NACC July 13,14,                                                                                                   James D. Strauss

1989 Louisville, Kentucky                                                                       Lincoln Christian Seminary

Workshop                                                                                                              Lincoln, IL 62656

 

CONFRONTING THE NEW AGE ALTERNATIVES TO HOLINESS:

PERSONAL AND CULTURAL TRANSFORMATION

 

Scripture: I Timothy 4.1-2; II Thessalonians 2.8-9; II Corinthians 11.14; I John .lf; Ephesians 6.12; Romans 16.20

 

"The paradigm of the Aquarian Conspiracy sees mankind embedded in nature." (Aquarian Conspiracy, p. 29)

 

"Human nature is neither good nor bad but open to continuous transformation and transcendence. . . . The new perspective respects the ecology of everything: birth, death, learning, health, family, work, science, spirituality, the arts, the community, relationships, politics." (The Aquarian Conspiracy, p. 29)

 

Nature, we are learning, is not a force over which we must triumph but the medium of our transformation." (AC, p. 145)

 

"The transformed-self is the mediums The transformed life is the message." (AC. p. 118)

 

"There is not good evidence that the brain alone can carry out the work the mind does.* (Dr. Wilder Penfield, Canadian brain surgeon)

 

"When the American Atheists held their national convention in Denver in 1987, Madalyn Murray O'Hair said there is no God. Soon after, Shirley MacLaine toured *Denver .and told her listeners that she and everyone else is God. Then Billy Graham came to town and declared at a crusade that Jesus is the only God. It all depends on your world view, . . ." (Chandler, p. 26)

 

"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." (Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz)

 

"Ornstein's Global Peace Foundation has a vision to convert Alcatraz into a Hew Age holistic health spa and peace center. Some $60 million to $100 million is all that is needed to crystallize this 'international showcase.1 " (cf. mega attention and megabucks on New Age Agenda)

 

"By pronouncing God and man incommensurable, Christianity had inadvertently erected a wall between conscious and unconscious sections of the personality." (Jung)

 

"After Einstein, there are no permanent entities or enduring realities left for man to refer to."

 

"Nietzsche's Eternal Recurrence persuaded many that all reality is contingent and mutable."

 

The New Age, says new religions expert J. G. Melton,  "is ultimately a vision of a world transformed, a heaven on earth, a society in which the problems of today are overcome and a new existence emerges." Underlying this radical vision are the following New Age premises regarding ultimate reality,  humanity, God and religions, humanity's problems,  solution to the present crisis,  and an agenda for the planet's transformation. Ultimate reality, according to all New Age speculators, is reducible to impersonal energy. The supposed foundation of New Age pantheism derived from theories of matter and light set forth in quantum physics. In the ultimate state of consciousness, says New Age physicist and philosopher Fritjof Capra, "all boundaries and dualism have been transcended and all individuality dissolves into universal, undifferentiated oneness." (Capra, Turning Point; Science, Society and The Rising Culture (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982), p. 371)

 

One of the more notorious New Agers, Shirley MacLaine, says that it is blasphemous to worship anything higher than oneself, and not to worship the self is to think too little of oneself (taken from "Out On A Limb", the ABC miniseries, Jan. 18,19, 1987). "How did she get out on that limb?" asks C. V. Anderson in The Christian Century article, "Pruning Time for Shirley MacLaine?" More than 2700 years ago, Isaiah scornfully predicted that in a time of calamity and confusion the Egyptians would dash around consulting a horde of "idols, sorcerers, mediums, and wizards." (Isaiah 19.3) "Have, we a similar situation today?" continues Anderson.  "Old certainties have come unglued; stable families are an exception; our economy is buffeted by worldwide forces; greater wealth has not brought greater happiness; the safety of the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink is in question; existence itself is threatened by weapons our own technology provides. Conditions are indeed favorable for mediums and wizards; one can bank on people's anxieties, and many have." (Christian Century, 15 Feb. 1987, p.  182) The fundamental condition for New Age success is the loss of our minds.

