Understanding the New Age
Written by: Watchman Fellowship Posted on: 05/02/2003
Category: Cults / Sects / Non Christian Religions and Topics
Understanding the New Age
The Watchman Fellowship, Inc.
P.O. Box 19416
Birmingham, AL 35219
To many people, the New Age Movement conjures up thoughts of
Shirley MacLaine, crystals, channelers, and generally an
assortment of freakish and faddish practices and people.
Yet, in fact we are seeing a dramatic cultural shift taking
place, a movement which has significantly permeated every area or
field of culture - education, psychology, economics, physics,
medicine, art, sports, entertainment, politics, the business and
corporate community, and even the church.
Someone once said that "behavior or actions are the blossoms of
ideas." The Bible says that "As a man thinks, so he is"
(Proverbs 23:7). The New Age Movement is a philosophy or world-
view, a way of defining reality and living. It is a way of
defining the nature of man, the material and immaterial universe,
God, and all of their intrinsic relationships.
The New Age philosophy is alien and hostile to the Judeo-
Christian world view of the nature and relationship of all
things. Therefore its beliefs and implementation will only
produce death, both individually and collectively as a culture.
The New Age philosophy is basically a synthesis, in varying
degrees, of Hinduism, Buddhism and Western materialism. It is
known by terms like Eastern Mysticism, New Thought, Higher
Consciousness, Occultism, and the Human Potential Movement.
Its popularity and challenge to the cause of Christ is
formidable. Christians must become informed and responsive
individually and collectively as the church.
Dr. Norman Geisler said in his preface to FALSE GODS OF OUR TIME,
"I have been a Christian and a professor of theology and
apologetics for almost 30 years, and I am convinced that the twin
threats of atheism and pantheism (New Age) are the biggest
threats facing Christianity in America today".
The New Age Movement offers quite an assortment of selections for
the seeker. It is like a cafeteria with many entrees for a
spiritually starved world, starved by the emptiness of secular
humanism or distorted and anemic expressions of Christianity.
This diversity ranges from the overtly religious expressions such
as Unity, Christian Science, and Hare Krishna, to the secular in
appearance such as EST (The Forum), Lifespring, Silva Mind
Control, subliminal tape series, human potential training, and
some stress reduction programs.
In many cases what was seen twenty years ago as the dabblings of
a fringe group of eccentric weirdos, reading Tarot cards and
holding seances, has moved into generally accepted mainstream
culture, even into corporate boardrooms.
The sophistication of this movement can be seen in the foreword
to the popular basic New Age primer, THE AQUARIAN CONSPIRACY by
Marilyn Ferguson, as Max Lerner writes, "...we are in the midst
of a knowledge revolution that shows signs of breakthrough: that
researchers in the human sciences are moving independently in
converging lines toward common targets; that they are discarding
traditional models of the cosmos and ourselves - of the nature of
nature and the nature of human nature - and reaching for new
ones; that they have been spurred on by recent work on the brain
hemispheres, on molecular biology, and biochemistry, on the
genetic code, on primatology and ethnology, on biofeedback and
altered states of consciousness, on medicine and psychotherapies,
on archaeology and astronomy, on the evolutionary process, on the
structure of language and the nature of meaning, on leadership
and power, and on the governance of peoples and nations(P. 12).
If we are not experiencing such a radical demonstrative shift in
world-views, then why did a recent national poll suggest that
almost thirty million Americans believe in reincarnation
(UNDERSTANDING THE NEW AGE, Russell Chandler, p. 20)? Another
poll demonstrated that 60 million (25% of population) believe
that reincarnation is a distinct possibility (THE NEW AGE RAGE,
ed. Karen Hoyt, p. 19).
Gallup polls, SRI International research, University of Chicago
and Northern Illinois University researchers found the following
incredible statistics: 14% of the U.S. population believes in
spirit mediums; over 10 million are actively involved in eastern
mysticism (1978); 67% of Americans read their horoscopes
regularly; 36% believe that astrology is scientific, between 1978
and 1984 belief in astrology among school children rose from 40%
to 59%; channelers (mediums) are drawing crowds of over 1000 per
engagement for $300 - $1,500 per person. New Age publishing is a
billion dollar per year business including Shirley MacLaine's
series of 8 million sold, and 7 million of astrologer LINDA
GOODMAN'S SUN SIGNS. Americans spend over $100 million annually
on crystals (Chandler, op.cit.,pp. 130-133). This is just the
tip of the iceberg but it is a good indication of what has been
happening in the 80's.
The New Age is certainly not new. It gets its name from the
belief that our world is about to enter into a new astrological
period, the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. Thus we are on the
brink of an evolutionary leap into a whole new existence - one of
personal and world bliss and peace.
Early on the movement began to establish itself in America
through the influences of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), English
transcendentalists like Thoreau, and Emerson in the early 1800's,
Spiritualism, New Thought and Theosophy introduced by Madame
Helena Blavatsky (1831-1891). In this atmosphere grew organized
churches like Christian Science and her daughters, Unity School
of Christianity and Religious Science (THE NEW AGE RAGE, pp. 22-
The decade of the sixties witnessed a revival of eastern
mysticism as traditional values and institutions were being
challenged. Zen, Carlos Castanada, the Beatles and
Transcendental Meditation, Yoga, and Timothy Leary with LSD, all
became popular ways to answer the perceived dismay and despair of
the times (Ibid, p. 27). Shirley MacLaine's autobiographical
series and T.V. mini-series threw gasoline on a fire that was
Why is the New Age so seductive, widespread and destructive? The
New Age basic beliefs are exactly the same temptation Satan used
to cause the destructive fall and alienation of man in the
beginning. The temptation appeals to the primordial nature of
This is demonstrated in Genesis 3:1-7. We are first reminded
that Satan is far more crafty than all. We are reminded in the
New Testament that he can even appear as an "angel of light" in
his disguises and seductions (2 Corinthians 11:14).
