1. Key Facts
|The New Age movement has been called “the fastest growing alternative belief system in the country.”
|The New Age movement is a loosely structured network of individuals and organizations, who share a vision of a new age of enlightenment and harmony (the “Age of Aquarius”). They believe in monism (all is one), pantheism (all is God), and mysticism (the experience of oneness with the divine).
|The New Age movement is not really a cult; there is no particular creed or single organization to join. It is more of a movement with great diversity and different causes, including holistic health professionals, ecologists, political activists, educators, goddess-worshipers, reincarnationists, astrologers, etc.. Nevertheless, they share a common vision and worldview.
|Syncretism – combining and synthesizing different and sometimes contradictory religious and philosophical teachings
|Monism – all is one. “Life is a Divine Oneness.” We are like waves in a single cosmic ocean.
|Pantheism – God is all and all is God. God is an “it.”
|Deification of Humanity – Humanity is God.
|Transformation – We are transformed as we realize our oneness with God, humanity, and the universe. Our planet is transformed as transformed individuals take responsibility for the world.
|Ecological Orientation – Since all is one, we must care for nature. To damage nature is to damage ourselves.
|Coming Utopia – A new world is coming with a one-world government, global socialism, and a New Age religion.
|Spirituality – An openness to Eastern meditation, altered states of consciousness, reincarnation, and channeling. A rejection of organized religion.
|Statistics – It is impossible to know how many New Agers there are. However, there has been a marked increase in New Age-related activities, such as astrology, spiritism, psychic experiences, and interest in Eastern religions. There has also been an explosion of New Age products and bookstores.
|Popular New Age books have been A Course in Miracles, Out on a Limb by Shirley MacLaine, and The Celestine Prophecy.
2. The Impact of the New Age Movement
|Health care – New Agers have been strong proponents of holistic health care, focusing on the whole person and his or her surroundings. They also emphasize energy, not matter. They teach that we can unblock and redirect energy flow in the body as a means of healing through methods such as acupuncture, acupressure, therapeutic touch, and biofeedback.
|Psychology – The human potential movement is a natural outgrowth of the New Age worldview. We are taught that we are our own god, and we can create our own reality. “Empowerment” is the key, through affirmations (positive self-talk) and visualization (mental pictures of what we want to create).
|Ethics – Because all is one, there are no moral wrongs and rights. Everything is relative. We all create our own destiny – even victims of crime. When the acting teacher of Shirley MacLaine’s daughter was burned beyond recognition in a head-on collision, MacLaine wondered, “Why did she choose to die that way?” Reincarnation and karma will bring about justice in the end.
|Politics – A One World government is necessary to recognize the oneness of humanity. “Think globally and act locally.” Political agenda items include ecological conservation, nuclear disarmament, relieving overpopulation and starvation, transcending the masculine and feminine in society, and redistributing wealth on a global level.
|Education – Many textbooks have removed references to Christianity, but include many New Age ideas including Eastern meditation, Indian spirituality, yoga, chanting, visualization, and values clarification (helping students discover their own values rather than the values of their parents or society).
|Business – Business has embraced the human potential movement, to increase productivity, foster better employee relations, and bring greater sales. Seminars help participants create their own reality and realize their unlimited potential.
3. Factors Giving Rise to the New Age Movement
|Nineteenth-century Transcendentalism – The elevation of intuition over the senses as a means of finding “truth.”
|Revival of the Occult – Spiritism, astrology, etc.
|The Inadequacy of Secular Humanism – Secular humanism taught that humanity and human reason were all-sufficient. This human reason did not solve every problem, people craved something more – something divine. The New Age movement met that need.
|The 1960’s Counterculture – The 1960’s introduced an openness to new options and ideas. It also fostered anti-materialism, utopianism, an ecological outlook, a rejection of traditional morality, and an interest in the occult.
|Influx of Eastern Ideas – The flood of Eastern ideas and practices into North America paved the way for the emergence of New Age beliefs. Hindus and New Agers hold similar views of God, the world, humanity, and salvation.
|New Age Belief
|The Bible contains hidden or secret meanings – especially the sayings of Jesus. Only some see these secret meanings. The Bible supports the New Age worldview. It teaches that all is one, all is God, and man is God.
Revelation has also come through other religious leaders (Buddha, Krishna, etc.). Revelations continue to be received from disembodied humans, “space brothers” (UFOs), and channelers.
|The Bible is to be interpreted literally, allowing for figures of speech. It is not a book of esoteric symbols full of hidden, secondary meanings. Jesus’ own teaching was clear and open, not hidden and secret.
Leaders of other world religions did not teach the same truth. Jesus claimed to hold exclusive truth. Channeling is to be rejected by Christians. Departed human beings are not available for contact.
|God is all and all is God. All is one. God is an impersonal Force, or Consciousness, or Energy.
|The idea that all is God confuses creation with the Creator. Jesus did not teach a pantheistic idea of God. The idea that everything in the world is God can’t explain evil. Christians believe God is personal, the Creator and sustainer of the world.
|Jesus was a mere human, but he became the Christ. He went as a child to the East to learn from Hindu gurus and holy men. Jesus is an enlightened “way-shower,” on par with Buddha, Krishna, and Zoroaster.
|“Jesus” and “the Christ” are not two distinct persons. Jesus did not go East; he remained in and around Nazareth as he grew up. Jesus was not one of many enlightened masters; he is uniquely and eternally God.
|Man is God. He therefore has unlimited potential. Man, as God, can create his own reality.
|Human beings are not God. They do not possess the attributes of God. No human being even comes close to God’s greatness and majesty. Instead, we are finite creatures created by God, responsible to our Creator.
|Human beings don’t have a sin problem; they simply are unaware of their divinity. They therefore don’t need salvation from sin. Therefore, Jesus did not die to provide salvation from sin. Through reincarnation, a person is eventually “reunited” with God.
|Human beings are not God. The Bible teaches that we have a sin problem and are in need of salvation. The Bible does not teach reincarnation; it teaches we die once, and then face judgment.
|Some believe in a singular “Second Coming” involving an individual named Maitreya, who will take the primary leadership role in the New Age. (Maitreya supposedly presented his credentials before 200 media representatives and world leaders at a conference in London in April 1990). Others believe in a mass “Second Coming” in which there will be a mass incarnation of the cosmic Christ in all humanity.
|New Agers present contradictory views of the Second Coming. Scripture reaches that the same Jesus who ascended into heaven will come again at the Second Coming.
5. Tips on Witnessing to New Agers
- Begin your discussion on a topic on which you likely have compatible views, such as ecology, human rights, social justice, or the rejection of humanism.
- Focus on how the objective, certain historical revelation of Jesus Christ is superior to mystical revelation.
- Ask them about the problem of evil. If all is one and all is God, then evil and good are one. How can it be said that Hitler’s extermination of six million Jews was part of God?
- The statement that all truth is relative must therefore be relative, i.e. not necessarily true.
- Focus on the personal God of Christianity, compared to the impersonal New Age God.
- Point out that human beings are not reincarnated; they live once, die once, and then face judgment (Hebrews 9:27).
- Show that man’s problem is sin and not just an ignorance of divinity.
- Befriend New Agers. “And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:24-26)
- Don’t lose your patience or talk down to them.
Groothius, Douglas. Unmasking the New Age. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1986.
Rhodes, Ron. New Age Movement (Zondervan Guide to Cults & Religious Movements). Grand Rapids, Zondervan 1995.