course in Miracles, a New Age programme which some liberal churches have adopted, but which is profoundly anti- Christian. She says: Jesus was an historical person, but the Christ is an eternal transpersonal condition.

By separating the historical person of Jesus from his title Christ/Messiah the spirit of antichrist is revealed as 1 John 4:2-3 teaches. This is how you can recognise the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the-spirit of the antichrist. The implication of Helen Shuchmans statement is that Christ as a condition came upon Jesus at some time in his life (usually considered to be his baptism) and left him when his mission ended. That same Christ condition had previously come upon other great religious teachers of other faiths and will come upon the New Age messiah who is believed to be coming for our Time. This is actually the Hindu idea of the avatar, the divine mediator who comes at different times of world history to bring in new revelations for that period or age. La Vedi Laffeny and Biid Hollowell writing in The Eternal Dance (p.2) express this view, We acknowledge the World Teacher who appeared as Jesus the Christ, also known variously as the Lord Matreya and the Bodhisattva, as well as other appearances of the Christ through such personalities as Melchizedek, Krishna and Mithra.

New Age Christ

Since the New Agers believe that the present age is the astrological age of Pisces, which is the sign of the fish, a sign associated with Christianity, this idea actually becomes a formula for rejecting Jesus as the Christ, because they believe that the Piscean Age is a dark violent age which is giving way to the Aquarian Age – a millennium of love and light. In order to bring us into this New Age a new messiah will have to come, receiving the Christ spirit which is transpersonal (i.e. can go from one person to another living in another time). New Age writings abound with expectations of a new messiah coming for our age and a consequent rejection of Jesus as Messiah.

In April 1982 the Tara Center publicised the coming of a New Age Messiah through full page newspaper advertisements in many countries:

The Christ is now here . . . pointing the way out of our present crisis . . . He comes not to judge but to aid and inspire . . The World Teacher, Lord Matreya, known by Christians as the Christ. And as Christians await the Second Coming, so the Jews await the Messiah, the Buddhists the Fifth Buddha, the Moslems the Imam Mahdi. and the Hindus await Krishna. These are all names not One individual. His presence in the world guarantees there will be no third World War . . . With His help, we will build a new world.

I was horrified to see on a Christmas Day concert in 1988 on BBC TV the most blatant expression of this hope when in the midst of traditional Christmas carols the song A child is horn was sung. This song has the following words which were not sung but spoken in a dramatic, prophetic manner, The world is waiting, waiting for one child; black, white, yellow, no-one knows. A child that will grow up and turn tears to laughter, hate to love, war to peace and everyone to everyones neighbour, and misery and suffering will be words to be forgotten forever.

This is a clear expression of the New Age dream and the expectation of another messiah, who is obviously not Jesus Christ, coming to save us. Coming in the midst of traditional Christmas carols about the birth of the Lord Jesus it shows very clearly the religious confusion of our time.

Divinity Denied

Many in the liberal churches have accepted this line. Liberal theology has demythologised the Gospels robbing them not only of the miracles, the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection, but even questioning the divinity of Christ. Liberal theologians are agreeing with New Agers that Jesus was a normal man who had Christ consciousness to a marked degree. Dr Rodney Romney, pastor of First Baptist Church, Seattle writes in his book Journey to Inner Space, finding God in us:

This Jesus came to be called the Christ, meaning the Anointed One of God. It was a title he neither invited nor disclaimed. Yet what he did was even more startling. He inferred that each person was potentially a Christ. He claimed nothing for himself that he did not claim for his disciples. The task he gave his followers is to realise the Christ within their own consciousness and to know that the kingdom of God is within them. If they search for it outside themselves they will never Find it. Although Jesus did say I am the way he meant that he was the Way-Shower to God. He was not God and never claimed to be.

Inter-faith Teaching

This apostasy leads straight into the super ecumenical view being expressed by many church leaders, including Dr Runcie, as archbishop of Canterbury, that the spirit of God can be discovered in expressions of all the great world religions. We should recognise that other faiths than our own are genuine mansions of the spirit with many rooms to be discovered, rather than solitary fortresses to be attacked… All the centuries that the Spirit of God has been working in Christians, he must have been also working in Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and others… We must learn to recognise the work of the Spirit at the center of each of our faiths … and … to explore together the moments of revelation and the spiritual treasures which our respective faiths have handed down to us… We need both courage and humility to recognise this work of the Spirit among us in other faiths. (The Sir Francis Young husband Lecture, Christianity and World Religions, May 1986).