Satan came to Eve subtly questioning the character of God - His
goodness, benevolence and wise rule (Genesis 3:1). He also
tempts Eve to question the validity of God's Word (Genesis
3:1,4). Satan has continued this pattern in many of our
seminaries and churches today, causing the obvious death of
Satan's third ploy was to declare that there is no death, no
consequences to sin or disobedience (Genesis 3:4). And finally,
Satan proclaims that if Eve partakes of this hidden and secret
wisdom (Gnosticism), man will be as God (Genesis 3:5).
In other words, Satan attacks the essence of God's revelation and
relationship to us. Satan wants to destroy the nature of faith -
man's total dependence upon the Eternal God as the Way, the
Truth, and the Life. Instead he beguiles man to believe that he
doesn't need God but he himself can "sit in the seat of God"
Adherents to the New Age are at varying levels of commitment and
understanding. Therefore they may express themselves with an
inconsistent mixture of Christian truth and eastern ideas. Some
people may even disavow the New Age yet be involved because some
of its deceptive and disguised expressions.
Many people with Christian backgrounds are being drawn into the
New Age because the group or literature may use Biblical
expressions like God, Jesus, Christ, Spirit, meditation,
spirituality, etc., and they may even quote the Bible. This is
the pattern of a counterfeit. Some examples noted are Christians
reading and studying Unity's "Daily Word", and medium-transmitted
A COURSE IN MIRACLES.
The basic postulate of the New Age is Monism/pantheism - the
belief that there is one essence of reality. There is no God who
is a transcendent personal Being and Creator. Everything is
impersonal or an undifferentiated energy or force - often called
God. God is all, and all is God. In Hinduism, it is expressed
Atman is Brahman and Brahman is Atman.
The corollary to this is that there are no real distinctions or
polarities between right and wrong, male and female, humans and
other creation, between finite and infinite, etc. These apparent
distinctions are only illusions (Hinduism's Maya). Since man is
God, he creates his own reality, making relativism an absolute.
There are no moral absolutes. Since man is God, and Self
determines everything that happens, there are no victims and man
is unlimited in his potential. This view not only creates the
seedbed for anarchy and apathy, but it dismisses the need for a
Savior since there exists no real ethical (sin) and metaphysical
separation from God.
All of the thousands of gurus, groups, and therapies have these
operating assumptions. What distinguishes the various groups are
the spiritual technologies or methods they teach in order to get
the person from his current state of consciousness, to the
"Highest" state, God/Self.
This infinite consciousness is called many things depending on
the group: God consciousness, self realization, cosmic
consciousness, Higher Self, Enlightenment, I AM, Brahman,
Nirvana, or even Christ consciousness (Jesus to the New Age is a
man who ascended to be a Master through reincarnation. The state
of Enlightenment is called "the Christ" state, and we are all
"the Christ" inherently).
In many corporate Human Potential and training seminars, as well
as in some public school program-progressive relaxation
(meditation) and guided visualization techniques, coupled with
New Age operating assumptions, are used with promises of
unlimited potential, less stress, and heightened creativity.
The steps found in most groups to achieve this state usually
involve some of the following: altered states of consciousness
(various forms of meditation), reincarnation, yoga, spirit
contact, new "revelation" from Akashic records on the astral
The fact that the New Age is a counterfeit of true spirituality
is summarized well by Doug Groothuis in CONFRONTING THE CULTS:
1. Evolutionary optimism/A counterfeit kingdom;
2. Monism/A counterfeit cosmos;
3. Pantheism/A counterfeit god and humanity;
4. Transformation of consciousness/counterfeit conversion;
5. Create your own reality/counterfeit morality;
6. Unlimited human potential/counterfeit miracles;
7. Spirit contact/counterfeit revelations;
8. Masters from above/counterfeit angels;
9. Religious Syncretism/counterfeit religion; and I would add,
10. Reincarnation/a counterfeit gospel.
There is much being written now concerning the New Age movement,
giving a Christian analysis and response. Some of it is good and
some not as good. There are conspiracy theories tied to a
particular end-time view which promote more sensationalism,
speculation, fear and paranoia than hard facts.
Watchman Fellowship wants to steer a wise course between apathy
on one side and sensationalistic paranoia on the other. That is
why we recommend certain books over others. Ask for our book
list. Also inquire about documentation concerning any of the
names or issues.
Discernment is vital now for parents, grandparents, and
Christians in general. Never before have we seen the degree of
the prevalence of the signs of the end times (Matthew 24:3-
5,11,23-25; Revelation 17:1-13; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; 1 Timothy
4:1; 2 Timothy 4:3,4).
We need to be able to clearly communicate the differences between
Christianity and Eastern mysticism so that the New Ager know that
he has a choice to make and cannot blur the distinctions.
We need clarity and discernment in order to separate the wheat
for the chaff. And we need to truly understand and practice our
authority in Christ, spiritual warfare, and discipleship with a
comprehensive world view in order to reverse this movement, and
see multitudes find life in the true Jesus Christ.
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