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The New Age movement infiltrates Business
AUTHOR: Unknown
PUBLISHED ON: May 2, 2003
DOC SOURCE: CCN

    The New Age movement infiltrates Business

  Identifying a New Age Seminar

  Space does not permit us to describe all the organizations engaged
in New-Age-oriented seminars. Our time is better spent listing a few
signposts that signal possible New Age activity. Just because a seminar
displays one of these characteristics doesn’t necessarily mean that it
is New Age in orientation. Nevertheless, it does mean that we should
proceed with care, cautiously discerning the assumptions behind what is
being taught.

  We should be wary of two errors in evaluation. The one rejects any
new management or personnel strategies in business without considering
possible worthwhile features (the quarantine mentality). For example,
if a business seminar stresses an affirmative and hopeful attitude
toward business and gives some practical helps for achievement, well
and good; the whole program need not be rejected. Also, a non-occult
concern for developing intuition may be helpful in some areas of
business. Legitimate elements should be conserved. Yet the opposite
error uncritically inhales anything and everything with the scent of
success, positiveness and optimism and in so doing becomes asphyxiated
by the erroneous (the chameleon mentality).

  The first signpost relates to seminars that stress visualization as
the key to success: they emphasize the purportedly limitless power of
the imagination to “create reality.” What is simply a natural function
of many people’s thinking is absurdly elevated to the status of a
magical principle. Seminar participants may be led through long and
exotic “guided visualizations” for either relaxation or empowerment. In
some cases this may induce a hypnotic trance in which one becomes
vulnerable to suggestion. In other cases people may feel the rush of
omnipotence, as they measure their abilities by the vividness of their
visualization–much like balancing one’ checkbook by figuring out what
one wishes were there.

  Second, seminars that strongly emphasize positive affirmations are
suspect. Some seminars sell the science of self-congratulation. They
say that our problems are, in large part, based on our poor self-talk.
To be “captains of our own destinies” we need to recapture the helm by
praising ourselves mercilessly. Believing in oneself–that is,
believing only the good things and stubbornly disbelieving the rest–is
the key. Though blind positive thinking is not necessary the product of
the New Age, it is consistent with the world view and often used by its
practitioners.

  Although it is true that business people can be hindered by an
unhealthy self-hate, and that a healthy sense of self-regard should be
conserved, in many cases self-deception is hailed as self-liberation.
Yet when Scripture says “You shall not give false testimony against
your neighbor” (Ex.20:16), the principle extends to giving false
witness on our own behalf. A lie is a lie whether it be spreading false
bad rumors about Jones or equally false good rumors about ourselves.
Proverbs charts the course of humility: “Let another praise you, and
not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips” (Proverbs
27:2).

  Third, business seminars may include Eastern/occult forms of
meditation or other “psychotechnologies” under the guise of “stress
reduction” (although all that is labeled stress reduction does not
involve meditation). Some seminars wear away peoples’ common sense and
rational reflection through long hours of psychic assault, resulting in
an artificial and inappropriate change in consciousness.

  Fourth, caution is appropriate in evaluation any business seminar
that “promises you the world” or guarantees they will “change your
life.” Although dramatic claims in the New Age mode about total
personal transformation are nothing less than religious appeals. These
usually pander to the pride that desires self-actualization as opposed
to the humility required to receive salvation from a source entirely
foreign to our fallen frame. Some of those who believe they have indeed
“gained the world” end up with an inflated sense of power that sets
them up for major disappointments.

  Fifth, an exorbitant cost for these miracle seminars may tip us off
to their dangers. Paying a substantial sum of (nonrefundable) money
serves as a good psychological adhesive to insure that people endure
these seminars even when their better judgment would normally propel
them toward the door at the first few signs of aberration.

  Sixth, excessive secrecy about the actual content of these seminars
should cause us to wonder if they are hiding something sinister instead
of simply protecting a marketable commodity. This may take the form of
promoting the charisma of a particular speaker rather than divulging
the content of his teaching. A typical tactic of some sects is to
conceal their more bizarre teachings–such as Mormon polytheism and
“sacred undergarments”–until the recruit is “ready” for them. Some
business seminars may mirror this tactic by concealing activities that
would initially–and rightly–repulse many.

