New Age Religion
The New Age Movement is a religion that denies being a Religion: A set of beliefs and values about the origin, nature, and purpose of man and the world in which he finds himself.
All human beings are religious, by which I mean, all have a "worldview"—a lens or framework that includes morality through which each individual perceives the world and that shapes what they think about everything.
New Age Religion is an admixture of astrology, psychology, pantheism, paganism, the occult, and Gnosticism, combined with a mysticism drawn from Eastern Religions. It is purposefully confusing so as to avoid refutation, admitting to no doctrine but that each person can create his own personal religion and reality. The idea is supposed to include a brotherhood of unity but involves no community, as that would require organization—the dreaded "organized religion."
New Age refers to the Age of Aquarius. It promises a false utopia through a religious and cultural movement that will unify the human race by removing all barriers. It identifies that which divides people as religion, morality, color, gender, economic disparity, and nationality. Therefore, these things must be eliminated, to be replaced by a New World Order.
The Age of Aquarius
Astrologers believe that the Age of Pisces—what they term 'the Christian age'—has drawn to a close, and that the astrological Age of Aquarius has begun. Each astrological age of about 2,146 years is named according to one of the signs of the Zodiac. Astrologers think each Age has its own cosmic energies. The energy in Pisces made it an era of wars and conflicts, but Aquarius! This is to be an era of harmony, justice, peace, and unity on the earth. Some reckon that the Age of Aries was the time of the Jewish religion; the Age of Pisces that of Christianity; and Aquarius will usher in a new religion to replace all older (antiquated) beliefs.
So, the New Age necessitates a New Age Religion, one that denies the universal claims of the Christian Faith, while making universal claims of its own. But little in New Age Religion is actually new. Much of it can be traced to Gnostic groups that formed in the early days of Christianity, and to even earlier Pagan or Eastern religions.
The New Paradigm
New Age Religion rejects a personal God—and it rejects the very word "religious" in favor of "spiritual." Darwinist evolutionary theory is used to show that religion, too, is evolving towards a higher plane. It declares that all religions were paths to the same destination and all contained an equal but incomplete part of the Truth. The New Age Movement promotes a vision of the future where there will be a planetary spirituality—and planetary political institutions. This is nothing less than a wholesale transformation of human perspective, to develop a completely new understanding of reality, known as "New Age Truth." This involves the creation of a new global paradigm (the entire constellation of beliefs and values shared by the members of a given community). Competing paradigms cannot co-exist and must be eliminated.
The New Paradigm involves a flight from Reason. It includes a more androgynous view of the world, and furthermore, even a running away from the dominance of masculinity and patriarchy to a celebration of femininity. The New Age Movement is decidedly feminine, and since intuition is feminine and Reason is masculine, the New Age is to be lived on the level of feelings, emotions, and instincts. Competition is frowned upon, and the very idea of winners and losers held to be contemptible. The Mother Earth is to be worshiped as divine in place of God the Father.
The New Age Movement
One of the most common elements in New Age “spirituality” is a fascination with extraordinary manifestations, especially paranormal entities that can be reached by “mediums” and through “channeling.” The counselors from the spirit world include many levels of guides, beings, and energies. These manifestations are indeed spiritual (otherworldly), but despite the language of love and light that is almost always used by them, they are not from God.
There is no distinction between good and evil in the New Paradigm. Human actions are seen as the fruit of either illumination or ignorance. Hence we cannot condemn anyone, and nobody needs forgiveness. Believing in the existence of evil is to be shunned as "negative thinking" and "negative thinkers" are to be avoided at all costs. So much for being open-minded, another contradictory New Age claim to fame.
While some New Agers believe in reincarnation, all dispense with the notion of Hell and scoff at the idea of any Judgment of us by the Supreme Being. One of the key ideas is that there is no real difference between the Creator and His creatures. Man, nature, spirit, matter—all are the same thing. Here we see the Pantheism that pervades all New Age thought and practice.
