The New Age Movement
Modern Controversies #6
Trying to identify and catalogue the teachings that are identified with the New Age movement is a challenge. There are no little boxes and cubby holes to put it in. Clark and Geisler concluded their summary by saying: "We must warn again that we have identified themes in this chapter, not doctrines." (page 131). In this however we CAN identify certain themes that continue to crop up. Such a list would include a corrupted concept of God and the universe, the false notion that we are gods, 'channeling' (necromancy - conversing with the dead), reincarnation, the concept of karma, the denial of evil, the denial of salvation from sin, the denial of 'objective reality', and the denial that Jesus is THE way, THE Christ, THE Son of God. Other concepts would also include the use of 'crystals' (rocks with cosmic power), 'Harmonic Convergences', and other occult practices.
Nature of God
We are so accustomed to the concept of God being separate from His creation that it is hard to fathom people holding any other view. Hard as it may be, this is a basic difference we have with new-agers. Starting with the concept of 'monism' they quickly move to pantheism. Monism comes from 'mono' meaning "one", hence it is the belief that all that is, is one. Everything is interrelated - so completely interrelated that there is in reality no difference or distinction to be made between things. All is one - one is all. It is a small step from here to the idea that all is God and God is all - pantheism. This becomes - "there is no 'personal God' ". Hence, God is no longer understood to be separate from the universe - He is not the creator of the universe. Of course the Bible reveals that in the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth, that He is 'before all things'. The Creator and the created are two different things. The created exists only because the Creator brought them into existence. To worship the 'creature' instead of the Creator is idolatry (see Romans chapter 1).
You Are God
Since all is one, and one is all - since all is God and God is all, then it would follow that WE are God. Same lie - 2nd verse. Satan used this lie in the beginning with Eve - you shall be wise as God. Now, we find that it is still being used. While it is true we are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26) - it is still true that we are His creation and not 'gods'. Probably the most publicized statement of this error was by Shirley MacLaine's movie with her standing on the beach and declaring 'I am god. I am god'. In her book, Dancing in the Light, she states: "I know that I exist, therefore I AM. I know the God-source exists. Therefore IT IS. Since I am part of that force, then I AM that I AM." This was the title that God used of Himself in Ex. 3: . It is also the claim that Jesus made in John. The Jews on that occasion declared such was blasphemy against God and worthy of death under the Old Testament. They were right - if Jesus claim was not true. To paraphrase a recent comment - I know Jesus, and you are NO JESUS. It has been pointed out that since I am 'god' - surely I would know it since God is all knowing. If I do not know it - then I am not god. My ignorance itself would be proof that I am not God. There are many other such quotes from almost all versions of new agers. No matter who says it - it is simply a lie - it is not true.
People have always been fascinated by death. What happens when people die? Universally it has been believed that the 'person' goes somewhere - even though the body decays and rots. Can I talk to that person? Since that person is no longer bound by a body and its limitations, does he now have access to greater knowledge -knowledge that will help me in my life? There have been those in every generation that have sought after communication with such dead ones. In the Old Testament God strictly forbade such - Deut. 18:10-11. They were to rely upon the revealed Word of God. That which He had revealed was to be considered sufficient for the times. In the New Testament God has revealed himself 'once for all' - Jude 3. This revelation is complete and will furnish a spiritual man unto all good works - thoroughly furnishing him unto such. If spirit beings were to speak unto us they would be limited to speaking what has already been delivered. (See Gal. 1:8-9, 2 John 9-10). Seeking to communicate with dead people is clearly a breach of faith for a child of God.
"It is appointed unto man once to die and then the judgment" - Hebrews 9:27. Such is the clear declaration of scripture. However, most New Agers feel that one time around is just not sufficient to 'get it right'. Besides, there is the little matter of 'karma' (see comments below) - how are people to 'get what they deserve' if they die before the 'get it'? Reincarnation. They go around again - and again - and again. In most Eastern religious teachings one could come back as 'anything' - a plant, a frog, a cow, a person of a higher caste, etc. This has led to the problem of dealing with animals and plants in India and such countries. They may be your grandmother - reincarnated of course. Some have thus been led to wear masks over their nose and mouth in order not to inhale some gnat or fly (i.e., grandma). The other drawback is seen in the rigid caste system. If you came back in a lower caste (i.e., determined by family and skin color) it was because you deserved it. You were experiencing the karma of a previous life. You deserved whatever treatment came with such caste. Mistreatment of those in a lower caste was just their lot in life - you have done nothing wrong if you so mistreated them. New Agers commonly put a 'western twist' upon this teaching. Most have dropped the concept of coming back as a toadstool - or even as a cow (or bull). They have also dropped the caste system. Now you come back in order to 'do better' - to learn that you are god. This is supposed to continue until finally you do learn such.