 

To attain godhood, New Age style, writer-psychologist Maxine Negri, in a critique of the movement, says that "One has only to rid oneself of the limitations imposed by the human brain's -left hemisphere's reasoning which Western culture, by way of its technological advances, holds in such high esteem. The pathway to godhood lies not in left hemisphere logic but in the right hemisphere's intuitive 'knowing and creativeness.' " ("Age-Old Problems of The New Age Movement" Humanist (Mar/Apr 1988):26)

 

A three-pound miracle: There are as many as 100 billion nerve cells in your brain. Each one connects to between 5,000.and 50,000 others. For math buffs, that is at least 100 trillion connections under your hat. And for trivia pursuers, a computer with the same number of 'bytes' would be 100 stories tall and cover the state of Texas. Split-brain researchers have known that the two hemispheres tend to have unique functions. Michael S. Gazzaniga, neurological psychologist and author of The Social Brain; Discovering the Networks of The Mind, believes the human brain has a modular organization; it is made up of units that function in relatively independent, parallel ways. Based on extensive post-surgical studies of "split-brain" patients, Dr. Gazzaniga concluded that each brain module is "capable of action of carrying out activities that test and retest the beliefs that are maintained by our dominant left brain. ... If the brain were a monolithic system with all modules in complete internal communication, then our beliefs would never change." A linear system cannot generate new information.

 

The current mod metaphor of "left brain versus right brain" leans on gimmickry borrowed from a quasi-scientific foundation. Metaphor has been confused with reality in New Age circles. The chief exaggeration concerns the notion of the dichotomy between the two hemispheres and their characteristics and abilities (cf. see my Christian Faith and Brain-Mind-Computer Revolution). The New Age excuse that "it's tough being a right-brained person in a left-brained world" may be funny

 

but it does not reflect the most advanced research on the human brain and its functions. If neurophysiologists and biopsychologists are to be our instructors concerning this three pound miracle, the human brain, than a fundamental assumption of the New Age world view is demonstrably false (cf. New Ager Marilyn Ferguson, editor of Brain/Mind Bulletin, a source of much false data).

 

Brooks Alexander, an analyst and critic of the New Age, observes that if godhood can be unleashed by restructuring the way we think it "always involves shutting down our rational, critical mind. . . . New Age empowerment comes only to those whose rational, critical filter has been removed or disabled." (Spiritual Counterfeits Journal)

 

In order to understand and critique the influence of New Age thought in the West at the present, we must take note of 12 radical changes in thought patterns:

 

1.    The first Scientific Revolution (cf. Galileo to Newton)

2.    Industrial Revolution         

3.    Hermeneutical Revolution        

4.    Linguistic Revolution         

5.    Historiographical Revolution        

6.    Biological Revolution        

7.    Philosophical Revolution

8.    Psychological Revolution

9.    Theological Revolution

10. Technological Revolution (cf.  Megatrends towards the 21st century)  

11. Brain-Mind-Computer Revolution

12. New Age Revolution

 

The combined cultural impact of these radical shifts in thought are the foundations .of the fundamental claims of The New Age Movement. Change has become radical in nature. The speed with which change occurs will intensify as we develop closer to the 21st century. Change can come by exception. Our belief and behavior system remains intact but we allow for a limited range of anomalies or unexplained exceptions to our thought paradigms. Just what is a paradigm? According to Thomas Kuhn, "A paradigm is what a scientific community share, and, conversely, a scientific community consists of men who share a paradigm." Kuhn's thesis is that science progresses, not through evolutionary development, a gradual growth, but through a revolutionary displacement of one paradigm for another. Scientific revolution is a paradigm shift. Kuhn defines "paradigm" in two senses: as sociological and as exemplary past achievements. The sociological refers to the set of "group commitments," to definition, belief, values, and exemplars or concrete problem solutions by which we learn the paradigm. Exemplary past achievements refer to paradigms as shared examples, i.e., "acquired similarity relations" which serve as reference points. Foundational to any paradigm, Kuhn insists, is "tacit knowledge and intuition," but this is not merely individual or unanalyzable. An example of such knowledge is that "the world changes." That there is such knowledge tends to be verified by its transmission by education, that it has been found more effective than anything else, and that it is subject to change both through education and through discovery of misfits with the environment. Conversion occurs when-two incommensurable theories are debated and, simplistically put, and one is falsified followed by concession and conversion by the proponent of this theory to the other.  (Cohen, Revolutions in Science, pp. 197-269; "I. B. Cohen, Eighteenth Century Origins of the Concept of Scientific Revolution", Journal of the History of Ideas, vol. 37, 1976; A. Koyre, The Astronomical Revolution. "Copernicus and the Cosmic Overthrow"; Margaret Mastersan, "The Nature of Paradigm," in Lakatos & Musgrave's Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge.