New Age Religion
The current strain of New Age Religion can be traced to Helena Blavatsky, a Russian medium who founded the Theosophical Society in New York in 1875. The stated goal: "To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, caste or color," and "reject the 'irrational bigotry' and 'sectarianism' of traditional Christianity."
Mrs. Blavatsky attacked the “male” God of Judaism, of Christianity and of Islam, in the name of the emancipation of women. She urged people to practice feminine virtues and worship the mother-goddess of Hinduism. Her successor was Annie Besant, who was in the vanguard of the feminist movement. Wicca and “women's spirituality” carry on this struggle against “patriarchal” Christianity today.
Also influential in the formation of New Age Religion have been the teachings of Rudolf Steiner's anthroposophy and Alice Bailey's “Arcane School.” Far from not believing in the supernatural, these folks erected a set of exalted beings they claimed to be in contact with: the Great White Brotherhood of mahatmas. Esotericism—access to a supposedly ancient and hidden body of knowledge available only to initiated groups—is part and parcel of the movement. New Agers believe in Evolution—that living beings evolve towards superior life forms—to the point of believing that human beings are not the end of the evolutionary chain but simply a stepping stone to a higher creature yet to come, just as was the ape.
The Human Potential Movement was developed at the Esalen Institute in California in the 1960s. Strongly influenced by Carl Jung and Oriental Religions, it intertwined psychology and spirituality by utilizing meditation, parapsychology, and the use of hallucinogenic drugs to achieve "mystical peak experiences" of fusion with God and the cosmos. From this came the idea that not only are humans capable of ascending to invisible higher spheres, we can even control our own lives beyond death through untapped powers in our minds. What New Age techniques such as sensory isolation, holotropic breathing, hypnosis, and mantras really do is create an atmosphere of psychic weakness and vulnerability to the powers of darkness.
The New Age Movement agrees with Friedrich Nietzsche that Christianity has stunted the full flowering of humanity. Perfection means achieving self-fulfillment, according to an order of values which we ourselves create and which we achieve by our own strength. This exaltation of the self—at bottom a rebellion against sexual morality—overturns the correct relationship between Creator and creature, and one of its extreme forms is Satanism.
In order to deprecate the Christian Faith—the ultimate purpose of the New Age Movement—it must be preached that Jesus of Nazareth was not the Christ, but simply one among many Christs among historical personages, such as Buddha, for one example, through whom wisdom has been revealed.
New Agers specifically deny the anthropological vision of the Bible, in which human beings are at the center of the world and considered to be qualitatively superior to other natural forms of life. New Age Religionists tell us that there is no such thing as Sin—in particular no Sexual Sin. This is powerfully attractive to those who wish to justify their sexual immorality.
In New Age Religion there is no need for Revelation or Salvation from outside yourself. You only need to use Yoga, Zen, Transcendental Meditation, tantric exercises, biofeedback, crystals, or transpersonal psychology to reach the "cosmic consciousness" of the Universal Mind, which is nothing more than your very own Higher Self. It's all about you, baby!
New Age Terms
Esalen is a community founded in Big Sur, California, in 1962 by Michael Murphy and Richard Price, whose main aim was to arrive at self-realization through nudism and visions produced by consuming copious amounts of psychedelic drugs.
Feng-shui is a form of geomancy, a Chinese occult method of deciphering the hidden presence of positive and negative currents in buildings and other places, on the basis of a knowledge of earthly and atmospheric forces.
Findhorn is a holistic farming community started by Peter and Eileen Caddy in Scotland in 1965 on a quest for universal consciousness, with the goal of harmony with nature, and the vision of a transformed world. It claims to be in contact with extraterrestrials and built a landing strip for them.
Monism is the metaphysical belief that differences between beings are illusory.
Neopaganism is the concept (believed by Hitler, for one) that whatever preceded Christianity is more genuine to the spirit of the land, more in touch with the powers of nature. It is usually matriarchal and magical.