Christian Response

Against all this the Bible-believing Christian must recoil in horror, recognising it to be the apostasy which will mark the latter days and give rise to the one the world is waiting to accept as messiah, who is the man of sin, the antichrist. The Bible is absolutely clear that Jesus Christ alone is God incarnate, unique in his status as Messiah and mediator:

I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6). Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men, by which we must be saved ( Acts 4:12). For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men (I Timothy 2:5).

Anyone coming after Jesus Christ claiming to be a Messiah or a mediator between God and man, or bringing a new revelation about how to find God must be a deceiver or antichrist, of whom the Lord warned us there would be many in the end times. False Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect – if that were possible (Matthew 24:24). When Jesus Christ returns it will not be a private event revealed only to a few at a secret location, but a public event visible to all humanity:

So if anyone tells you, There he is out in the desert, do not go out; or Here he is in the inner rooms, do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man (Matthew 24:26-27). Look, he is coming with the clouds: and every eye will see him.. (Rev.l:7).

Moreover we cannot save ourselves by discovering the Christ within:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works so that no one can boast (Eph.2:8-9).

Obedience to God and an ongoing relationship with him brings true spiritual enlightenment and growth, not mystical experiences or attempts to discover Christ consciousness within ourselves.

Gods elect … chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood. (I Peter 1:2).

Questions

  1. Why is it so important to test the spirits in the light of information given in this chapter? How would you do this in practice?
  2. Why is the astrological view of the Piscean Age and the Aquarian Age incompatible with biblical Christianity?
  3. Why is the literal application of verses like John 14:6, Acts 4:12, I Timothy 2:5 under attack from so many quarters both inside and outside the professing church? How would you defend the view that these verses point to the unique stains of Jesus as Messiah?
  4. Why is the teaching of Jesus on his second coming given in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21) helpful if we are to avoid some of these deceptions?

Part 5 – The New Age Agenda

There is actually a Plan and a Purpose behind all creation… World unity is the goal towards which evolution is moving. The world plan includes: A World Organization…A World Economy… A World Relegation. Vera Adler. When Humanity comes of age, (p. 190-193)

Since New Agers believe that all Is one, boundaries and divisions between people, whether national, religious, racial or political are considered artificial and the enemy against which they are working. Thus New Agers can be expected to be Interested in movements advocating world peace, racial harmony. Feminism and ecumenical Inter-faith programs. This again causes confusion for some Christians because some causes adopted by New Agers appear moral and for the good of humanity and one may be considered narrow minded and bigoted if one criticises them or withdraws from such movements. But we need to ask where they are coming from and where they are going to. They are coming from a view of the world which emphatically rejects the unique role of Jesus Christ as mediator between God and man and is moving towards a one world government guided by a world religion which resembles eastern religious systems and pre-Christian paganism. In such a world the committed Christian who seeks to present the Gospel message has no part – in fact Christians who insist on staying loyal to the Lord are certainly amongst those considered unfit to participate in the New Age.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the grand guru of Transcendental Meditation has said: There has not been and there will not be a place for the unfit. The fit will lead and if the unfit are not coining along there is no place for them. In the Age of Enlightenment there is no place for ignorant people. Nature will not allow ignorance to prevail. Non existence of the unfit has been the law of nature. (inauguration of the Dawn of the Age of Enlightenment. ).

Just as many naive and gullible Christians have helped Communists come to power, impressed by their propaganda about peace and justice, so many professing Christians are actively helping to further New Age programs today, lacking discernment to see the difference between Gods programme for world redemption as it is revealed in the Bible and the New Age programme, which, if successful must lead to the anti-Christian system prophesied for the end times.

Multi-Faith Objectives

The New Age programme, as we have seen, is based on a fusion of humanism, the occult and the expectation of a change in human consciousness with a new messiah coming for our age. New Agers are encouraged by current trends in the world. Much of Christendom is in disarray with prominent clergy publicly denying the foundation beliefs of Christianity. The ecumenical multi-faith view expressed by Dr Runcie in chapter four has become the new orthodoxy amongst leading churchmen. New Age writer Lola Davies has praised the World Council of Churches, which she says has potential to serve as a source of unity among a diversity of religions. The West is becoming more familiar with the eastern religions because of the efforts of some (Towards the world relegation for the New Age p.212)

Rome too, appears to be is moving down this path. Leading New Ager, Benjamin Creme has said, Pope John Paul II is one of the few leaders who has consistently proclaimed the same message as Matreya the Christ. Significantly the Popes New Year message in 1990 called on humanity to build the hoped for civilisation of love not for Christians to build the kingdom of God. There are many danger signs in the Popes enthusiasm for world peace and unity that are very similar to New Age objectives of one world government and one world relegation. On October 27th 1986 the Pope organised the Assisi World Day of Prayer, involving amongst others the Dalai Lama, Hindus, Sikhs, Moslems, Bahais, Shintoists and pagan cult leaders, including snake worshippers from Togo.