  Seventh, seminars that involve long hours outside of the normal work
schedule and/or require the spouse’s attendance may have the implicit
intention of radically changing one’s world view and manner of life to
fit the New Age mold.

  If these seven point help alert us to New Age tendencies in business
seminars, what can be done to confront these practices and construct
Christian alternatives?

  A Christian Approach to Business

  What should be done if a Christian has identified a recommended or
required seminar as New Age in orientation? The ground of all
successful Christian action is spiritual awareness and discernment. The
first issue is spiritual warfare, with prayer wielded as the chief
weapon.

  With a preparation of prayer, several responses are possible
depending on the situation. If a particular seminar is simply being
suggested, one can politely demur explaining the spiritual roots of
disagreement. This may serve as a springboard for evangelism. In
addition, reasons that are not specifically based on one’s spiritual
commitment–for instance, the seminars are ineffective or just too
“weird”–can be given with the hope that the use of the seminar will be
reconsidered. The Christian employee may also suggest that she attend
an alternative seminar or read materials related to job performance
that do not conflict with her spiritual views.

  It attendance at a seminar is being required and a compromise is
rejected, legal recourse is a possibility (as long as the employer is
not a Christian; see 1 Cor 6:1-7). Tom Brandon of the Christian Legal
Society says: “The employer is prohibited from discriminating against
your religious convictions, and if you said, ‘I’m sorry, I cannot
attend that, it violates my religious principles,’ then according to
Title Seven they have to make reasonable accommodation for that.

  If attendance is being required by any civil governmental
agency,…an appeal can be made that the state is violating the First
Amendment by establishing a religion (through state-funded, required
programs), in this case the religion of the New Age. Of course, for
this allegation to stick, one must reasonably demonstrate that the
practices and concepts used are in fact religious in nature. Since many
of the seminars are based on monism or pantheism that case can be made.

  Given the extent of New Age cultural influence and its targeting of
the business community, a few legal cases setting a precedent against
coercing people against their religious beliefs might be a boon for
religious freedom. Christians need the courage to confront the New Age
wherever necessary—even in the courts.

  New trends in business indicate that workers, managers and
corporations are changing in many ways. To give a few examples: More
women are entering the work force; more workers are content with less
that full-time employment; and workers seem to be valuing the quality
of their work and entire life more highly than simply salary or
prestige.

  As society changes, some changes in business practices will follow.
Some of the emphases of New Age seminars and theory are acceptable and
should be conserved, such as increased worker ownership and
responsibility, a holistic concern for business, the importance of a
vision for business venture beyond mere profit and so on. Yet this does
not necessitate a headlong plunge into the pantheistic deep. Some New
Agers claim that since Christianity “doesn’t work” (for business or
anything else), we must embrace the New Age. Yet I side with Chesterton
who said that “the Christian ideal has not been tried and found
wanting. It has been found difficult; and let untried.

  Just a brief glance at a few Christian ethical considerations
highlights the relevance of Christianity to business and work in
general.

  1. A God-ward Orientation. The biblical prohibition of idols
(Ex.20:3-4; Jer. 16:20) cautions us not to treat profit, prestige or
power as ends in themselves, but as means to serve the Lord in all we
do. Thus business ventures should be undertaken for the glory of God in
order to contribute to his righteous kingdom. A Christian should never
make work itself an idol at the expense of family and church life. A
vertical orientation toward God is necessary for an appropriate
horizontal relationship on the job (or anywhere else.) The Christian’s
“pursuit of excellence” is a divine calling for a divine purpose, not
an exercise in self-seeking.