 

We must now proceed to the soil, seed and roots of New Age.

 

I. The Roots of the New Age Revolution

 

What are the spiritual, cultural and intellectual conditions that makes the New Age movement a viable option in the West and at this particular period of history (ca. 1950*3/1990's)? The most significant work which traces the origin and development of contemporary New Age themes is Carl A. Raschke's The Interruption of Eternity; Modern Gnosticism and the Origins of the New Religious Consciousness (Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1980). This work is not just a description of New Age phenomena, but rather a probe into the historical origins of the so-called "new religious consciousness" (see also C. Clock and R. Belah, The Religious Consciousness (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976) and the constant flow of articles in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion). For our immediate purposes we must forego all but the most modest sketch of the contributing historical factors. The 'new religions' and their psychotherapeutic surrogates are the final cresting waves of forces that have been at work in Western intellectual culture for the past two hundred years (cf.' 18th century pantheism, i.e. Romanticism. Note the emphasis on self-realization in much contemporary counseling (see E. B. Holifield, A History of Pastoral Care in America; From Salvation to Self-Realization (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1983).

 

The seeds of new religious consciousness were planted in the soil of classical Gnosticism and have taken root in Western culture only after the transformational power of both Christianity and Science have been diluted, denied, and often all but destroyed, as high-tech rolls on toward 21st century megatrends (cf. note the acknowledged crisis in contemporary Evangelicalism - May 1989. Trinity Conference. Read the Evangelical Affirmation 1989 and it will be readily apparent that there is crisis in all the seats of power in the Evangelical world. Note also the response of Manila 1989 and Counter Challenge of 1992 - International Conference of Non-Christian Religions; C. A. Raschke's earlier warning in his "The Asian Invasion of American Religion: Creative Innovation or a New Gnosticism" (American Academy of Religion, 1973).

 

A brief word of explanation is essential for the use of Gnosticism in a broader scope that was understood in referring to classical illuminist cults of the Graeco-Roman world. The gnostics were the chief competitors of the early Church. Contemporary gnostics (New Age) encompass key themes found in the literature of the German/English Romantics, Nietzsche, Jung, Freud, et. al. Classical, modern and contemporary Gnosticism seek salvation through 'esoteric knowledge1 within the sphere of the timeless. Salvation is available beyond the plane of the temporal, eternity. The Christian quest for 'eternity' is God ordered. The contemporary search for eternity is within the breast of every man. The sense of eternity is etched in the myths and symbols of the world's religions.

 

Kant broke ground for the seeds of gnosticism to take root as his analysis of temporal succession not as a feature of the external world but as a reflex of human consciousness itself. Thus the open door inviting Eastern pantheism is progressively opened in the West. His contention that the structure of time-consciousness remains inalterable and uniform among all cultures is in error. But his discovery that the time sense consists in the bedrock on which man's knowledge of himself and his surroundings is built has far reaching implications. Man' time sense is precisely what gives rise to what we denote as 'consciousness1 (contra all evolutionary theories of the origin of "consciousness" which is fundamental to New Age presuppositions). Building on Kant's insight, Hegel observed in his Phenomenology of Mind that "consciousness is precisely that ability of man to separate subject from object, perceiver from the perceived, self from the world.

 

A.  Nature of time and human perspective versus animal seeing, e.g. fly on the ceiling of the Cistine Chapel. If the above remarks concerning time are defensible, the entire NA consciousness, Hinduism, Pantheism collapses. All NA/Asian religions hold that time is an illusion. Man's time sense engenders a conception of periodicity (Eccles 3.1-9), which is essential if historical events are to be significant and ultimately purposeful.  (See T. S. Eliot's e.g. of time-life - "Burnt Norton" represents a motionless point at the hub of the revolving wheel of life - "At the still point of the turning world,. . ." The 'eternal now' of the mystical vision. M. Eliade's "timeless" abode of the gods. Psychedelic drugs in particular, distort the time experience. Events seem chaotic and directionless, e.g. LSD experience/T. Leary and A. Watt's pantheism send users on a journey into madness, the yearning for "alternative realities" - note that Paul declares "redeem the time.")