Commenting on this Michael de Semlyen says Romes leadership of both the peace movement and the multi-faith advance towards religious unity parallels her central role in the quest for political unity. Ecumenism – Where is it leading us? (p. 25). Parallel to this desire for world peace visions of Mary are being claimed by Catholics all over the world especially in Eastern Europe and the messages bear a strong resemblance to New Age messages about a coming age of peace and light.

Political Objectives

On the political front there is also great encouragement for New Agers. Disarmament talks between USA and USSR and the changes taking place in both Eastern Europe and South Africa are seen as the result of the great invocation for light and love to fill the earth. When Gorbachev addressed the United Nations (7/12/88) he announced that he no longer regards the Marxist dogma of class struggle as relevant to the modem world, which, he said, needs to work together for a new world order through a universal human consensus. The universal human consensus mediated through the UN is exactly what the New Agers are working for and there is a meditation room in the UN building in New York where people of all faiths are encouraged to meditate and pray for this goal of political and religious barriers between people coming down.

Sri Chinmoy, Hindu mediator and chaplain at the UN has said. The United Nations is the way, the way of oneness, that leads us to the Supreme Oneness. It is like a river flowing towards the source, the Ultimate source. The United Nations becomes for us the answer to world suffering, world darkness and world ignorance… A day will dawn when the vision of the United Nations will save the world. The UN – An Instrument of Unification, Share International Magazine 4, no. 3, Mareh 1985.

As national governments find themselves unable to cope with the problems which are international in character – pollution, wealth distribution and financial debt, terrorism, drug trafficking, AIDS, etc – the possibility of an international organization having power to regulate the affairs of the nations is attractive to many. Europe is already moving fast down this road and may well become the example for a greater unification of the nations.

Christian response

The trend towards unity, both religious and political, would seem to be here to stay. Those who stand against it will no doubt be accused of bigotry and standing in the way of peace and progress. Where they are in positions of influence, once the New Agers gain power, they will be removed from those positions, especially when they are committed Christians. Bible believing Christians should not go along with this trend towards unity. It is a unity based on a denial of the Lord Jesus, who has broken down the middle wall of partition and made peace between those who were previously enemies through the shedding of his blood at the cross (Ephesians 2:13-14). A unity which denies this must be the false unity of Babylon, first attempted at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 2) and which the prophetic scriptures warn us will arise again in the last days in Mystery Babylon the Great (note Babel and Babylon is the same word in Hebrew). This will have both a religious dimension (Revelation 17) and a political dimension (Revelation 18). The instruction to believers is clear:

Come out of her my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any other plagues. (Revelation 18:4).

Ecumenism

The New Age movement and the ecumenical movement cannot bring in the age of peace and unity of which they dream. This Utopian vision is shattered on the rock of the biblical truth of Gods sovereignty over history and the fact of the sinful nature of humanity. Because it is based on the humanistic idea that we can save ourselves it will fail and inevitably lead not to liberation but to tyranny. There will be no millennium of love and light while human beings are in the dark, and the only way we can be delivered from this present world darkness into the light of God is through the true light of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ.

When the utopian religious vision for changing the world confronts the reality of human sinfulness, it inevitably become repressive and dictatorial. There are two basic reasons for this. Firstly the people trying to change the world are still in the dark themselves. Secondly the people they are trying to change fail to conform and resist what is being imposed upon them. In the Middle Ages the Roman Catholic Church sought to impose its will on heretics by the Inquisition and sank to depths of cruelty and tyranny in the name of Christ. When the Communists encountered resistance to the paradise on earth Lenin promised to build, they used force to destroy their enemies, which led directly into Stalins reign of terror. Islamic revolutionaries have imposed another dreary, corrupt police state on the countries they rule, intimidating and smashing those who resist them and refuse to submit to their version of despotic Islam.

Persecution of Believers?

