• What is New Age spirituality?
Those are four questions I want to answer in this article. I hope it’s helpful to you.
What is New Age spirituality?
New Age spirituality is a diverse blend of teachings from ancient religions like…
Mix all those together and you get what people call “New Age spirituality" or even more simply "New spirituality" (abbreviated NA here in this article). And it is immensely popular today in America, for reasons why we will see shortly. But, despite its label, New Age spirituality is not new. In fact, several of the popular beliefs embraced by New Age adherents can be found in basic form in the lies Satan told Eve in Genesis 3…
Of course, this is the grieving account of Satan deceiving Eve there in the Garden of Eden long ago. But thousands of years later Satan is still doing the same thing, even telling many of the same kinds of lies. As I said a moment ago, many of the popular beliefs embraced by New Age adherents can be found in similar form in Genesis 3. Notice again the lies Satan told Eve….
• “You will be like God” (v. 5)
• “You will not surely die” (v. 4)
• “Your eyes will opened” (v. 5)
• “Has God indeed said?” (v. 1)
So, Satan's still around, and he's still deceiving people with the same kinds of lies. And I’ll talk more about these New Age beliefs in just a bit.
The kinds of lies above were widely introduced to people here in America and Europe for the first time in the 1960’s. It was then that a band known as “The Beatles” were influenced by a Hindu spiritual guru by the name of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. They appeared with Maharishi on the news, at Transcendental Meditation conferences, seminars, and lectures, and even spent time with him in India in the late 1960’s. From then on, there was a surge of interest in the West in:
That interest continues to this day. Two of the persons fueling the ongoing acceptance and embrace of New Age concepts and practices are Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra.
By promoting the books of several New Age authors, Oprah has probably done more than anyone to promote New Age spirituality. (And I'll be quoting her a bit later). If you haven’t heard of Deepak Chopra, he is an alternative medicine guru, spiritual counselor, and New York Times best-selling author. By 1999, TIME magazine had already hailed him as “one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.” [Time, June 1999].
His list of friends and admirers runs from Hollywood movie stars to the Dalai Lama. Chopra’s 85 books (including 22 New York Times best-sellers) have sold millions of copies in English alone and have been translated into 43 languages. His overall yearly profit is $22 million. [chopra.com]
The Huffington Post global Internet survey ranked him the 17th most influential thinker in the world and 1st when it comes to medicine. [chopra.com/bios/deepak-chopra#sm.0000ixav70ciye10rny1ui4lcjobw]
Two of his best-selling books include The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success and How to Know God. Oprah has had him on her television program numerous times. So, he’s very popular and unfortunately leading multitudes into a New Age, unbiblical view of God and reality.
What does Deepak teach people? What do New Age adherents believe?
Well, there are a wide variety of beliefs people within New Age circles have adopted, but there are eight common beliefs that most of them share…
New Agers believe that everything and everyone is interrelated and interdependent. Individuality is considered an illusion. Ultimately, to New Agers, there is no real difference between humans, animals, or rocks.
According to the New Age way of thinking, all of these are of the same substance. They are simply parts of, or manifestations of one undivided reality. Any differences between these entities are considered only apparent, not real. This belief (that “all is one”) is called “Monism” (based on the prefix mono meaning one, or single).
New Agers believe we are one with everything. Even golf balls! In his book, Golf For Enlightenment, Deepak Chopra shares spiritual tips for improving your game, including “Be one with the ball.” He encourages his readers to think this way because he really thinks you are one with the ball. Deepak believes we are one with everything, “You can talk to trees and stars, everything is part of your body.” [Source: LA Times]
Chopra's newest book is titled You Are The Universe.
Well of course, for those of us who believe Biblical revelation, we disagree. God’s creation is not an undivided unity but a diversity of created things and beings. Creation is not unified in itself but held together by Christ in whom “all things hold together” (Col. 1:17). [https://www.probe.org/the-new-age-movement-2/]
More could be said in response to this New Age belief known as Monism, but let's consider a second belief common to New Age adherents. It's closely related to Monism, and that is...