This doctrine basically teaches that each action and / or thought carries with it an inevitable consequence. In order for such 'consequence' to be fulfilled, one MUST be reincarnated. All such 'punishment' apparently takes place in 'life'. While few if any would deny that there are consequences - the real consequence is the judgment that will come after death - again read Hebrews 9:27. This concept of karma has lead to the horrible conditions of the eastern societies. If one is 'poor' - it is his karma - he is being punished for his deeds. To try and alleviate such pain of poverty would be to fight against the very foundation of their religion and karma. Hence - leave them alone. If one is born in a 'lower caste' - it is again because of the law of karma. They deserve to be there. It would be wrong for them not to be there. Again - leave them alone. If one is raped - it is because they deserved it - it is their karma. If one is mugged - they deserved it - it is their karma. It seems to me that if such were true - then we would all be on an eternal downward spiral. Each time around would involve even more 'karma'. Yes, there are consequences for our actions. Thankfully, there is also forgiveness with God through Jesus Christ. Yes, there are consequences for our evil actions but thankfully there is repentance. We do NOT have to continue in evil circumstances. Yes, there are consequences for our evil actions - but thankfully for Christians they end in
death and judgment. Because of Jesus we can hear: "well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the joys of your Lord".
As LaGard Smith said: "One of the most surprising links in the New Age chain of beliefs is that there is no right and wrong, no good and evil. Everything just is." (Crystal Lies, pg. 108). Though many would deny any such thing, Smith provides some interesting quotes to prove that they teach such.
"Only you have ever determined what is good and what is bad, what is right and what is wrong." (p. 31)
"It is only an entity's attitude toward something that makes it a beautiful or a vile, evil thing." (p. 105).
"In the cosmic make-up of all that is, there is no such thing as evil." (pp. 124, 125).
"Since everything is a part of God, if you were to say that any one thing is evil, you would also be saying that god is evil, and he is not." (p. 124)
The above is quoted in Crystal Lies, pg. 108, quoting from J. Z. Knight's book, Ramtha (Sovereign Press, 1986) - page numbers refer to Knight's book.
If I am 'god', and god does no evil - then whatever I do would be good and not evil. While many who have dabbled with New Age teaching might deny such - it is the logical application to their doctrine of god AND IS held and taught by many of them. Where do you begin to show such is completely in error? You could show that there are things that the God hates - read Proverbs 6:16f, Galatians 5:19f, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. It is not hard to show that the Bible declares there is SIN and that all have sinned. Start with "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" and "If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us" (1 John 1:8 & 10). Then go and read Eccl. 7:20; 1 Kings 8:46; Psalm 14:1-3; Psalm 143:2; Prov. 20:9; and Romans 3:23. For those who have experienced the trauma of rape this is unacceptable. For those who have suffered the lose of a loved one by murder - this is unacceptable. For those who have experienced the evil doings of this world - such teaching is preposterous. Evil is real - and the evil doer will be brought into judgment by God.
If one believes that there is NO EVIL - that no matter what one does it is 'O.K.' - then there can be no such thing as salvation. If there is no judgment - there is nothing to be judged for. If there is nothing to be judged for - there is no being 'lost' or condemned. If there is no condemnation - there is no salvation for there is nothing to be saved from. And so it goes. One can not read the Bible without being acutely aware that its message is one of salvation. Jesus came to seek and
to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). Jesus himself said: "And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. (John 12:47) He is the savior all men, specially of them that believe (1 Tim. 4:10). Peter proclaimed " Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Those that believe and are baptized shall be saved (Mark 16:15-16).
Create Own Reality
One of the most unbelievable claims of the New Age movement is the claim that reality is whatever we make it. LaGard Smith quotes again from Knight's book Ramtha (see Crystal Lies, p. 103-104) and gives us an example of their teaching on this:
"I am here to help you realize that only you, through your sublime intelligence, have created every reality in your life; and with that same power, you have the option to create and experience any reality you desire. (pp. 1,2).