Occultism is simply involving oneself with the occult (hidden knowledge revealed by evil entities). Examples include necromancy, divination, palm reading, stargazing, soothsaying, Tarot Card reading, crystal ball gazing, fortune telling, sorcery, wizardry, voodoo, séances, spell casting, witchcraft, clairvoyance, horoscopes, and black magic. The popularity of these evil arts in the New Age Movement is not surprising since all are expressly condemned in the Bible. (Some might add chakras, amulets, good luck charms, tattoos, and body piercing to this list.)
Parapsychology can include extrasensory perception, mental telepathy, telekinesis, ghosts, and poltergeists.
Planetary Consciousness is a world-view developed in the 1980s to foster loyalty to the community of humanity rather than to nations, to be a "Citizen of the World," to favor a One World Government and the end to all borders.
Reincarnation means that death is nothing but the passage of the soul from one body to another.
Rosicrucians are Western occultists involved in alchemy, astrology, and cabbalistic concepts. The Rosicrucian Fellowship contributed mightily to the revival of astrology in the 20th century.
Shamanism involves practices and beliefs linked to communication with the spirits of nature and the spirits of dead people through ritualized possession (by the spirits) of a shaman, who serves as a medium.
Spiritualism is about contacting the spirits of the dead through a medium. Madame Blavatsky was a medium, and so spiritualism had a great influence on the Theosophical Society. Allan Kardec was influential in the spread of spiritualism in Afro-Brazilian religions.
Theosophy is an ancient term linked to Greek Gnostics and Neoplatonists.
Transcendentalism was a 19th century movement of writers and thinkers in New England who touted the superiority of insight over logic and experience for revelation of the deepest truths. The chief figure was Ralph Waldo Emerson, who moved away from orthodox Christianity through Unitarianism and integrated concepts from Hinduism.
Wicca is an Old English term for witches who practice ritual magic. Wicca was reinvented in England by Gerald Gardner in 1939. Sometimes simply called "the Craft," it has grown more popular since the 1960s.
Christian Response to New Age Religion
According to the orthodox Christian Faith, God came down into human history during the Incarnation, in the person of Jesus. Eternity entered into time. The real "cosmic Christ" is the one who is presently active in the various members of His body, which is His Church. Christians are blessed by the loving care of a personal God. Rather than seeking impersonal cosmic powers, they choose to focus on the real historical Jesus, in particular on the meaning of His crucifixion and resurrection.
For those in the True Faith, spiritual life is a relationship with God that gradually becomes deeper through His grace, and in the process teaches us about proper relationship with our fellow man. Conversion is turning back to the Father, through the Son, to eliminate infatuation with ourselves and overcome habitual sin. Christian prayer is not an exercise in self-contemplation, stillness and self-emptying, but a dialogue of love, a flight from 'self' to the 'You' of God. It leads to an increasingly complete surrender to God's will, which in turn brings the joy and peace of soul for which we all long.
By revealing Himself to man in His written Word, the Bible, God wishes to render us capable of responding to him, of knowing him, and of loving him far beyond our own natural capacity. Besides praying for others, prayer includes three parts: expressing thankfulness to God for all blessings we have received, while acknowledging Him as our God; expressing sorrow for our personal sins and asking forgiveness (which is always granted to the contrite of heart); and asking Him to shine a light on our path so we might walk straight according to His purpose for our lives.
Sin can be best defined as "an offense against God." Therefore, only God can reconcile us to Himself. In the divine plan of salvation, Christ Jesus is the one mediator of redemption. This salvation of which I speak is not an experience of self, a meditative and intuitive dwelling within oneself, but the forgiveness of sin, being lifted out of profound ambivalences in oneself and the calming of nature by the gift of communion with a loving God. The way to salvation is not found simply in a self-induced transformation of consciousness, but in a liberation from sin and its consequences which then leads us to struggle against sin in ourselves and in the society around us.
It is by studying the Bible that we come to understand the reality of sin, and how to clearly recognize sin when we see it. No longer do we attempt to explain it away as merely a developmental flaw, a psychological weakness, or the predictable consequence of an inadequate social structure. Only through understanding God's plan for man can we fully grasp what sin is: An abuse of the freedom that God gives to created persons of Free Will, so they might be capable of loving Him and truly loving one another.