New Agers believe everything that exists is God. This is called pantheism. Pantheism comes from two Greek words: pan = “all” and theos = “god”. Pantheism is the belief that "all is God and God is all." And pantheism is similar to monism. As we just noted, monism is the belief that "all is one." Well, pantheism takes monism a step farther. Pantheism says that the oneness is deity...divine.
What’s this new age deity like?
According to New Agers, God is more of an “it” than a “He.” New Agers reject the idea of a personal creator who exists outside of creation and exercises control and authority over His creation. Most New Age adherents believe that God is (cue Star Wars theme song)...a force (an energy, that pervades all things, contains all things, and is found within all things).
In other words, the universe is God and God is the universe.
Well, in response to this monism and pantheism, of course, all of this is unbiblical. The Bible says the heavens and the Earth are creations of God.
Genesis 1:1 doesn't say, “In the beginning God was the heavens and the earth.” No. It says...
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
God is distinct from the universe. He isn’t the universe, He created the universe.
The things we see around us are things that “were made” by God.
So, God is distinct from His creation. He was around “before” all these things even existed.
Pantheism (this idea that the universe is God) is unbiblical. But it’s not just the Bible that proves problematic for the pantheistic view of God...
Scientific discoveries have proven problematic for pantheism.
How so? Well, Scientific discoveries have demonstrated that the universe is finite. That is, it had a beginning. It’s not eternal. Why is this a problem for our New Age friends? Our Hindu friends?—both of whom hold to pantheism.
Well, pantheists have historically held that the universe is eternal. For them, it must be eternal. Because if it is not eternal, that means it had a beginning. If it had a beginning, it must have had a maker because things don’t just pop into existence from nothing. And if the universe had a maker, it cannot be God as pantheists believe.
Well, this is precisely what we’ve discovered to be true about the universe (that it had a beginning). Astronomers are pointing to things like...
• The Background Radiation Echo
...all of which have led them to conclude that the universe had a beginning. Well, this is just devastating to the pantheistic New Age view of God. Surely the universe is not God! And pantheism is not true.
If “all is one” (monism) and “all is god” (pantheism) then it logically follows from those two beliefs that “We are gods.” And that is what New Agers believe: Humans are divine. Mormons have long been telling us we can become gods! New Agers say we already are gods!
According to New Agers, there is no supreme being to whom worship is due because we are all supreme. Deepak Chopra says...
“In reality we are divinity in disguise...gods and goddesses in embryo.”
Oprah Winfrey said...
“One of the most important books I have read in my life is a book by [Eric] Butterworth, Discover the Power Within You, and what Eric Butterworth says in that book is that Jesus did not come to teach how divine he was but came to teach us there is divinity within us.” [YouTube video]
Eric Butterworth (whose books Oprah has promoted on her television show) says on his website…
"Quite often, I am criticized for saying that Jesus is not Divine. Actually, I am not saying that Jesus is not Divine, but I insist that all persons are Divine. Jesus made the discovery of the Divinity of man. He proved and demonstrated it in his own fulfillment. But the discovery was of the potential of all human beings.” [http://www.ericbutterworth.com/read/truth-nutshell]
Shirley MacLaine, the famous actress turned evangelist for New Age spirituality, said in one of her books…
“I know that I exist, therefore, I AM. I know that the god-source exists. Therefore, IT IS. Since I am part of that force, then I AM that I AM.” [Shirley MacLaine, Dancing in the Light, Epilogue, no page number]
Shirley MacLaine hijacks the title that God revealed to Moses (“I AM”) in the burning bush (Exodus 3:14) and applies it to herself! She says, “I AM that I AM.” And that is what New Age adherents believe, that they are divine! New Agers believe everyone is God! You’re God. I’m God. We’re all God.
The lie Satan told Eve in the Garden of Eden was that if she ate the forbidden fruit she could become “like God” (Gen. 3:5). Well, he’s pulled off a real doozy with millions of people today. He’s convinced them that they are God. Not like God, but that they are God!
