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A Christian response to the New Age movement [part 3]

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CHAPTER THREE - God within you - 'The only way out is in'

 

'The only way out is in'. 'Kneel to your own self. Honour and worship your own being. God dwells within you as You.' Swami Muklananda. Quoted in Dave Hunt The Cult Explosion (p. 106)

 

Apart from the influence of pantheism there is a strong humanistic influence in the New Age movement. Humanism declares, 'No deity will save us; we must save ourselves.' Denying the doctrine of original sin and the saving work of Christ, humanism believes In the basic goodness of man and that the goal of history is our evolution towards perfection through education, enlightenment and social change. This idea is also basic to Marxism and is clearly expressed in the Internationale, the Communist battle hymn:

 

'No Saviour from on high delivers, No faith have we in prince or peer, Our own right hand the chains will shiver, Chains of hatred, greed and fear.'

 

However as we approach the end of the 20th century the optimistic secular humanism with which the century began which expressed the view that 'humanity has come of age' and we are the 'captains of our fate' no longer seems credible.

 

Most recently the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe has shown the bankruptcy of the atheistic materialist world view. Christians might hope that those who are disillusioned with secular humanism and Marxism would repent and believe the Gospel, but. the evidence seems to be that many are moving towards a new humanism invested with a spiritual dimension which must inevitably produce an even more anti-Christian world view. I believe the New Age movement is ready to fill the spiritual void left behind by disillusionment with our materialistic culture, both the consumerism of the West and the communism of the East. It offers those who seek its enlightenment unlimited potential through achieving union with the life force, the energy within the 'Gaia' system of which we are a part. This involves a definite rejection of biblical Christianity.

 

The God within

 

'The myth of the Saviour 'out there' is being replaced by the myth of the hero 'in here', its ultimate expression is the discovery of the divinity within us... In a very real sense we are each other.' Marilyn Ferguson in Yoga Journal. (Jul-Aug '81).

 

New Agers seek to make this discovery through various means - yoga, meditation, bodily disciplines, use of drugs, occult practices, shamanism (witchcraft). Many people are. in fact unaware of how close much of this comes to straight witchcraft, as New Age writer. Miriam Starhawk has openly stated: 'Witchcraft is a religion... To reclaim the word 'witch' is to reclaim our right, to know the life spirit within as divine. The longing for expanded consciousness has taken many of us on a spiritual journey to the East and to Hindu, Taoist and Buddhist concepts. Eastern religions offer a radically different approach to spirituality than Judeo-Christian traditions. Their goal is not to know God but to be God. In many ways these philosophies are close to that of witchcraft.' (Yoga Jownai May/June 1986).

 

New Agers speak of drawing on the power within us which has been lost by modem civilisation, to rediscover our divine potential and bring about our own spiritual awakening. At a New Age meeting I went to, the speaker told us that as this revelation dawns on people all over the world it will bring

about the New Age as humanity learns to live in telepathic communication and the revitalization of the planet takes place. People will discover the ability to live intuitively, using psychic powers to overcome situations they cannot cope with naturally. In the film Star-Wars, Luke Skywalker being instructed telepathically by the dead Obi Wan Kenobi to use the 'Force' to destroy the Death Star is a clear example of this in popular culture. This idea is attractive not only to the 'counter-culture but also to many in business, education, politics and social services, who organise courses and seminars designed to increase their employees' ability to handle difficult,

situations by releasing their own potential and discovering latent psychic powers. It also affects the 'holistic' approach to health care which is increasingly influential in mainline as well as alternative medicines.

 

In the book Holistic Healers (p. 20) Reisser says: 'The innate intelligence that runs the body is connected to the universal intelligence that runs the world, so each person is plugged into the universal intelligence through the nervous system.' Techniques like acupuncture and reflexology seek to make the connection with this 'universal intelligence' in order to bring about physical healing. Many ideas and therapies of psychiatry, particularly Jung's idea of the 'collective unconscious' are also running along parallel lines.

 

Christian Response

 

The Bible contains a radically different view of humanity from that of both secular humanism and the New Age movement. It affirms the value of every human being, so great that the Lord Jesus was willing to become man and lay down his life for our redemption. It also leaches that without faith in him we are lost, separated from a holy God by the huge gulf caused by our sins. Trying to cross this gulf by our own effort or by discovering supernatural power within ourselves is as futile as trying to swim across the Atlantic Ocean. Our only hope is to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ who has crossed the gulf from God's side by taking the punishment for our sins at the cross, so that those who believe in him might experience forgiveness and new birth which makes us children of the living God. In our natural condition God is not within us. In fact Paul says we are by nature objects of wrath who followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient (Eph.2:2).