  2. The Standard of Stewardship. God is the giver of every good
thing; he is the source of all true blessing. We are all debtors to
God. Failing to realize this, we become cosmic ingrates. Any gift we
enjoy–whether physical, spiritual or material–is delegated to us that
we may use it for him. We are the absolute owners of nothing, save our
sin. We are, rather, stewards or caretakers of God’s property. This was
so even before our fall into sin. Some have viewed labor itself as the
result of sin, as if Adam and Eve were created for perpetual
vacationing but somehow fell from leisure into labor. Yet Genesis 1 and
2 teach that Adam and Eve were created in God’s image to cultivate the
earth according to his commands. John Scott gives us a biblical view of
work: “Work is the expenditure of energy (manual or menta or both) in
the service of others, which brings fulfillment to the worker, benefit
to the community, and glory to God.” All work–whether church related
or not–when done for God’s glory, according to his principle and
through his Spirit, is valuable to our Creator. Business people need
not feel like second-class citizens because they aren’t pastors or
foreign missionaries (the so-called full- time Christian workers). The
workplace is a full-time mission field and theater of divine drama.

  3. The Value of the Person. By claiming that humans share the divine
image, Christianity values people as responsible moral agents. For
business this means not treating people as merely means to a better
business, but as valuable in themselves. Yet Christian realism–unlike
New Ago utopianism–recognizes the reality of human sinfulness and
guards against employers having inordinate expectations for employees
or vice versa. And although the profit motivation is not intrinsically
immoral (the Bible affirms that value of private property and
industry), the Bible condemns a profit domination that sacrifices the
value of employees (or consumers) for the sake of greed.

  Wayne Alderson, a Christian business consultant, courageously
stresses this pivotal principle in his Value of the Person seminars
which he has presented to both management and labor across the nation.
He asks:

  Is it asking too much for God’s people to stand up for the values of
love, dignity, and respect in their places of employment? Not at
all..As Christians we are commanded by God to take the Biblical
principles…into the work-world to live for God….I believe God it is
essential that both labor and management exercise their moral
obligation and raise the Value of the Person above the Value of the
Machine. The unrest that the workplace is experiencing in whatever
from, great or small, is just the symptom. The underlying cause is a
lack of human dignity.

  By God’s grace, Alderson has helped management and labor work
together harmoniously by using biblical principles. His gripping story
as steelworker, manager and consultant is recorded in Stronger That
Steel by R.C. Sproul.

  4. Honesty. Christian ethics affirms truthfulness as essential to
moral integrity. Honesty isn’t the best policy, it’s the only
(Christian) policy. “Speaking the truth in love” (Eph 4:15) means
straight talk to employees, no deception in advertising or
merchandising, and no illegalities (in taxes or elsewhere). The Bible
repeatedly warns people to use “honest scales and honest weights” (Lev
19:36)–that is, not to shortchange people through deception, as was
common in that time since there was no official bureau of weights and
measures.

  5. Thrift. In a credit-happy (or unhappy) society, we should
remember that biblical ethics restricts large, long-term debt. Proverbs
warns that “the borrower is servant to the lender” (Prov 22:7), and
Paul teaches that we should “let no debt remain outstanding, except the
continuing debt to love one another” (Rom 13:8). In Old Testament
times, loans were to be paid back within seven years (Deut 15:1-6).
This all goes to show that the modern convention of massive, long-term
debt is less than wise and should be avoided whenever possible. The
application of this principle minimizes economic risk and focuses on
the gradual development of businesses that grow according to real
assets, not according to exorbitant debt liabilities.

  These five principles are just an appetizer of a business
philosophy. I have not even explored the rich tapestry of leadership
examples to be culled from great biblical leaders such as Moses,
Nehemiah and Paul. If the Bible is truly “God-breathed and is useful
for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so
that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2
Tim 3:16), it should be mined for principles, strategies and attitudes
relevant to the business world.

  In the business world–as everywhere else–our strategy should be to
conserve what is already good, to reject and separate from the
unredeemable and to transform all we can in order to please the Lord.
It is not enough to oppose New Age’s insinuation into business–though
that is imperative–we must erect alternatives whenever possible. This
calls for informed Christian activism at both the theoretical and
practical levels, lest the world of business become the captive of
mystics in three-piece suits.

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