Well, if there is one thing the Bible is clear on, it is this:
Humans are not God.
The Bible condemns the belief that humans are divine. Far from being God, the Bible says quite the opposite.
The Bible teaches that humans are ungodly.
Not only are we not God—in our natural condition, we don’t even behave in a godly manner! We are “ungodly” this verse says. And Jesus tells us how ungodly we are in Mark 7…
That is not godly behavior. God is absolutely holy. What Jesus describes here and what we find going on in the world today is ungodliness! So, humans are not divine. Those who believe they are divine have made a serious error!
A fourth belief that is common to adherents of New Age spirituality is this...
For many New Age adherents today, salvation from sin and a coming judgment is considered totally unnecessary. What is needed, they say, is a change in consciousness. Why? According to New Age proponents, we have forgotten that our true identity is divine.
New Agers say the human race suffers from a collective form of “metaphysical amnesia.” This is, allegedly, what has led many of us to be ignorant of our divinity. So, what is the cure?
According to New Agers, we must undergo a...
CHANGE OF CONSCIOUSNESS
...to discover our divinity and achieve our true human potential.
That is the loftiest goal for New Agers: undergoing a change of consciousness, discovering their supposed divinity, so as to achieve their true potential.
How does one bring about this change of consciousness? New Age proponents encourage a variety of practices and techniques to enable individuals to make that discovery. These practices and techniques include:
• Creative visualization
• Visiting psychics
• Past life therapy
• Astral projection
Their insistence that we need to do these kinds of things to remind ourselves that we are God, actually helps to prove that humans are not God! What kind of God forgets He’s God? Not a God I want to follow!
I’d far rather follow the all-knowing, omniscient God, who knows the number of hairs on my head and forgets not the smallest sparrow (Luke 12:7). I don’t want to follow a God who needs crystals and acupuncture to remind him (it!) of who he (it) is!
And in addition to that, many of the practices used by New Age adherents to “realize their divinity” are condemned by Scripture. Take, for example, the practice of “channeling.” For those of you who don’t know what channeling is, it's a practice wherein a person seeks to receive messages from angels or the spirits of the deceased, through a person (the “channeler”) who claims to be able to receive messages from the spirit world.
Well, over and over in the Bible, God condemns attempts to contact the dead. For example, God says...
Leviticus 19:31, 20:6
So, channeling is just of several New Age practices that we believe are dangerous and unbiblical. Now, obviously more could be said about their other practices, but I'll point you to Christian Answers for the New Age for help with those. But I would be remiss if I did not at least briefly address the practice of yoga, because I am asked about it everywhere I teach on New Age spirituality.
Yoga, if you do not know this, is deeply rooted in the pantheistic religion of Hinduism. The postures in yoga, the breathing, and chanting were originally designed not to bring better physical health and well-being, but a sense of oneness with Brahman—the Hindu name for the pantheistic God that Hindus believe pervades all things.
Now of course, the God of the Bible does not have a problem with you stretching. Stretching is very good for you actually. The danger with yoga classes is not the stretching, it’s the teaching that regularly accompanies the stretching. Many yoga instructors have a New Age or Hindu worldview, and they are not just interested in helping you become more limber, they are seeking to teach you about becoming one with your surroundings, realizing your oneness with the divine, and so on. This is what we’re concerned about, and this is why I advise Christians to just stretch in the privacy of your own home. Meditate on the truth of God's Word. Put on some nice mellow instrumental Hymns or classical music. I do this for my morning stretching routine and it is a blessed time.
All right, there’s a fifth belief that is common to adherents of the New Age...
Most adherents to New Age teachings believe the world's religions are simply different ways of putting us into contact with the “ultimate reality” or "god-force." This belief is called “religious syncretism.”
Many New Agers visualize the religions of the world to be a mountain, with many spiritual paths to the summit. According to New Age teachings, there is no one correct path.
George Lucas, who holds to some new age views of God, said:
“I remember when I was ten years old, I asked my mother, ‘If there’s only one God, why are there so many religions?’ I’ve been pondering that question ever since, and the conclusion I’ve come to is that all religions are true.” [Time Magazine, April 26, 1999]
Oprah Winfrey said...
