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The Age-Old New Age Movement EWTN: From an article by Harold J. Berry in the June-August 1989 issues of Confident Living By Prof. Harold J. Berry Also at The New Age Movement is the most dangerous enemy of Christianity in the world today,...more dangerous than secular humanism. This is the knowledgeable opinion of Norman L. Geisler, professor of Systematic Theology at Dallas (Texas) Theological Seminary. Many
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  The Age-Old New Age Movement EWTN: From an article by Harold J. Berry in the June-August 1989 issues of Confident Living  By Prof. Harold J. Berry Also at   The New Age Movement is the most dangerous enemy of Christianity in the world today,...moredangerous than secular humanism. This is the knowledgeable opinion of  Norman L. Geisler , professorof Systematic Theology at Dallas (Texas) Theological Seminary.Many people have never heard of the New Age Movement. Its philosophy, however, has been around for along time, and specific groups are now aligning with it. In his 1978 book, New Age Politics , Mark Satin citedresources of 250 New Age Books/20 Interesting Books by Some Early American Advocates of 'New AgePolitics'/50 New Age Periodicals/100 New Age Groups. In the years since, the publications and groups seemto have exploded on the scene. Various names are associated with the movement, such as Alice Bailey,Benjamin Creme, David Spangler, Levi Dowling, George Trevelyan, Fritjof Capra, AbrahamMaslow, Marilyn Ferguson, Shirley MacLaine and George Lucas .Various symbols are used by the New Agers. In Smugglers From the East  , Don Morris -- co-pastor of FirstFederated Church in Des Moines, Iowa -- recites some of the most frequently used signs: Rainbow,pyramid, triangle, eye in triangle, unicorn , yin-yang (two black and white comma shapes nestledtogether in a circle), goat head on pentagram, and even 666 worked into art. Morris is quick tocaution -- as are most observers -- that a person must not make the mistake, however, of assuming that theappearance of one of these symbols necessarily means that the person associated with it is part of the NewAge Movement. The New Age mind-set has touched almost every area of life: education, culture, history, religion, politics,psychology, science and health. The Movement has no central headquarters; therefore, no leadership or membership lists are available. Sowe have no clear statistics that tell us how many people are followers. Some have sought to determine thenumber of adherents by other means , such as by finding out how many people hold to one or more of themajor beliefs of the New Age. Marilyn Ferguson , author of  The Aquarian Conspiracy  , cites a Gallup poll released in February, 1978,[which] reported that ten million Americans were engaged in some aspect of Eastern religion. New Age hasmuch in common with Eastern religions, so the number of followers of one is likely an accurate measure of the number of followers of the other. But from all the evidence, that number has taken a quantum leap in theyears since that poll.Robert J. L. Burrows, editor of publications for Spiritual Counterfeits Project (Berkley, Calif.), says, TheChristian film Gods of the New Age , arrived at a figure of 60 million [aligned with the New Age Movement] byusing a similar poll that suggested 23 percent of Americans believe in reincarnation.  Television networks in America seek to be as up-to-date as possible on the interest of their viewers. Theyknow about the population's fascination with New Age views. Shirley MacLaine , actress, author andpromoter of New Age beliefs, wrote concerning the interest in making a film of her book, Out on a Limb : They (ABC-TV) spoke of metaphysical searching being popular now and extraterrestrials and UFOs assomething the public was genuinely interested in. The network was correct in its assessment, and theminiseries Out on a Limb (aired Jan. 1987) greatly aided in further popularizing the beliefs of the New Age.But what really laid the groundwork for this Movement -- a movement that emphasizes the mental andspiritual dimensions of mankind and a movement whose beliefs are contrary to biblical Christianity? BACKGROUND Although the words New Age could cause one to assume that these beliefs are new, little is new in the NewAge Movement. The words New Age are derived from the idea that the world is about to enter a utopianage of Aquarius. Astrology -- the belief that the heavenly bodies affect the mundane matters of humanity --gets a lot of attention from the New Agers. It is from astrology that the age of Aquarius is derived.So the name Aquarius has become closely associated with the New Age Movement. In The Aquarian  Conspiracy  , Marilyn Ferguson tells the story of the New Age Movement. She explains her choice of words inthe title.At first she thought conspiracy was too strong a word. But then she said she realized that conspire, in itsliteral sense, means 'to breathe together.' It is an intimate joining. To make clear the benevolent nature of this joining, I chose the word Aquarian. Although I am unacquainted with astrological lore, I was drawn to thesymbolic power of the pervasive dream in our popular culture: that after a dark, violent age, the Piscean, weare entering a millennium of love and light -- in the words of the popular song, 'The Age of Aquarius,' thetime of 'mind's true liberation.'  