New Age Religion, or Old Paganism?|
There is a growing religious movement going on all around us, but you might not have noticed it. This movement has no standard text, no church, no formal organization, no particular membership, and no universal set of beliefs. In fact, many persons involved in the movement would not describe it as a religion at all. Because the movement is not always characterized as a religion, it can be difficult to recognize. Nonetheless, this movement is a religion, and it is having a significant influence on the world around us.
This movement is typically called the New Age Movement, the self-help movement, or the mind-body-spirit movement. It is a mixture of religion, philosophy, and psychology. The focus of the New Age Movement is not God, but rather it is the individual. The basic premise of the religion is that goodness and salvation are completely subjective to the individual. God is not considered as a divine person, but rather the New Age concept of God is that of a force. The variations on this concept within the movement come from Hinduism, Buddhism, and other eastern religious influences, but they can basically be characterized as pantheism. Pantheism is the belief that God is all, and therefore all are gods. As such, each individual is empowered to determine his own destination and salvation from within himself.
The New Age Movement is powered by emotionalism, which explains its wide appeal to carnal people. Rather than their religion being a matter of belief, New Age practitioners make their religion a matter of emotion as they attempt to feel their way to spiritual salvation. To achieve this, they typically depend on so-called metaphysical book writers, television shows, seminars, conventions, and other group arrangements that raise their emotional state until they feel spiritual. In fact, there is such a strong demand for these emotional props that there is a multi-million dollar industry to supply them. Through these things, the individual is encouraged to find his own way, modify his old religious beliefs or reject them altogether, or make any other change in his life that makes him feel complete and happy. It is emphasized that every person’s path to God, enlightenment, salvation, or happiness is different, so each one must feel his way through.
The term “New Age” is a misnomer, for there is really nothing new about it. Much of the modern New Age Movement is borrowed from ancient Gnosticism, mysticism, and other similar heresies. Gnosticism is the belief that individual salvation comes through the superior knowledge (Greek – gnosis) that humans are divine spirits trapped in a material world. Mysticism is a similar belief that an individual can achieve awareness of the divine through some personal insight or experience. These beliefs were already in their infant stages during New Testament times, so the New Age is really just a renewal of these ancient false beliefs.
In similarity to the ancient heresies that the New Age Movement renews, many of its common beliefs are in plain opposition to Bible teachings. For example, the Bible presents God as three divine persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (ref. Matt. 28:19) – in contradiction to the New Age concept. Likewise, the Bible shows that man is clearly distinct from God and is not capable of self-guidance (Jer. 10:23), whereas New Age thought considers man to be part of God and self-determining. The Bible condemns many practices associated with the New Age Movement, such as channeling of spirits, witchcraft, and astrology (Lev. 19:31; 20:6, 27; Deut. 4:19; 18:9-12; Isa. 47:12-15; Jer. 10:2; Eph. 6:12). When early Christians were faced with the similar false teachings of Gnosticism, they were advised to “test every spirit to see whether they are from God.” Those that confessed Jesus Christ were to be accepted as from God, and those who did not confess Him were to be rejected (1John 4:1-6). We should apply the same test to the New Age teachings, and any non-Bible concepts of God should be rejected.
Therefore, do not be deceived by the New Age religion, and be on guard against its evil influence. This movement is becoming more and more mainstream and has influenced many even in the denominational churches. This is evident in their turning away from the Scriptures in favor of modern psychology, “positive-mental-attitude” philosophy, and emotionalism. This movement has a significant foothold in this nation already, and it has the support of some prominent people, such as Oprah Winfrey, who has explicitly rejected the biblical Christ and put her considerable financial backing behind the New Age religion. People such as her are accurately described by 2Timothy 3:6-7 – “For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Beware of such influence, and to not allow it to carry you away from the simplicity of the knowledge of Christ.
Stacey E. Durham
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