The New Age movement also recognises that there will be those who do not fit into the New Age. Ruth Montgomery writing in Threshold to Tomorrow says. Those who survive the shift (i.e. the change into the New Age) will be a different type of people from those in physical form today freed from strife and hatred, longing to be of service to the whole of mankind… The souls who helped to bring on the chaos of the present century will have passed into spirit to rethink their attitudes. {p. 306) The question is, will they need a little help to pass into spirit? Texe Marrs in his book Dark Secrets of the New Age (p. 144) believe such statements are coded messages pointing to the need to execute those who resist the New Age. He cites Moira Timms book Prophecies and Predictions: Everyones Guide to the Coming Changes in which it is said that those with obstinate attitudes will graduate on to planes of existence more suited to their unfoldment. Marrs comments: This is a thinly veiled commitment to wipe off the race of the earth those who worship God and His Son only and deny the New Age man- god doctrine. The biblical prophecies of the end times make it clear that Christians will face persecution (Matthew 24:9-10, Revelation 13:10) At that time the Lord will stand by his people and give them special wisdom by the Holy Spirit (Mark 13:11), so that those who know their God will be strong and do exploits for him (Daniel 1 1.32). By knowing his word we should not be deceived by false promises of world peace when they are made by those who reject the Prince of Peace. “While people ate saying. Peace and safety, destruction will COME. On them suddenly as labour pains on a pregnant woman and they will none escape” (I Thessalonians 5:3).

The Reign of God

The Bible does not encourage us to believe that this age will end with humanity solving the problems of the world either by the New Age or any other political or religious agenda (including Christianisation of the world). In fact Jesus clearly stated that this age would end with a time of “great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now” (Matthew 24:11, and that if God did not intervene by cutting short those days no human being would survive). Any realistic assessment of what is going on in the world today must make this distinct possibility in OUR Time, which would mean that we are expecting a totally different scenario from that expected by the New Age. The nations are collapsing in a swamp of moral decadence, violence and deception, as in the days of Noah. For all that we talk about ecology we are making little or no progress towards reversing the catastrophic effects of industrialization in destroying the earth. Far from moving towards the revitalization of the earth by learning to live in telepathic communication we are heading for the destruction of the earth as the greed, folly and wickedness of mankind reach their fullness in these days.

On the other hand the Bible does encourage us to believe that there is a new age coming in which “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9) and “they will beat their swords into plough shares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war any more.” (Isaiah 2:4). But this will not happen on this side of the coming of the Lord, but only after his feet stand on the Mount of Olives when he will come “with all the holy ones” (Zech 14:5) and be “king over the whole earth” (Zech 14:9).

To prepare for this day we need to respond ourselves to the message of the Lord and to share it with the world in its desperate need. “(God) commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:30,31).

Questions

  1. The possibility of persecution or martyrdom awaiting Christians in the West is hardly ever mentioned in our churches. Do you think this is the will of the Lord?
  2. How would you discern when it is right to come out of a church or a business in which you are involved?
  3. In what ways is the inter-faith ecumenical movement moving along parallel lines to the New Age movement?
  4. Why do so many movements promising to enlighten and liberate humanity end up doing the opposite?

Part 6 – The New Age and the Church

We have already mentioned some ways in which New Age ideas are Infiltrating the church. Once the church abandons its belief in the divine inspiration of scripture and the unique status of the Lord Jesus as the one mediator between God and humanity it is inevitable that these influences will abound. If the Bible is not regarded as the authoritative word of God there is nothing that can expose false doctrine. It is the Bible that bears witness to our need to be born again and filled with the Holy Spirit. Human beings who are created in the image of God have a God-shaped space within them and if this is not Filled with the genuine experience of the Lord they will reach out for the counterfeit. Few people will be satisfied for long with the dry intellectualism of higher critical theology and few will see much point in continuing church attendance if all the minister is telling them is that the Bible is unreliable and there is no supernatural or miraculous element possible.

For example Don Cupitt, condemning exorcism as an irrational superstition, has said, Imperfect as it is, we must accept that scientific knowledge is all we have. Liberal Christianity. Yet it would seem that even in the extreme liberal wing of Christianity which Cupitt represents, there are dissenting voices to this rationalistic attitude. Where such dissent occurs and does not lead to acceptance of biblical teaching on the supernatural, there is often an open door to New Age mysticism. A church, which has become a leading example of this, is St James Piccadilly, London. In April 1989 the Buddhas birthday was celebrated in the church with the following invitation given:

For many people in the New Age movement Wesak – the full moon when the sun is in Taurus – is the most important spiritual event of the year. It is an opportunity for the most intense and focused spiritual work. This particular full moon is celebrated in the East as the Buddhas birthday. There is also a living legend, which states that at this full moon the Buddha and the Christ join together with all other liberated beings and with the communion of saints to invoke a great annual blessing for the planet. We shall be celebrating Wesak this year with an inter-denominational meditation ceremony in the church. We invite people of all cultures, religions and belief systems to join us in this great inner celebration.