“One of the mistakes that human beings make is believing that there is only one way...there are many paths to what you call God.” And elsewhere, “There are certainly many more paths to God other than Christianity.” [Charlotte Observer]
That is what New Age adherents generally believe: All paths can reach the top. But what is the top for New Agers? Usually not Heaven, as it’s revealed in the Bible. The destiny New Age adherents usually have in mind is enlightenment (the realization of their divinity) followed by an ongoing cycle of life, death, and reincarnation.
New Age adherents are not envisioning living in the presence of a holy, praise-worthy God. No. They're envisioning being reincarnated as someone better, a king or queen, or a spirit creature who will watch over loved ones. (I'll talk more about reincarnation in a couple of minutes.)
But when it comes to the top of the mountain according to the Bible, we find that what is coming is quite different than what New Age adherents are envisioning.
The summit or chief goal of life according to the Bible is not “awakening the God within.” It is knowing the God of Heaven, the one and only true God, in this life and throughout eternity. And to the top of that mountain, the Bible says there is only one path.
Jesus Himself, God in the flesh, said:
The apostle Peter said:
The apostle Paul said:
1 Timothy 2:5
John the Baptist said:
The Bible is crystal clear on this issue. If you want to have your sins forgiven, if you want to be rescued from spending eternity in Hell, if you want to go to Heaven, you must turn from your sin (Acts 17:30) and put your faith in Jesus Christ.
• Hundreds of fulfilled prophecies
It’s important, if we’re going to quote Scripture, that we be able to explain to a person why we are confident the Bible can be trusted. So, because we are confident the Bible is trustworthy, we reject this fifth belief of the New Age (the belief in the oneness of religions). They do not all lead to everlasting life in God's kingdom. Jesus Christ alone is able to take us there.
Many adherents to New Age spirituality believe in an ongoing cycle of life, death, and reincarnation (similar to what Hindus believe).
In contrast with Hindus, New Age adherents rarely believe one will go on to become an animal or an insect in the next life. In the West, most people who believe in reincarnation believe they are going to come back after death as a princess or something else more noble.
Well, in response to this belief in reincarnation, we believe that reincarnation is unbiblical and untrue. The Bible knows nothing of reincarnation. Resurrection? Yes (1 Corinthians 15). Reincarnation––coming back as another living creature? No.
Notice what Jesus said in...
According to Jesus, one day all people—the saved and unsaved—will have their bodies resurrected, believers to everlasting life with the Lord, and the unsaved to “a resurrection of judgment.” This will happen in a person’s life only once. Hebrews 9:27 says:
So, standing on the Word of God, we reject the New Age view on reincarnation. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we look forward to one life on the other side of the grave—everlasting life in the Kingdom of God!
Moral relativism is the belief that there are no objective (real) moral laws, or sins. New Age adherents reject the existence of any firm, real moral laws that govern all humans. To many New Agers, truth regarding morality and spirituality is intensely personal and entirely subjective.
And this flows out of their pantheistic view of God. If we are all God, then how could any of us rightly point to some behavior and say, "God doesn't approve of that!" He must approve of it. He's doing it!
"Hey you [picture on screen of thief] breaking into that garage to steal that car. That’s wrong!”
It's hard for a pantheist to say that with much conviction. Because that's God breaking into the garage (according to their view).
In their view, it is the height of presumption to think that certain behaviors are actually sinful or that there are rules or guidelines that are morally binding on all people. Now, that’s not to say New Age adherents don’t strive to live decent lives and encourage others to do the same. But there is no underlying basis or foundation for declaring that certain behaviors are actually right or wrong.
Well, in response to this moral relativism, the Bible, of course, teaches that there are absolute truths and moral laws that are binding on all people. The Bible speaks out very clearly in both the Old and New Testaments about lying, murder, stealing, adultery, drunkenness, etc.