 

God has to be invited into our lives from the outside when we repent and accept Jesus as Saviour and Lord:

 

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God (John 1:12-13).

 

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me (Rev. 3:20).

 

The New Age view of becoming as God is as old as the serpent's lie to Eve in the Garden of Eden:

 

You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil (Gen, 3:4).

 

The fact is that when we look within we do not find what a New Ager once described to me as 'the pure and innocent part of us that was left behind from the Garden of Eden.' We discover that we share in the corrupt human nature which is responsible for all the evil that takes place on this planet. Paul passed judgment on his own self in this way:

 

I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do... It is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is in my sinful nature (Romans 7:14-18).

 

This is why we fail as individuals and why Communism has failed to produce an equal society, why Hinduism has failed to produce an enlightened society and why nominal Christianity has failed to produce a just and caring society. I have no reason to suppose that the New Age movement will succeed despite its promises and its 'great invocation' to 'let light and love and power restore the Plan on earth.' In fact there is every reason to fear that the New Age movement will bring about the most wicked society of all, because it is encouraging people to look for supernatural experiences within and so people are opening themselves up to evil-spirits working through occult practices forbidden in scripture. If we seek the 'god within' us and deny Christ, we will certainly encounter the supernatural but in the demonic realm. New Age writings abound with claims of messages 'channelled' by spirit beings with such names as Ramtha, Seth and Lararis, A leaflet advertising a session with 'Lararis' in Atlanta, Georgia claimed:

 

'Once we have met Lararis he is like an old friend who somehow we have always known, his joy, his insight, his love makes us realise he has always known us too.' (Promotional Flyer, Lazaris. Concept: Synergy, California.)

 

Participants were promised 'extraordinary experiences' and were told 'Lararis will again guide us through a meditation to re-tune, restore and recharge us mentally, physically, emotionally and psychically.' This sounds like demon possession, the result of occult activity which is warned against in the Bible and which is a sign of the last days. The Spirit, clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and the things taught by demons (I Tim 4:1). Focusing on the idea of the 'god within' also encourages human pride, which is the root of the original sin. In comparison with God the inhabitants of the earth are as grasshoppers limited in time, space and wisdom (Isaiah 40:22). When one looks at the actual practice of some New Age cults which accept this idea one sees some of the most appalling idolatry imaginable. Gurus are worshipped as gods as their followers abase themselves before them, in some of the worst cases even to the extent of drinking their urine. On the proceeds of this devotion many of these 'god-men' have become extremely rich as their followers shower money and adoration on them in return for promises of paradise which often end in misery and insanity.

 

For a personal account of one who fell for this trap and later found true peace and enlightenment in the Lord Jesus, I recommend Gods of the New Age by Caryl Matriciana. One further result of succumbing to the delusion that we are 'gods' is that we end up making up our own laws. New Age writer Carl Frederick said, 'You are the supreme being... there isn't any right or wrong.' (Playing the Game the New Way, p. 171). David Spangler, a leading New Age spokesman put it even stronger, 'We can take all the scriptures, and all the teachings, and all the tablets, and all the laws, and all the marshmallows and have a jolly good bonfire and marshmallow roast, because that is all they are worth. Once you are the law, once you are the truth, you do not need it externally represented for you.' (Reflections on the Christ , Findhorn Publications, p. 73).

 

This view ties in very well with the relativistic morality which is basic to our society and which has also seeped its way into much of the professing church with its lamentable failure to stand up publicly for biblical standards of morality. It is also utter folly and we can see the results in the swamp of paganism and confusion into which our society is falling. We accept that there are external laws for driving our cars on the roads and that if we disobey these laws and make up our own laws we will cause accidents. God has given us laws for our good which are unchanging and apply to every generation and age. The result of rejecting God's laws and making up our own is not liberation and enlightenment, but the most terrible social accidents, sexually transmitted diseases, broken families, unwanted children, terrorism and violence, drug abuse, etc. Far from throwing away the 'externally represented' law given by God in the Bible, the only hope of saving our society from catastrophe is to repent and turn back to God and live in the light of the new covenant with his law written in our hearts and receiving forgiveness through the blood of Jesus shed for our sins.

 

Questions

 

In what way does the New Age movement differ from the idea of human nature taught in the Bible?

 

How docs the Genesis account of the Fall (Genesis 3) relate to issues raised in this chapter?

 

Why does the New Age view of God and spiritual experience inevitably lead into the demonic realm?

 

Why do we need God's law and word 'externally represented' to us? Which biblical passages would you use to support your argument?

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