Now, what is God in its most exalted form? Thought. With Thought, your body would not exist, matter would not exist - nothing would exist, for Thought is the creator and supportive element of all life. (p. 31).
You are the one who is wholly responsible for all you have ever done, been, or experienced. You, who have the power to create the magnificence of stars, have created every moment and every circumstance of your life. (p. 45)
Your greatest creations are unhappiness, worry, pity, misery, hatred, dissension, self-denial, age, disease, and death. (p. 47)
This life is all a game; it is an illusion. All of it is! (p. 49)
Life, this grand stage, is your kingdom. It is the platform upon which you create your illusions, your imaginations, your dreams. This wondrous stage affords you the opportunity to dream into existence any reality you desire. For the god that you are has the unlimited freedom to dream any thought, embrace the feeling of that thought, and manifest the dream into reality -- and anywhere in-between you can change your mind. (p. 95)
You can take from the totality of thought that God is and create any truth, any attitude, any desire you wish. Whatever truth or attitude you create in your thought processes, the Father, Life, readily becomes. (p. 105).
WOW! Several things quickly came to mind - I mean, became reality to me. I must have THOUGHT before I existed - for my being was a result of my thoughts. I created my own mother - or perhaps in the words of an old silly song, I am my own grandpa. Perhaps my high school teacher was right - we all were DEAD during study hall. Reminds me of a story that Mark Twain told about breaking a leg in a small town. There was no 'real doctor' there so they called a Christian Science practitioner. She proceeded to tell him that his leg was not broke - that pain and sickness were only an illusion. If he would think differently he would be well. During the conversation she stepped backward - right on an old tom-cat's tail. Needless to say the cat let out a howl and took flight through an open window. Twain remarked - "It appears that that old cat is as deluded as I am."
Sorry to disillusion you but reality is no illusion. There is a reality. People don't get raped because they WANTED it. People aren't mugged and robbed because THEY WANTED IT. No one would deny that much pain comes from our own thinking - but it also comes because of our ACTIONS. That is, we live in a world of reality - when you lose your balance and fall from an eight story building you can expect pain and / or death to follow. We live in a real world - even cats know that much.
"Whom do YOU say that I am?" No greater question faces each of us - for the answer we give will determine our eternal existence. Ramtha (again quoting from Crystal Lies (pp. 99-100) by LaGard Smith - who is quoting from J.Z. Knight's book, see above): Yeshua ben Joseph, who you call Jesus of Nazareth, is a great god, just as you are a great god. But he is not the only son of God; he is a son of God. He was a man who became God, just as you will become God. (p. 36).
Yeshua is your brother, not your savior. (p. 37). A Christ is anyone who realizes that he is God and lives that truth. (p. 36).
If this is what J. Z. Knight believes - then she stands in condemnation before God. Without believing that Jesus is THE Christ - one CANNOT be saved. " I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins (John 8:24). " He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned "Mark 16:16".
While there are many other areas of teaching that probably should be discussed, these should be enough to convince us that the New Age movement is a direct challenge to the teaching of the Bible. One CANNOT believe what the Bible teaches AND embrace the teachings of the New Age movement. As with most error, the sad things is that so many people DO believe it. It is equally disheartening to see that it is being pushed by those that are in positions to get it public notice. We need to be informed - and to publicly take a stand against such teaching. Indeed we are in a spiritual warfare. Brethren, let us rise up and fight the good fight of faith.
For further reading I would suggest several books - some of which are quoted from in the above article.
F. LaGard Smith, Crystal Lies, Vine Books, Servant Publications, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
F. LaGard Smith, Out On A Broken Limb, Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon
>From denominational writers you might want to check out:
Douglas R. Groothuis, Unmasking the New Age, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois
Douglas R. Groothuis, Confronting the New Age, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois.
Erwin W. Lutzer & John F. DeVries, Satan's Evangelistic Strategy for this New Age, Victor Books
Mark C. Albrecht, A Christian Critique of a New Age Doctrine - Reincarnation, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois.
David Clark and Norman L. Geisler, Apologetics in the New Age, A Christian Critique of Pantheism, Baker Book House, Grand
By Hugh DeLong
From Expository Files 3.6; June 1996