St James Piccadilly has a programme, which openly incorporates New Age thinking and practices – yoga, meditation, Zen Buddhism, alternative healing, parapsychology and New Age music concerts. The leadership of the church claim to give teaching on contacting and trusting your own inner voice which appears to deny the work of the Holy Spirit communicating with us. They say: Everyone needs and wants guidance. Ultimately however the only true guidance comes from your own inner self, which alone truly knows the path and lessons that you need. But how do you contact this inner knowing and having contacted it how do you know whether to trust it? This sounds very similar to the search for the god within ourselves’, which we analysed in Chapter 3 of this booklet.

Creation-Centred-Spirituality

Also on offer at St James is Creation Centred Spirituality. The attraction of this approach is its concern for the environment and its attempt to discover ways in which we can live at one with creation instead of destroying it by technology. It also seeks to find ways of channelling human energy into harmonious and creative life styles and to break down the barriers between races and nations. The following programme was given the title The Global Warming of the Heart; the evolution of a loving Earth:

Our myriad crises and difficulties share one underlying cause: our fragmented view of who we truly are, and our belief that we belong to separate nations, races and creeds. Out of this belief come so many ills – the wars and persecution, the growing catastrophe of the global environment, the poverty, hunger and pain that afflict so many.

And yet, a different music can be heard, stemming from a steady growth of commitment, determination and love by people all over the world; the music of the Global Warming of the Heart. By opening our hearts to embrace our true unity as one people, on one Earth, we release the creativity needed to take actions to honour Teilhard de Chardins plea:

The Age of Nations is past: the task now, if we would not perish, is to build the earth.

The leading proponent of Creation Centred Spirituality is Matthew Fox, a Dominican theologian who has a wide influence among Protestants and Catholics. From Foxs writings it soon becomes clear that Creation Centred Spirituality is almost more than a concern for the environment and better international relations. He identifies Fall/Redemption theology as the root of evil in Western civilisation. Fall/Redemption theology is defined as the belief that Adams descendants are automatically sinners because of the sin of their ancestor and can only find redemption through repentance and faith in the sacrifice of Jesus at the cross. This is replaced by a theology of blessing, which is the theme of the book Original Blessing described as the primer of creation theology.

In a review of this book in the magazine Resurgence, Colin Hodgetts describes Foxs four paths to blessing:

  1. The first is that of befriending creation, of lasting its beauties and cosmic depths.
  2. The second of befriending darkness, of exploring our divine depths, allowing pain to be pain, a theology of the cross.
  3. Path three is that of befriending our creativity and our divinity, a celebration of the coming together of the first two paths, a theology of resurrection.
  4. Creativity needs criticism and direction which is provided by the fourth path which takes compaction as the fulfillment of the spiritual journey, a theology of the Holy Spirit.

Gnostic Heresy Revived

In the teaching of Matthew Fox we see Christian terminology – the Cross, the Resurrection, the Holy Spirit – being used, but the direction we are being taken in leads into the New Age movement, not into New Testament Christianity. Instead of discovering God out there, God is understood as the great underground river of our unconscious mind. Fox encourages us to immerse ourselves ecstatically in the created world, whereby we become like the Creator and lake on the Creators characteristics Whee! Whee, Whee All the Way Home (p.79) and experience our growth into divinity Original Blessing (p.85).

He rejects the fundamental dualism of man or woman and nature and even more the most gross of all dualism’s. . the dualism between the divine and us. Original Blessing (p.236). This is clearly a Christianised expression of the New Age belief in our potential godhood. In radical opposition to conventional Christian values. Fox advocates means of attaining God consciousness through natural ecstasies – including enjoying music, the arts, revelling in dance or natural beauties or lovemaking, and tactical ecstasies such as fasting, chanting. Yoga, Zen, Transcendental Meditation and drug taking. His theology embraces evil as a vital part of our dialectical way of living. We need to allow sin its rightful and even instructive place in our own and others lives. Original Blessing (p. 161).