So, standing again on the Bible, we reject moral relativism. According to the Bible, there are objective moral laws.
Many New Age adherents believe the human race is progressing toward a “New Age” of peace and prosperity. This is where the movement gets its name.
This “golden age,” according to New Age literature, will be a time without hate, violence, wars, crime, racism, sickness, hunger, or death. They believe this will be a glorious time on Earth––a time, in which there will be one nation, one language, one government, and one religion.
Hmmm...that’s interesting. The Bible says these are some of the very things the Antichrist will seek to bring about on the Earth in the last days. What do New Age adherents believe will usher in this “new age”?
They believe this age will be ushered in when more of the human race realizes their...DIVINITY. They really believe this!
Well, a world without crime and wars all sounds very nice and the Bible does say that a glorious future is coming on the Earth. But, it makes it clear that it is not going to happen until the one and only divine King (Jesus) returns and sets up His kingdom on Earth (Revelation 19–20).
And the Book of Revelation tells us that this is going to be preceded by a time of “great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21), when God will pour out His judgment on a sinful world (Revelation 6–18).
In Matthew 24:21, Jesus said:
Some of the judgments that will be poured out on the Earth will include:
• An outbreak of wars (Rev. 6:4)
The Earth, its environment, and its population are going to be devastated. The Book of Revelation tells us that more than half of the world’s population will die during this time (See Revelation 6:7-8 and 9:13-15). That is what awaits the world after Jesus returns for His people and gathers us to Himself at the Rapture of the church. Those who are expecting a "New Age" to be ushered in as more people realize their divinity are in for a big shock. I pray they come to their senses and repent before it’s too late.
Now, what can we do to more effectively minister to people who have gotten entangled in New Age beliefs? Here are a few suggestions...
A. Be friendly.
This goes without saying, but it’s an important reminder. We need to remember that people we disagree with are human beings God loves. And God wants US to love them as well. What does that look like in our conversations with them? 2 Timothy 2:24-25 says:
2 Timothy 2:24-25
God wants us to be kind, patient and gentle with people. This is easier said than done, but that is one of the reasons God has given us His Holy Spirit! To empower us to love people who disagree with us. Your witnessing efforts will be much more effective if all the truth you speak is spoken lovingly.
B. Seek common ground
When I talk with people of other religious persuasions, I have found it helpful to discuss some common ground before I bring up any points I disagree with them on. People tend to be more receptive to your point of view when they know they share some common ground with you.
With New Agers, you might point out that you agree with them in having rejected atheistic explanations for the existence of the universe. You might commend them on their love of reading or their search for the truth. You might talk about the fact that you agree with them on issues related to sports, or love of the outdoors...love of coffee. Politics. Find something!
C. Ask questions about their beliefs
Just because a person is taking a yoga class, or wearing a crystal, or is reading a book by a certain author, doesn’t mean that she is also a pantheist or holds to the beliefs of the average New Age adherent. So, it’s wise to ask friendly questions about the person’s beliefs. Questions like…
• Do you have any spiritual beliefs?
Their answers to those kinds of questions will give you some insight into what direction you might take the conversation.
D. Lovingly challenge them about the credibility of their beliefs.
If your New Age friend can see that there are problems with his view, he may become more interested in what you have to say. Asking questions is a great way to help people discover the weakness of their view (or a flaw in their conclusion). Some possible questions would include:
• How did you come to that conclusion?
E. Open God’s Word with them and point out what the Bible says.
God’s Word is alive and powerful and the Holy Spirit has used it over and over again to open the eyes of people who have been entangled in a variety of errors. So, use it!
F. Be prepared to defend the trustworthiness of the Bible.
Many people who harbor New Age beliefs have had some exposure to the Bible but have concluded it’s not reliable. So, it will be immensely helpful if you are able to answer some of the common questions about its reliability.
For more help talking to New Agers, see "Evangelizing New Agers" by Doug Groothuis.
CHARLIE H. CAMPBELL (Twitter: @charlieabready)
• Scrolls & Stones: Compelling Evidence the Bible Can Be Trusted
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