 

The symbol of the eternal in many non-western societies perform three functions: (1) Gives structure and direction to the temporal flow (see Hawkings' and Toulmin's studies on 'Time');

(2) The immanence of the eternal order of life symbolized in the myths of the god's great deeds - "once upon a time"; (3) The symbol of the eternal is an escape from the temporal.  (See the following works on Gnosticism and Time — J. F. Orme, Time, Experience and Behavior (NY: American Elsevier, 1969); Jean Praget, The Child's Conception of Time (London: Routledge/Kegan Paul, 1969); Henri-Charles Puech, "Gnosis and Time," in Man and Time (Eranos Year Book, Bolingen Series xxx.3 INY: Pantheon Books, 1957); R. M. Grant, Gnosticism and Early Christianity (NY: Harper and Row, 1966); Hans Jones, The Gnostic Religion (Boston: Beacon Press, 1963).

 

B.  If time is unreal, then history is unreal, and historical purpose/progress is an illusion. The consequences of the denial of the reality of time entails the rejection of finite creation (Time/Space). Thus, the influence of Eastern cosmic humanism in the West. Compare J. B. Bury, The Idea of Progress and M. Eliade, The Myth of The Eternal Return; cf. 19th century Historicism, relativism, sociology of knowledge, radical contextualism grounded in evolutionary naturalism. Contemporary NA gnosticism is just as opposed to historical events as bearers of our salvation (cross/resurrection, etc.) as was classical Hellenistic and Judaic Gnosticism. History is thus a place of terror where only our shamanism can free us from our temporal bondage (cf. compare Neo-Platonism and Gnosticism).

 

C.  If 'time and history' are unreal then historical/psychological evil, suffering and death are unreal. If this trinity is unreal, then the Christian Gospel of salvation from sin and death is nonsense, i.e. illusions caused by dependence on our senses. Christianity defeated all species of Gnosticism by the fourth century A.D.

 

D.  By the middle ages Western culture experienced rebirth of pantheistic gnosticism. Gnostic themes were carried into Renaissance Europe by Ficino/Campanella and especially Giordiano Bruno (see Francis Yates, The Rosicrucian Enlightenment (Routledge, 1972); and G. Bruno and The HermeticTradition (NY: Random, 1969). Bruno rejected the "closed" universe of the middle ages, in which everything was ordered by creation and providence. He opted instead for a model of an infinite cosmos. Bruno's view of god and the cosmos is parallel with classical Gnosticism and contemporary NA.  (cf. C. Becker, The Heavenly City of The Eighteenth Century Philosophers (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1932); Roy Pascal, The German Strum und Drang (NY: Philosophical Library, 1953); Goethe, Egmont and Faust; the German Romantics' discovery of the unconscious is treated in detail in F. Lion, Romantik als Deutschers Schicksal (Stuttgart: 1963); L. R. Furst, Romanticism in Perspective (NY: Humanities Press, 1970); see synopsis of Bonne's thought in R. Kroner, Speculation and Revelation in Modern Philosophy (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1961); and A. Code von Aesch, Natural Science in German Romanticism (NY: Columbia University Press, 19^1); compare with Capra and Davies and Bohm, all New Age scientists.)

 

E.  Ironically, the Gnostic insurrection against time, history, and progress attained its present momentum within the very forces which created the new view of historical relativism (Historicism) and the belief in evolutionary progression toward the betterment of humanity. In the context of these I8th/19th century developments, there was an "Eruption of Feeling." Against rationality, classicism, and moralism the seeds of a gentle and introspective kind of religion arose in the form of German Pietism and English Perfectionism (Wesleyan Revivalism). Men soon began to rhapsodize on benevolent emotion ('aesthetic'- 'feeling'- Hamann, Lessing, Herder, Schleiermacher, et. al. in Classical Liberalism). The 'cult of feeling' had its beginnings in the Germany of the 1770's (compare French and American Revolutions and the context of the Restoration Heritage). German Romanticism secured the Gnostic option of "occultism" instead of political reform. The passionate wish to intensify every life experience is announced by Faust to the devil Mephistopheles - "I vow myself to frenzy, agonies of gratification,. . . I want to feel down to my sense's core". ... No man digests this ancient sourdough. This whole, believes the likes of us, for deity alone was made." (Faust, (Bobbs-Merrill, 1965, p. 63); also Schiller's poem on Genius). Here both pantheism and the deification of man are clearly set forth. For this age Herder announced that "feeling is everything." Man falls under the spell of imagination (straight from the Romantics, Blake et al, to contemporary NA themes in educational and personality theories; note Blake's influence among the Drug Culture of the 60's and 70*s. Blake's narcissism is evident in his avowal that "mental things alone are real." This expression of Hegelian idealism presently finds a thousand NA voices. The value of imagination was preserved in the adulation of the Volk (Zeitgeist) in all forms of teutonic fanaticism and culture (of. Novalis, a Berlin Romantic influenced Schleiermacher in his redefinition of revelation, inspiration, etc.) The rift between the Romantic ideal and the prospect of its realization bred disenchantment with the "will to power." Man became the Promethean Rebel. This rebel would be the source of cultural revolution in the 18th/19th centuries throughout all western civilization.