Fox recommends and clearly practices prolonged humming in a circle of the Hindu word for the divine force, OMM. In understanding the basis of all sin as dualism Fox identifies evil with fall/redemption theology, a spirituality for the oppressor which he claims is guilty of false thinking about God and creation. Whee! We, Wee All the Way Home (p.l02). In creating a genuine spiritual renewal for the Age of Aquarius, Foxs main aim is not to co-exist with orthodox theology but to uproot and eradicate it and to re-root man in creation ecstasy, our true home. (For further consideration of this subject see Margaret Brearleys article, Matthew Fox: Creation Spirituality for the Aquarian Age published in Christian Jewish Relationships, vol. 22, no. 2, 1989.) Foxs paganised Christianity is a restatement of the grosser forms of Gnosticism which in effect said Love God and do what you like and against which Paul wrote What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning, so that grace may increase? By no means! (Romans 6:1).

It is also an entry point for New Age concepts into the church. These ideas have already influenced Creation Festival liturgies, which have been used in British cathedrals. Fox himself is clear that his goal is the fundamental redirection of Christianity in a way, which would abandon the whole concept of sin and the redemptive work of Christ for our salvation. For evangelical Christians this is the heart of the Gospel.

Christian Response

All of this highlights the need for a sound biblical basis to the faith in order to resist these deceptions and false teachings which are flooding the church and Western society. We also need to seek God for the gifts of the Holy Spirit in order to discern the work of the enemy and to have power to minister to those who have been caught up in this web of deception. The tragedy of much of the believing church today is that it is so often divided between those who are meticulously concerned for sound doctrine and yet deny the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in our day, and those who are caught up in a continual quest for the kind of supernatural experience that stirs the emotions but leaves the intellect behind. To be on the victory side in this battle we need both to “eagerly desire spiritual gifts and to be adults in our thinking” (I Corinthians 14:1,20).

We need also to keep our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfector of our faith, understanding and being able to explain to others the vital doctrines of his pre-existence, his incarnation, his unique status as Messiah and Mediator on our behalf and his coming again in judgment at the end of this age. We also need to consider urgently and positively our response to the legitimate issues, which New Agers are concerned about, and which have been neglected by so many Christians, for example, environmental issues, health care and international relations.

To provide guidelines on how we should respond to these issues is beyond the scope of this booklet. However it should be clear from what we have said about the environmental issue that biblical theology showing why we should be concerned for the environment as Gods creation, of which we are stewards, is of great importance if we are to respond adequately to the New Age challenge.

Conclusion

Christians who are concerned to counter the great deception of the New Age movement should learn from the bank which trained its employees to recognise forged bank notes by having them study every aspect of genuine notes. As a result they became so familiar with the genuine article that they could easily spot the counterfeit. This is relevant to our study of the New Age. There is a danger of becoming so alarmed at the deceptions taking place that we spend all our time studying deception in all its forms with the idea that this knowledge will save us from being deceived. Those who do this run the risk of ending up with a wholly negative ministry, analysing every word spoken or written for heresy and New Age influences and becoming narrow minded legalists with a critical spirit.

The First Letter of John is helpful to our study of this issue. It was written with the aim of countering the many deceptions, which were plaguing the early church towards the end of the First Century, many of which bear a strong resemblance to the issues we have raised in this booklet. Johns message focuses our attention on the real Person of the Lord Jesus Christ and authentic Christian experience. Within the Epistle are three tests by which we may know that we are in him:

  1. The doctrinal test by which we understand that Jesus is the Christ who alone has bought us salvation through his death and resurrection, cleansing us from our sins by his blood.
  2. The moral test by which we walk in the light, confessing our sins and practicing righteousness.
  3. The social test by which we love one another in deed and truth.

It is vital that we lay hold of this as we challenge the New Age movement and apply each of these tests to our own walk with the Lord and that of our Christian fellowships. As we confront New Age and its allied deceptions we need constantly to remember that the New Testament reveals the Father as a God of Love who has the power to protect his children. John declared He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world (I John 4:4).

The New Age movement is certainly an enemy of our faith and behind it we see the power of the enemy at work with the intention to harm us and to destroy the souls of those for whom Christ died. But we are told by the Lord to love our enemies and pray for them. There are those who would like to pretend that we have no enemies and make friends with all and sundry on the basis that we are all children of God. We should be in no doubt that we do have enemies but God has given us the power to recognise them and to discern their works. Having done that we should pray for them and seek to make them our friends by presenting them with the truth revealed in Jesus Christ.