The New Age Movement seems to be a reaction to the scientific age. During a time when everything hasbecome so objective and particularized, the shift now is to emphasize the subjective and the whole. This shifthas focused attention on the inner feelings and on wholistic (or holistic) health, as well as on global mattersrather than nationalistic ones.In the past, the public educational system of the United States -- from kindergarten through graduate level --has been based on an atheistic presupposition. That is, everything must be explainable apart from asupernatural God. Even though some fine Christian teachers have counterbalanced this presuppositionsomewhat, nevertheless, the system itself has made no room for God. This educational system has produced scientists who have taken the same worldview. Again, although somescientists have been outstanding Christians, the norm has been to explain everything in the experimental labtotally apart from God.A country can rule God out of the classroom and the science lab, but it cannot rule Him out of the hearts of people. [God] has ... set eternity in their heart, the Bible declares (Eccles. 3:11, NASB). Consequently, thereis a spiritual vacuum within the heart of man that only God can fill. When people reject the true God, theybegin to worship other objects. Secular humanism turned to man himself, seeing man as only a highlyevolved animal with no spiritual capacity. The New Age Movement is a reaction to this atheistic view, but it isno closer to the truth than secular humanism is. The New Age Movement has put an emphasis on the mind(as seen in its mysticism) and on the spirit (as seen in its worldview of God, matter and mankind).  BELIEFSDouglas R. Groothuis , research associate with Probe Ministries (Seattle, Wash.), identifies six distinctivesof New Age thinking:1. All is One2. All is God3. Humanity is God4. A change in consciousness5. All religions are one6. Cosmic evolutionary optimism Norman L. Geisler focuses on 14 doctrines typical of New Age religions:1) an impersonal god (force)2) an eternal universe3) an illusory nature of matter4) a cyclical nature of life5) the necessity of reincarnations6) the evolution of man into godhood7) continuing revelations from beings beyond the world8) the identity of man with God9) the need for meditation (or other consciousness-changing techniques)10) occult practices (astrology, mediums and so forth)11) vegetarianism and holistic health12) pacifism (or anti-war activities)13) one world (global) order14) syncretism (unity of all religions)Robert J. L. Burrows cautions: Issues New Agers address do not necessarily come with New Age ideologyattached. Nor does the terminology they use. Holistic, holographic, synergistic, unity, oneness,transformation, personal growth, human potential, awakening, networking, energy,consciousness -- such words occur with predictable regularity in New Age writings. It would, however, beerroneous to conclude that these words always indicate New Age commitment. Although there are manyways to approach an evaluation of the New Age Movement, this analysis will pursue what the Movementbelieves concerning source of authority, God, Jesus Christ, sin and salvation, good and evil, and future life(reincarnation). SOURCE OF AUTHORITY  Generally, New Agers do not speak of a source of authority. If such is referred to, it is not an external  authority but an internal one. In the New Age Movement, the individual is considered to be the standard of truth. New Age proponent Shirley MacLaine reveals the supposed power of the individual when commenting, It's all my dream. I'm making all of it happen -- good and bad -- and I have the choice of how I'll relate to itand what I'll do about it. MacLaine goes on to say, Perhaps everyone has his own truth, and truth as an objective reality simply doesnot exist.  