 

Out of the ashes of the defeat of -Romanticism unfounded optimism arose the Phoenix of 'The Apotheosis of the Will.' Despair and pessimism were the twins born to the illegitimate wedding of feeling and the industrial revolution through science and technology (see Husserl's Crisis in European Science).

 

F.  In another place, Carlyle depicts the Gnostic luminary as helmsman of history in On Heroes and Hero Worship (of. Schopenhauer's 'The Will to Live'- 1788 to 1860). Here we see Nietzsche's The Will Ło Power come to adulthood and to spend its last days in the context of Hitler's Nazism. We see the visible roots of earlier seeds of destruction. We are on the brink of our NA experience, the decades from 1950 to 1990.

 

G.  This world was unbearable, so many sought another world in the flowering of occultism. Nietzsche's 'Ubermensch' and 'transvaluation of values' will bring a spiritual plague of Christian -culture. Western man began to turn Eastward and inward.

 

H.  19th century occultism and irrationality pronounced God and man incommensurable; Christianity had erected a wall between conscious and unconscious sectors of the personality (cf. the influence of Jung and Freud on NA, esp. Jung's The Seven Sermons of The Dead. In the text Jung descanted on "The god whom ye knew not, for mankind forgot it," the god by the name of Abraxas. In Jung's own words "Abraxas begetteth truth and lying, good and evil, light and darkness, in the same word and in the same act." Jung's god is a magically powerful Gnostic divinity. Jung is the source of 'depth psychology' - compare the influence of Jung on Hesse's novels, esp. Steppenwolf which contains pantheistic themes and world view.

 

I.  The transcendental mind cure comes to America by the 19th century. The Gnostic filament in American thought winds out of the collapse of Puritan culture at the end of the 18th century. The Transcendentalists substituted nature instead of God as the wellspring of divine inspiration (see Perry Miller, ed., The Transcendentalists; An Anthology (Cambridge: Harvard Univer. Press, 1950); esp. W.E. Channing's 'Likeness to God'; W. Whitman, "Democratic Vistas,' The Works of Walt Whitman (NY: Funk and Wagnalls, 1968) vol 2; Perry Miller, "From Edwards to Emerson" New England Quarterly, 13 (19^0) R. W. Emerson, Works (Boston: Houghton & Mifflin, Vol I, 1876; his Journals, 1901-1914; J. S. Judah, The History and Philosophy of The Metaphysical Movements in America (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1967); Leslie Bullock, "Theosophical Cults, The Bible and Modern Religions," Interpretation (Apr. 1958); note the relationship of the cult explosion in the 19th century and NA revolution in the 20th century.

 

J.  From the influence on William James' The Varieties of Religious Experience (NY: New American Library, 1958) to the NA Revolution of the 1950's following the Gnostic’s flight by mind-magic into eternity is spurred by an unsettling realization of the loss of worldly place. The present impotence of naturalistic humanism is clear beyond all doubt, but the new Gnosticism still insists on the "tremendous potential of individual consciousness" as expressed in all forms transactional analysis and every species of the Human Potential Movement, including The Death and Dying Movement calls forth all human efforts to deny the ultimate reality of sin and evil, distinction between God and nature, truth and error, life and death and ultimate goal of time-history to be affirmed at the return of The Lord of Lords and King of Kings. The New Age Revolution is the church's pay day for a lack of awareness of the forces at work in God's creation, seeking to overcome the ultimate purpose of God as absolute origin and absolute consummation of all finite reality.

