By Warren E. Berkley
Definition: Built on the assumption that we are all divine beings, with supernatural potentials, the New Age Movement says that through knowledge, enlightenment and meditation, we can discover that we are divine. Then, in concert with other “enlightened ones,” we can create a new world, and usher in a new age.
Historical Roots of Influence From: Hippie Counterculture of 1969s; Eastern religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Zen); Pagan heresies (Gnosticism); the occult; Secular Humanism. The New Age Movement draws on these diverse sources and often filters them through American sensibilities (Dictionary of Christianity in America, p. 809). “It’s a shifting kaleidoscope of beliefs, fads and rituals… (Chandler, Understanding the New Age).
Teachers Are Called: Mentors, Gurus, Swamis, Spiritual Leaders, Shamans, Ascended Masters, Avatar.
Roster of Well-Known Believers: Linda Evans (“Dynasty”), Joyce DeWitt (formerly of “Three’s Company”), Sharon Gless (“Cagney & Lacey”), Shirley MacLaine, John Denver, Ted Turner, Phalicia Rashad, Yoko Ono, Loretta Lynn, Sylvester Stallone, Willie Nelson.
Notable Quotations: Atlanta broadcaster, Ted Turner, is so friendly with the New Age Movement, he has said that America needs to elect a New Age president, if it is to survive through the year 2000 (Documentation in Understanding the New Age, by Chandler, cited below). Jack Underhill says: “You are God. Honest. I know your driver’s license says differently, but what does the DMV know?”
Leaders: Marilyn Ferguson, Shirley MacLaine, Ram Dass (Dr. Richard Alpert), Fritjof Capra, J.Z Knight, Matthew Fox, Dr. Beverly Galyean, Alice Bailey, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Benjamin Creme, Donald Keys, Kevin Ryerson, David Spangler, John Walsh.
New Age Organizations: Association for Humanistic Psychology, Association for Research and Enlightenment, Association for Transpersonal Psychology, Chinook Learning Center, Esalen Institute, FINDHORN, The Forum (founded by Werner Erhard of EST fame), Global Education Associates, Greenpeace, USA, Lifespring, Life Training, Karios Foundation, Tara Center (headed by Benjamin Creme), The UNITY-IN-DIVERSITY Counsel, Windstar Foundation (founded by John Denver).
Assumptions: All human ills stem from an inability to perceive that you are god. A spirituality based on awareness of the oneness of all living forms and of their cyclical rhythms of birth and death. “God, of itself, is wholly without goodness or evil” (Ramtha). The belief that everything in the universe is a vast, undifferentiated, impersonal unity. “The basis of peace is understanding our relationship with nature” (Diane Dreher).
Literary Friends: Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Agnes Sanford, Leslie D. Weatherhead, Edgar Cayce.
Political Outlook: Feminine Rights; strong environmental consciousness; decentralized civil government; but their primary political message is GLOBALISM: one world government, involves a merging of all the different ideologies. Many New Agers works to hand over power to a single-world government, similar in structure to the United Nations. The UNITY-IN-DIVERSITY Council is a New Age “metanet-work” of over 100 networks and gaps rallying for global cooperation and interdependence.
Fields of Influence: Medical, Educational, Political, Corporate, Religious, Entertainment, literary, Financial, Science, Ecology.
Religious Relatives: The Unity Churches of Christianity; Christian Science, the “faith movement” among the neo-Pentecostals. R. Chandler observes: “Mormonism’s attachment to an essentially magic worldview – together with its teaching that men may become god’s and, with many goddess wives, populate an infinity of spiritual plants – smacks of New Age esotericism rather than orthodox Christianity” (p. 79, Russell Chandler, in work cited below).
After Death: The law of rebirth, Karma, Reincarnation – the cyclical evolution of a person’s soul, as it repeatedly passes from one body to another at death. This process allegedly continues, until the soul reaches a state of perfection. Note – Christians believe men will be resurrected, not recycled (see Jn. 5:28,29).
View of Christ: “. . Edward was not always king and Lincoln was not always president, and Jesus was not always Christ. Jesus won his Christship by a strenuous life” (Levi, The Aquarian Gospel). “. . . And that which is called Christ is within your being” (Ramtha). “. . . I took his being the Son of God with a grain of salt, and, in fact, by the time I was in my late teens, had decided for myself that God and religion were definitely mythological and if people needed to believe in it that was okay with me, but I couldn’t” (Shirley MacLaine).
Distinctively Un-Biblical Views:
1. The essence of God and the essence of man are one and the same. See Rom. 1:25-26; Eccl. 5:2; Ezek. 28:1,2; Deut, 4:35; 1 Cor. 8:6.
2. Unlimited potential. See Prov. 3:5; Jer. 10:23.
3. No absolutes. See Jer. 10:23; Gal. 1:6-12.
4. Reincarnation. See Heb. 9:27,28; Jn. 5:28,29.
5. Pantheism. Isa. 6:3; Rom. 1:23,25; Psa. 83:18.
6. General statements against new age: Isa. 2:6; 8:19,20; Jn. 14:6; Col. 3:17; Acts 13:4-12; Rev. 21:8.
Typical New Age Vocabulary, or “Buzz Words”: Open to new levels of experience. . . Exploring and transcending your belief system. . . Creating your own reality. . . Visualization. . . enhancement. . .Spiritual awakening . . . Self-esteem . . Synergy. . . Nirvana . . . Higher Self . . . Spirituality, without moralizing . . . Consciousness Revolution. . . Cosmic Consciousness . . . Crystals. Harmonic Convergence. . . Human Potential. Psychokinesis . . . Guided Imagery. (monism, Globalism). . . Channeling. . .One World Auras. . . Overstatement and emphasis on right-left brain. . . Confluent Education . . . Values Clarification. . . Yoga. Age of Aquarius . . . Astral Body . . . Clairvoyance. Karma. . . Levitation. . . Mantra . . . Parapsychology.
Useful tracks and books, answering the New Age Challenge, and defending the biblical point of view: The New Age Movement: A Biblical Perspective by Warren E. Berkley, published by Preceptor Co.; Out On a Broken Limb by F. LaGard Smith, published by Harvest House, 1986; The New Age Rage by Karen Hoyt, published by Power Books, 1987; The New Age Cult by Walter Martin, published by Bethany House Publishers, 1989; Unmasking the New Age by Douglas R. Groothius, published by InterVarsity Press, 1986; The Reincarnation Sensation by Geisler & Amano, published by Tyndale House, 1987; Crystal Lies by F. LaGard Smith, published by Servant Publications, 1989; Understanding the New Age by Russell Chandler, published by Ward Publishing, 1988.
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 12, pp. 366-367
June 20, 1991