The Scriptures, on the other hand, present objective truths. They are inspired (literally, God-breathed );therefore, they can be fully relied on. The fact of the inspiration of the Scriptures is seen in 2 Timothy 3:16: All Scripture is inspired by God, and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training inrighteousness. The method of inspiration is seen in 2 Peter 1:21: No prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. The extent of inspiration is seen in Matthew5:18: For truly I say to you, said the Lord Jesus Christ, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallestletter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished. So no individual is left to himself andhis inner feelings as final authority; the Bible serves as this objective standard. GOD New Age thinkers show their true colours in what they believe about God. To them, God is not a SupremeBeing distinct from creation -- He IS creation. In developing a worldview about the material and immaterialworld, New Agers reach a faulty conclusion. To them there is only one essence in the universe, andeverything and everyone is part of that essence. This is known as monism, which comes from the Greekword monos, meaning one .Monism is a common view of Eastern religions, especially Hinduism. All creatures, as well as inanimateobjects, are viewed as part of this divine essence. Some of the more commonly known groups in the UnitedStates that share this Hindu view with the New Agers are Transcendental Meditation (also known as theScience of Creative Intelligence), Christian Science and Unity School of Christianity. In fact, in The AquarianConspiracy, Marilyn Ferguson lists Unity churches under discussion groups of Aquarian ConspiracyResources. The monism of the New Age Movement is really pantheism, believing that all (pan) is God(theos). Following this line of reasoning, whatever exists -- whether it's a person, a poodle or a pickle -- ispart of God. This leads observers to say that the worldview in the United States has switched from theatheism of secular humanism (man is the measure of all things) to the pantheism of the New Age Movement(man is god). The god of the New Age Movement is an impersonal presence, not a person with intellect, emotions and awill, as the Bible presents Him. The God of the Bible is a personal Father, not an impersonal force. This reveals why New Agers cannotaccept the teaching of the Bible. They are not able to get beyond the first five words: In the beginning Godcreated (Genesis 1:1). Because they confuse God with creation, the New Agers see God as part of creation --not separate from it. Biblical Christianity clearly distinguishes between God and creation.While rejecting the Bible's distinction between God and creation, the New Agers accept and believe the lie of Satan. Eve told the Tempter that God had said they would die if Adam and she ate from the tree in themiddle of the garden. But the Seducer said, You surely shall not die! For God knows that in the day you eatfrom it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:4,5).Notice that not even Satan indicated they would be God -- only that they would be like God. And even thiswas in only one aspect: knowing good and evil. After the fall of Adam and Eve, God acknowledged whathad occurred: Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil (v.22). This knowledge,as absolute, is an attribute of God (3:5), who is omniscient, wrote Merrill F. Unger. But man, created withonly the knowledge of good, acquired the experiential knowledge of evil through pride and disobedience, andin this manner fell into a state of sin and misery. Satan's lie -- as verified by history -- was You surely shall not die! (v.4). Adam and Eve immediately diedspiritually, for their act of disobedience separated them from God. They later died physically as a result of their sin (see Romans 5:1 2).Because the New Agers think all is One, this leads them to thinking they -- and everything else -- are part of this divine essence. They believe each person is intertwined with God. New Agers even use the Bible tosupport their erroneous beliefs. They are especially fond of Jesus' words the kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:21, KJV). New Agers use these words to claim that each one has a divine spark within because he orshe is part of the divine essence.As in other instances where they use the Bible, New Agers twist the context and words to mean what theywish. Jesus Christ had come to earth to present Himself as the Messiah of Israel. The Pharisees were opposedto Him because He was ruining their established man-made rules, which they had added to Old Testamentrevelation. They were always trying to pose some question to disprove the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.When they demanded of Him an answer concerning when the kingdom of God would come (v.20), Heanswered, The kingdom of God is within you (v.21). Jesus did not mean that these Pharisees had the kingdom of God inside of them. To the contrary, they werethe enemies of everything the kingdom stood for. The word translated within is entos. Although it can have  the meaning of inside , it can also mean in your midst . This latter possibility fits the context, as well as therest of the Bible's teaching. Jesus Christ Himself was the King -- the ruler of the kingdom. When the Phariseesasked Him when the kingdom would arrive, Jesus told them that the kingdom was in their midst, because theKing (whom they rejected) was standing right in their presence.  