 

II.  Revolutions in Western Science: Presuppositions for New Age

 

The following ten revolutions in scientific thought are fundamental presuppositions of New Age phenomena. The 12 revolutions mentioned above are inseparable from these themes.

 

1.  There is no scientific certitude. Atomic physics found that the behavior of particles is considerably unpredictable. This suggests the collapse of absolute determinism even in the world of matter.

 

2.  The illusory nature of the ideal of objectivity.  In quantum mechanics the very act of observing alters the nature of the object.  "As it really happened" is an incomplete statement in the world of matter.

 

3.  The Illusory nature of definitions. It may be that the habit of proposing new terms suggests that illusion of the mind which tends to substitute vocabulary for thought, tending to believe that once we name or define something we have "got it."

 

4.  The illusory nature of the absolute truthfulness of mathematics. The absoluteness of mathematical truth was disproven by Goedel's famous theorem in 1931 but even in the 20's physicists were asking themselves this uneasy question.

 

5.  The illusory nature of "factual" truth. Heisenberg states that "there is only one kind of matter, but it can exist in different discrete stationary conditions."

 

6.  The breakdown of the mechanical concept of causality. There is simply no satisfactory way of picturing the fundamental atomic processes of nature in categories of space and tine and causality.

 

7.  The principle importance of potentialities and tendencies. Quantum physics brought the concept of potentiality back into physical science—a rediscovery, springing from new evidence, of some of the earliest Greek physical and philosophical theories.

 

8.  Not the essence of "factors" but their relationship counts. Modern physics now admits, that important factors may not have clear definitions but these factors may be clearly defined with regard to their connections.

 

9.  The principles of "classical" logic are no longer unconditional. New concepts of truths are recognized. Pascal wrote that "men fail to imagine any relation between two opposing truths and so they assume that to state one is to deny the other." After all is said, logic is human logic, our own creation.

 

10.  At the end of the Modern Age the Cartesian partition falls away. Descartes’ framework, his partition of the world into objects and subject, no longer holds.

 

Hard on the heels of the above theses are 10 fundamental presuppositions of New Age thought:

 

1.  "God" is totally synonymous with creation. (Monism or pantheism) "All is one." "Thou art that."

 

2.  God as a principle, universal law, vibration or energy; universal consciousness. "It," not "Him." Holy Spirit is an impersonal force.

 

3.  Humanity is good - a part of God. The totality of existence is really good as it is, although we do not perceive this. Moral evil is only an illusion or imperfection, negative vibration or energy. "Evil" is simply a result of the law of cause and effect. "Good and bad" are part of Karmic balance. An enlightened person transcends moral distinctions.

 

4.  Christ’s death, resurrection and atonement for sin is unnecessary and irrelevant. There is no forgiveness.

 

5.  Cyclical view of history and humanity. Problems of evil and suffering are never resolved. There is no redemption, only an eternal balancing of Karma.

 

6.  The physical world is illusory or a projection of consciousness. Maya is "the veil of ignorance."

 

7.  Works of righteousness - you save yourself.  "Working off your Karma, getting off the wheel of reincarnation."

 

8.  God inherits the imperfection of the world. He/It is equal to the lowest form of creation by definition. Or, alternatively, the world mirrors the imperfectionof God.

 

9.  Language, doctrine and written revelation are ultimately inadequate and meaningless. They are a barrier to the experience of enlightenment and truth.

 

10.  There is an endless and confusing stream of "god-men," gurus and avatars.

 

What is the Church's responsibility in witnessing to this enormous challenge, the largest and most complex in the history of the Church?

 

III. Response of the Church

 

I propose two fundamental stages of awareness: (1) Educationally, the Church must make it possible for every disciple to be aware of the essential content of the theological/Biblical world view, and (2) The radical departure of all New Age thought from the Biblical paradigm. For our purposes we present ten Christian theological themes to be held in tension with their counter themes in New Age thought:

 

1.  God is eternally transcendent; or "other" than creation (although He is immanent or omnipresent, Acts 17.28). Creatures are individual and unique (Isaiah 55.8,9; 48.11; II Cor. 4.7; Col. 1.16,17).

 

2.  God is a personality or Infinite Person. He is holy and to be worshipped, Revelation 4.11. The Holy Spirit is a person, John 16.13,13.