Sin is an offense against what is good, noble, and true. It is caused by a lack of genuine love for God and your neighbors that displays itself as selfishness. Sin is thus self-idolatry, loving yourself (and created things) more than you love God your Creator.
Anything that promotes conceptual confusion or prides itself on secrecy needs to be very carefully scrutinized. It hides rather than reveals the ultimate nature of reality. It corresponds to the post-modern loss of confidence in bold certainties. It is crystallized in Jung's theory that the human being is a gateway from the outer world into an inner world of infinite dimensions, where each person is Abraxas, who gives birth to his own world or devours it. Our personal responsibility to God for our actions is replaced with a sense of duty to the cosmos, thus overturning the true concept of sin and our need for redemption through Christ.
Loneliness is the scourge of postmodern life. The human spirit longs for religious meaning in a time dominated by the godless public religion of Secular Humanism. There is a certain allure to a religion that promises to satisfy your spiritual longings but requires no faith and no morals, especially one that presents itself as having secret knowledge that leads to "enlightenment," "illumination," spiritual self-fulfillment, and so-called self-realization. One cannot help but notice the prevalence of the word "Self" in all New Age writings.
It is also significant that the New Age Movement has enjoyed enormous success in an era that exalts diversity. Western culture has taken a step beyond tolerance—in the sense of grudging acceptance or putting up with the idiosyncrasies of a person or a minority group—to a conscious erosion of respect for normality. Normality is presented as a morally loaded concept, linked necessarily with absolute norms. For a growing number of people, absolute beliefs or norms indicate nothing but an inability to tolerate other people's views and convictions.
The New Age Movement is populated with strange and exotic beings, masters, adepts, and extraterrestrials. It has become home to psychic powers and occult mysteries, conspiracies and hidden teachings. It is ironic to even call it “new” when so many of its ideas have been taken from ancient religions and cultures. New Age Religion appears similar to Buddhism but only on the surface because New Agers do not practice self-denial.
New Age literature is shot through with the conviction that there is no divine being “out there,” or a God who is in any real way distinct from the rest of reality. Spirituality in New Age terms means letting one's individuality sink into the great ocean of Being. These beliefs, drawn from Gnosticism, in cosmic powers and some obscure kind of destiny precludes the possibility of a relationship with the personal God revealed in Christ. New Age truth is about good vibrations, cosmic correspondences, harmony and ecstasy, and generally pleasant experiences.
To the New Age Movement, all religions are the expression of the same inner reality. Therefore, the death of Jesus on the cross must be denied or re-interpreted. That is why we see phony writings such as the neo-Gnostic gospels fraudulently elevated to seeming authenticity by New Age writers such as Elaine Pagels and Dan Brown.
Both cosmic unity and reincarnation are irreconcilable with the Christian belief that a human person is a distinct being, who lives one life, for which he or she is fully responsible. The New Age will be peopled by perfect, androgynous beings who are totally in command of the cosmic laws of nature. In this scenario, Christianity has to be eliminated and give way to a global religion and a new world order.
It must never be forgotten that many of the movements which have fed the New Age are explicitly anti-Christian. Their stance towards Christianity is not neutral, but neutralizing: despite what is often said about openness to all religious standpoints, traditional Christianity is not sincerely regarded as an acceptable alternative.
Western Civilization is by far the crowning achievement of the Human race. Its foundation rests on the fact that there is a difference between male and female; up and down; yes and no; right and wrong; good and evil; real and ideal; relative and absolute; sacred and profane; finite and infinite; human and divine. New Agers see this as a tragic view of the world, a divided world that they hope to bring together in unity through the fusion of body and soul; male and female; spirit and matter; earth and cosmos; religion and science; human and divine. To them, life is not at all about being a servant of God and a servant to your fellow man—as was taught and exemplified by Christ Jesus—but all about your personal growth. It's all about you!
My primary source for this Hub is JESUS CHRIST: THE BEARER OF THE WATER OF LIFE