JESUS CHRIST  Many counterfeit religious groups use the same tactic when explaining who Jesus Christ is - they deny Hisdeity by distinguishing between Jesus and Christ . Those who believe that all is One cannot accept theteaching of the Bible concerning Christ. The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is God. It teaches that He tookupon Himself human form to redeem mankind from sin's penalty. Typically, those who believe all is of one essence make Christ the cosmic principle, or ideal. Jesus wassimply an unusual man, they say, who had this ideal within Him as we all do. Barbara Marx Hubbard says weneed to recognize that the Messiah is within.  The human potential movement among the New Agers is based on the faulty premise that each person isgod and needs only to have his consciousness enlightened so he will realize that fact. And the means to thisenlightenment is meditation. But the forms of meditation are many. Daniel Coleman, writing in Psychology Today  (March, 1977), described 13 different forms of meditation. Each of these approaches, wroteColeman, seeks the same basic psychological change in the meditator's awareness.  The New Age Movement is not the only group that emphasizes human potential. Biblical Christianity releasesindividuals to achieve their true potential in Jesus Christ by freeing them from the burden of sin andcondemnation and by giving them untold optimism for this life. But biblical Christianity is also concernedabout preparing people for eternity - not just preparing them to reach their maximum potential on earth.Although the emphasis on human potential is selling well in the business world, when a person truly looksinside of himself, he finds wickedness and ugliness - not God. The heart is more deceitful than all else and isdesperately sick, says Jeremiah 17:9, who can understand it? (NASB). David Seamands, author of  Healing of Memories , says, I was a missionary to India, and themassive umbrella of pantheistic and monistic Hinduism was a tremendous challenge. It made mean absolute fanatic on Jesus Christ. The one place that I'm not going to budge is on theIncarnation, because I see the tremendous importance of it. 'Whether the Krishna existed ornot,' says my Hindu friend, 'that's not important. It's the Krishna ideal that matters, so thereforeit's the Christ ideal that matters. Whether or not Christ existed is not important.' To that I would and did say, 'No, we're not talking about the same thing. Whether Christ existsor not is not just important. It's absolutely paramount.'   We cannot separate the human Jesusfrom the divine Christ, as the New Agers attempt to do. They believe that the same Christ ideal,or spirit, dwelt in Hercules, Hermes, Rama, Mithra ... Krishna, Buddha, and the Christ.  Sound confusing? It is. The Bible, however, does not leave a person wondering about who Jesus Christ is. Thename Jesus means Saviour. Referring to the child who would be born to the virgin Mary, the angel told Joseph, You shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). The name Christ means anointed one, or Messiah. In Bible times, saying Jesus Christ was the same assaying Jesus, the Messiah. After Andrew first began to follow Jesus, he went looking for his brother, SimonPeter. When he found him, Andrew announced, We have found the Messiah. By inspiration, the Apostle John added in his record of this event: which translated means Christ (John 1:41). Jesus is like no other. He was unique in His birth, life, death and resurrection. He was virgin born (see Isa.7:14; Matt. 1:23); He lived a sinless life (see 1 John 3:5); He died in the place of others to pay the penalty forsin (see 2 Cor. 5:2 1); and He was raised from the dead on the third day and ascended to the HeavenlyFather (see 1 Cor. 15:3,4; Acts 1:11). SIN AND SALVATION  In New Age writings, we search in vain to find references to sin. Because New Agers believe that each personis god, they don't believe in sin as the Bible defines it. Any lack a person has, they say, is a lack of enlightenment. Their solution is to alter that person's consciousness so he will think properly about hisoneness with the Force, or the impersonal presence. Because they explain away sin, they have no need forsalvation in the biblical sense. In their minds, any salvation would simply be a more complete unification withthe One.But this is not what the Bible teaches. Genesis 3, previously referred to, reveals that mankind was separatedfrom God when he disobeyed God in the Garden. Because of this sin, a curse was placed on both mankindand nature (see vv. 14-19). The New Testament confirms that each individual is a sinful being (see Romans5:12). Note that the reason death passed to all of us is that we all have a sin nature. Contrary to what theNew Agers tell us, each person is not god; each person is separated from God. GOOD AND EVIL   The New Age Movement mimics Eastern religions, which distort the distinction between good and evil.Because of the New Age's monastic view that all is One, how can it account for both good and evil? Is theone essence, or force (the Hindu equivalent of God), both good and evil?
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