 

3.  Humanity is fallen and sinful. Moral evil is a reality. Satan is a personal, wicked entity, with his will set against God, Jer. 17.5-9; Isaiah 64.6; Romans 3.23; John 3.19; 3.44.

 

4.  Existence of evil necessitates God's action. Forgiveness is offered via the death of Christ to atone for sin, John 3.16; Rom. 5.8

 

5.  Linear view of history and each individual - the problem of evil and suffering is permanently resolved by Christ's redemption with the creation of the New Heaven and New Earth, Hebrews 7.15-18; 9.12; 9.25-28 - "Once for all."

 

6.  Cosmology - the physical world is real and good (although fallen); not to be discounted. Has ramifications for spirituality and is to be integrated with spiritual reality, Genesis 1.31.

 

7.  Free grace, atonement, forgiveness, Ephesians 2.8,9. We are saved by the mercy and initiative of God.

 

8.  God's perfection is not affected by the imperfection of the world (although He is moved to compassion). James 1.17, John 11.35.

 

9.  Human language is rooted in reality. The Bible is valid and adequate to transmit God's message to humanity. Hence, we see Jesus as “The Word made flesh.” 1 John 1.1,13.

 

10. Jesus of Nazareth as the unique, one-time incarnation of God, Hebrews 9.25-28. He does not have "to offer himself repeatedly."

 

We fail to heed the challenge at our own spiritual peril. "The New Age worldview is that the self is all there is, that right and wrong are mere projections of whatever seems permissible to one at the time. From this perspective there are no rules or absolute moral imperatives, and therefore one is ultimately not responsible for one's actions.

 

Since there is no reality beyond that of one's own making, all is ultimately illusion and without transcendent meaning.

 

Unfortunately, such major-media articles [the December 7, 1987 Tine cover story] further engrave upon mainstream American culture the acceptability of uncritical, superficial thinking, and the imprint of a vacuous spirituality. The payload the New Age movement carries is no trivial cosmic joke or magic show; it is the heavy stuff that determines the destinies of men, women, and nations—even the eternal salvation of humanity.

 

Evangelical theologian Carl Henry puts it bluntly:  'He must choose to cast our lot either with a society that admits only private faiths, and then simply add another idol to modernity's expanding God-shelf, or we must hoist a banner to a higher Sovereign, the Lord of Lord and King of kings.1" (Chandler, p. 320)

 

Journals/Newsletters - New Age and Christian

 

Common Ground: Resources for Personal Transformation.

Journal of Religion and Health

Noet*cs Bulletin

Futurist

New Realities Magazine

International Journal of Holistic Health and Medicine

New Age Journal

Spiritual Counterfeit Journal

Update: A Quarterly Journal of New Religious Movements

Psychology Today

Newsletter of Christian Research Associates

Cult Awareness Network News

Omni Whole Mind Newsletter

 

Books

 

Alice Bailey, Reappearance of The Christ (NY: Lucis Pub. Co, 1969)

Adolf Grunbaum, The Foundations of Psychoanalysis (Berkeley: Univer of CA Press)

R. E. Ellwood/H. B. Partin, Religious and Spiritual Groups in Modern America (Englewood

Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1988).

M. Harner, Way of The Shaman: A Guide to Power and Healing (San Francisco: Harper and

Row, 1980)

D. R. Hofstader, Metamagical Themes: Questing for The Essence of Mind and Pattern (NY:

Basic Books, 1985)

J. Hooper and D. Teresi, Three Pound Universe: Revolutionary Discoveries About The Brain

(NY: MacMillan, 1986)

Karen Hoyt, ed., The New Age Rage and Spiritual Counterfeits Project (Old Tappan, NJ:

Fleming H. Revell, 1987)

C. G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections (NY: Random House, 1961) /

Aniela Jaffe, “Influence of Alchemy on the Work of C. G. Jung" in  Alchemy and The Occult 

(New Haven, Yale Univer. Press, 1968.

S. Krippner, Healing States: A Journey into the World of Spiritual Healing and Shamanism (NY:

Simon & Schuster, 1987)

A. and S. Lawhead, Pilgrims' Guide to The New Age  (Batavia, IL: Lion Pub. Corp, 1986)

Miguel Serrano, C. G. Jung and Herman Hesse: A Record of Two Friendships, 1966.